THE GODS OF THE BIBLE
By J J Dewey
Perhaps the greatest common denominator among the followers of New Age Thought is the belief that one has to look no further to find God than within himself. They are true followers of the injunction of Jesus that “The kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21) If, then, the kingdom of God is within it must stand to reason that God resides in his own kingdom and he is also within. If God is within your brother then when you see his face you also see the face of God. If God is within you then when you look in the mirror you also see the divine face. When you feel within with no illusions then you must be feeling the presence of God.
Jesus preached the kingdom of God and invited all believers to come to it. Exactly what would be the nature of the inhabitants of the kingdom of God? The vegetable kingdom is composed of vegetables. The animal kingdom is composed of animals and the human kingdom is composed of humans. Therefore what kind of residents abide in the Kingdom of God? Yes. They can only be Gods. When Jesus invited us to the kingdom of God he called us to leave the illusionary human kingdom and assume our true nature as Gods in the God kingdom. In other words, we are to be as he is. A glorious thought is it not?
Many who call themselves Christians would disagree. There are those who think it is blasphemy to consider that God can be anywhere except sitting on a throne in heaven being worshipped by his hosts. This narrow-minded group believe that they are the only ones who are even worthy to use the name of Christ. They feel that others must interpret the Bible exactly as they do or God will be angry at them and they will have no right to use His name. Thus all New Age people are condemned in one master stroke as being anti-God because they see God as being everywhere including within each man, woman, and child.
But wait a minute! Didn’t we learn back in Sunday School that “God is everywhere?” Yes, we did learn that. Almost all “accepted born-again Christians” embrace this belief quite emphatically. Yet at the same time they teach that God sits on a throne in heaven. Can both be true? Can he be in one place, yet everywhere?
Obviously, if he is omni-present he cannot be sitting on a throne in one location of the universe. He is either a being in one location like you or I, or he is Life itself that is in and through all things.
The Bible says that God fills “heaven and earth” (Jer 23:24) and “hell” (Psalms 139:8). Paul said that “In him we live and move and have our being”. (Acts 17:21) These and other scriptures verify the doctrine of the omnipresence of God. The interesting point here is that this doctrine is not objected to by orthodox Christians but is heartily embraced and promoted by them. Their problem is that their beliefs contradict themselves. In one breath they will teach the God-in-one-location-with influence-everywhere as the Mormons believe and in another they will say he is everywhere.
If the orthodox Christian world truly believes that God is omni-present then why do they condemn New Age Thought for teaching that God can be found within man? They are condemning such people for teaching not only what they claim to believe, but also a prevailing Biblical doctrine. Jesus had a word he used on the ancient Jews who did not practice what they believed. I will not say that word, but it can be found several times in Matthew Chapter 23. Read this chapter and you find that Jesus felt very strongly about people who do not abide by their belief system. They were the only ones he ever condemned. No sin he ever witnessed was ever condemned by him except this one.
If God is omni-present as even the most fundamental Christian believes then God is within humans. If God is within man then his kingdom can also be found there, for where the kingdom is there also abides the king. If God and his kingdom are within man then when we look within and manifest that which we truly see and feel with no deception or illusion then we are manifesting God and his kingdom. If a man is manifesting God and we are watching him then we are seeing God in action. Thus when we witness a human reveal his true inner self we see God. The man and God are not two, but one.
Is it any wonder Jesus said: “I and my Father are One?” (John 10:30) But if God is truly everywhere then all of us who recognize the God within are also one with God. Jesus was the rule and not the exception. He acknowledged this when he prayed: “that they (his disciples) may be ONE, as we (Jesus and the Father) are.” John 17:11
Jesus was God because he was one with the presence of God within him. But he said we are supposed to do the same thing. Therefore what is man when he obeys the injunction of Jesus and becomes one with God? If you and God are one then that one being (which includes you) is God. We then join with Jesus and exclaim: “Ye are gods.”
If God and man are one, then man is God and God is man.
We only seem to be two because we have been deceived into thinking it.
Five entities in the Bible have called men Gods. They are the serpent in the garden, the God of the Old Testament, Moses, David, and Jesus.
DID THE SERPENT LIE?
Because the serpent was the first to identify man with God the doctrine is greatly distrusted by orthodox Bible believers. They call it the first great lie and seem to believe that this serpent can never tell the truth. They do not recognize that it would be impossible for any being to carry on an intelligent conversation and lie all the time. Even Hitler, Nero and Judas usually told the truth. The bad guys in history often used the truth to entice others toward a deceptive act. Thus when the serpent enticed Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by saying: “Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil.” Gen 3:5 it is possible he was telling the truth. In fact we know he was telling the truth because it is verified by one of the Gods: “And the Lord God said, Behold, the MAN IS TO BECOME AS ONE OF US (one of the many who realize that God is in man), to know good and evil.” Gen 3:22
Why do so many call the serpent’s statement the first big lie when the truth of it is acknowledged by “the Lord God”? Apparently, the true first big lie was the teaching that the serpent was lying. This thinking deludes man into thinking that God is not in him, but “out there” somewhere. This teaching is necessary for man to believe if he is to be controlled by “God’s representatives” here on the earth. It is impossible to take away the freedom of a person who finds the God within, but it is quite easy to control a person who thinks that God speaks to an authority, but not directly to himself. This authority that speaks for God becomes then the God without.
Thus far we see that the serpent and one of the Gods acknowledged that man can become as God. Jehovah even went a step further and called Moses a god. (EX 7:1).
Later Moses called those who were supposed to be able to judge the people and discern good and evil Gods (See Exodus 22. We will elaborate more fully later).
Later David clearly stated to the leaders of Israel: “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” Psalms 82:6
Finally arrogant young Jesus angered the Jews by teaching the oneness of God and man. As they tried to stone him he asked them what he had done wrong. They answered: “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (John 10:33-36)
The angry Jews immediately saw here that the doctrine that man and God are one means that man is God. They called this blasphemous just as many religious people today still do. Jesus, however, courageously rebuked them and reminded them that men were called Gods in the Old Testament scriptures and the scripture “cannot be broken”.
This kind of talk only infuriated the Jews more and Jesus had to escape for his life from the midst of their anger.
Joseph Smith, A New Age Prophet
Another interesting person of more recent historical note who got himself in trouble and eventually killed for teaching the Godhood of man was the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. Now because I mention the name of the Mormon founder do not get the idea that I am promoting Mormonism, for I believe that Mormonism has drifted far from the original teachings of its founder just as most other religious groups have done. However, in examining the teachings of the founders of any worldwide movement one will normally discover that they were originated by a person of high spiritual thought. Joseph Smith was no exception. He courageously took a group of crude Christian frontiersmen and shattered their thoughtforms on man and God by proclaiming to them that their destiny was to become as Gods. Some believed and were raised up in consciousness, others disbelieved and sought to take his life, but no one remained neutral. The doctrine was indeed a stirring missile to be cast in the stagnant pool of Christian thought.
Joseph was the first major public western figure in our era to proclaim the major doctrine of the New Age. Since that time many others have followed and churches such as Unity, Religious Science, movements began by Gurus from the East, as well as esoteric schools of thought as Theosophy, and the Arcane School by Alice A. Bailey, The Foundation for Inner Peace which publishes the COURSE ON MIRACLES, numerous New Age books, and even Shirley MacLaine and The Star Wars movies all proclaim that there is a “Force” or God in man.
Joseph then introduced the doctrine contrary to all the then current lines of thought and met with tremendous opposition. But he taught that “truth will cut its own way”. And indeed this is what is happening. Those who are not chained down with dogma feel good inside when thinking about being one with God as was the Christ. The free-thinking youth of the world felt good about “the Force”, and many identified with Shirley MacLaine when she shouted “I AM God”. Joseph said the doctrine “tastes good” and indeed it does.
Feel within. Even at this moment it feels good to know that God is within and we are to be one with Him.
Among those who taught this doctrine in our age Joseph Smith is unique in the fact that he taught it to an unbelieving Christian people in the 1840’s, and he attempted to prove it out of the Bible. Because he struck a nerve at the heart of Orthodox Christianity there have been many enemies of the doctrine from his day to the present time. Many other New Age people who espouse the concept more as a philosophy than a religion do not seem to draw the fire that Joseph did. It is also paradoxical that many New Agers categorize Joseph’s teachings with orthodox Christianity and do not see the harmony between their own belief and his. They fail to realize that Joseph had many pure revelations and inspiration of pure esoteric truth that he had to clothe in the acceptable Christian language of his time. This caused his teachings to be somewhat misunderstood by later generations.
Many of his teachings about God were given in his last major address shortly before he was killed. It was given April 6, 1844 and has become known as the King Follett discourse. In it he taught the principle of eternal progression – that man does not stay man and God has not always been God. He later elaborated and taught about a hierarchy of Gods. He said that there was one being in particular who was appointed to be the God or Master for this planet before mankind set foot upon its surface, but that this person was once a man like ourselves, but learned his lessons of salvation on another planet. It is our destiny to eventually become as he is.
He further stated that the spirits or intelligence of men were not created by God but have always existed and are “co-equal” with him. “God himself could not create himself. Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle…The first principles of man are self-existent with God…If men do not comprehend the character of God they do not comprehend themselves…Here then is eternal life – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourself, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all the Gods have done before you, – namely by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one, – from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings and sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power…The mind or intelligence which man possesses is co-equal with God himself…God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man…That is the great secret…God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ did.” See History of the Church by Deseret Book; Vol. 6; Pages 302-317; 473-479.
Concerning Jesus and the Father he said: “If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that he had a Father also. Was there ever a son without a father? And was there ever a father without first being a son?” History of the Church; Page 476. He also said: “Jesus is one of a grand order of Saviors. Every world has its distinctive Savior and every dispensation its Christ.” Women in Mormondom by Edward W. Tullidge; Page 192.
In the King Follett discourse he also taught that the first verse in the Bible was changed in ancient times and also mistranslated. “In the beginning…” is translated from the Hebrew RESHIYTH. However, this word is sometimes translated as “chief” (Amos 6:1,6) and “firstfruits” (Lev 2:12). It is derived from ROSH which means “the head”. Joseph believed that when the Bible was first written ROSH was used instead of RESHIYTH. He taught that the Hebrew word for God, ELOHIYM should be rendered as “Gods” (plural). All modern Bible scholars agree with this. However, using the Hebrew Joseph came up with quite an unorthodox translation for the first verse. Instead of “In the beginning God created…” he translated it as: “The Head One of the Gods brought forth the Gods.”
This is a very possible rendition that would never occur to orthodox translators for obvious reasons.
Joseph said that in the morning of creation the Gods (ELOHIYM) had a council and formulated a plan for the organization of the earth and the salvation and progress of man. One God in particular was chosen to be the head over this planet. Later, Brigham Young who was tutored by Joseph said that this God later became Adam, “The only God with whom we have to do.” In the Bible Joseph said he was also called “The Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9, 13 & 22) Brigham said that Adam had lived as a man on another planet and was faithful there; hence he progressed and became a God (“Master” in New Age Language). He came to this earth in an immortal body, or one that was not subject to death as we know it. However, he partook of the elements here which created a change until he eventually became a mortal man again.
Joseph’s revelations seem to support the teachings of Brigham. Concerning those who overcome all things he wrote: “Wherefore, as it is written, they are Gods, even the sons of God. Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life OR DEATH…” Doctrine and Covenants 76:58-59.
Apparently Joseph and Brigham thought that even a God, or Master, could take for himself again a mortal tabernacle and become subject to death if it filled some purpose.
It is true that we cannot prove every detail from the Bible that Joseph Smith claimed to receive by revelation. After all – that was the purpose of the revelations past and present: to give us knowledge that is not readily available from the Bible. Nevertheless, truth harmonizes with truth and if the Bible is true then Joseph’s revelations should not disagree.
Paradoxically, Joseph also taught that there was only one God. In the Book of Mormon we find several quotes similar to this one: “And now behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only true doctrine of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is ONE GOD, without end, Amen.” II Nephi 31:21
He also wrote: “And the light which shineth which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to full the immensity of space. The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.” D&C 88:11-13
Here we have a teaching of the omnipresent God “who is in the midst of all things.” Joseph also wrote that “the elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples…” D&C 93:35
The idea of the elements being the tabernacle of God is an interesting, but ancient concept. In other words, there is one life: God who permeates all things. He is everywhere. All the elements of the entire universe compose the physical body of the one great life which is God. Man, being composed of element, is a tabernacle of God, or a temple. The body of man is a symbol of the body of the one great God whose body is the universe.
Joseph said that the Gods are called one because they agree or work together as one. Thus even though there are many masters and great lives that are Gods to their dominions they all work in agreement and have a communion with each other that harmonizes with the One Great Life that permeates all things. Just as the tiny lives called cells work together in unity to produce the greater life which is man, even so do the Gods (or Masters) cooperate with the will of the One Great Life. They also identify with him and seek to be one with him.
THE HIERARCHY OF GODS
This identification of the Gods, or Masters on this earth with the One God Life that permeates the universe has caused misunderstandings to those who read the revelations of Joseph Smith as well as the Bible. For instance, Joseph said that long ago there was a God appointed to be the head over this planet, yet the God in his revelations takes credit for creating all the worlds: “And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.” Moses 1:37-38
Joseph Smith has been criticized for speaking of God in this dual manner, but orthodox Christians do not realize that the Bible does the same thing. On the lowest level the Bible talks about Gods as being men with dominions in Israel as already mentioned in Psalms 82:6 and John 10:33-36 Isaiah on the other hand, spoke of a God whose dominion is the entire earth: “The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” Isa 54:5 David talks about “the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.” Psalms 97:5 The grain of Israel is to be consecrated “unto the Lord of the whole earth.” Micah 4:13 The God of the ark of the covenant is also called: “the Lord of all the earth.” Joshua 3:11.
The word “Lord” here is from the Hebrew ADOWN which means “Master” or “Ruler”. The God identified here in the Hebrew is “Jehovah” (or Yahweh). Thus the Master of the earth is one called Jehovah. This name is more of a symbol of consciousness of a Master rather than the name of an individual entity.
Thus far we have Gods that have dominion over men and the entire earth. Is there a God higher than these? The Bible says yes. It tells us that there is a hierarchy in all things, even the Gods: “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgement and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth (many scholars think that this refers to Jehovah) AND THERE BE HIGHER THAN THEY.” Eccl 5:8
The Douay version renders it this way: “If thou see the oppressions of the poor, and violent judgements, and justice perverted, in the province, wonder not at this matter: for he that is high hath another higher, and there are others still higher than these.”
The Bible does tell about a God who created all the heavens who must be a lot higher than the God of the earth. It also tells us that he made the worlds through the power of the Son of God. (Hebrews 1:1-3) It makes it sound as if it was Jesus the man from Nazareth who created the trillions of worlds out there and is perhaps the one God that is over all things.
This belief is further reinforced because Jesus is identified as the Word in the first chapter of John by the Christian world: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word WAS GOD. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4.
This sounds confusing. God is identified with men, the God of this earth, the creator of all the heavens, and now as the man Jesus who created all things. What really did create all things? A more correct translation will help here. The Concordant Version does the best job in rendering the original Greek in John 1:1-4: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was toward God, and God was the word. This is in the beginning toward God. All came into being through IT (not Him), and apart from IT not even one thing came into being which has come into being. In IT was life, and the life was the light of men.”
There is a major revelation here in this more correct translation. The word is an “it” and not a “he”. The original translators of the King James wanted to glorify Jesus to the position of the creator of all the heavens so they rendered the Greek AUTOS as “he” instead of “it.” The Concordant translators, who translate more literal than any others I have found, no doubt felt that the context warrants the word “it.”
The word “it” is very significant. This indicates that “it” is an energy (words are vibration and vibration is energy) and not a single person. The same with the Son of God. It is not just the man Jesus as we shall show but all who reach the Christ consciousness can be Sons of God. Jesus was a representative on this earth (not the originator) for the power of the Word of God, or the Son aspect or energy.
There is a hierarchy of beings of a diverse magnitude of consciousness who are tuned into the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost aspects. There are billions of entities in each category throughout the universe and even though he who is called the Christ is the greatest of humanity, many others on other worlds are greater than he.
Ancient man had a terrible time adjusting to the fact that the earth is not the center of the universe around which all things revolve including the Sun. When astronomers revealed how insignificant we are (relatively speaking) it was hard to face. It takes humility to admit we are not the greatest. Mankind has the same problem with its gods. The God we worship always has to be the head man of the universe and if Jesus is our God then we want him to be right up there at the top of the heap. Ancient man had difficulty putting the earth in its proper prospective. Modern fundamentalists have the same problem with Jesus. Accepting him as the first to manifest the Christ is not enough. We want to shove him up there as the head of the universe.
Any logical thinker can see how improbable this is. This earth is merely one out of billions of worlds in this galaxy and the galaxy is only one of billions of galaxies in the universe. The end is nowhere in sight. There are trillions and trillions of worlds. There are as many worlds as there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the earth. To say that Jesus created them all and singled us out for special attention to the extent that he would come and die for the whole universe on this one speck of dust is comparable to this: See yourself as the creator of all the beaches of the world. You decide to make a journey to the shores of France and pick up one little grain off the seashore and say to yourself: “I will pay particular attention to this little grain and undergo unimaginable suffering to save it.”
Suppose you had an oil spill on one of your beaches in California. Would you drop your little grain of sand in France and attend to a weightier problem or would you continue to give it special attention and let the rest of your beaches spoil?
Obviously, you would be equally concerned with all your beaches. In fact you do not look upon your property as grains of sand, but the cosmopolitan product of their accumulation which we call beaches. Perhaps a lower life form such as bacteria may take a special interest in a certain particle of sand, but to you the whole mass is the important thing.
Joseph, Madame Blavatsky, Alice A. Bailey and others taught that there are many lives in the hierarchy of Gods and that one in particular was made the head over this earth and is very concerned with it. To the God who rules the entire universe we are no more than a mere grain of sand and have little effect upon the whole. However, the lesser Gods identify and cooperate with the One Great Life. In addition to this the One God dwells in every one of us. Therefore, through all beings in the universe who are one with God, no living thing is neglected. The One Great Life who is God is one with his creation and dwells in all things. A sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice.