I was thinking of Mormonism and Polytheism as a title, but let’s face it folks. Two m’s makes a much cooler mnemonic device! Anyway, that’s our topic today. One thing that is quite apparent in Mormonism is the belief that there are many gods. Oddly enough, this is said to be true according to the Bible. Often, this is based on a hideous understanding of the Trinity. What does the Bible say though about monotheism?
The first place to begin is in Genesis 1:1. We are told that in the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth. God alone. No one else. In other tales, we will hear of gods involved in creation. The Genesis account starts off with one God in a clearly monotheistic sense. The usage of “our” in verses like Genesis 1:26-27 fits in with a Trinitarian context which is also monotheistic.
When we get to Deuteronomy 6:4, we are told that the Lord God is one. The word “one” is echad and again, fits in with a Trinitarian concept. However, this is more a statement of monotheism than anything else. Please keep in mind also that monotheism is belief that there is only one God. it is not believing in many gods but acknowledging one. That is called henotheism. If you believe there is more than one god, you are in some sense a polytheist.
When we get to Isaiah especially, we see a strong charge of monotheism as God issues his charge against the idols of the day. Observe Isaiah 43:10
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
This in Mormon thought would be Jesus talking since Jesus is Jehovah in their system. But isn’t it true in Mormonism that his Father became a god and then Jesus became one seeing as he had to attain his godhood also? That would mean that God the Father was a god formed before Jesus. It would also mean that all good Mormons who become gods are gods formed after him.
The passage is stating monotheism for all eternity. Before YHWH, there were no other gods and after him, there are going to be no new gods. Of course, this is simply a blanket statement as before YHWH is a way of saying that he is the only one. There was no time when YHWH was not.
Now some have said that this is talking about idols. This makes no sense though. We would all know idols were formed after YHWH. YHWH is certainly no idiot in the Scriptures either. He would know that the people were making idols. The problem was what the idols represented. They were to represent other gods. YHWH says the idols are in vain because there are no other gods to be represented.
To be sure we get the message, we have Isaiah 44:6
“This is what the LORD says—
Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty:
I am the first and I am the last;
apart from me there is no God.
And Isaiah 44:8
Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.”
When we get to the NT, things aren’t much different. In 1 Cor. 8, we read the following:
4So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Note what he says. There is no God but one in verse 4. In verse 5, he says there are many things that are so-called gods and lords. They are called that, but there is no reality to the charge. In verse 6, he says though that for us, there is but one God and one Lord. (This is a Christianized version of the Shema. See Richard Bauckham’s “God Crucified.”) So what does it mean if you say there is more than one God and Lord?
It means you’re not in Paul’s “us” and that “us” is in reference to Christians.
James is an epistle written to Jewish Christians. These are Christians who have a strong background obviously in Judaism and what does he say in James 2:19?
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
In other words, he’s pointing to the Shema and saying that it is good that they believe that, but they need to act accordingly. At least the demons shudder! Let’s not skip over what he says though. Belief in one God is true. If James had believed there was more than one god, this would be a good time to correct it.
However, there is another text that is relevant to the discussion. What does the Book of Mormon say? In Alma 11, Alma is in debate with Zeezrom about God.
26 And Zeezrom said unto him: Thou sayest there is a true and living God?