An LDS man who wanted to convince me that the Bible validates the notion of multiple gods used Deuteronomy 32:8 as a proof text. In the RSV (the translation he wanted to use for this verse) it says:
“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.”
The LDS man made three claims: that “sons of God” is the more accurate translation; that these sons-of-God are gods themselves; and that these sons-of-God/gods are part of a “heavenly council of gods” to the “Most High God.”
To see if the man had a reasonable argument, I first went back to the Book of Deuteronomy and studied it carefully. As it turns out, Deuteronomy has A LOT to say about other gods. The following is a presentation of what I found. PLEASE take the time to read these verses so you will know that my representations and conclusions are fully supported by the Biblical text.
(And keep in mind that Bible translators use the all-caps word “LORD” for the Hebrew word יְהוָה which means “The Existing One.” “YHWH,” “Yahweh,” or “Jehovah” are the English renderings of יְהוָה For this reason, I will substitute “Jehovah” for “LORD” below).
“…Thou shalt have none other gods before me…”
Deuteronomy teaches that:
1 – The LORD God (Jehovah elohim) is the god of the nation of Israel, but other peoples/nations have/worship other gods (Deut 5:6; Deut 29:25-26; Deut 32:12)
2 – The LORD God is adamant that His people not have anything to do with the other gods, nor try to worship Him in the same way as the other people worship their gods (Deut 5:6-8; Deut 6:14; Deut 7:3-5; Deut 8:19; Deut 11:16-17; Deut 11:28; Deut 12:2; Deut 28:14-15; Deut 30:16; Deut 31:16-17)
3 – The god-worship done by the other nations includes “every abomination to the LORD” (one given example is the burning of their children) (Deut 12:31; Deut 20:18; Deut 29:18; Deut 31:18) and
4 – The LORD God is superior to all other “gods” (Deut 3:24; Deut 10:17)
“…These curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee…The LORD shall bring thee… unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone…”
Deuteronomy tells us more about the gods of the other nations. It goes on to show that:
5 – The other “gods” being worshiped are just wood and stone — graven images/the work of men’s hands (Deut 28:36; Deut 28:64; Deut 4:25, 27-28; Deut 29:16-18; Deut 12:3)
6 – The other “gods” being worshiped are the sun, moon, and ‘host of heaven’ (Deut 17:2-5; Deut 4:15-16,19) and
7 – The other “gods” being worshiped are demons! (Deut 32:16-17)
Perhaps some of the “gods” are not really gods, but are some real?
“For the LORD shall judge his people… he shall say, ‘Where are their gods… let them rise up and help you, and be your protection! See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me…'” Deut 32:36-39
Perhaps, according to Deuteronomy, Jehovah God is the only real god for our heaven and earth; but there are other real gods for other ‘heaven and earths’? Is this possible? No, for two reasons.
First, in all of Deuteronomy, and in fact, in all of the Bible, though the issue of “other gods” is brought up many, many, many times, NOT ONE TIME is any mention made of any other REAL god.
Second, should there be any confusion, the “I am the only God” verses in Deuteronomy have been restated and further clarified elsewhere in the Bible (eg., Isaiah 43:10, 44:6,24).
Mormon friend, it boils down to this. Given what is revealed about Jehovah — the LORD God, in the Bible — for you to claim or believe that there are other real gods anywhere (even in other universes, if they exist) you must believe that: 1 – Jehovah conceals the existence of other real gods, 2 – Jehovah is ignorant, or 3 – the Bible is not true (is not reliable/has been mistranslated). Since we were trying to use A BIBLE VERSE to prove the existence of other real gods in the first place, it is pointless to take the position that the Bible is not true/accurate. Next, throughout the Bible, not only does Jehovah repeatedly state that He is the only God, but He takes great care everywhere else in the Bible to say that the “other gods” are but idols. We cannot get around the fact that Jehovah God has clearly spoken on this issue. Lastly, could Jehovah be ignorant? Dare we assume Jehovah is not great enough to know of His peers? Only if we think we are greater than He is. “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
We must conclude that IF the 8th verse of the 32nd chapter of Deuteronomy is really talking about “gods,” then they are only so-called gods, wrongfully worshiped, to a person’s detriment.
And the Most High God? Yeah, that’s Jehovah.
“…I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD (Jehovah), the most high God (elyon el), the possessor of heaven and earth…” (Genesis 14:22)
“I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD (Jehovah) most high (elyon).” (Psalm 7:17)
“Know therefore this day, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” Deut 4:39
“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams… saying, Let us go after other gods (elohim)… that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD (Jehovah) your God (elohim)…” Deut 13:1-5