The idea that men are gods or can become gods dates back to eastern religions. Some church fathers succumbed to this delusion. Athanasius of Alexandria for example, wrote: “The Son of God became man, that we might become God.” Eastern Orthodoxy believes this, that through divine energies, man will become gods (theosis). A feat achieved by living in the church community, receiving the sacraments and contemplation. Mormons also believe if they adhere well to their religion, they will will become gods after death, with each Mormon man having a planet and goddess wives for eternal procreation.
A variation of this idea is also taught by some Christian preachers, that Believers are “little gods” having the power to exercise the God-kind of faith to create or call things forth into existence. These teachings have influenced many African Christians and they need to be scrutinised.
The Bible teaches that there is only one God (Dt. 4:35-39, Is. 43:10, 44:6-8) and and none can be like Him (Ps 10:2, Is 40-46, Acts 17:24-28). This alone refutes the idea of men becoming gods or a replica of God. Some Bible texts used as support are:
1. Psalm 82:6 “I have said, Ye are gods (elohim); and all of you are children of the most High.”
Reading from vs 1, we see a clear distinction made between God the Creator and the created beings called “gods” and that He had the power to judge them. The word, elohim also means “magistrates” (Strong #430). In Exo. 22:8-9, Judg. 5:8-9, Israel’s judges or rulers were called “gods” because they were God’s representatives appointed and commissioned by Him on earth to speak in His name (Dt. 1:17, 2 Chr. 19:6, Rom. 13:1-2) – The Pulpit Commentary
Ps. 82: 7 says “But you will die like men.” This is referring to corrupt judges or rulers condemned by God for their wickedness. They were “gods” not in the strictest sense but by their derived authority. Jesus quoted this Psalms in John 10:34-35 to unbelieving Jews to show them that if even wicked judges are called “gods” His designation as God’s Son is valid. He wasn’t saying His listeners or Christians were gods. In fact, He said to them “You are of your father the devil” (8:44).
2. Genesis 1:26-27.”Let us make man in our image (tselem).”
It’s argued that because we are made in God’s image, we are also gods. But if this proves man to be a replica of God it must also prove that God is an exalted man – which is false since God is not a man (Num. 23:19). The “image” or “likeness” refer to a representative figure or similtude of God in moral and spiritual qualities – not as an exact replicate of God. He didn’t call us to be gods but instead to be godly. Jesus Christ is in a unique sense, the “image of the invisible God” while Christians are spiritually conformed to His image (Col. 1:15, Rom 8:29).
3. Galatians 4:6-7 “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
It’s claimed that because we are sons of God like Jesus, we are also gods, or as it is popularly said: ‘Man begets man and God begets gods.’ One popular preacher even wrote: “Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God”. This is heresy. The sonship of believers is not a reproduction of God’s essence because we are not “natural” sons of God. Our sonship is by adoption (Rom 8:15, 23, Gal 4:5).
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is the “only begotten” or “unique” Son of God (Jn 1:14, 18, 3:16, 1Jn. 4:9). That means we are not sons of God in the same sense that Christ is the Son of God, nor will we ever be. Jesus Himself distinguished between His Sonship and that of His followers (Jn 20:17). Its the new birth that makes us sons – not as a conversion of men into gods, but a regeneration by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit resulting in a relationship with God as Father.
4. 2Peter 1:4 “ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”
It is argued that being partakers of the divine nature implies that Christians are gods. But the Bible is clear that when we become born again, we receive a new nature. (2Cor 5:17). This divine “nature” must not be conflated with divine “essence” which makes God who He is. We receive this nature in regeneration, when the Holy Spirit dwells in us and enables us to walk in the newness of life. The rest of the verse (which is hardly quoted) tells us this nature is to “escape the corruption in the world.” And as you read on from vs 5-11, its clear that the entire context is about walking in holiness – not becoming “gods.” The Bible is clear when we study it by ourselves, rather than relying on false teachers who misuse it.
The prideful lie that men can become gods was the same lie Satan used to deceive Eve and its variants are preserved in many religions today, including New Age cults. It appeals to men’s pride and pumps them up while it demeans and dishonours God.