The Instigator
Unstobbaple
Pro (for)
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The Contender
DNehlsen
Con (against)
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The Old Testament Supports Polytheism

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/17/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 431 times Debate No: 103571
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
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Unstobbaple

Pro

First round is for acceptance, no new arguments or sourcing in the last round.
DNehlsen

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
Unstobbaple

Pro

The Old Testament is not exclusively Polytheistic. There is a strong claim that, for instance, the lord our god is one or the portrayal of other gods as false gods and this is a repeated idea that I will challenge. Angels and demons fit typical definitions of gods so it’s only that Jehovah is a chief or head god but it does not stop there. The Old Testament supports both Polytheism and monotheism Depending on the passage.


Israelites acknowledged many other Gods in the old Testament. Dagon, Asherah and Baal to name a few. Jehovah was not presented as the only god but rather the strongest among the gods in a book that describes a polytheistic world view.


From Webster:


God

  • 1: capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: such as

  • a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe

  • b : Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind

  • 2: a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality Greek gods of love and war

Polytheism

belief in or worship of more than one god


It’s the second definition for God that is popular for polytheists and there are many gods described in the old testament. In fact, at the time all rival tribal groups opposed to the Jewish god worshiped gods, for the most part, and they were mentioned and acknowledged as rival gods.

From the Old Testament:

Psalm 82:1 God stands in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he passes judgment.

When Elyon divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam,

he established the borders of the nations according to the number of the sons of the gods.

Yahweh’s portion was his people, [Israel] his allotted inheritance. (Deut. 32:8–9)


(Elyon was considered the chief among canaanites [1])


For [Jehovah] is the great God, and the great King above all gods (Ps. 95:3).


All the gods bow down before [Jehovah] (Ps. 97:7).

I know [Jehovah] is great, and our Lord is superior to all gods. (Ps. 135:5)

But you must not turn away from all the commandments I am giving you today, to either the right or left, nor pursue other gods and worship them (Deut. 28:14–15).


Many Gods are mentioned in the Old Testament and acknowledged as rival deities:


Amon, the chief god of Egypt See also Jer 46:25 [2]

Asherah, a Canaanite goddessEx 34:13-14Asherah was the consort of El, the chief Canaanite god. Wooden poles, perhaps carved in her image, were often set up in her honour and placed near other pagan objects of worship. See alsoDt 7:5; Jdg 6:25-30 Gideon destroys an Asherah pole; 1Ki 14:15,23; 1Ki 15:13; 1Ki 16:33; 1Ki 18:19 Elijah summons 400 prophets of Asherah to Mount Carmel. King Josiah’s reforms:2Ki 23:4-7,13-16

Isa 27:9; Jer 17:2; Mic 5:14

Ashtoreth, a goddess of war and fertilityJdg 2:12-13Jdg 10:6; 1Sa 7:3-4; 1Sa 12:10; 1Sa 31:10; 1Ki 11:5,33

Baal, a Canaanite and Phoenician god of fertility and rainJdg 2:10-13

Baal-Zebub, a popular deity of the PhilistinesMt 12:24 pp Mk 3:22 pp Lk 11:152Ki 1:1-6,16-17

Bel, the chief deity of BabylonIsa 46:1Jer 50:2; Jer 51:44

Chemosh, the chief god of Moab1Ki 11:7Nu 21:29; 1Ki 11:33; 2Ki 23:13; Jer 48:7,13,46

Dagon, worshipped in Babylonia and PhilistiaJdg 16:231Sa 5:2-7; 1Ch 10:10

Molech, the chief deity of Ammon1Ki 11:4-5Lev 18:21Lev 20:2-5; 1Ki 11:7,33; 2Ki 23:102Ki 23:13; Isa 57:9; Jer 32:35; Jer 49:1,3; Zep 1:5; Ac 7:43

Tammuz, a Babylonian fertility godEze 8:14

Zeus and HermesAc 14:12Z

ArtemisAc 19:24-28Castor and PolluxAc 28:11’

Gods are often mentioned and acknowledged as gods.


It was a common understanding that there were other gods and that it was dangerous or immoral to worship them. Later they were called false gods but this was not a statement that they did not exist.


The rival gods around jehovah required worship and demonstrated supernatural ability clearly matching typical definitions for god.


The supernatural abilities of biblical gods


Egyptions were able to create miracles confirming their supernatural deities existed.


Angels demontrated God like abilities when blinding citizens of Sodom In Genesis 19:9-11


Gabriel has omnicient knowledge about the virgin birth of a Messiah in Luke 1.



Satan, angels and other gods are a major theme in the Old Testament. Multiple gods are referenced and acknowledged. The Old Testament clearly states that multiple gods exist.


[1] http://www.pat...

heos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/02/polytheism-in-the-bible/

[2]https://www.biblegateway.com...

DNehlsen

Con

I have to admit, I'm pleasently surprised by my opponent here. I was expecting this to turn into a debate about the doctrine of the trinity. The topic chosen, to me, is a much more logical position by my opponent and I thus look forward to the discussion.

For this debate, I will be presupposing the inerrency of Scripture

Angels and demons are clearly taught as real beings in the OT. The Torah alone mentions angels thirty-two times.

My opponent provides two definitions of God. Because of this, I will center my argument around these two definitions. By his own admission, God is the supreme or biggest God, assuming there are actually more, so that definition may be discarded for now. There is a key phrase in that second definition, however, that also makes this item incompatible with Angels and Demons. It says these beings are believed to require human worship.

Demons are fallen Angels, (Revelation 12:3-9, Ezekiel 28, Matthew 25:41) and Angels were created by God. (John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16, Psalm 148) If these creatures are created, what worship are they worthy of? Angels are not to be worshiped according to the Bible. (Revelation 22:9, Matthew 4:10) So the Bible says that Angels are created, and they are not creators. The creator says that they are not to be worshipped. Therefore, the Bible teaches that these angels are not Gods. Even if we use this term to refer to those with supernatural abilities, Polytheism refers to deity, not simply to the supernatural. (https://en.wikipedia.org...)

In Psalm 82:1, this passage is not referring to literal Gods. This passage can be best translated to be referring to judges, as that is what context reveals. This same setting is used elsewhere in Scripture. Many translations of the Bible do not even use the word god here. (Exodus 22, Judges 5:8-9) http://www.biblestudytools.com...

The passage in Deuteronomy is simply addressing historical fact. When we talk about Greek god's, we say 'the greek god's.' This does not mean we believe that they are real gods, but this means that we accept that the idea of them exists. In the same way here, this passage referring to people as 'sons of gods' does not mean the Bible supports the idea of multiple gods. Elyon is not used to refer to the canaanites, but is instead used to refer to God. The KJV, NIV, and ESV translate this as 'The Most High.'

With the remainder of these passages, it is no doubt that the idea of these god's existed. We know there are Greek gods, that does not mean we believe they are real. In the same way, when the Bible refers to pagan god's, it does not necessarily mean it supports their existance. The Bible clearly teaches God is the only God. (2 Samuel 7:22, 1 Kings 8:60, Psalm 18:31, and Isaiah 46:9 among dozens more)

If the Bible says that God is the only God, what does this make of other God's in the Bible? Well as we already stated, the Bible admits the existence of demons. According to the Bible, they have power of this world. They not only have power to possess people, but they could also perform miracles, and disguise themselves as beings they are not. It is therefore logical to see demonic influence behind the 'gods' of the Old Testament and their signs. (Mark 5, Luke 8:2, 12-13, Matthew 9, Luke 13:16, Matthew 12:22, Acts 19:13-16, Revelation 16:14, and Revelation 20:3-10 among many others.) The Bible indicates many occurances of Satan and Demons promoting falsehoods and false religions. (1 TImothy 4:1-3, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, 2 Peter 2) Because of this, we are warned to test the spirits, understanding their reality. (1 John 4:1-4, Ephesians 6:10-18)

The Bible clearly teaches that all things were created by God. This includes everything that ever has been, everthing that is, and everything that ever will be. (Colossians 1:16, John 1:3) Therefore, there cannot be any true God's but him.

Debate Round No. 2
Unstobbaple

Pro



While I understand where Con is coming from (I was a Christian for a long time) I don’t see that his arguments are convincing to anyone who is not a Christian. He has conceded that multiple gods, with supernatural powers, are mentioned in the old testament and that they were worshipped. That’s polytheism.




Con Has Not Refuted My Arguments




I posted a long list of scriptures that Con brushed off with the general comment that while The bible admits that many others believe in gods other than Jehovah that they did not believe at the time that the other gods existed and this is obviously false.




In Jeremiah 46:25 Jehovah claims that he will punish other gods. Judges 10:6 Mentions that the Israelites served many false Gods. Exodus 34:14 mentions that you should not worship other gods. Duet 32:16-17 commands adherents not to sacrifice to other gods.




How can you punish, serve, woriship or sacrifice to something that does now exist? The Old Testament clearly makes the claim that multiple gods exist.




Con Repeatedly References the New Testament

This is telling because like many things in the bible you do need the New Testament to explain problems in the Old but remember I am not claiming the New Testament supports polytheism.




Idolatry

Why is it a thing? There are multiple scriptures that mention that you should not worship other gods or create idols etc when, according to Con, there are no other gods. This is completely inconsistent. Why is the god of the bible obsessed with the worship of other gods if they do not even exist?




Worship




I don’t think that any being should be worshipped so it’s bizarre reasoning to say to me that created beings should not be worshipped but you should worship a being that was not created. I get that Con is making a semantic point about the worship requirement in my second god definition but Obviously multiple Gods are worshipped in multiple ways all over the Old Testament.




Angels, Demons and Rival Gods

It’s clear that Angels and Demons are Gods by my second definition and Cons semantic assertions about worship should not affect this in any way. Rival Gods are a repeated theme in the Old Testament and virtually every tribal group the Israelites ran into had a rival god. Con has stated that Angels and Demons should not be worshipped but false god’s are, in fact, repeatedly worshipped whatever you’d like to call them. How is Con making a distinction between angels, demons and false gods? By asserting that they should not be worshipped and nothing else. He has made no other distinction.




Con doesn’t dispute that the bible brings up multiple gods at every turn. They have supernatural powers and are worshipped not only by surrounding tribes but often but the Israelites. Without the post hoc rationalization that these are demons (smaller less powerful gods) we wouldn’t even he having this conversation.

The Old Testament argues that Jehovah is the chief and most powerful god in a polytheistic world view.

DNehlsen

Con

I don’t see that his arguments are convincing to anyone who is not a Christian.
This discussion is not about perspective, it's about the Bible. Whether or not someone is a Christian is irrelevant. This discussion is over what the Bible teaches. This statement sugguests you understand how these arguments are convincing to a Christians. Christians follow the Bible, and thus look for the most accurate teachings. So if this were convincing to a Christian, you're saying this is the correct interpretation. Therefore, this statement conceds victory to me.

I posted a long list of scriptures that Con brushed off with the general comment that while
The bible admits that many others believe in gods other than Jehovah that they did not believe at the time that the other gods existed
If the word 'they' refers to the people worshipping other god's, I never said this. If this word 'they' is refering to the authors of the Bible, they very clearly did not support their genuine existence or authority as a lesser god.

Jeremiah 46:25
The King James Version reads: "The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him." This verse says that the Egyptians had their gods. I don't see how this is proof that they exist, and if they do that they're nothing more than demons. I'll address this more later on.

Judges 10:6
See notes on Jeremiah.

Exodus 34:14
This passage can be more accurately translated to bow down, not worship. Still, see notes on Jeremiah.

Deut 32:16-17
See notes on Jeremiah.

The god's in these passages were seen in many different things. Deuteronomy 4:19 says that some worshiped the sun, moon and stars. This does not mean the Bible teaches that there is a Sun God and a Moon God. It simply means the Bible is teaching that people did in fact do this.

How can you worship something that does not exist? If the athiest is right, we worship a God that doesn't exist. I'd presume any athiest would agree with that statement. I also don't believe any thiest would tell you there's not at least a 0.001% chance we could indeed be worshiping something that isn't there. Therefore, you can easily serve worship and sacrafice to something that doesn't exist. As I stated before, the miracles recorded are attributed to demons in the New Testament, so the evil forces behind these gods will be punished.

New Testament
According to our standard of Hermeneutics, we interpret Scripture with Scripture. If Jesus says one of our interpretations on the Old Testament is wrong, then as Christians, we should probably trust him. Afterall, all Scripture is God-Breathed, and thus his work. No one could know what it means better than him.

Idolatry and Worship
As I've already shown, it's possible to worship things that don't exist. Even still, I've already acknowledged that there is demonic power behind these idols, so there is reason to assume that people would worship these demons professing to be gods. Clearly these gods are worshiped, but your definition states that they should be worshiped. More on this later.

A Quick Note
Let's look at the Old Testament for a bit. Most of the 'gods' did absolutely nothing for us to assume that they were real. When Elijah had the battle on the Mountain with the false god, Elijah won. The opposing god didn't do anything at all, possibly because he didn't exist. The Old Testament records victory after victory over these false gods, indicating that they had almost no power at all. The wise men couldn't interpret King Neb's dream, or any of the dreams requiring translation in the Bible. One of the few occurances of false gods ever actually doing anything is in Exodus. Egypt had God's people in slavery. The people of God were to bring the savior who would eventually defeat Satan. Therefore, it isn't unlikely that Satan himself, irrelevant of his countless demons, was very present during the enslavement period.

In Closing
The Bible clearly teaches that 'In the beginning God.' It says that God made everything in the heavens and everything in the earth. To say there were other god's is to assume God made these rival gods. The only thing we know of God creating, outside of the 6 creation days in Genesis, is Angels. We also know that some of the Angels fell away. Therefore, demons are the only forces we know of that would be opposed to God. Why should we assume there's anyone but these demons behind these Old Testament gods? As I've already explained, worshiping Angels is strictly forbidden in the Bible, and they were created.

If one is to say that angels and demons are gods, then humans are gods too. We have a supernatural spirit and soul within us. Men have also been worshiped as Kings and Leaders in the past. You can say that demons are gods, but if everyone is a god that sort of demeans the sense of the word. The Bible teaches there is one true God, one creator, one sustainer. Everything else is a product of him, and is just as much a god as we are. We're not gods, and to say we are simply devalues the word God.

Therefore, there is only one God.
Debate Round No. 3
Unstobbaple

Pro

I don’t see that the arguments are convincing to anyone who is not a Christian.

I was implying that you have to read the bible convinced there is only one god and that The bible is 100% True to believe the post hoc rationalizations is what I’m saying not that I think there is some credence to them.



From Con “This discussion is not about perspective, it's about the Bible.”

Agreed. It is about the actual text about what the bible does in fact say. If you spend time explaining away very straightforward passages it’s because it’s not about the actual text.

What am I saying when I suggest that the OT bible supports polytheism?

This is important because the argument is simply about standard dictionary definitions. Gods have supernatural attributes powers and are worshipped. Multiple beings in the bible fit this definition.

Con can call them demons or false gods etc but they are supernatural beings that exist and were worshipped.

Based on the OT it is very clear that multiple beings like this exist. I’m obviously agreeing that they didn’t didn’t in fact exist but that is what the book says. That it’s not literally true does not get you past the fact the the OT does support polytheism.



Jeremiah 46:25

The New king James Version translates this clearer than Con’s King James version,”The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, says: “Behold, I will bring punishment on Amon of No, and Pharaoh and Egypt.

Amon is a sun god and Jeremiah 46 says God will punish him. This acknowledges that another God exists and will be punished by Jehovah.

Con states, “I don't see how this is proof that they exist, and if they do that they're nothing more than demons”

Demons fit the definition of gods that I have used and this a is a concession that they exist.




Judges 10:6

“Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria”

This talks about Israelites serving other Gods. Con simply asserts that talking about the multiple gods that exist does not support polytheism. It specifically states that the Israelites served the other gods.

Exodus 34:14



“(for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),

“This passage can be more accurately translated to bow down”

How is this better when the passage mentions something you should not do with another God. Bowing down makes it clearer. You shouldn’t worship/bow to another god because Jehovah would get jealous. This is an obvious acknowledgement that other Gods Exist and supports the idea that they do.

Deut 32:16-17



“They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God To gods they did not know,To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear.”

Again gain Jehovah is jealous of new gods here equated with Demons.

“The god's in these passages were seen in many different things. Deuteronomy 4:19 says that some worshiped the sun, moon and stars. This does not mean the Bible teaches that there is a Sun God and a Moon God. It simply means the Bible is teaching that people did in fact do this.”

They are told in that passage not to mention the sun and moon who were commonly thought to be gods. I mentioned that they were told not to mention Amon the sun God.

not a great example but is 100% consistent with the idea that they were gods so it’s an additional point in favor of polytheism.



Worship

Of course I do agree that you can worship something that isn’t there but the repeat obsession with the worship other gods supports a polytheistic understanding.

The number of active verbs that reference multiple gods obviously support polytheism as a world view.

The main God is jealous of them. Peeps are constantly told not to worship or serve them. Jehovah will punish them. People who sacrifice to them are condemned. These clearly site real beings.

That Con agrees that these other gods don’t actually exist does nothing to dispute that the OT bible does support the polytheistic world view.

New Testament

That the New Testament constantly emphasises that there is only one tri-god does not change what the Old Testament clearly says. That the OT sequel attempts to correct it does not change that the Old Testament, taken alone, supports polytheism.

Miracles and the power Of Gods

It’s true that most OT gods could not accomplish much. I’ll agree that they were the lamer versions of Jehovah and that’s really the point of the Old Testament: our god is the best out of all the gods.

That they must necessarily also be called angels and demons since God created all of them does not change this.

-



There are multiple examples of god referenced repeatedly as real beings that fit standard definitions for god. You can call them demons or false gods. You can, in other books, claim the really did not really exist but the OT supports polytheism. The book itself repeatedly talks about multiple gods supporting polytheism over monotheism.



Thanks to Con; good debate.

DNehlsen

Con

The New Testament helps us unlock a lot of the behind-the-scenes of the Old Testament. We must use these two together to come to accurate conclusions. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is all one book and one story authored by the same person. These are not texts that we can just seperate. If you did this, one might conclude that James teaches works is required for salvation. Using other scripture, however, we know this is an inaccurate way to interpret this passage.

2 Kings 19:18 - And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

This passage, at first, says that they cast their gods into the fire. This passage treats these gods like any other reference to a false god in the Bible. It then goes on to say, however, 'for they were no gods.' Notice the equivocal use of the term 'god' here. It recognizes them as the gods of the people, but then it goes on to say that they were not actual gods.

Psalm 96:5 declares that the gods of the nations are but idols, for there is only one God.

James 2:19 - "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." Even the demons believe that there is one God. Demons are not gods, nor are they God. As I've already stated, to use this definition of god you've manufactured would also mean that we're gods too. This is simply untrue.

The definition of Polytheism provided is "the belief in or worship of more than one god." The Old Testament does not teach that you should worship more than one God. Your definition of God tells us that they must require human worship. The Bible tells us that there is only one being who should be worshiped, as everything else is the creation of the one true God.

In my study of the dictionary definitions provided, Webster is the only dictionary that would provide such a broad term for God. Every other definition, exluding this definition from Webster, would disqualify everything but Jehovah as being considered a god.

The term polytheism comes from the Greek 'polutheos.' The first part of this word is poly, many, and the second part is theism, God. The word theos, or theism, is not referring to 'a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers..." The standard for 'God' is much more than something like that.
http://www.biblestudytools.com...

The Bible clearly indicates that there is but one God who created everything and by whom all exists. The only other creation we know of besides earthly creatures is the angel. Angels are many things, but they are not gods.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Unstobbaple 5 months ago
Unstobbaple
@Ttom grats, bible college can quickly lead to atheism.

@DNE I'll argue that the Old Testament supports the idea that multiple gods exist. I will not argue that polytheism exists in general and I think the resolution would stop me from this since I cite the Old Testament.

I'll invite you to debate; let me know if you'd like any addtional clarification.
Posted by Tthompson1995 5 months ago
Tthompson1995
I am interested in this debate. At the end of this school year I will be graduating with a degree in Christian Apolagetics!
Posted by DNehlsen 5 months ago
DNehlsen
Polytheism. I just need to know that you're trying to argue that it supports polytheism. If you're just trying to argue it exists then I wouldn't argue against that. That's all.
Posted by Unstobbaple 5 months ago
Unstobbaple
Yeah, I set the ELO requirement to block people from accepting. This isn't my first account and I'd like to start debating again.

Would you like me to add anything in the description or are you fine with the debate as it is?
Posted by DNehlsen 5 months ago
DNehlsen
I'd be interested in partaking in this debate, but your ELO requirements are a tad ridiculous. You don't even meet your own standards by 1/3.
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