Author Greg Koukl
Published on 12/20/2021
Other Worldviews

What Does the Bible Mean by “One God”?

How can Christians respond to the Mormon claim that “Heavenly Father” is the only god “for us”? Greg offers one question that will help focus the conversation.


Caller: I have concerns for my Mormon family. I will say things like, “So you believe there’s only one God?” And they say, “Well, yes. There’s only one God.” And I say, “Okay. Then is Jesus a god?” And then they’ll say yes. And I say, “Then you have two gods that you believe in.” And they say, “No. We believe in one God.” And I say, “But you just said Jesus was a god and that Heavenly Father is a god. That’s two.” And they go, “Well, Heavenly Father is the only god for us.”

Greg: The question is this: What is it that the Bible means when it says there is only one God? The question isn’t the subjective question of whether the Father is God for us, but there may be other gods for other people, or any other iteration—you can make up everything you want. The people say, “Well, Jesus is the savior for me, but he doesn’t have to be the savior for other people. Other people could have Buddha as their savior or Krishna or whatever, which is kind of a mischaracterization of those religions, but you know how they do it. That is making the issue totally subjective. Here’s our question. Our question is, what does God say? What does the Bible teach? They believe the Bible, right? Okay. Does the Bible say that there is only one God for us, but all the other Canaanites can have their god? That’s fine. And the Philistines, they can have their god, and Baal ,and Ashtoreth? No. All of those gods were condemned.

Caller: They say [other gods are] not okay, because all the people of this earth are to worship Yahweh. We are not to worship any other god. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any other god. It’s just the only god the people on earth are to worship.

Greg: Then where is that qualification made in any text in any passage where God talks about his supremacy? “I am God. There is none other.” Isaiah 45 comes to mind. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in Isaiah 45. “And there is none other, but on other planets there can be other gods.” No. It doesn’t say that. Where did the Bible say “for us”?

The problem here is, you have people who are locked into their idea, and they’re going to say all kinds of—pardon me for putting it this way—nonsense, so they don’t have to address the [issue]. The deal is, you can’t just say, “For us in this world; we’re just assuming,” because there’s no reason to do that, and in fact, there are other passages that are unequivocal. God created the heavens and the earth. That’s Genesis 1. That’s, like, everything. He is the God over everything. That is the whole point. It’s the whole universe. It’s the whole thing, you know? And then in Isaiah 45: “There is no God but one in this world.”

What’s frustrating is, because they won’t listen to what reason—regarding a scripture—amounts to, they’re going to keep adding words. So, maybe here’s a question. Ask them, what would God have to say if he meant in Scripture that he was the only God in existence? How would he put it? Because, I guarantee you, you’re going to be able to find passages like that. “I am the only God.” What would God have to say to convince you that there are no other gods? Period. How would he put it? Because that’s how he put it. The Bible is not polytheistic. There is nothing more central to biblical Judaism than monotheism. What could be more central? Are they saying that the Jews got it wrong? So, you’re up against some culpable ignorance. And maybe that’s the best you can do.

Caller: And that’s where I think they get all their other scripture that they fall back on. “Well, the Bible is missing plain and precious truth, and we would know for a fact that God wasn’t the only god in existence if we had these plain and precious truths that the Mormon church has and no one else does.”

Greg: The problem is, those so-called plain and precious truths contradict clearly what the Scripture says, and then they play word games with you. Maybe this is the time to say, “Look. I understand your point, but what you’re doing is, you’re playing a word game here. God is crystal clear about this, and someday you are going to stand before the real God.” You’ve got to be gentle and kind when you say this. ”You are going to stand before the real God, and I promise you that what you just told me will not wash with him because it does not wash with the texts.”