To begin with we must examine the culture and the mindset that the Bible describes. Because we must come to terms with the fact that monotheism is not part of the narrative in the Old Testament. The culture of the Bible begins with the notion of there being a source of all things, a mighty being who enacted the creation of everything. As we look at the book of Genesis we see a mighty being commanding things come to exist in a certain order and this creation exemplifies that this one being is special and must be revered because he is the reason for our existence. The Bible shows that there is a being who is special who is to be revered and appreciated because he is the source of our existence and the existence of everything. The idea of exclusive gratitude and appreciation to that being is part of the narrative that we come away with from the book of Genesis. After reading the story we are intrigued into knowing a little bit more about who it is that decided to create us and why, curiosity should drive us to try to approach and understand such a powerful being. In this regard, the reasoning must be deposited into the mind of the reader that this one being is more important than the rest. What also drives us into a position of respect for the creator is the fact that Adam and Eve failed in their mission to be obedient to this source of all. Genesis is influencing us to understand that there are expectations that this source of all has for his creation and that we must strive to understand him and his desires. At the very beginning we are getting a sense of how special this individual is and that he demands obedience and respect and that there are consequences to not heeding his instructions. So naturally the reader of Genesis is going to see the importance of this being and the desire should be developed that we would want to please this source of our existence. This understanding is a reason why there must be a special kind of religious worship given to this supreme cause of all and that he should not be treated like any other being. So it is natural for there to be special treatment for this the cause of all and he exclusively should be treated better than any other being and therefore the notion of humanity needing to exclusively worship this being and treat this being in a special way higher than any other being is what we should gather from the creation story. So if we take this idea that there is this special Creator of all and that he must be treated in a special way because he is the only cause of all creation then the idea of an exclusive kind of worship and treatment is necessary. So although there may be other powerful beings that are working alongside this cause of all or are said to be contrary to this cause of all nothing should be more important to the nation of Israel than pleasing this creator of all and really for all of humanity. So the idea of monotheism should feel like it should be placed here there is only one cause of all after all. But we don’t want to go overboard in this understanding because there are lots of powerful beings who God uses for his purpose. What must be exclusive is the religious worship, only the creator of all is due this exclusive kind of worship. Irrespective if the word for “God” in any language is used for any other being, worship in a religious context is only due to the creator of all in the mind of the Israelite.
What we must learn from the Bible is how terms can be used if the Bible allows for the word God to be used for Angels, the stomach, the devil, idols, judges, kings, Moses and others we must understand that the Bible is not sinful when it does so. And also what we must understand is that it is true that the Bible itself calls them by the word Elohim. We must also acknowledge that it is the exact same word that God uses for himself. So what we have to learn from the example of the Bible is that the word God itself is not an exclusive term. Monotheism says that there is only one of these and then you insert the term God or Elohim or Theos; monotheism is saying that there is only one of these that carried the term. And since the Bible itself does not exclusively use the term God in any language Greek or Hebrew to the creator of all the claim that monotheism gives that there is only one who has this term is false. And because scholarship understands that the word monotheism is not good enough they are trying to expand the term and replaced the meaning of monotheism and giving it the definition that belongs to Monolatry.
One Cause of All
To begin with were going to look at the exclusivity of religious worship of the Cause of All, the Almighty and the fact that there are no others who are of equal status as this supreme being.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, NRSV)
[Or The Lord our God is one Lord, or The Lord our God, the Lord is one, or The Lord is our God, the Lord is one]
This verse is well known and absolutely assumed to be monotheistic, but in the Hebrew, it’s difficult to understand. Frank E. Eakin, Jr. said it best ”we know at this point that a familiar passage, the Shema is weak support for monotheistic argument since this nominal sentence (no verb in the verse in Hebrew, the verse literally reading: ‘Hear, O Israel, Yahweh our God Yahweh alone [one]’) is open to varying interpretations (see the revised standard version’s marginal readings). It is difficult to interpret the Sema monotheistic we in the light of all the available evidence.”
Although this verse is not necessarily monotheistic because it’s not saying that he’s the only God it saying that he is alone that could mean the only one who receives religious worship. Or it could mean that numerically he is one as opposed to being three and one. But what it is not saying is that he is the only one called God or Elohim. The verse most likely is saying that Israel needs to understand that Jehovah who is their God is alone, and the hearer must understand how Jehovah is alone. Jehovah is alone the cause of all and the only one worthy of religious worship. What we cannot say about this verse is that it’s claiming that Jehovah is the only one who is called God, it’s not making a claim of him being the only one to receive the title Elohim. It is saying that he Jehovah is alone but it does not say that he is God alone it says rather that he is the God of Israel. Or it could be said that Jehovah is the lone powerful one of Israel. So we should get that Jehovah is exclusive and alone and this exclusivity most assuredly should include religious worship. And so what we can get from this is that Jehovah is the only one of Israel who should receive worship that we can gather. I think jumping to the conclusion to say that this verse is inferring that Jehovah is the only one who can carry the title God or Elohim is not in the verse. There is the inference that Jehovah alone should be something to Israel and it should be safe to say that that would be religious worship.
““To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” (Deuteronomy 4:35, NASB95)
“‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39, NASB95)
“For You are great and do wondrous deeds; You alone are God.” (Psalm 86:10, NASB95)
““You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.” (Isaiah 43:10, NASB95)
““Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.” (Isaiah 44:6, NASB95)
“one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6, NASB95)
According to this verse there is one God who is also the Father of all (this would include being the father of Jesus) who is over all and through all and in all. It is not saying that there are no other things called God, but rather it is saying there’s only one who’s over all and that is the Father of Jesus. This is excluding Jesus from being the one God or consubstantial with the one God, because if we were to say that the word God here is the Trinity then that would mean that the Trinity is the father of all including Jesus which would turn into some terrible form of modal-ism. Know what we must understand is that this verse is saying that there is only one God who is over all and through all and in all. If we were to say that there is another God who is over all and through all and in all that would be polytheistic. It can be that the verse is saying that there is only one God who is over all and still not exclude the possibility that someone else like Jesus who is called God is over much but not over all. For Jesus to be over all he would have to have power over the father and that we know does not happen. Although Jesus is called God he is not a God that is over all, The Father of All is over all things, so Jesus is not the God who is spoken of in this verse. But since the apostles apply the word God to Jesus it lends itself not to monotheism and trinitarianism but rather Monolatry where the apostles know of a God who is over all, that would be the Father of all. And secondarily the apostles also know of Jesus whom they call God as well but is not the one God over all. So here we can see that worship should be exclusive to the father alone because he is the one who is over all. That would mean that he is the cause of all the creator that was indicated in Genesis. For this reason, the father should receive the exclusive religious worship in the concept of monolatry.
If we were to look at this verse through the eyes of monotheism we would see that there is only one God meaning that there are no other gods in existence, but then the next phrase and the father of all means that this one God who is alone the only God is the father of all which excludes Jesus from being God in any way shape or form. Because Jesus is not his own father this verse is identifying the one God as the father of all and since Jesus is not the father and the father is not Jesus Jesus is not this God and is not properly allowed to carry the term God according to monotheistic ideas. This gives rise to the modal-ism as an explanation since the idea of monotheism demands that everything be forced into the concept of their only being one God in existence. So with this verse monotheism cannot keep Jesus as part of its concept of who the one God is in this verse, monolatry gives a better answer as to why Jesus is still called God and why this verse exists explaining that the father is the only God over all because Jesus is a God who is not over all. And so we can see that the concept of one divine being who is worthy of worship in an environment where other gods exist but only one is worthy of religious worship and that would be the one who is over all the one who is the father of all, who is the source of all. This one is the one worthy of worship who must be given exclusive attention and religious devotion. Monotheism does not sufficiently explain this verse among the Trinitarian’s and is the reason why modal-ism is usually the answer given for this verse in those who maintain monotheism. Because in modalism the description of father is just a analogy and is not a reality it’s an method of description and not an actual fatherhood. But in the light of monolatry there is no problem with there being God the father and Jesus the son of God who is a divinity. There is no problem because in this system it’s allow the other beings can be called God it doesn’t mean that there worthy of the exclusive worship it’s just a title that is applied to many beings in the Bible.
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
"You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.
That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth.
"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.
For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), "I am the LORD, and there is none else.
Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.
yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
You believe that God is one You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
He said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart,
Then he said, "Tomorrow." So he said, "May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.
"For this reason You are great, O Lord GOD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
"O LORD, there is none like You, nor is there any God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD,
To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?
"You shall have no other gods before Me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
'You shall have no other gods before Me. 'You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 'You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
and do not go after other gods to serve them and to worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands, and I will do you no harm.'
'You shall not make other gods besides Me; gods of silver or gods of gold, you shall not make for yourselves.
--for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God--
"You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you,
"If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him.
"The covenant that I have made with you, you shall not forget, nor shall you fear other gods. "But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies."
"Let there be no strange god among you; Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
"I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.
"Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent
"Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying: 'Turn now every man from his evil way and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them Then you will dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me.
"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
"You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.
Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men's hands, wood and stone So they have destroyed them.
Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.
What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame. Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit? Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame.
and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.
However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
“For the Lord is a great God And a great King above all gods,” (Psalm 95:3, NASB95)
““When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 32:8, NASB95)
“‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12, NASB95)
““Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people.”” (Exodus 18:11, NASB95)