Little Gods: The Deification Heresy

Some false teachings are so bizarre that one wonders how anyone can believe them. Yet people do believe the charismatic doctrine of deification. Deification is the belief that the incommunicable (non-moral) attributes of God can be given to men. Examples: creative power, eternality, sovereignty. Many popular teachers and the immensely popular TBN teach this heresy. See Christianity in Crisis, pages 107-127 or Charismatic Chaos, pages 328-336 for documentation and further examples.

  1. Kenneth Hagin: Man “was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority.”
  2. Kenneth Copeland: Adam “was not a little like God. He was not almost God. He was not subordinate to God even.”
  3. Joyce Meyer: “If you as a human being have a baby, you call it a human kind. If cattle have another cattle, they call it cattle-kind. I mean what’s God supposed to call us? Doesn’t the Bible say we’re created in His image?”
  4. Creflo Dollar: “You are gods because you came from God and you are gods, you’re not just human.”
  5. Morris Cerullo: “And when we stand up here, brother, you’re not looking at Morris Cerullo; you’re looking at God. You’re looking at Jesus.”
  6. Paul Crouch (TBN president): “I am a little god! Critics, be gone!”

I have heard more than one pastor in the rural areas of Africa claim to be god, and many church attenders have told me they have either heard this teaching or they believe it themselves. Their videos aren’t posted online, but they believe the same thing as these who are. After all, where did the Africans get this theology from?

Deification is an entirely false doctrine. It is no more Christian than Islam. Those who believe it are worshipping an idol or a demon. Here are seven deductive proofs and as a bonus, one inductive proof that men are not little gods.

Syllogism 1: One God
Proposition 1: The Bible clearly states that there is and only ever shall be one God. Deut. 6;4; Isa. 43:10; Mark 12:29; John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:5
Proposition 2: The one true God is not merely a man.
Conclusion:    Therefore, no mere man can be the God or a god.

Syllogism 2: Blasphemy
Proposition 1: To lessen the perfections of God or to ascribe the incommunicable attributes of God to a creature is blasphemy. Col. 3:8
Proposition 2: To blaspheme is a sin that God or gods cannot do.
Conclusion: Therefore, men are not the God or a god.

Syllogism 3: Unconverted Men
Proposition 1: In an unconverted state men are children of Satan who hate God.
Proposition 2: Children of Satan are not God.
Conclusion: Therefore, men are not the God or a god.

Syllogism 4: Converted Men
Proposition 1: To reach a converted state, a man must be made into a new creation. 2 Cor. 5:17
Proposition 2: A thing that has been made or has a beginning is not God.
Conclusion: Therefore, men are not the God or a god.

Syllogism 5: Soli Deo Gloria
Proposition 1: If man is god in the sense that he has the power to create reality with his words or by sovereignly exercising some control over his Creator, then some glory should go to man. Isa. 45:5-6
Proposition 2: However, all glory belongs to God alone.
Conclusion: Therefore, men are not the God or a god.

Syllogism 6: Humility
Proposition 1: All true Christians must be humble about the reality of their creaturehood and sinfulness.
Proposition 2: But God must not be humble because He is neither a creature nor in any way sinful.
Conclusion: Therefore, men are not the God or a god.

Syllogism 7: Hermeneutics
Proposition 1: There is no Scriptural, hermeneutical reason to think that the image of God in man is evidence that man is the God or a god.
Proposition 2: The image of God in man is the key biblical “evidence” that Word Faith teachers offer to prove deification.
Conclusion: Therefore, men are not the God or a god.

Bonus: Church history
Evidence: No reputable writer, preacher, pastor, or scholar in the history of the Christian church has ever believed that men have in themselves the incommunicable attributes of God.
Conclusion: Therefore, men are not the God or a god.

Why is this doctrine important? Because this teaching destroys Soli Deo Gloria. Because this teaching weakens total depravity as the gospel calls sinners to realize how bad they are not how good they are. Because this doctrine damages Solus Christus as Christ is reduced to one among peers.

If even one of these proofs is true, then deification as taught by the Word Faith teachers is false. What should be as obvious as gravity needs to be explicitly stated since the sin of man has so befooled our natural powers. There is only true God. Saving Jesus Christ, no man or woman is the God or a god.

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5 Responses to Little Gods: The Deification Heresy

  1. Mpumelelo Kunene says:

    Thanks for this brother, it is a helpful reasoning process in dealing with probably one of the most understated fallacies of the charismatic movement in Africa. I have had the pleasure (displeasure?) of engaging with charismatic friends who fail to understand the point of Psalm 82 and use it erroneously as a backup for this.

    I’m particularly intrigued by your second syllogism. There is a crop of Charismatics who convince themselves to be biblical but when pressed about what it actually means to be “little gods”, they seem only happy to confine their abilities to one subset of Omnipotence, i.e. they can create with their mouth, and seemingly all the other incommunicable attributes are beyond them (they can’t convince themselves that they are immutable or that they are non-contingent, for obvious reasons). Their love relationship with “being-able-to-create-with-mouth” seems inexorably linked to prosperity theology.

    • Seth Meyers says:

      There is a technical error in syllogism #2, that I allowed for brevity. The first term in the conclusion, is not found in the first two propositions which it should be to be formally correct.

      But that is just shorthand for the longer argument:
      Conclusion: God or gods cannot lessen the perfections of God…

      Next syllogism:
      Men are creatures.
      Creatures are those beings of whom the incommunicable attributes cannot be predicated.
      Men are those beings of whom the incommunicable attributes cannot be predicated.

      Next syllogism:
      The incommunicable attributes cannot be predicated to man.
      God is that being which has the incommunicable attributes.
      Therefore, man is not God.

      I cut out at least two syllogisms to make it user friendly, but I don’t think anyone has a difficulty with seeing the point as you mentioned in your response.

    • Seth Meyers says:

      To your concluding point about the connection between positive confession, divine authority, and the prosperity gospel, I absolutely agree.

      Prosperity is what they love. So it takes the place of Solus Christus.
      Deification is their theology of how they can get what they love replacing Soli Deo Gloria.
      Positive Confession is the single, instrumental cause of prosperity taking the place of Sola Fide.
      Dreams, visions, and the pastor’s word is their authority in the place of Sola Scriptura.
      And to complete the system, there is no grace. Sola Gratia just dies. Because man is a god, because sin is out of sight, he neither needs grace, nor wants it.

  2. Paul Schlehlein says:

    Thanks for this post, Seth. If I want to communicate these ideas in my home village, mostly of rural people, how can I get these ideas across to them? I want to maintain your logic and conclusions, but also explain it in a way they can understand.

    • Seth Meyers says:

      From Scripture and my own experience, humility seems to be the most persuasive argument. Jesus Christ was humble, and His gospel demands humility. Yet deification is more proud than Lucifer. And such pride as is evident to even the most uneducated person if they simply watch one service of preachers like this.

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