You Are Not Christian If You Believe Psalms 82

by | Aug 10, 2022

Sun, sunrays with angry man

Forgive me; I’m a bit assertive in this post. It’s taken a lifetime to get to the point where I could tackle one of the least popular tenets of my faith.

We believe in a diviner destination for humankind, more than most of our Christian counterparts. In short, we believe that the worthy and willing soul can eventually attain godhood.

This article probably addresses other Christians curious about this topic or even detractors of my faith – as much as it does my fellow Latter-day Saints. I hope you enjoy the effort made here to speak up.

Psalm 82

I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. (Psalms 82:6)

A good number of Christian scholars will explain this verse away. What I mean by that is, quite frankly, their answer concludes you are not of such regal DNA (god with a small g) and that the verse doesn’t mean what it says. Plus, you are not an actual child of the Highest. You’re a garden-variety, garden-level creation. Instead, they say, ‘children’ is only “symbolic.”

Their answers sometimes include doctorate-level religious theory and re-interpretation, but their accounts dance around what the verse directly says. I have included several verses below, much like Psalms 82:6 – and they get the same treatment.

Let me paraphrase the repeating pattern I encounter with those who object to our uncomplicated acceptance of Psalm 82:6. It goes something like this,

“This doesn’t resonate with what I’ve been taught, so I’m going to alter its narrative by inserting myriad definitions and concepts not found in the Bible. The verse can mean almost anything else, but I won’t accept the straightforward message it cites. Oh, and by the way, you’re not a Christian because you accept what it says.”

We Believe That Verse

Latter-day Saints believe in our divine heritage (God is the Father of our spirits) and in eternal progression after this life. We believe that eventually, someday, humankind may rise to god-level stature in the eternities – if we do our part.

That belief is unique and unpopular with other Christian sects. A fair number of us have encountered snide and condescending remarks scoffing at such an idea. Sometimes people even yell about it.

Why is that? It’s in their scriptures repeatedly.

They Did The Same to Jesus

Jesus took heat for a similar idea. The Jews were ready to stone him, and in response, he cited Psalms 82:6 or some similar verse:

33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

(Note: Of course, I would not make any of us the equal to Christ, but there are a few Christians who attempt to kill our faith stone dead – because we believe in a diviner destination for humankind than they do.)

34 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?
(John 10:33-36)

**written in your law: established as doctrine in your scriptures
***scripture cannot be broken: is irrefutable

If I could paraphrase that episode in today’s language, the exchange would go something like this:

Jesus: I’ve done so many good works for you; why would you want to stone me?
Jews: It’s not about good works; you claimed you are the Son of God. That’s not allowed; now we’re going to stone you.
Jesus: But that statement is not a crime; it’s in your scriptures. It even says you are gods. If the word of God calls you gods, how can you be offended when I say I am the Son of God, which is even less of a statement?

In His Image

Cite Genesis 1:26-27 to various Christian scholars and see how much they alter it from its clear-cut message. Sometimes, they explain God doesn’t have a face (I find this particularly sad) – therefore, that’s not what the verse means.

26 ¶ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

image: copy, model, portrait, picture, likeness

likeness: depiction, replica, reproduction

Latter-day Saints believe in these verses’ simple, powerful, beautiful message. God is the Father of our spirits. We are made in His regal image and patterned after Him. We bear His spiritual DNA and we have an important destiny.

Come Sit With Me On My Throne

This is my favorite one to cite on this topic. These verses give me so much hope and motivation.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
(Revelation 3:20-21)

Such a tender and extraordinary invitation from our dear Jesus Christ. Our divine destiny is to overcome the world and to overcome our fallen natures. It takes work and effort. It takes making progress and upward movement. It takes “overcoming.” It takes his grace and atonement all along the way.

We believe exactly what these verses say.

Paul touches on these same concepts when he says:

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
(Romans 8:17)

suffer with him: take up the cross, forward His kingdom on the Earth, bear the shame of the world, repent as needed and let His atoning grace heal you.

Do You Read the Bible Cover-to-Cover?

Most people know a few flagship Bible verses and aren’t familiar with the rest. The problem is that the interpretations of those few verses can be immensely evolved and distant from their original meaning when you don’t have all the verses to guide you. It is not uncommon for some Christians to be quite surprised by what hundreds of other Bible verses say that don’t back up their understandings.

When we read the Bible back-to-back, the verses shed light on each other, making their meanings much easier to discern. The line of interpretation is straighter and cleaner.

I invite you to become a better Bible scholar and learn more about God’s word for yourself. The Spirit delights in teaching and testifying. I make it a point to read the Bible cover-to-cover (straight through) every eight years. I have read it this way at least half a dozen times. I reread parts of it regularly. It is a relevant and beautiful text of scripture. It is God’s word.

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Takeaway

I hope these verses shared today give you hope and lift your spirits. They certainly do mine!

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12 Comments

  1. Brad

    Thank you Shawnie. I’ve been trying to piece this information together for a few weeks, and you have lain it out very well.

    I’m not LDS, myself, but have seen the beauty and wisdom in not only Gnostic Christianity but also practices like Zen Buddhism and even Hinduism. I attend a Protestant Church but feel that their approach is missing the point by not recognizing that we are meant to grow spiritually as Jesus did. He did say we will do works greater than he in John 14:12.
    How would that even be possible if we are not also children of God, as is He?

    The sense of dualism and thinking dualistically in our thoughts in the West… also blocks our understanding of a Gnostic intuitive mindset. This is what I’m finding by looking closer at Buddhism and Hinduism, to better grasp how and why they strive to not let the ego define them, but instead let the intuitive mind reveal deep spiritual Truth within ourselves.

    I reached out to connect via Linked In if you are interested. Be glad to chat more, as I’m always reading and learning about early Christianity and other world religions.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Brad, thank you for your wonderful note. It’s great to hear from someone outside of my faith. You are obviously a scholar on this topic! What you describe sounds like Light and Truth that surrounds those who wish it.

      Reply
  2. Martha Deason

    Thank you for your insightfulness! I have struggled with getting other nonbelievers to believe that we can become like our Heavenly Father and Jesus, yet I hear them say I am a Child ! Thank you so much! I am a member and found your site on the internet! It helps me to read and understand things better if I find other sources who believe as I do ! Thank you again and I appreciate your time and talents into getting the truth out here so others can benefit from your person knowledge and testimony!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Hello Martha, this is a late reply but what a pleasant note to on this article. I have since found other content that strengthens this position. Keep sharing the message. God has so much goodness in store for us!

      Reply
  3. Shan Farquharson

    Thank you for your insight. I love reading your articles

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      That completely warms my heart! Thank you.

      Reply
      • Vicci Gates

        This is teaching something that you would probably like if you understood it. It is teachings that those in authority will be judged for their abuses of it.
        “The “gods” of Psalm 82 are human magistrates, judges, and rulers who have been granted authority in the earth. In this view, the whole point of Psalm 82 is that earthly judges must act with impartiality and true justice, because even judges must stand someday before the Judge. Psalm 82:6 and 7 warn human magistrates that they, too, must be judged: “I said, ‘You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.” According to this view, God has appointed men to positions of authority in which they are considered as gods among the people (see Exodus 7:1). Calling a human magistrate a “god” indicates three things: 1) he has authority over other human beings, 2) the power he wields as a civil authority is to be feared, and 3) he derives his power and authority from God Himself, who is pictured as judging the whole earth in Psalm 82:8. Human rulers are to remember that, even though they are representing God in this world, they are mortal and must eventually give an account to God for how they use that authority.”

        Reply
        • Shawnie Cannon

          I’ve heard this theory. And I’ve seen it soundly refuted. If Psalms 82 were the only reference to theosis – this explanation might stand well on its own. Nonetheless, with all the other references to theosis in the Bible – this explanation especially struggles when scrutinized or compared with other like verse structures. When examining the verse structure – stating the judges and gods are exactly the same idea and mean each other is a hard sell. I’ll leave you with Revelation 3:20-21.

          20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

          21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

          Reply
        • Rasuli

          Your exegesis of Psalms 82 is insightful and interesting. It posits that the Old Testament writers did not truly mean what they wrote; that God, The Most High, was not speaking to other gods (elohim) who, because of their injustice, would fall (metaphorically) like men.

          Reply
          • Shawnie Cannon

            That is correct…and “did not truly mean what they wrote” is an exegesis that does not hold up well to other verses or the writings of Early Christian Fathers.

    • Shawnie Cannon

      Thank you!!! I struggled with how to pull that one together so I appreciate your feedback.

      Reply

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