Doesn't Jesus teach that we can become gods in John 10:34?

Notice that in this John 10:34 passage Jesus did not affirm the LDS worldview in which we can become gods of our own planets someday as God became a God of this planet and many other worlds. The text refers to individuals being "gods" here on earth.

Also, if Jesus were referring to "gods" in some pre-exalted LDS sense (e.g., "gods in embryo"), then it needs to be recognized that these gods are not gods in the same sense that God is God. God is God by His nature, and thus He never has to grow into becoming a God (cf. Psalm 90:2, Hosea 11:9, and Galatians 4:8). We on the other hand are humans by nature. That is our sort or kind; it is our species. It is the most basic thing we can say about us, and without our nature we cannot even exist. One other interesting thing about a nature, no matter how we change, we still remain what we are, viz., human. So whether we are a zygote, an embryo, a fetus, an infant, a child, a teenager, an adult, or even if possible... a god, we still have our nature intact. (For more on the possibility of Christian deification, see "Doesn't 2 Peter 1:4 teach that we can become gods by being 'partakers of the divine nature'?") We are humans who have the capacities to reach various stages of development. This tells us that if we have to attain some stage of development, then that stage is not our nature (LDS misuse the term "nature" when speaking of the "divine nature" to mean a stage of development, an office, or a function). Since God has always been perfectly God, that is His nature and there is nothing for Him to develop into.

If LDS still insist that Jesus was referring to us being gods in the same sense that God is God, then they must be prepared to say that God in His nature was, at least possibly, sinful just like us. Look at the type of "gods" that Jesus was referring to here. Jesus was quoting from Psalm 82, and the context clearly shows that these individuals were sinful earthly gods. They were judges who were called "gods" because they were supposed to be acting like God and upholding justice. In a sense, they were the rock stars of their day. (Even LDS Apostle James Talmage says that this passage is not about becoming gods, but about earthly "judges" [Jesus the Christ, 501].) Instead, they were accepting the wicked, and not defending the poor and the fatherless (vss. 2-3). And as a result of sin, they would die like the men that they were by nature (vs. 7). Consequently, the next verse implores God to judge the earth, not the heavens. (Even if certain LDS want to argue that this passage is referring to other gods in heaven, this still does not support polytheism [belief in more than one true God], since these gods must be distinguished from the only One creator of literally everything outside Himself.) Later the psalmist says that "all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens" (96:5). So if LDS want to use this Ps. 82 passage to support their polytheism, then are they prepared to say that God also went through a process in which He could have sinned? After all, the former LDS prophet Lorenzo Snow famously (or notoriously) said, "As man is God once was, as God is man may be." If so, then these individuals cannot really be what we would expect of someone that fulfills the role of the Creator of heaven and earth. This is simply blasphemy to think we are on equals with God in terms of our nature.

Now of course certain LDS will respond that Jesus Himself was tempted in all things (Hebrews 4:15), and Jesus is recognized by Christians as God. So they conclude that of course God could have sinned. But this would be another classic example of LDS confusing what Christians have traditionally taken to be the two natures of Christ. For the Christian, Jesus as man is not God, but Jesus as God is not man (Hosea 11:9, John 1:1-3 and 14, and 1 Timothy 2:5). To put it cheaply, Jesus is one who with two whats. He has a divine nature, and He has a human nature. There is no contradiction here, since there is nothing logically impossible about something or someone having two distinct natures. So as God, Jesus has always been God. This is the glory and value that Christians, above everyone else, ascribe to Jesus. Since He has always been God, it should be obvious that as God, by definition He could never sin.

But what about when He wired to Himself the weak nature of a man? Was it possible for Him to sin in His human nature? This is a legitimate point of debate among good Christians (cf. Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology [Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1986], 263-6), but there are a couple things for sure among all Christians: 1) it was impossible for Christ in His divine nature to sin, and 2) Jesus was not ever working His way to Godhood like LDS are attempting. (Yes, I am aware that LDS believe Jesus was the God of the Old Testament before He came to earth, but LDS still deny that He was always God. He was our elder brother in the pre-earth life, who was born to heavenly parents like the rest of us. So He still had to utilize his free agency and work His way to exaltation at some point.) Thus, it won't help LDS to use Jesus as an example of someone who is God and could have sinned, since the Jesus of the Bible is God by nature, and as such, it is impossible for Him to sin. LDS have room for only one nature to Jesus, viz., human (who reached a particular divine or exalted status), and of course if that is all He is by nature, then certainly it was possible for Him to sin.

Well what was Jesus using Psalm 82 for anyway? Jesus simply was reaffirming the Jews' statement that He was making Himself out to be God (John 10:33). Jesus was contrasting Himself being the true "Son of God" whom "the Father hath sanctified, and sent" (vs. 36) with those "gods" in the Psalm that were not, but were performing works in keeping with who they really were. Jesus' works clearly demonstrated who He really was (vss. 37-38); He was the true God by nature.

But what if some LDS claim that all Jesus was trying to get across was that He was the Son of God and not God Himself? What if LDS think the Jews simply misunderstood Jesus' statement to be one with the Father (vs. 30) with a claim to be "God" (vs. 33), when all the while He was really claiming that He was just "the Son of God" (vs. 36)? The problem for LDS here is that Jesus never attempted to correct this supposed misunderstanding that "the Son of God" is something other than "God." He could have very easily quoted Psalm 82 again, and claim that "all of you are children of the most High" (vs. 6) in order to demonstrate that He as well as everyone else all have the same nature as God but are at lower stages of development. But the whole point of the Psalm passage is for Jesus to distinguish Himself from those "children" and those "gods." He is "the" unique "Son of God" who is one with the Father, and also sanctified and sent by Him. He wasn't simply unique because of His function, but also because of His nature as the "only begotten God" (Jn. 1:18, Greek). Jesus could have also very easily stated that He was just "one in purpose" with the Father the same as everyone else there was trying to be. No, the very works that Jesus did testified that He was in fact more than "one in purpose" with the Father; they testified that Jesus was God the Son, second person of the only Being of God there is.

To be the begotten child of someone entails that one takes on the nature of that someone. Jesus was the unique Son of God in that He eternally took on the nature of His eternal Begetter. Thus, for one to be the Son of God in this sense entails that one is God. And since Jesus was also born of a woman 2000 years ago, He took on the title of "the Son of man" (e.g., Jn. 8:28). The title has reference simply to His additional human nature, which as God, He does not nor ever will have (Hosea 11:9). In other words, in the divine nature, He could never have another nature essentially ("everything is what it is and not something else" to quote Parmenides). But since the second Person of God is the Lord Omnipotent, He could freely choose to have (i.e., non-essentially) an additional nature as an attachment--viz., a human nature as the man from Nazareth to manifest Himself with, sympathize with our every weakness, and die for all our sins.

Now to be a begotten child is quite different from being a created child. C. S. Lewis made a very important distinction between begetting and creating or making. He said,

What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God" (Mere Christianity, Book IV, Chapter I, emphasis added).

For Lewis, as well as for all traditional Christianity, there is only One who is worthy enough to be a Child of God in this begotten sense.

R. M. Sivulka

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