Are Christian’s “little gods”?
One of the ways the prosperity gospel is supported by preachers is through the teaching that Christians are “little gods”, and that little gods are in some way entitled to the same kind of blessings and honor that the Almighty God Himself is worthy of. This teaching that Christians are little gods comes from two main sources:
- The Lord speaks in Psalm 82:6 saying ‘I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High; all of you.” Here, prosperity preachers say, God is acknowledging that His people are little gods, a smaller, less complete slice of the Lord Himself. The truth of this is further confirmed in John 10:34-36, where Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6 and affirms it as being true.
- In Genesis 1:11, 12, and 21 the things that God creates are said to produce “according to its kind”. Then, in verse 26, God says “let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. Therefore, the reasoning goes, since things produce after their kind, and “there can not be a product of something unless the product is a kind of what it came from”, human beings are little gods.
Though the evidence seems clear and the reasoning logical, there is more to this issue than meets the eye.
Regarding Psalm 82:6, the word “gods” there is Elohim in Hebrew, a term which usually refers to the Lord God. However, it does occasionally have other uses. Psalm 82:1 (just a few verses earlier) says “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods [Elohim] he holds judgment”. The next three verses make it clear that the “gods” referred to are human magistrates and judges. Therefore, calling a human a “god” in the context of Psalm 82 is referring to humans in positions of authority, similar to the way God is in a position of ultimate authority. In fact, verses 7 and 8 of Psalm 82 reminds the human rulers of the earth that they too will face the Judge. Ultimately, the point of calling human magistrates “gods” is to denote that they have a position of authority over people just as God does, but also that they are put in their place below the True King.
In fact, referring to humans as “gods’ happens elsewhere in the Old Testament, such as Exodus 7:1 where Moses is “like a god” to Pharaoh. This too indicates not that Moses is divine but rather that he is speaking the words of God and acting in a position of authority that God has granted him.
Additionally, when Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6 in John 10 he does so in the midst of an argument. Jesus has just claimed to be the Son of God and is charged with blasphemy (claiming to be equal to God). He then quotes Psalm 82:6 essentially to make this point: if those who are mere men can be referred to as “gods”, then how much more is the God-man Jesus worthy of a divine title?
Therefore, using the term “gods” in the Old Testament in reference to men is simply a way to indicate their God-given authority in a limited way. It is not meant to ascribe deity or a form of deity to human beings. If this were the case, it would be troubling to acknowledge that Satan himself is also called a “god” (2 Corinthians 4:4), as well as the false gods of other religions (Exodus 12:12; 18:11; Numbers 33:4). Should we expect that Satan and false gods are worthy of the honor the Lord deserves because they too are “gods”? The presumption that because a small number of human beings were called “gods” we are therefore entitled to glory is simply an unbiblical idea.
In reference to the logic of Genesis 1, there are a few things to be said. (1) God indeed did make man in His image; however, this does not mean that mankind is in part a deity. Being made in God’s image means a great deal of things, but not that humans are in any way divine. Nowhere in the Old Testament it is ever hinted at that men are sharing in God’s divinity. (2) The principle of producing “according to its kind” is applicable to the things God has made. However, man is not the only thing that God created; He also made horses, water, wind, land, light, bugs, and planets. Does this mean that God is a horse? Or land? Or a planet? To assume that the principle of producing “according to its kind” is applicable from God to his creation is absurd. However, producing “according to its kind” from creation to creation is a confirmable truth. In other words, God produces many things in variety, but the things He makes reproduce not in variety but after themselves.
The heart of the matter concerning the doctrine of “little gods” is that of pride. To take a couple of obscure verses, use them out of context, as well as some faulty logic from Genesis and then blow up a very significant doctrine that men are gods is irresponsible. The “little gods” teaching adds nothing beneficial to the life of a believer (not to mention it is wrong). The true reason this teaching has gained some ground is that it puffs up our hearts with pride and makes us feel bigger than we actually are. It expands our self-esteem and self-worth. It results in Christians being worthy of things that only God is worthy of. The Bible uses the word “gods” in reference to humans or spirit beings that have significant power, though insignificant and minuscule in light of the power of the Almighty. Therefore, the prosperity teaching that we are little gods and worthy of such honor is an abuse of God’s word and the result of a prideful heart.
“God became man so that men might become gods.” -St. Athanasius