Friday, January 14, 2011

Biblical monotheism is...

monolatrism, the consistent worship of only one divine person in the divine/supernatural realm inhabited by divine/supernatural persons. The one divine person who receives full devotion and worship is the almighty creator.
For instance, Psalm 8:5 calls the angels elohim, literally “gods” (the NET Bible translates it as “heavenly beings”), and the LXX replaces elohim with “angels,” and Hebrews 2:7 confirms that these are angels by quoting the LXX, showing that the LXX translators understood it correctly.[1] Angels are also described as gods in the rest of the Bible, before and after Psalm 8:5, from Genesis to Revelation.[2]

Thus, regarding the “true God/false God” dichotomy of Trinitarianism, it must be known that such needs to be informed of the Biblical definitions of “god.” One meaning is nature or being, the other is worshipful.

  • Thus, true Christians worship the one true God the Creator. Other competing objects of worship are false.
  • But in terms of nature or being, there are many supernatural beings or gods. (Refer to footnote 2.)

Additionally, any obeisance (proskuneo) given to Jesus is to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11) For example, Joseph’s brothers also bowed to him in Genesis 43:28 (proskuneo LXX), but he was not a false god, because his brothers knew that full worshipful devotion belonged to the Almighty God Jehovah.

Some will say this understanding of “god” is henotheism, but this term has some shortcomings that the term monolatrism does not. For instance, regarding henotheism it is stated that:
“‘a God’ may refer to one personality (among others) of the supreme God, and also the God may be said to have the power of assuming many personalities. Max Müller [who coined the term] encountered these subtleties in the Upanishads and Rig Veda [of Hinduism], and posited the idea of henotheism as a way of explaining them. ... Henotheism is based on the belief that a god may take any form at any time and still have the same essential nature. The central idea is that one name for a god may be used in a circumstance where a particular aspect of this god is being represented or worshiped while a different name may be given to or used to describe or worship a different aspect of the god in a different circumstance. This example does not imply the superiority of one over another, but simply that a god can exist in many forms at once and offering worship or praise using different names does not have to imply polytheism.” (underscore added)
Thus, it appears that henotheism has some extra baggage that monolatrism lacks. The later expresses Biblical monotheism more succinctly.

As Jesus said in the clearest possible terms imaginable at John 17:1-5, the Father is God, and He is the only one to receive full worshipful devotion.

Now, since Trinitarianism advocates worshiping Jesus and the Holy Spirit as persons of the Godhead along with the Father, it unwittingly advocates idolatry. Only the Father is to be worshiped. Thus, according to the Trinitarian “true God/false God” dichotomy, Trinitarianism unwittingly calls Jesus and the Holy Spirit false Gods and idols. Contrarily, Jehovah's Witnesses worship only the Father in monolatry.

Biblical theology is monolatrous and Trinitarianism is idolatrous.

[1] Angels are called gods elsewhere too in Psalms 86:8 and 136:2.

[2] Some notable examples of such are found at Genesis 32:25; Judges 6:21; 13:19, 20; Daniel 3:25; 6:22; 7:10; 10:5, 6; Acts 12:6-10 and Revelation 8:5. Also note the supernatural power of the fallen angels, the demons, at Genesis 6:2 where they were able to produce male bodies for themselves, and at Job 1:14-19 where Satan directed groups of people and controlled the elements of fire and wind. Thus, all spirit creatures inferior to the Almighty God are described as supernatural and therefore are divine beings or gods by nature.

What about Isaiah 43:10?
Ones who object to anyone being called “a god” will often cite Isaiah 43:10, which contains the expression: “Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none.” Notice though that “God” here is used as the Almighty Creator, and thus does not address the question of other lesser divine beings like angels. This interpretation is supported by the next verse, which similarly declares: “besides me there is no savior.” As God’s appointed judges were also called saviors in Judges 2:16; 3:9, 15, it can be seen that God is the Prime Savior who sends saviors. Thus, he is the only God by virtue of his almighty nature as the creator, and not due to being an inhabitant of heaven like the angels.

Trinitarian View of Angels
While Trinitarianism may object to angels being gods, it is noteworthy that they are acknowledged as being spirits. As one Trinitarian clearly explained: “An angel is a spirit being created by God” with “enormous, though limited (as a creature) power and knowledge.”[B1] Therefore, since “God is a spirit” (John 4:24) and God is divine, and angels are spirits, then it follows that they are divine and gods by nature. As explained above, this arrangement is not polytheism nor henotheism, but monolatrism.

[B1] “Angelology: Angels” by Greg Herrick See also “Creation of Angels” by James Petigru Boyce

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