How Many Gods Do Christians Believe In?

How Many Gods Do Christians Believe In? April 16, 2024

How Many Gods Do Christians Believe in?

Titles generally require that all nouns begin with capital letters, but now I will revise the title of this blog post to correct it: “How many gods do Christians believe in?” Notice the difference.

And know that here I am not talking about Mormonism or Latter Day Saints. This essay focuses exclusively on evangelical Christians who are saying we should believe in more gods than God (Yahweh).

Two evangelical Christian influencers are in view here. I am not out to criticize them but only to raise theological discussion about their ideas. They are the late Old Testament scholar Michael S. Heifer and Messianic Jewish author and speaker Jonathan Cahn. Heiser’s best-known book on the subject is “The Unseen Realm” while Cahn’s best-known book on this particular subject is “The Return of the Gods.” (See a response to this blog post from Cahn’s office at the end here…)

I have carefully selected essays and interviews for you to read to catch up on the essence of these men’s teaching about this subject in case you don’t want to buy and read their books.

For Heiser, read “Who Are the Elohim? The Answer Might Rattle Your Theology” at Logos Bible Software online. Just use a web browser/search engine to locate it. For Cahn, read “The Return of the gods-Part 1 (Transcript) at Dobson Digital Library. Again, use a browser or search engine to locate it. Both the interview and the essay are very easy to read and understand.

According to Heiser (and others), the Old Testament especially teaches that there are gods that are neither demons or fallen angels or the one true God Yahweh. These gods form an assembly over which the one true God, Yahweh, presides and judges. Heiser cites many Old Testament passages but especially Psalm 82 and 89. These “Elohim” are not equal with the Elohim Yahweh but are his creatures and heavenly inhabitants together with him. (For those of you who do not know, “Elohim” is a Hebrew word for god or God and can be either plural or singular. Heiser makes much of the fact that Psalm 82 uses the word both ways—for the heavenly assembly over which Yahweh presides and for Yahweh himself.)

Now, on to Cahn. Cahn seems to agree with Heiser, although I have found no evidence of dependence on him. According to Cahn, the gods and goddesses of ancient world, for example the Canaanite pantheon, were real and are real. They are fallen angels or demons; they are something more. They seduced Israel to worship and/or serve them which led to Israel’s judgments by God. They are making a big “comeback” in the world today and Cahn’s special attention is on America which he believes is repeating Israel’s sin of idolatry and suffering the consequences.

What is the sin of idolatry in this case? Not believing in the gods or goddesses, but allowing them to become objects of worship, devotion, etc. And that does not always appear as explicit worship.

According to Cahn, these gods and goddesses are like what some call “territorial spirits” who seek to dominate cultures. They did successfully dominate some ancient cultures and they reappeared in world history from time to time, unnamed and often unnoticed—as in Germany in the 1930s. They are reappearing and successfully dominating American culture today.

Several questions arise for theology. Why call these beings “gods?” Yes, that is one way of translating “Elohim,” but even if people believe in these beings, these spirits, doesn’t it confuse the biblical-Christian worldview of today to call them “gods?” Also, other than calling them “gods,” is there anything really new in Heiser’s or Cahn’s teaching?

Also, does this teaching (or these teachings) have any new practical implications for those who believe in and practice “spiritual warfare” (e.g., Greg Boyd and his followers)? Both Heiser and Cahn believe in and promote spiritual warfare (in different ways), but how does identifying these evil spirits  as “gods” change or help spiritual warfare?

Also, and finally, for now, do Heiser and Cahn believe there are still, now, today, gods forming a heavenly assembly who are not evil, pernicious, harmful? Who would they be? Does the New Testament talk about them? (Yes, Heiser in particular thinks so, in the Epistle of Jude.) What should we think of them? What should we do with them?

Remember, according to Heiser, especially, these gods are not angels, fallen or otherwise. They constitute a kind of ontological or metaphysical beingness between Yahweh and even archangels such as Michael and Gabriel.

Your thoughts are welcome so long as they obey the rules here:

*If you choose to comment, make sure your comment is relatively brief (no more than 100 words), on topic, addressed to me (this is not a discussion board), civil and respectful (not hostile or argumentative), and devoid of pictures or links.*

Dear Dr. Roger Olson,

We read your article concerning “the gods.”  You mentioned Jonathan Cahn as his book  The Return of the Gods.

This is just to make you aware of two errors in the article

We’re sure these were not intentional, but nevertheless it presents a completely false witness about Jonathan Cahn, his beliefs, and his works.

You wrote that Jonathan Cahn believes that the “gods” are not demonic spirits or fallen angels – but something else – “gods.”

This may be true of the other author, but it is not true of Jonathan Cahn

He makes very clear in the very first section of The Return of the Gods that he is speaking of the Hebrew shedim, which was translated into Greek as daemonia – specifically, demons.  He makes it extremely that he is speaking of demonic spirits – as is completely consistent with classic  Christianity.

Your article also implied that he believes in “territorial spirits.”  Jonathan never gets into, brings up, or alludes to the belief in territorial spirits one way or another.

The Return of the Gods is grounded on the classic belief of orthodox Christianity that involved with the worship of Gods are demonic spirits

The revelations of the book rather are how exact, how eerie, and price the manifestation of these spirits are playing out in the modern world, particularly in western and American culture in their departure from God.

Again, we don’t believe anything was intentional, but the representation of Jonathan, his beliefs, and work is nevertheless falseWe are trusting in your integrity to correct it in a way appropriate – As the misinformation was done publicly, the correction should be as well.

If you can let us know that you received this and what you can do.

Thanks

Blessings

Sincerely

Beth Israel

On Behalf of Jonathan’s ministry

Nayamka Ward

Office Administrator

Beth Israel Worship Center

11 Railroad Ave, Wayne NJ 07470

bethisraelworshipcenter.org

973-709-9466 Ext 343

nayamka@bethisraelworshipcenter.org

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