In America we live in a melting pot of cultures, ideologies, philosophies, and theologies. As pertaining to religion, we live in an religious pluralistic melting pot. It is easy for us as Christians to learn about other faiths by the click of a mouse or by striking up a conversation with a person of another faith at work, school, on the street, or in your own neighborhood. It is because of this easy access to such knowledge through books, internet websites, and personal encounters about these faiths we as Christians get to see the diversity in theologies and philosophies and learn how to reach them more effectively both apologetically and evangelistically. We learn of their different gospels, Christology’s (teachings on Jesus), and theological ideas about the person and nature of God. We learn how all religions apart from Christianity rejects the orthodox and biblical doctrine of the Trinity: One God who exist as three eternal and distinct persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). They are the same in nature, substance, and essence, but different in person and office. This perhaps can be termed theologically and philosophically as Triune Monotheism. Judaism and World Islam are more of a strict singular Monotheism in which their god consist of no Godhead. In studying other faiths, whether they be cults (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Word of Faith movement, etc.) or other religions (Islam, Judaism, etc.) we find their various weaknesses and in turn we show them in love such weaknesses against the never-changing truths of Christianity which is God’s truth (Malachi 3:6, John 17:17). One such study that has caught my attention is how many, if not all cults and religions follow a finite god, which is better termed finite godism. In this blog we will see what finite godism is, then see how the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Word of Faith movement, and World Islam worship a finite god and finally conclude with the superiority of the Infinite God of Christianity.
The term finite godism may not be a very familiar term if you have little to no knowledge of philosophy. There is no reason to fear, however, because the definition is very easy to remember. Finite godism: a god with limitations in goodness or power or limited in both goodness and power. A finite god can be limited in power, for instance, a finite god is incapable of creating the world out of nothing, ex nihilo, so this finite god creates something from something else, ex materia. A Infinite God, such as the Christian God, created the universe and the earth and all that are in them by the Word of His power (Genesis 1:3-21, Hebrews 1:1-3 11:3).
An example of a god who is limited in his goodness is a god who is incapable of putting an end to evil in the world. If such a god cannot put an end to evil, such a god either: 1. Doesn’t exist. 2. Is a finite being. Therefore the only god who can ultimately put an end to evil is the Infinite God of Christianity (Ecclesiastes 12:14, Hebrews 9:27, Revelations 20). Now that we have the understanding of what finite godism is and a couple of examples have been giving in order to make the meaning unmistakably clear, we will move on beginning with certain members of the Kingdom of the Cults.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are no strangers to anyone. Their two-by-two evangelistic method, Watchtower and Awake magazines, and Sunday morning attire are among the hallmarks of identifying them. Ethically they reject blood transfusions by equating it with drinking blood (Leviticus 17:10-11). Theologically they reject the deity of Jesus by claiming He is a lesser god, or as John 1:1 in the New World Translation states it, ” In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” There are so many points which we could make regarding the theological differences between the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christianity, but that is a whole new blog all together! Where I wish for us to go here is to make the case why the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in and worship a finite god.
As I stated earlier, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is a lesser god, a god, according to their New World Translation. This Christological view they presently hold to was not always the Christological view they held to. In their 1901 American Standard Version bible, John 1:1 reads as follows, ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Wow! What a huge change Christologically! Here we see Jesus go from being God to being a lesser god. Is not the Bible the very Word of God, God-breathed? According to one of their main pieces of literature, ” What does the Bible really teach”, on page 18, they called the Bible, ” A book from God”. Furthermore on page 19 they say, ” the Bible ‘is inspired by God (2nd Timothy 3:16).'” In their other authoritative book, ” Reasoning from the Scriptures”, on page 58, when giving reasons for considering the Bible, they said, ” The Bible itself says it is from God, mankind’s Creator.” So since they claim that their Bible is from God and is His Word, then which is it? Is Jesus God or a lesser god? Obviously Jesus can’t be both. Either Jesus is the almighty God, creator of the heavens and the earth, or Jesus is a lesser god. Therefore since Jehovah God, the God of the Jehovah’s Witnesses changed his mind about the nature of his son Jesus, then this god must be a finite god because this god is finite in his ability to know. This god is untrustworthy when it comes to knowing truth.
The next cult on the discussion table is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or as they are better known as Mormons. Similar to the Jehovah’s Witnesses they are known also for their two-by-two evangelistic method and Sunday morning attire. They are even more easily identified by their means of transportation: bicycles. Theologically the Mormons are known for their polytheism and henotheism, which means they believe in many gods (polytheism), but worship only one of them as the chief God (henotheism). Other beliefs include the doctrine of Mormons progressing to godhood. As Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism once taught, ” As man is, God once was; As God is, man may become (The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, pg. 59).” Other teachings from the Mormon Church include the pre-existence of the soul (Greek philosophy) and the controversial doctrine of the brotherhood of Jesus and Lucifer.
The beginning of the Mormon church hinges on the vision Joseph Smith, Jr. received in the Spring of 1820 of God the Father and Jesus. It is in this vision that they told Joseph that all the Christian churches was an abomination in His sight. It is from this point on that Joseph Smith, Jr. began the Mormon church and claimed it as the one true church. Such a claim as this begs the question: If all the churches of Christendom were corrupt and an abomination in his sight, why did the god of Mormonism wait until 1820 to correct the problem by reforming the Church through Joseph Smith, Jr.? Furthermore if this claim is true, then all the “Christians” from the death of the last Apostle on were actually false Christians. This brings the goodness and power of the god of Mormonism into question. Why would this god allow demonic deception to go on unchecked for so long? Why would this god fail to keep his truth in the earth? Was the god of Mormonism overpowered by Satan due his finitude or did he intentionally allow his truth to be eradicated by the devil until 1820? If Satan overpowered the god of Mormonism due to his finitude, then such a god can never overcome evil. If the god of Mormonism intentionally allowed his truth to be eradicated from the earth, then this god is unquestionably not good, but evil. Either way, this god is finite and is not worthy of worship.
The last cult group we will discuss is the Word of Faith movement. This group is well known for preaching the “Health, Wealth, and Prosperity” gospel. Faithful viewers of “Christian television” are more than familiar with names like Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyers, and other well known names within the movement. Theologically the Word of Faith movement teaches that Jesus went to hell to be tortured by Satan and his demons, atoned for our sins in hell, and was the first man born-again. Other doctrines include Christians being little gods, positive confession (New Age concept), and guaranteed healing for the believer in Christ.
The greatest proof I think for finite godism in the Word of Faith movement is its doctrine of prayer or as it should be clearly termed as positive confession. According to Word of Faith theology concerning prayer and positive confession, the answer to or the lack of answer to your prayer is not dependent upon God, but wholly depend upon you. The late Kenneth Hagin, Sr. taught the following, “Often you create your own negative situations yourself with wrong thinking, wrong believing, and wrong speaking. So start believing according to God’s Word. Then begin making positive confessions of faith and victory over your life. … You will never receive anything from God beyond the words you speak ( The Word of Faith, “You Can Have What You Say”). Kenneth Copeland taught the following, “What you are saying is exactly what you are getting now. If you are living in poverty and lack and want, change what you are saying…. The powerful force of the spiritual world that creates the circumstances around us is controlled by the words of the mouth.” (The Laws of Prosperity, Kenneth Copeland, Ft. Worth: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1974). If our words determine our circumstances and what we receive from God, then God’s actions are subject to our words; otherwise God cannot act in the earth and especially not in the life of one of His followers. The god of the Word of Faith movement then is a helpless being who cannot proceed to bless his children because his children through doubt and negative confessions handcuff him, preventing him from blessing them. Therefore this is a finite god because his power and ability to bless his children are regulated by his finite children’s words.
We now move from the Kingdom of the Cults to World Religions where we will discuss World Islam which is the second largest religion in the world behind Christianity according to statistics. It is a religion founded by the “prophet” Muhammad in about the six century A.D. The name of the god of World Islam is Allah, a purely monotheistic being. Theologically Islam strongly rejects the Trinity according to Sura 4:171 and confuses the biblical doctrine of the Trinity as Father, Mary, and Jesus according to Sura 5:116. Other Islamic doctrines include Jesus has only a prophet and nothing more and Muhammad as the last prophet of Allah.
The Islamic holy book, the Quran, interestingly teaches the doctrine of abrogation. In Sura 16:101 it says, ” When we substitute one revelation for another, and God knows best what he reveals (in stages), they say, ‘ Thou art a forger’ : but most of them understand not.” This is highly problematic in the same way it is for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. For Allah to abrogate one revelation and replace it with another revelation which contradicts the previous revelation demonstrates how this god is subject to change his mind on any given subject matter. If this is so, as the Quranic text is teaching, then this god Allah is finite in knowledge. Therefore we cannot receive reliable knowledge and truth from such a god as Allah.
In conclusion we see finite godism in these selected cults and religion. Finite godism is found in other cults and religions as well, but these examples will suffice us. A finite god is a god who is doomed to fail. Such a god is limited in power and goodness and such a god is unrealistic in light of the present and future state of our world. A finite god is truly incompatible with reality and should be rejected. The biblical God of Christianity is perfect goodness, ” Far it be from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25) God is all-powerful and does all He pleases and is in need of no one’s assistance, ” Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying. ‘ My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.'” (Isaiah 46:9-10). Only an infinite God is compatible with our falling world that is self-destructing before our very eyes. The God of the Bible will in perfect goodness and omnipotence make all wrongs right again for He is infinite and Holy. The infinite God of the Christian faith is reliable and trustworthy in giving us truth, which is what we need. That truth is ultimately found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, ” Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6)