Seidensticker Folly #70: Biblical “Henotheism” [?] Redux

Seidensticker Folly #70: Biblical “Henotheism” [?] Redux January 31, 2021

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18: “I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He added in June 2017 in a combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” Delighted to oblige his wishes . . .

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog, he banned me from commenting there. I also banned him for violation of my rules for discussion, but (unlike him) provided detailed reasons for why it was justified.

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. On 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like his own behavior: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 69 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob reiterated and rationalized his intellectual cowardice yet again on 12-21-20: “I love people who can make cogent arguments against mine or point out data I hadn’t considered before. What I dislike (and ban) are $#&*%@s who . . . refuse to learn/adapt . . . ignore compelling arguments against their position, and so on.”

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.

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In his post, “Defending 10 Atheist Arguments (3 of 5)” (1-30-21). Bible-Basher Bob again beats the dead horse of a supposed “henotheism” taught in the Bible. Henotheism is a variant of polytheism (“many gods”), defined as “the worship of a single, overarching god while not denying the existence or possible existence of other lower deities” (Wikipedia). Bob — incredibly — claims that the Bible actually teaches this. I thoroughly corrected and refuted him twice, over two years ago now (I’ll provide those links below), but as we all know, he ignores all critiques from me (can’t be too careful!), and so goes on repeating the same tired, stupid, refuted claims (as if repeating a lie enough times magically makes it true).

In this effort, Bob is opposing Tim Barnett of the Protestant Stand to Reason apologetics ministry. Anyone but me (the one who provides a direct point-by-point rebuttal of his nonsense) . . . Bible-Basher Bob, ever the Bible expert (more than any Christian!) pontificates:

The Bible (at least part of it) imagines a world with multiple gods—not just the Israelites’ Yahweh, but Chemosh, Moloch, Marduk, Baal, and other ancient Mesopotamian deities. And these are (supposedly) real gods—the Bible isn’t saying, “Yahweh obviously exists, but those nutty Moabites worship their invented god Chemosh.” There were multiple choices for a god but no good reason to pick one as preferable over another.

If we’re taking the Bible as true, then these “other gods” were just as real as Yahweh. . . . 

The first Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” doesn’t say that there aren’t other gods or even that they mustn’t be worshipped! It simply says that Yahweh must be the primary god. . . . 

What is clear is that the Bible evolved over time.

The book of Isaiah was written in three parts, and this chapter is in the middle piece, written in the 6th century BCE. It’s true that verse claims God is the only god, but by this time, henotheism had been replaced by monotheism. The Bible evolved.

This claim of “biblical evolution” (in essential aspects, like the nature of God) is poppycock, and I have already refuted it:

Seidensticker Folly #20: An Evolving God in the OT? (God’s Omnipotence, Omniscience, & Omnipresence in Early Bible Books & Ancient Jewish Understanding) [9-18-18]

. . . The Bible itself says that Yahweh is just one of many gods. The Bible documents the evolution of the supernatural from henotheism to monotheism, which shows that Yahweh is no more real than any of the others.

These are all lies, and I have refuted them repeatedly:

Seidensticker Folly #19: Torah & OT Teach Polytheism? [9-18-18]

Loftus Atheist Error #8: Ancient Jews, “Body” of God, & Polytheism [9-10-19]

Do the OT & NT Teach Polytheism or Henotheism? [7-1-20]

The Bible Teaches That Other “Gods” are Imaginary [National Catholic Register, 7-10-20]

Once the Mosaic Law is established, monotheism (one God and one God only) is crystal clear, and remains so throughout the Bible:

Exodus 8:10 (RSV) . . there is no one like the LORD our God. (cf. 1 Chr 17:20; 2 Chr 6:14)

Deuteronomy 4:35, 39 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. . . . [39] . . . the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. (cf. Neh 9:6; 2 Sam 7:22; 1 Kgs 8:23; Is 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21-22; 46:9; 47:8; Hos 13:4)

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; (cf. Mk 12:29; Jas 2:19)

Deuteronomy 32:39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Psalm 83:18 Let them know that thou alone, whose name is the LORD, art the Most High over all the earth.

Psalm 86:10 For thou art great and doest wondrous things, thou alone art God.

Isaiah 37:20 …thou alone art the LORD. (cf. 37:16)

Isaiah 43:10 …Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.

Isaiah 44:8 …Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any. (cf. 44:6; 45:5-6, 21-22; 46:9; Mal 2:10)

And the Bible also explains beyond any doubt that the other “gods” being talked about are not real (only imagined to be by false worshipers). The Bible refers to them in the sense that they exist in other religious belief-systems: not because they exist in fact or reality. Obviously, these sorts of texts are saying that this is all these supposed “gods” are: wood and stone. They have no conscious existence. It’s classic idolatry: that the Jews were judged for again and again throughout the period of the Old Testament:

Genesis 31:19 . . . Rachel stole her father’s household gods.

Genesis 35:2, 4 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments; . . . [4] So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.

Exodus 20:23 You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold.

Leviticus 19:4 Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 4:27-28 And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. [28] And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of men’s hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. (cf. 29:17; 1 Chr 16:26; Is 2:8, 20; 31:7; 37:19; 44:10, 15, 17; 46:6; Jer 1:16)

Deuteronomy 28:36 The LORD will bring you, and your king whom you set over you, to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone. (cf. 28:64: “other gods, of wood and stone”)

Deuteronomy 32:17 They sacrificed to demons which were no gods, . . .

2 Kings 19:15-19 And Hezeki’ah prayed before the LORD, and said: “O LORD the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. [16] Incline thy ear, O LORD, and hear; open thy eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennach’erib, which he has sent to mock the living God. [17] Of a truth, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, [18] and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone; therefore they were destroyed. [19] So now, O LORD our God, save us, I beseech thee, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou, O LORD, art God alone.” (cf. Is 37:19; 45:20)

2 Chronicles 13:9 . . . Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull or seven rams becomes a priest of what are no gods.

Psalm 40:4 . . . those who go astray after false gods!

Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols; but the LORD made the heavens. (cf. 97:7; 115:4; 135:15)

Isaiah 37:19 …for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone.…

Isaiah 44:10 Who fashions a god or casts an image, that is profitable for nothing?

Isaiah 44:15 . . . he makes a god and worships it, he makes it a graven image and falls down before it.

Isaiah 44:17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol; and falls down to it and worships it; he prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for thou art my god!”

Isaiah 46:6 Those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god;
then they fall down and worship!

Jeremiah 2:11  Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? . . .

Jeremiah 5:7 . . . Your children have forsaken me, and have sworn by those who are no gods. . . . (cf. 10:14)

Jeremiah 16:20 Can man make for himself gods? Such are no gods! (cf. 51:17)

The New Testament is no different. The existence of these “gods” is denied by St. Paul:

1 Corinthians 8:4-6 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” [5] For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” — [6] yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Galatians 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods;

Ephesians 4:5-6 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, . . .

Some also claim that St. John in the book of Revelation is a henotheist or polytheist. I don’t see how. The book of Revelation never includes the word “gods” a single time. Here’s what it teaches:

Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

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Photo credit: God the Father, as typically presented with dramatic license in art (since in the Bible He is a spirit) [PixabayPixabay License]

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