I Believe in Many “gods” but One God

Posted: October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

I believe that there is one true and living God. Yet, the Old Testament seems to allude to the existence of many “gods.” Moses asks in Exodus 15:11 if any of the “gods” can compare with Yahweh. The answer that Moses is looking for is clearly a resounding, No! Yet, the very question Moses asks raises the question of whether or not other gods exist. Well, it depends on what you mean by the lower case “gods” and the upper case “God.”

What I mean when I say that there is only one God, is at the very least qualitatively he is unique and stands alone. That is, none possess the exact same qualities that the covenant God of Israel possesses. He alone stands as the Creator of all things. All that exists does so because he has willed it into existence. He exists necessarily. What that means is that for anything to exist, God must exist because apart from his creative work, nothing does exist. So he is the Creator of all things; all material matter finds its origin in the creative act of God. Whether it is the tree of the field or the bird of the air or the Devil himself, all things stand as created and not the ultimate creators. This God who is Creator, who exists necessarily, from whom all find their origin, has no rivals and alone guides the history of the world to his predetermined end. This is Yahweh.

Yet, I do not mean to communicate that no one has ever spoken of or worshipped other gods. We know from Ancient Near Eastern history that many other gods were spoken of, worshipped, and feared. Mark Rooker notes concerning the ANE that “[t]he multiplicity of natural forces led to a multiplicity of gods, hence the development of the pagan pantheons. The names of about 40 gods and goddesses are known from Egypt, the Hittites referred to their “thousand gods,” and Mesopotamia had names for more than 3,000 gods” (The World and the Word, 50). So it would certainly be wrong for us to assert that other beings were never called or thought of as god. We do not even mean to communicate the nonexistence of other powerful spiritual beings. The Bible is clear that other spiritual beings do in fact exist. It may be that the “so-called” gods (1 Cor 8:5-6) that people have worshipped (like Chemosh in Number 21:29, etc.) are real beings that have been active in the world. We do not deny the activity of the spirit realm.

However, we do mean to communicate that all these other spiritual beings, whether demonic or simply non-existent, are not the sovereign God whom the Bible knows as Yahweh. There are indeed many “gods” in the sense that there are (1) many who have been worshipped as god and (2) many spiritual beings that assert power and influence. But, all these spiritual beings have no claim to the throne of the universe. The covenant Lord of Israel, Yahweh, is the one true and living God.

Even more so, the God of the Bible is utterly unique because he exists as the eternal three in one. The sovereign God of the Bible is the God who exists as Father, Jesus (Son), and Holy Spirit. Along with his Creator-ness, his necessary-ness, and his sovereign-ness, stands the idea that he exists as a Trinity. This aspect of the being of the God of the Bible finds no parallels that I am aware of in other world religions. How awesome our God is!

So, I believe that there is indeed a spiritual realm filled with spiritual beings that some people may call “gods.” However, I also believe that there is only one Sovereign, Supreme, Creator, and Ruler of the cosmos. His name is Yahweh. And Yahweh exists as Father, Jesus (Son), and Holy Spirit who is the origin of all things.

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