This article is in response to an email we received – and to help others refute the ‘Little Gods’ heresy.
We provide a brief background as to where this heresy came from and refute some of the most popular verses that people use to promote or defend such error.
Due to the rise of cults across the Western world, Christianity has not really done the job of contending for the faith and been infected by a lot of unhealthy teaching. One such teaching is the idea that we, as believers, are ‘Little Gods’. This teaching was also popularized by Mormonism.
The rise of the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) cult attempted to mainstream this teaching in Christianity and did so with the construction of the Charismatic movement at the beginning of the 1960s. Back then it was known as ‘Manifest Sons of God’ or ‘Manchild Company’ heresy. It was only a matter of a few decades that Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland and other popular heretics started promoting this repackaged heresy that became known as the ‘Little Gods’ heresy. They are the result of the church refusing to contend for the faith against the Latter Rain heretics.
WHAT IS THIS DOCTRINE PRIMARILY TEACHING?
There are two elements to this heresy that need to be addressed. The doctrine that gave birth to these heresies is today known as the ‘Spirit of Adoption’ or ‘Spirit of Sonship’ (we call it Spirit of Adoption/Sonship (SAS)). The NOLR were influenced by the teachings of Franklin Hall and William Branham. Branham taught that the same way Christ manifested his sonship after his baptism, we too can manifest our sonship as believers in order to receive breakthrough (in prayer and fasting) from sickness and poverty. By imposing the spiritual life of the victorious spirit-filled believer on the scriptures, this affected the way they saw Jesus (kenosis) and interpreted the gospel (their ‘gospel of the kingdom’ or ‘gospel of power’ is the true and full gospel that brings the believer into full salvation in health and wealth). With this exaggerated understanding – the lines were blurred and Hall literally taught, using Romans 8, that we are to manifest as sons of God on earth. Branham went even further and taught that Jesus emptied Himself by pouring Himself into the church and that his church was now the fullness of God in bodily form.
George Warnock catechized the teachings of the New Order of the Latter Rain in his work ‘Feast of Tabernacles.’ Since then, many heretics who emerged from the NOLR taught two strains of this Little Gods doctrine which are evident in the teachings of men like Bill Johnson:
- We are literally the body of Christ, manifesting Christ Himself in human flesh corporately. You can spot this teaching when teachers literal promote the idea that Jesus is literally the head of his body (church). (We call this doctrine the Manchild Company since this is what it was originally called.)
You can spot this teaching when they teach Jesus said He will build his church or he has the keys of death and Hades, has all authority in heaven and earth (or the earth is his footstool), therefore, we too can walk in his authority and manifest his reign and power as his literal body. They will also emphasize the need for oneness or unity so that Jesus’ body can truly move in spirit and in power to usher an end-times revival/harvest and ‘birth’ the return of Christ.
- We are literally born again as ‘Sons of Gods’ therefore we are literally Little Gods or ‘New Breeds’ who manifest as God or Jesus Christ Himself in human flesh. (We use the phrases SAS, ‘New Breed’ or ‘Little Gods’ synonymously since those who preach this call it different things to promote this same error.)
You can spot this teaching when they say we have divine natures or push the SAS heresy that we can hear from God and do the same things Jesus did or even greater things. Only God was able to speak things into existence. Those who start teaching Word of Faith, eventually conclude we are gods because of the assumption if god can speak things, we can too. FYI – Todd Bentley, Matt Sorger and Todd White are known in the NAR as these New Breeds (aka little Gods). So it is worth listening to how they speak and teach in order to learn how to become a Little God or what a Little God looks like here on earth.
- We are also led to conclude that there is not one God of the bible – but multiple. This is not just because the believer is now a ‘God’. Branham and Hall denied the Trinity – and these doctrines really ‘confuse’ the Godhead. They either lead people down the road to ‘modalism’, thus Charismatics have no problem with heretics like TD Jakes or Tommy Tenney; or lead people down the road to ‘tritheism’ (as we will see with Creflo Dollar).
In summary, they don’t care about the Trinity. Believers are to manifest as Jesus did individually and manifest as Jesus corporately through the Spirit now that they are redeemed like the first Adam this side of the resurrection. However, it is important to note that not all false teachers teach both these errors. Just be wary of the SAS heresy as that is the road to this dangerous teaching.
REFUTING THEIR ‘WORD GAMES’: SONS OF GOD.
One particularly annoying aspect of the NOLR/NAR is how they apply words to themselves. As we saw above, they literally believe they are the actual body of Jesus Himself. The same thing goes with their concept of the bible calling us ‘Sons of God’.
The Christian church has never believed, since its inception, that the term ‘Sons of God’ literally means we are now Gods because we are God’s offspring. Creflo Dollar played with this concept teaching how everything produces after its own kind, saying horses ‘get together’ to produce horses, dogs ‘get together’ to produce dogs and cats ‘get together’ to produce cats. cats can beget cats – therefore God can beget ‘gods’.
“If horses get together, they produce what?” [Audience: “Horses!”] If dogs get together, they produce what?” [Audience: “Dogs!”] If cats get together, they produce what?” [Audience: “Cats!”] So if the Godhead says ‘Let us make man in our image’, and everything produces after its own kind, then they produce what?” [Audience: “God!”] Gods. Little “g” gods. You’re not human. Only human part of you is this flesh you’re wearing.” [Source]
In the above teaching, man is now god and the Trinity is portrayed as a plurality of gods getting ‘together’ just like the animals, to make gods. Sons of gods. This naturally leads people to conclude that if we are ‘gods’ or ‘sons of gods’ then ‘Jesus was made God’ as well. And that was the conclusion of Jim Jones – who claimed to be not just God but Almighty God:
“And I’m a god, and I’m gonna stay a god, until you recognize that you’re a god, and when you recognize you’re a god, I shall go back into Principle, and will not appear as a personality. But until I see all of you knowing who you are, I’m going to be very much what I am. God, Almighty God.” [Source]
We need to be careful with definitions and the words games false teachers play to make us assume things about ourselves when we are not. We are called sons of God mainly to teach the idea that we have an internal inheritance in the life to come through the work of God’s son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit doesn’t give us a divine nature – He gives us a new nature.
REFUTING THEIR ‘WORD GAMES’: AS HE IS, SO ARE WE.
Often we hear people pushing the Little Gods / New Breed heresy by taking 1 John 4:17 “As He is, so are we” out of context. Let us look at the context:
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” 1 John 4:9-17
“As He is, so are we” simply summarizes what He said above: “..if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” It really is not rocket science! It extends deeper in another sense since the verse in question talks about Judgment Day. The Apostle John earlier pointed out that because God “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins… God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” He uses the same language to conclude, “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.”
It is incredibly hard to misread what “As he is, so are we” means if you don’t read 1 John 4. It takes a skilled deceiver to convince people to believe 1 John 4:17 means we are ‘Little Gods’.
REFUTING PSALMS 82 & JOHN 10:34.
From Jim Jones to Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn to Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch to Creflo Dollar, all love to use Psalms 82 and John 10:34 to teach people they are ‘Little Gods’. But is Jesus really telling the religious leaders (those he spoke against all the time) that they were little gods? Why would he do that? Let’s look at John 10 in context first:
“At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.” John 10:22-39
The most important observation to make is that Jesus called those who were his ‘sheep’ and those who “picked up stones again to stone him” ‘Little Gods’. So if a false teacher is claiming you are ‘Little Gods’ – they are essentially calling you an unbeliever or worse -‘religious’/Pharisees. This is because it was the religious rulers, the Pharisees, who were looking how they could kill Jesus. So was Jesus complimenting or insulting the religious leaders when He used the scriptures to call them ‘Little Gods’?
Let’s look at Psalms 82:
“God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
They have neither knowledge nor understanding,they walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!”
Is Jesus using Psalm 82 to promote the idea that we are ‘Little Gods’? A simple reading suggests the exact opposite! This entire Psalm is a rebuke against such men who think highly of themselves. These men:
- “judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked”
- “have neither knowledge nor understanding”
- “they walk about in darkness”
- “shall die”
The Pharisees accused Jesus of Blasphemy because He called himself the Son of God, therefore making himself God. Jesus used Psalm 82 to highlight that in their hearts they saw themselves as ‘Little Gods’. In Psalms 82, God is mocking Israel’s judges by calling them ‘gods’ and smearing their reputations by calling them out for their lawlessness, recklessness and that they will die like mere mortals. Jesus’ response to the Pharisees with this reference to Psalm 82 was nothing more than a ‘mic drop’ to silence his detractors.
DEFINING A GOOD WORK
A lot of the confusion about what it means to be a child of God or a son of God falls around the definition of what the definition of a ‘work’ or ‘good works’ means in the bible.
Heretics and cults teach we are made ‘gods’ so we can live supernaturally above the ways of men. The burden that they are ‘sons of God’ are demonstrated by their definition of ‘good works’. They often teach that the works God is pleased with, or wants us to do, are of a supernatural or divine nature.
This is why they emphasize supernatural offices and practices in the church: it affirms they are gods or literally sons of god (just read the sermon given by Jim Jones above by visiting the source). To operate in these works on the higher plane of the supernatural only feeds their delusion that they are ‘gods’. Why would they want to live a boring and mundane life the way Jesus’ followers do in the New Testament?
As Christians, we are sons of God because, we as mere mortals, believe in the work and promise of Jesus Christ, through His spirit, that when we die, we will have eternal life. God has made us a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). Therefore we are to live in this new man (Col 3:10) which speaks in truth and produces the good works of the Spirit and not works of the flesh (Gal 5). Those works are the works our Heavenly Father are pleased with (Eph 5; Jas 1). However, these works are considered mundane or mediocre by many cults and heretics.
It was the ancient heretic Arius who taught Jesus was made a ‘god’ and used verses such as Colossians 1:15 to teach Jesus was literally the ‘firstborn’. This concept has been developed through to the modern Jehovah Witness and Mormon cults, pushing the idea that Jesus was ‘the firstborn of many brethren’. Specifically in Mormonism, the deity of Jesus is downplayed and man is deified. It was essentially with the rise of modern day cults such as these that helped create the heresy we see in the New Order of the Latter Rain cult. The NOLR started with verses like Romans 8:19 to suggest we need to manifest as ‘sons of god on earth’ in order to liberate the nations and save creation. Their entire ‘Spirit of Adoption/Sonship’ heresy has altered the way orthodox Christianity has understood the theology of Romans 8.
The church has always understood that God created man, not gods. The church has always believed when members of the human race were born again, they were never born again as gods. Instead, we are being conformed into Christ’s image (Romans 8:29) – not as ‘little gods’. Romans 8 teaches we will share and conform and reflect Christ’s image in his sufferings – something that Jesus himself warned would happen if people would believe his gospel and teachings. We will suffer for his namesake because we love the Lord and love our neighbor.
Just because you have God, His life and His Holy Spirit in you does not make you a ‘little god’. It means God has equipped us. Just because you partake of God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) does not make you a ‘little god’. It means God shares Himself with us. Just because there will be a future time God reveals his children does not make you a ‘little god’. It simply means God will one day reveal to those who he loves, the new creation.
In refuting the New Breed and Little God heresy, we hope readers understand that they need to be careful when they read passages like Romans 8 where Paul talks about ‘sonship’ and believer as ‘sons of God’.
Email all comments and questions to email@example.com.