Are Christians “little gods”?
Are Christians little gods? What is the “little gods” doctrine? Does the Bible really teach that humans are gods or that we can become like God?
The “little gods” teaching is taught by various religious groups including Mormons and the Word of Faith movement.
For example Mormonism falsely teaches that the God of the Bible is a God among many other gods. They teach that faithful members of the church will eventually become gods and goddesses in the afterlife, be rulers of their own heavenly kingdoms and have spirit children.
The Word of Faith movement teaches that because man was created “in the image of God”, then man is a “little god” who can supposedly create his own reality and create anything into existence by the power of his own words or through the law of attraction / name-it-and-claim-it / positive confession mantras.
Part of the “little gods” doctrine is that God needs man and that God cannot supposedly do anything without human involvement.
Examples of famous Word-Faith preachers who teach the “little gods” doctrine include Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Hagin and many others throughout the world.
However, what does the Bible really say about humans becoming “little gods”? Does the Bible really say that humans can become gods – or is there only one true living God?
Monotheism versus Polytheism
Monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there is only one God. The belief that there is only one God is an essential and fundamental part of true Biblical Christianity.
The Scriptures clearly teach that there is only one true God and that there are no other gods besides the God of the Bible.
In the first of the Ten Commandments, God says: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
Deuteronomy 4:35 says: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him.”
In Isaiah 44:6 God says: “…I am the first and I am the last; besides Me there is no god”
Polytheism is the doctrine / belief in many gods or that there is more than one god. Therefore a polytheist believes in many gods or multiple deities.
The Bible explicitly prohibits the worship of idols whether these idols are human, animal, man-made objects or part of God’s own creation.
In Exodus 20:4-5 God says: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God,”
1 Chronicles 17:20 says: There is none like You, O Lord, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
Therefore God Himself rejects the concept or doctrine of polytheism. God says that He alone is the only God; He is the first and the last; and there are no other gods besides Him.
Paul & Barnabas Refuse to be Identified as “little gods”
The apostles in the Bible rejected the false doctrine or ideology that Christians are “little gods”.
In Acts 14:8-15 we read about Paul who through the power of God healed a man who was crippled from birth. However after healing the crippled man, the crowd who witnessed the miracle began to declare that Paul and Barnabas were “gods (who) have come down to us in the likeness of men!” (Acts 14:11).
However Paul and Barnabas rejected the crowd’s notion or declaration that Paul and Barnabas were “gods” or “little gods”.
Paul and Barnabas did not want to be identified as “gods”. Instead they humbly told the crowd that they were ordinary people just like them.
Acts 14:14-15 says: But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
In Acts 14:15 Paul and Barnabas not only rejected being identified as “gods” but they humbly and rightly pointed the crowd to the “living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
So rather than boasting in themselves because God had used them to heal a crippled man, Paul and Barnabas rejected the notion that they were “gods” but instead they gave all glory to the one and only true God of the Bible who created the heavens and the earth. Paul and Barnabas made the crowd focus on worshipping the living God and not on themselves, because they were not gods (Acts 14:15).
Reasons Why the “little gods” Doctrine is False
The “little gods” doctrine is rejected by God Himself because polytheism is rejected throughout the Scriptures. God alone is divine and He cannot be compared to anyone and nor can He be compared to His own creation.
Furthermore if humans were “little gods” then Adam and Eve would not have been tempted to eat the forbidden fruit under the devil’s lie that they would become just like God (Genesis 3:1-5).
Therefore besides God’s rejection of polytheism, below are other reasons why the “little gods” teaching should be rejected:
A real God must be worshipped or commands worship. The God of the Bible alone must be worshipped and He alone commands that we worship Him. Therefore humans cannot be “little gods” because God does not approve for humans to be worshipped by anyone or by anything. So anybody other than the true God who is worshipped is an idol or a false god.
Exodus 20:3 says: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Galatians 4:8 says: Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods
A real God is a divine and flawless being. Therefore humans cannot be “little gods” because humans are imperfect sinners who have been flawed because of sin
Romans 3:23 says: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
A real God does not need a Saviour. Humans cannot be “little gods” because they need a Saviour to save them from the consequences of sin. The consequence of sin is death or eternal punishment in hell. However salvation for humanity is found through the one and only true God in the form of Jesus Christ who paid for humanity’s sins on the cross.
Romans 6:23 says: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore a true God does not need a Saviour. Instead it is mankind who needs a Saviour – Jesus Christ.
A real God does not submit to other existing authorities except to Himself. A real God does not need anyone’s permission to do anything. The God of the Bible does not need humanity’s permission to do anything. For example, in the beginning, when God created the universe and all of creation, He did not need man’s opinion or permission because in the first 5 days of creation, man did not exist yet (Genesis 1:1-24).
So humans are not “little gods” because humans are required to submit to the will and laws of the God of the Bible. God has total sovereignty. Humans do not have total sovereignty.
A real God can create something from nothing. God created the universe and everything in it from nothing (Genesis 1:1-31). Humans are a created species. God is an uncreated Being.
Humans cannot be “little gods” because humans cannot create something out of nothing. No human ever created a flower, an insect or a single living organism by the power of his words or by positive confession mantras . Instead it is GOD alone who can create something from nothing.
Romans 4:17 says that it is God alone “who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”
A real God does not need humans or any of His creation to identify as a God. Humans cannot be “little gods” because humans cannot function independently from God’s creation. Humans are not an independent source of life.
However, the God of the Bible is literally the source of all life. God still remains God even without the existence of humanity. Therefore God does not need humans – instead it is actually humans who need God. In John 15:5 Jesus says that without Him we can do nothing.
John 15:5 says: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Acts 17:28 says: for “‘In Him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed His offspring”
The problem of misinterpreting scripture and turning a phrase into a false doctrine
When Scripture is not interpreted in its proper context this can lead to disastrous consequences and false doctrines. The misinterpretation of 2 scriptures is how and why the “little gods” doctrine exists.
When we carefully study, research and understand the context of Psalms 82:6 we will realize that God is not identifying humans as having the attributes of a deity or a god.
Instead God was rebuking the judges / religious leaders for being unjust in their judgments and for not appropriately executing justice for the poor, the oppressed, the helpless and the destitute. The judges / religious leaders were favoring the wicked instead of giving justice to the oppressed (Psalms 82:1-4 NLT).
So in Psalms 82:6-7 God then mocks the judges / religious leaders for acting like “gods” by doing as they pleased instead of submissively obeying Him and enacting true justice. The corrupt religious leaders / judges arrogantly acted as if there would be no consequences for their unjust actions.
So God mocks them and warns them when He says: “I say, ‘You are gods; you are all children of the Most High. 7 But you will die like mere mortals and fall like every other ruler.'” (Psalms 82:6-7 NLT)
Therefore in Psalms 82:6 God mocks them for acting like “gods” and then in verse 7 God rebukes and reminds the judges / religious leaders that they are only mere humans (and not real gods) and they will die as “mere mortals and fall like every other ruler”
Therefore when the entire chapter of Psalms 82:1-8 is read in context, God is not teaching humanity that humans are “little gods” or that they can ascend to become like God.
John 10:34 is the other Scripture that is misinterpreted to justify the “little gods” doctrine.
However when this Scripture is read in its entire context, for example John 10:29-38, the context becomes clearer.
In John 10:30 Jesus says that He and the Father are one, thereby Christ was identifying Himself as God in the flesh. The Jews knew what He meant and so they reacted to Christ’s statement by picking up stones to stone Him because the Old Testament law required that any ordinary human who identified himself as God or a god to be stoned to death (John 10:31). The Jews did not believe that Jesus was God and this is why they intended to stone Him.
When Jesus asks the Jews why they want to stone Him, the Jewish leaders respond by saying: “… for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:31-33).
So interestingly the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because they only perceived Jesus as a mere man and not as God (or a “little god”). Ironically, the theology or doctrine that men are “little gods” did not also exist among the Jews themselves because the Scriptures do not teach polytheism.
However in response to the Jews wanting to stone Him, Jesus then quotes Psalms 82:6.
In Psalms 82:1-8 the judge / religious leaders were mocked for acting like “gods” but their works or actions did not resemble a real god or deity.
So Jesus also uses Psalm 82:6 to mock and rebuke to the Jewish leaders.
Jesus uses this passage to declare that He is not falsely claiming to be God but that His works and His actions prove that He is indeed the true God – unlike the “gods” mentioned in Psalm 82:6.
So Jesus tell the Jews to look at His works and miracles as proof that He is God in the flesh when He says: “If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)
Therefore the context of both Psalms 82:6 and John 10:34 have nothing to do with claiming that man is a deity or a “little god”.
The Bible consistently reveals in its text that any “god” with a small “g” is an idol or a false god.
The “little gods” theology is also known to subtly promote narcissist characteristics and so this false doctrine does not teach its followers to have a humble spirit or humble heart before God.
The “little gods” teaching gives people a grandiose sense of self or delusions of grandeur. It is a doctrine that started with satan’s first lie in the garden of Eden that man can be just “like God” (Genesis 3:4).
Romans 12:3 says that we should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.
All men are mere mortals who are subject to die once and thereafter face judgment from the one and only true living God (Hebrews 9:27).
The “little gods” doctrine is dangerous, unbiblical and it opposes the fundamentals or essentials of the Christian faith and should therefore be totally rejected.