Are postmodern emergents beginning to embrace polytheism? One of the newer voices in Emergent Church circles is George Elerick. George is a prolific blogger, writer, poet and contributor to the Huffington Post. I am not sure where George studied theology but one thing is certain, he doesn’t know what he’s doing and he should stop writing on the topic of religion before he hurts himself and others.
A perfect example of George’s mishandling of the Bible and the Hebrew language can be found in his May 31st, 2010 blog post entitled “the jesus-daddy: another look at the word abba”. In this post George, like and untrained swordsman tries to wield the Word of God in order to see what happens when he begins playing around with the meanings of different Hebrew words in an attempt to discover postmodern “spiritual insights”. The conclusions drawn by George’s mishandling of the Hebrew language are truly sad and should cause us to pause and pray for George and those listening to him because he is twisting God’s word to his own destruction (2Pet. 3:16).
Below is a prime example of George’s mishandling of God’s Word and the Hebrew language. Said Elerick regarding the Hebrew word Ehad [sic],
Ehad [sic] is the Hebrew phrase for one. It is defined as several components or parts coming together to be one. Typically, this is spoken of in terms of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (the three in one); Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. However, if you look at this information historically, this could also be referring to the ancient pantheon of Gods that were borrowed by the Jews from the neighbouring/warring Canaanites. The Elohim (“we”) refers to El who is the God of Gods, or sometimes referred to in the Torah (Old Testament) as the “Lord of Lords”. Yahweh was one of the gods along with Baal who were situated under the rule of El. So, the idea of Ehad [sic] being the word used for Jesus’ claim for unity with God comes from the same idea of God (El) claiming unity with the Divine Council. Ehad [sic] is the idea of pluralism becoming one, all the while maintaining its pluralistic identity. Something I think we could learn to do better. [Emphasis Added]
Where do I begin? This quote is a veritable quagmire of convoluted absurdity that doesn’t make historical, Biblical or linguistic sense?
1. The Hebrew word in question is Echad not Ehad. There is a difference between the Hebrew letters He and Het. If George knew the Hebrew language I seriously doubt he’d have made such a basic mistake. (The Hebrew alphabet is usually taught on the first day of Hebrew 101.)
2. Jews are monotheists not polytheists. The Hebrew Old Testament is replete with examples of the Jews abandoning the one true God (YHWH) and engaging in syncretism by disobediently mixing Judaism with the idolatrous pagan religions of the Canaanites. Not once were these syncretistic practices ever looked on favorably in the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, YHWH regularly describes those who’ve abandoned the exclusive worship of Him as spiritual whores (Ezek. 16:1-63). Why? Because there is no other God but YHWH.
Elerick’s spurious polytheistic claim that YHWH was a member of a “council of gods” and an equal colleague of Baal under the rule of El is not taught in the Hebrew Old Testament and is easily debunked with just a cursory understanding of the Hebrew Old Testament.
For instance, in Isaiah 46:8-9, YHWH is speaking, and in that passage YHWH states:
“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,”
Let me point out the key phrase in this passage. It is:
This phrase is roughly pronounced “anoki EL” and it means “I am God”. In other words, YHWH, who is the one speaking in this passage says I AM EL (God) and there is NO OTHER EL (God). To make sure that there is no confusion regarding the fact that there are no other 'gods' YHWH goes on to state in this same passage that He is also ELOHIM.
Elerick has erroneously concluded that the Hebrew word Echad implies that YHWH was a member of a plurality of gods (Elohim) in council under the chief God (El). Yet if he would just read what YHWH has revealed about Himself, rather than trying to play postmodern word games with a Hebrew lexicon that he obviously has no clue how to use, then he’d learn that YHWH has revealed that He alone is EL and ELOHIM (God) and there is no council or plurality of gods that YHWH is an equal member of.
Further passages in the Old Testament bear this out even clearer. Here is just a small sampling of what YHWH has revealed on this matter.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD (YHWH), “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god (EL) was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD (YHWH), and besides me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:10–11)
“Thus says the LORD (YHWH), the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD (YHWH) of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god (ELOHIM). Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God (ELOAH) besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”” (Isaiah 44:6–8)
“I am the LORD (YHWH), and there is no other, besides me there is no God (ELOHIM);” (Isaiah 45:5)
“Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD (YHWH)? And there is no other god (ELOHIM) besides me, a righteous God (EL) and a Savior; there is none besides me.” (Isaiah 45:21)
It is unmistakably clear from these passages and many others that YHWH claims that He is God and God alone and that there are no other ‘gods’ that exist except for Him. This is precisely why the first commandment states, “You shall have no other gods”. This also explain why YHWH punishes those who worship other ‘gods’ and those who engage in syncretism and religious pluralism (2 Kings 22:1-23:30)
George Elerick and other postmoderns like him are playing with and toying with God’s Word. To say that he and others like him are playing with fire would be a supreme understatement. We need to pray that YHWH opens their eyes to their errors and idolatries and grants them repentance and forgiveness for these grievous sins they are committing against YHWH and His Word.