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Did More Than One God Create the World? 


Was the universe made by more than one God? The quick answer is that only one God created the universe, but this needs some more explanation since more than one Being is God according to Christian teaching. 


A number of texts in the Bible clearly affirm that God is one Person.  For example, Deuteronomy 6:4 has the beginning of what the Jews call “the shema.”  This passage, which every good Jew has memorized by heart in Hebrew, reads:  "Hear, O Israel!  The Lord [Jehovah] is our God, the Lord [Jehovah] is one."  Paul said in Galatians 3:20:   “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.”   Likewise the brother of Jesus wrote in James 2:19:  “You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble.”  Paul noted that “since it is one God who will justify circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith” (Romans 3:30).  God proclaimed through one of the greatest Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 44:6-8):  “So says the LORD, the King of Israel, and His redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and besides Me there is no God. . . . So you are My witnesses. Is there a God besides Me? Yea, there is none.”   Elsewhere David proclaims (2 Samuel 7:22), “Therefore You are great, O LORD God. For there is none like You, neither is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”  One scribe correctly told Jesus (Mark 12:32).” Right, Teacher, according to truth You have spoken, that God is one, and there is no other besides Him.”  So Scripture clearly affirms that there is only one God.


But is that all that the Bible teaches?  Is God just one Person, as Jews and Muslims teach?  Although the Bible reveals that God is one, it also says that more than one person is God.  One of the most important texts in this regard is John 1:1:  Its opening verse affirms the Deity of Christ:  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  Since in verse 14 "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us," the Word undeniably was Jesus.  To evade this verse, Unitarians, who say that God is one Person only, have argued that the "Word" merely was a thought in the Father's mind, since verses 2-3 refer to the "Word" impersonally.  (For verse 2, the NASB literal marginal rendering is "This one.")  This argument is simply unpersuasive, since this "thought" is called "God," and because this "thought" was the Creator "itself" in verse 2:  "All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being."  Could a mere "thought" alone in the Father's mind create the universe by itself?


Now the word translated "one" in Deut. 6:4 is "echod."  This word can mean composite unity, not an indivisible, solitary unity.  Genesis 2:24 uses the word "echod" thus:  "For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh."  Here two separate individuals become "one."  Similarly, the giant cluster of grapes carried on a branch between two of the spies scouting out the Holy Land for Israel was "echod" (Num. 13:23).  Despite apparently having hundreds of grapes, the cluster still was called "one" or "single."  The Greek word for one, "heis," merely repeats the same story, since it can refer to composite unity as well.  For example, the analogy between the human body and the church makes "one" out of many (I Cor. 12:12):  "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ."  Similarly, many can be "one" in Phil. 2:2 (NKJV):  "fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."  The non-spurious part of I John 5:7 (ASV) makes three into one:  "For there are three who bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and the three agree in one."  In light of this Scriptural evidence, it's wrong to insist the texts that affirm God's oneness must mean God is one single Person (center of consciousness).


Clearly, the Old Testament refers to God as both the "Creator" and "Creators," as the "Maker" and "Makers."  A Unitarian, who believes God is just one Person, could accuse a Binitarian, who believes God is made made up two Persons who are One God, of "a mathematical impossibility."   However, Hebrew agrees with the latter's viewpoint by implicitly portraying God as "one," but that "one" is defined in a way that allows for a multiplicity of Beings (re:  Gen. 3:22, "like ONE of US.")  Because a whole major doctrine might not be fully revealed in one place in the Bible since its bits and pieces may be scattered about within it, Binitarian teaching isn't self-contradictory.  The Unitarian view has the burden of explaining away the many pieces that don't fit it, while the Binitarian view embraces the evidence that portrays God as one as well as the evidence favoring more than one Person being God.  Hence, the Binitarians aren't "making the exception the rule" or engaging in selective proof-texting, but they are formulating a doctrine that explains ALL of the evidence, anomalous facts to Unitarianism included, not just a good part of it.




Does the Old Testament ever attribute to God a plurality of Persons?  Although Hebrew term for God, "elohim," is in the plural, it almost always takes singular verbs or pronouns.  But a few exceptions do arise (Isa. 6:8; Gen. 11:7), most notoriously Gen. 1:26:  "Then God said, 'Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness.'"  Those asserting monotheism requires God to be a single Person commonly employ two interpretive strategies to evade this text's implications.  One asserts that God spoke to the angels here.  But since Scripture never says the angels are creators, even assistant creators, this claim is totally unpersuasive.  Another approach maintains God here used the "plural of majesty," as Queen Victoria did in this statement attributed to her, "We are not amused."  Of course, the question then becomes why God almost never uses the plural of majesty, even when in Isaiah He is affirming His greatness compared to His creation and mankind, except in a very few, isolated cases.  (A serious scholarly investigation should be launched to see how and whether Israelite and other kings of a Semitic culture commonly used the plural of majesty, or whether it appeared in myths about false gods of the ancient Middle East).  But must ambiguity reign?  Notice Gen. 3:22:  "Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil.'"  This construction can't be explained as a "plural of majesty" because "one" is set against "Us."  Despite being not the most straightforward interpretation, the claim God used the "plural of majesty" in Gen. 1:26 may not be able to be decisively refuted at the present state of knowledge.  But in light of Gen. 3:22, the view "Elohim" can't refer to a plurality of Persons in the Godhead wears exceedingly thin.


            Consider the cases where God uses plural pronouns when speaking, starting with the classic text on the subject:  "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness'" (Gen. 1:26).  Belying the claim that this is a supposed "plural of majesty," the Jews anciently had trouble explaining this text.  In the Midrash Rabbah on Genesis, one rabbi made the following comments on it:


            Rabbi Samuel bar Naham in the name of Rabbi Jonathan said, that at the time when Moses wrote the Torah, writing a portion of it daily, when he came to this verse which says, 'And Elohim said, let us make man in our image after our likeness.'  Moses said, Master of the Universe, why do you give herewith an excuse to the sectarians [i.e., Christians], God answered Moses, You write and whoever wants to err let him err."


Obviously, if this text and those like it could be explained away as the plural of majesty, the rabbi(s) who wrote this passage could have easily disposed of this text's potential problems, since they certainly knew how Hebrew worked.




            According to Morey, during the intense nineteenth-century debates between Unitarians and Trinitarians, the plural of majesty was revealed to be a hoax popularized by the famous Jewish scholar Gesenius.  Using the plural of majesty to explain this and other passages away commits the fundamental mistake of reading a modern monarchical convention back into Scriptures originally written millennia ago when this form of speech was unknown.  As the scholar Nassi notes, the plural of majesty was "a thing unknown to Moses and the prophets.  Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, David, and all the other kings throughout . . . (the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa) speak in the singular, and not as modern kings in the plural.  They do not say we, but I, command; as in Gen. xli. 41; Dan. iii 29; Ezra i. 2, etc."  Compounding their error, the Unitarians attempt to explain even the plural word "elohim" away as a form of the plural of majesty, forgetting that the use of the royal "we" is limited to direct discourse and commands, not narratives or descriptions.  Given this kind of evidence, citing the authority of Gesenius or Bullinger is simply not persuasive as any kind of real proof that the Hebrew really does use the plural of majesty.  The Unitarians and Arians should completely abandon this argument if they can't cite ancient Semitic literature in which kings used the plural of majesty.


            Consider the three other cases where the God of Israel used plural pronouns:  "Then I [Isaiah] heard the voice of the Lord [Adonai], saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for US?" (Isa. 6:8).  "And the Lord [Yahweh] said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. . . .  Come, let US go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech" (Gen. 11:6-7).  "Then the Lord [Yahweh] God said, 'Behold, the man has become like ONE of US, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:22).  To explain away such anomalous facts of Scripture, the Unitarian has to invent unconvincing ad hoc explanations, such as "the plural of majesty," "the angels were speaking or being spoken to," etc.  By contrast, the Binitarian's teaching, which maintains that God is one but more than one being is God, effortlessly glides over such passages while still comfortably fitting the many more places where God uses singular pronouns.


It has been said that the plural of majesty isn't a hoax because in the Quran (Koran) of Islam Allah extensively uses "We," not "I."  However, there still is a gap of over 2000 years between the time of Moses and the time of Muhammad, so something more ancient, and thus concurrent with the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures, is necessary to make this point stick.  Admittedly, as John Wheeler has observed in a letter written to me dated December 24, 1998, the use of the plural noun with a singular verb used in agreement appears elsewhere in the OT, such as Wisdom in some Proverbs, the Behemoth in Job, and "your teachers" in Isa. 30:20.  However, this still doesn't refute Morey's point about the plural of majesty (or, perhaps more precisely, the "royal we") being limited to direct discourse when spoken aloud.  The question remains about why such terms are sometimes plural in form, and sometimes aren't, when power or might is implied may not be, strictly speaking, a "plural of majesty" because no monarch (including God) is speaking directly when they appear.  Still, this issue remains, and constitutes one for further research:  Did ancient Semitic monarchs or gods use the "royal we" in historical records or myths?  The Unitarians are welcome to find any evidence available for their cause from the first or second millennia b.c.


So the Bible teaches that one God created the world, but that more than one Person is God.  A “committee” of gods didn’t make the universe.




Eric Snow


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Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm

May Christians work on Saturdays? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Protestant Rhetoric vs Sabbath Refuted.htm

Should Christians obey the Old Testament law? /doctrinalhtml/Does the New Covenant Abolish the OT Law.htm

Do you have an immortal soul? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Here and Hereafter.htm

Does the ministry have authority? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is There an Ordained Ministry vs Edwards.html

Is the United States the Beast? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Are We the Beast vs Collins.htm

Should you give 10% of your income to your church? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Does the Argument from Silence Abolish the Old Testament Law of Tithing 0205 Mokarow rebuttal.htm

Is Jesus God? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is Jesus God.htm

Will there be a third resurrection? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Will There Be a Third Resurrection.htm



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