Answer: What has been popularly termed the “little god controversy” originated withWord of Faith pastors and teachers. The basic idea behind the controversy is that humans are actually divine, created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) not only in having a soul, having dominion over the earth, or living in relationship with others, but by being of the same “spiritual class” as God Himself. Evangelicals decry this concept as misguided at best, or heretical and cultic at worst.
The main tenant of Word of Faith is that, when we ask something of God in faith, He is compelled to fill the request. As “little gods,” our words have much power. This error is taught by some television evangelists, and its roots in Pentecostalism have made it more common in Charismatic churches. The Word of Faith movement has a number of popular monikers including “name-it-claim-it,” “prosperity theology” and “health and wealth gospel.”
The basis for the “little gods” claim is found in two Scripture passages. Psalm 82:6 reads, “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’” Jesus quotes this psalm inJohn 10:34, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I have said you are gods’?” However, both of these passages include explanations in the immediate context which clearly do notindicate human divinity. Psalm 82:6 is followed by a warning that “you will all die like mere men, you will fall like every other ruler” (v. 7). The reference is to mortal men who represent God’s authority in the world—kings, judges, and magistrates. (Please see our article on Psalm 82:6.)
Psalm 82 is a warning to unjust leaders who consider themselves “gods” (Psalm 82:1) yet who “know nothing,” who “walk about in darkness” (Psalm 82:5). Jesus used this passage in response to those who accused Him of blasphemy. Essentially, Jesus asked why, when human rulers were called gods, “the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world” (John 10:36) was blaspheming by claiming to be God’s Son.
Claiming divinity for Christians is unsupportable, especially taking the rest of the Bible into account. God is God alone (Isaiah 37:16). We have never been God, we are not God now, and we never will be God. Jesus was fully God and fully man (a combination called the hypostatic union). If the “little gods” hypothesis is accepted, it imputes to Jesus a lesser divinity of some kind; He became a “little god” like us. John said that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14), but this does not indicate “a lesser divinity.” Jesus took on human flesh and blood in order to die for our sins (Hebrews 2:14), yet He retained His full position in the Godhead. God created us with a spirit, but that spirit does not hold divine qualities.
Please read more about the image of God in us here.
Recommended Resource: Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff.