One of the most heretical teachings in modern evangelicalism is the doctrine that individuals are “little gods.” Leading proponents of this view are Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Joyce and David Meyer, Bishop Eddie L. Long, Paula and Randy White, and Creflo and Taffi Dollar.
This heresy is embedded in the Word of Faith movement, which seems to model its teaching on the New Age bestseller The Secret rather than Holy Scripture. The parallels are striking. Both teach humans are “little gods.” Humans are divine. Both teach God wants His people to be healthy, wealthy, and always happy.
Evangelist E. W. Kenyon (1867 – 1948) is considered by many to be the first proponent of the Word of Faith movement. Kenyon began his ministry as a Methodist, but transitioned to Pentecostalism. His disciple, Kenneth Hagan Sr. (1917 – 2003) expanded on the thoughts of Kenyon and became known as the father or “granddaddy” of the Word of Faith movement. His successor, Kenneth Copeland, worked with Oral Roberts, who conjured up the idea of “seed faith.” If you have a need, plant a seed. The seed was in the form of money to be sent to Oral Roberts ministry. When this was done, “something good is going to happen to you.” Do not wish for it. Do not hope for it. Expect it.
It seems with each generation, the teaching in the Word of Faith movement becomes more extreme, to the point the doctrine of men and women being gods is dogmatically stated.
“When I read in the Bible and He says ‘I Am’, I smile and say, ‘I Am too.’” ~Kenneth Copeland
“I am a little god. Yes. I have His name. I am one with Him” ~Paul Crouch, Founder of Trinity Broadcast Network
“You tap into who you really are. Do you know what the Bible calls you? It says you are little elohim. You are a little god. ~Paula White, Founder of International Church
The main text appealed to by the Word of Faith teachers to declare men are gods is found in John 10:34-35.
“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken 36 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?”
The Scripture Jesus quoted is Psalms 82:6 where God says to human beings, “I said, you are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High.”
The Hebrew word translated “gods” is Elohim, which literally means “gods” or “mighty ones”, a reference to magistrates, judges, and other people who hold positions of authority and rule, but not as supernatural beings (gods), for there is only one true Elohim, only one true God.
“Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else” (Deut. 4:39).
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deut. 6:4).
“But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation” (Jer. 10:10).
Like the Hebrew word, Elohim, the Greek word for God “theos”, does not always refer to Jehovah. Just like the Hebrew counterpart, the Greek word can signify a mighty one, a ruler, and especially a religious or priestly ruler, such as Melchizedek. In several texts in the New Testament the word “god” (theos) is used to refer to others than the one supreme being, Jehovah.
“Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him” (Acts 7:40).
“Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon” (Acts 7:43).
“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:23).
“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many” (1 Cor. 8:5).
Keeping in mind the Bible uses the Hebrew term for God, attention can be given to the words of Jesus in John 10:34-35.
In context, Jesus has angered the Pharisees by saying, “I and my Father are one.” It was at that moment the Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (John 10:31). There were other times when they picked up stones to stone Jesus. This was simply another occasion.
The reason why the Pharisees were ready to stone Jesus, is because they said He blasphemed by saying He was God. Jesus never said He was a “little god”. Jesus always said He was God and received worship. Jesus received worship, or the reverence paid to a divine being because He was worthy. To deny the deity of Christ is to regulate Him to being lesser than God.
At His royal birth, the magi bowed down and worshipped Him. “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11).
During His ministry, individuals worshipped Jesus, including His disciples. After Jesus had walked on water and climbed into the boat where they were, the disciples worshipped him. “Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matt. 14:33).
After His resurrection, Jesus received the worship of certain women. “And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Matt. 28:9).
Jesus did not blaspheme, as the Pharisees accused Him. What Jesus did do was respond to their false accusation by appealing to Scripture.
The Scripture Jesus appealed to was Psalm 82. In summary, Psalm 82 finds God rebuking the gods (i.e., the magistrates [elohim]) for judging unjustly. The rulers in Israel were not defending the poor and needy but were taking bribes from the wicked. Because of that, because the rulers were over extending their authority, and had an exalted view of themselves, the one and only true God said, “You shall die like men.”
The truth is established. The one and holy God will never die, but arrogant “little gods”, little rulers, will die the death of the wicked. They shall fall like one of the princes among the nations, and for a good reason.
When a person goes to a magistrate, it is like going to God in the sense that the magistrates are suppose to represent God’s holiness and justice. Study Romans 13
When a magistrate (elohim) is not administering justice, then that magistrate will be judged.
From Psalms 82, Jesus focuses attention on verse 6 to remind the Pharisees the term which offended them was applied in the Scriptures to magistrates, like themselves. The offensive language, Jesus said, can be applied to those who sustain important offices. There is no greater office than that of Messiah. Therefore, the charge of blasphemy was not sustainable because Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus was not comparing Himself to the magistrates, the gods of Psalms 82:6, He was making a contrast. The “gods” of Psalms 82:6, the magistrates, the rulers, were different from Himself, for He was the One who would take over the nations of the earth and judge it, and thereby fulfill the plea of the Psalmist, “Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations” (Psalms 82:8).
Following the resurrection of Jesus, we read Him saying, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).
In John 10, Jesus did not deny He meant to apply the term Son of God to Himself. Jesus did not deny the term properly applied to Him. Nor did Jesus deny that He meant to imply He was God, for either Jesus is a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord whom He claimed to be.
Jesus did not teach anyone else was a “little god” in the sense of being divine, for there is only one God in the universe.
Jesus did teach that the “little gods” of Psalm 82:6 received the Word of God, but did not honor it. In contrast, He, as the Messiah, as the true Son of God, sent by the Father, did the works of the Father, which validated His claim to divinity.
The desire to be like God originated with Lucifer. When he was judged for his pride, Lucifer tempted Adam and Eve and told they could be like God. Study Isaiah 14; Genesis 3
The continuing desire to deify humans is not unique to the Word of Faith movement, but it is in that movement the most tragic, for professing Christians knowingly diminishes the glory, the person, the work of Jesus Christ, in order to exalt themselves, and justify that which is unjustifiable, the exploitation of God’s people, for personal wealth, and power.