In the former article about Michael Heiser’s theological ideas, I primarily assessed his polytheistic tendencies. In this article on Michael Heiser, I will discuss more specifically why I consider him a Gnostic (personally I would consider anyone claiming to be a Christian but believing in a plurality of gods a Gnostic). This is not meant to be some vilification of his character, but rather a simplified description of his theology which holds in common with Gnosticism the inclination to interpret Scripture as mythology, through the filter of pagan philosophy, as well as promoting the heresy of man becoming gods. Chas Clifton says, “Various persons and groups have been labeled Gnostic over the centuries, and most have shared ideas. The most basic of these is that all people carry within them a spark of divinity, but that they have lost knowledge of this divinity and of their true spiritual origin outside the material world. Rather than seeing a spiritual struggle between God and the devil taking place, Gnostics describe a conflict between the true, unknowable high God and a lesser god who rules the world.”1) Chas S. Clifton, Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, Barnes and Nobles Books (New York, NY:1992), p. 50 Considering this comment, Heiser follows the basic premise with a little variation. He defines “elohim/gods” as having a disembodied nature, thus his claim that men become gods follows the Gnostic notion of “a spark of divinity” in man as their “spiritual origin outside the material world,” moving this deification from the origin to his eschatological destiny (unless his discussion of the divine council in the Garden of Eden is setting deification back to the origin, or even Adam being called the “son of God” in Luke 3:38 which Heiser interprets to be language for gods). His variation of the Gnostic concept alters from a dualistic form of two battling gods, to an army of lesser gods involved in a “cosmic turf war” against the true God he defines as ontologically unique.

The Gnostic text On the Origin of the World relates something very similar to what we find in Heisers theology. “Seven Archangels stand before the throne. Sabaoth is the eighth, and he has authority, and so there are seventy-two figures in all. From this chariot the seventy-two gods took shape, so that they might rule over the languages of the seventy-two nations.”2)On the Origin of the World (trans. Marvin Meyer); in The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, ed. Marvin Meyer, HarperOne (New York, NY) 2008, p. 207 With Heiser’s discussion of Jehovah and His vice-regent, plus the seventy gods of his divine council, we find exactly seventy-two gods in Hieser’s theology.

Chas Clifton introduces his entry on Gnosticism in Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, stating, “A movement influenced by Greek philosophy, Asian and Middle Eastern mysticism and alternative interpretations of Jewish and Christian teachings, Gnosticism early on became the chief rival of orthodox Eastern and Western Christianity.”3)Chas S. Clifton, Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, Barnes and Nobles Books (New York, NY:1992), p. 49 Nicola Denzey, who produced the first text book on Gnosticism, wrote, “Although Irenaeus reproduces quite a bit of Gnostic cosmology and mythology, we did not know how accurately he was doing this until we found some of the texts he was apparently using.”4) Nicola Denzey Lewis, Introduction to “Gnosticism,” Oxford University Press (Oxford N.Y.: 2013), p. 25 With the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, we learned how accurate Irenaeus’ detailed analysis of Gnosticism was. Speaking of this collection of books which came to be known as the Nag Hammadi library, Robin Lane Fox write:

The collection is not a single library, nor is it uniformly heretical, nor even entirely Christian. It includes a poor translation of a section of Plato’s Republic and a pagan letter of “Eugnostis the Blessed”: the letter was then given a Christian preface and conclusion and presented in another copy as the “wisdom” which Jesus revealed to his Apostles after his death. The “Library” also includes three texts which are known in a pagan setting: a prayer and two discourses of Thrice-great Hermes, the pagan god….

Barely five and a half miles from the discovery of these books lay a major monastic community, founded by the great Pachomius, father of this type of monasticism in Egypt: his own first monastery was only three miles distant. In theory, the filling of the bindings could have derived from any rubbish heap elsewhere, but the brilliant conjecture that the books, too, belonged to monks is still the most economical. There were no “Gnostics” at Nag Hammadi in the mid-fourth century and certainly no study of Coptic-speaking “Hermeticist,” pagans who wished to own so many Christian books beside their own. Coptic, however, was the language of the majority in the early Pachomian monasteries: after c. 350, we know that rumours of rampant unorthodoxy caused their members’ opinion to be checked.5) Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY: 1987), pp. 414-415

Pagans followed religions structured around mythologies which is contrasted to the Jews and Christians who were grounded in revelation from God which expounded the true history of His interacting in the world. “Where the Bacchic societies offered a myth of their god, Jews and Christians offered history; the pagan mysteries conveyed a secret experience, whereas the Jew and Christians offered a ‘revelation’ based on texts. They also united cult and religious philosophy, and here, too, they could capitalize on common ground.”6)Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY: 1987), p. 94 Gnosticism carried the Hegelian dialectic method of producing a synthesis of two opposing options.7)see Heath Henning, “Hegelian Dialectics,” July 1, 2016; http://truthwatchers.com/hegelain-dialectics/ Historian Robin Lane Fox related, “this tendency was exemplified in the writings of ‘knowing’ Christian Gnostics, who dissolved history and the Gospels into a complex myth of Creation and the human predicament.”8) Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY: 1987), p. 332 Pagan myths are loaded with the gods battling for preeminence over each other, which Heiser has capitalized on in his synchronizing to the Bible of some complex mythological  war of the gods, and he is the only one able to expound this greater knowledge of Scripture to us.

To be sure, I am not suggesting that one should avoid studying the literature of the ancient cultures that surrounded the nation of Israel to get an insight to their historical setting. As Merrill Unger has written, “Moreover, some Old Testament writers were acquainted with the literature of surrounding nations and modeled some of their inspired compositions after their literary masterpieces. This fact is clearly shown, for instance, by striking parallels between some of the earlier psalms and the epic literature discovered as Ras Shamra.”9)Merrilll F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament, Zondervan Publishing House (Grand Rapids, MI: 1954), p. 36 Note that Unger expresses it was early psalms that parallel Ras Shamra, not late psalms which Heiser would admit Psalm 82 is of the Persian period. Thus Unger interprets the gods in Psalm 82 as being “used of magistrates who represent God, Ex 21:6; Ps 58:1; Jn 10:34-36.”10)Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Handbook: An Essential Guide to Understanding the Bible, Moody Press (Chicago, IL: 1966, 1977), p.284 Unger warns against the hermeneutic methods of men like Heiser, saying, “It seems inconceivable that the Holy Spirit would have used an epic so contaminated with heathen philosophy as a source of spiritual truth. The employment of a poetical form or a certain type of meter as a vehicle for the expression of spiritual truth, of which there are clear Old Testament examples taken from contemporary literature, is an entirely different matter.”11) Merrilll F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament, Zondervan Publishing House (Grand Rapids, MI: 1954), p. 36 He also identifies, “The Baal cult included worship and gay licentious dances on wooded hilltops called ‘highplaces.’… Asherah, as is now well-known from the Ras-Shamra epic literature of the fourteenth century B.C., was the consort of the chief Canaanite deity El. But by the ninth century and later in Palestine she was regarded as the wife of Baal.”12) Merrilll F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament, Zondervan Publishing House (Grand Rapids, MI: 1954), p. 278 Heiser structures these myths that were the foundation of this pagan licentiousness into his theology to interpret the Bible.13)Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 44-48

In fact, Heiser is very committed to viewing the Bible through the mythological pagan perspective to even considering portions of the Bible mythological and thus denying inerrancy. He teaches Noah’s flood was local14)Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 190, fn 14; p. 210, fn 12 against what the text clearly teaches (as well as science).15)see Heat Henning, Evience of a Worldwide Flood, Jan. 3, 2018; http://truthwatchers.com/evidence-world-wide-flood/ Heiser rejects the Masoretic Text description of Goliath, citing the Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint on 1 Samuel 17:4.16)Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 211, also fn 17 on 211-212 However, the variant has been appropriately explained by the fact that the LXX is based on the measurements of the Royal Egyptian cubit while the MT text likely used the Hebrew common cubit and are therefore both correct.17)Clyde Billington, “Goliath and the Exodus Giants: How Tall were They?” Journal of Evangelica Society, 50:3 (Sep. 2007): 489-508 When the text opposes his presupposition he seeks “evidence that the redactor scribe” manipulated the text.18)Michael Heiser, “The Divine Council and Biblical Theology,” p. 14; http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/DivineCouncilLBD.pdf He is a redactor scribe manipulating the texts whenever he needs to for his theory to look stronger. In translating the Septuagint version of Isaiah 9:6, Heiser offers the rendering, “angel of [the] great council[.]”19) Michale S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 219; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis The issue is over his addition of the article which he placed within brackets. There is clearly no article in the Greek, μεγάλης βουλῆς ἄγγελός, and Heiser is aware of this fact since he could only insert it with brackets. The difference would be: a) the “angel” would be bringing a message “of great council,” contrast to an angel that reside in or over “[the] great council;” and b) this textual manipulation is self-refuting to Heiser own system since he does not include “angels” in the “council” since they are of a lower tier, only his “gods” reside in the council. We have seen how he is guilty of redefining words when he needs to in earlier posts. But he does not limit his corrupting text to the Bible. He includes corruptions of Second Temple literature to present his view. In his dissertation Heiser admits, “English translations of pseudepigraphic texts are taken from the respective translations in Charlesworth, ed., OTP, vols. 1-2, but occasionally made more literal to bring out the council vocabulary.”20)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 217, fn. 786; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis If the “council vocabulary” was literally in the texts, he would not need to bring it out.

The problem is that Heiser is more committed to his mythology than he is to being honest with the Bible and other ancient texts he needs to justify his Gnostic interpretation. He writes in his dissertation, “The reference to the ‘waters above the heavens is also important, for it points to the pre-scientific mythological worldview that there were waters above a solid vault of the earth, atop which Yahweh’s throne was placed.” 21)Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Cannical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004, p. 36; page numbers from PDF available at: https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=fac_dis Heiser is revealing his liberal leanings as he offers the foolish definition from the BDB Hebrew lexicon as if it were accurate. This lexicon define the Hebrew word raqia’ as, “the vault of heaven, or ‘firmament,’ regarded by Hebrews as solid, and supporting ‘waters’ above it[.]”22)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p. 956 Other more modern scholars have rejected this definition, expressing “The basic concept in raqia’ is stamping, as with the foot, and what results, i.e. a spreading out or stretching forth….In pre-Christin Egypt confusion was introduced into biblical cosmology when the LXX perhaps under the influence of Alexandrian theories of a ‘stone vault’ of heaven, rendered raqia’ by stereoma, suggesting some firm, solid structure. This Greek concept was then reflected by the Latin firmementum, hence KJV ‘firmament.’ To this day negative criticism speaks of the ‘vault, or firmament,’ regarded by Hebrews as solid[.]”23)J. Barton Payne, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke) Moody Press (Chicago, IL 1980), Vol. 2, p. 862 However, it is not difficult to study what the Bible say for itself of this “firmament” and “waters” above it. As the lexicographer above conveyed the root meaning was to stamp out, spreading or stretching, we must ask how such a solid vault is stretched as Scripture identifies (Job 37:18; Isaiah 44:24; Ezekiel 1:22)?

Jonathan Sarfati exposed those authors who hold such a view of some solid vault that “the premise that the Hebrew writers of Scripture shared the limitations of their surrounding cultures is faulty. Since God is the divine author of the Hebrew Bible, it should not be surprising that it has some scientific insight.”24) Johnathan Sarfati, The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, and Scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11, Creation Ministry International (Powder Springs, Georgia: 2015), p. 151 Genesis 1:20 clearly expresses that the birds are said to fly “in the open firmament of heaven.” How often are birds seen flying in a solid vault? Maybe in Heiser’s mythology magical birds can do such things, but that is not based on scientifically inerrant Scriptures authored by the one and only God.

Deification

The second major correlation of Heiser’s theology and Gnosticism is man becoming gods. Heiser writes, “God created humankind to extend Eden over all the earth. That’s what the command of Genesis 1:28 collectively referred to by theologians as the dominion mandate, are about.”25) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 58-59 The dominion mandate has nothing to do with spreading Eden over the earth as anyone can see from reading his faulty proof text. In fact, the dominion mandate was reiterated after the Eden was lost and after the worldwide flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 9:3-4; Psalm 8), so how can the command be to extend Eden? The orthodox understanding of the Dominion Mandate is what gave mankind the reasoning to produce the scientific method and was the foundation of the scientific revolution.26)See Heath Henning, “The Image of God,” Nov. 5, 2016; http://truthwatchers.com/the-image-of-god/ Heiser, tells us, “An ancient Israelite would have thought of Eden as the dwelling of God and the place from which God and his council directed the affairs of humanity… Eden is described in Ezekiel 28:2 as the ‘seat of the gods.’”27) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 47-48 Here, his idea is that gods ruled the earth from Eden, and this rulership from these gods at Eden was to extend over the earth. But the Dominion Mandate was given to man, not the gods. His proof text of Ezekiel is clearly speaking of Tyrus. In fact, Ezekiel 28 is a perfect case of how Heiser’s hermeneutics is self-defeating. Ezekiel 28:2 clearly reveals that the Biblical authors were familiar with the fact that their surrounding pagan neighbors referred to their kings and princes as “gods.” When Ezekiel switches his terminology from the “prince of Tyrus” (Ezekiel 28:2) to “the king of Tyrus” (Ezekiel 28:12), Heiser interpretation is “Ezekiel [is] drawing on a tale about the rebellion of a divine being against God[.]”28)Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 78 Is this just a “tale” that comes from pagan mythology the Biblical authors are using, or was it actual history recorded in the inerrant word of God? He views the “anointed cherub” as a “divine cherub”29) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 79 instead of an angelic being like most traditional conservative commentators. But if Heiser’s entire system is supposedly imposing Ancient Near Eastern cultural context into the text why is he selectively ignoring the abundance of such literature that refer to kings as gods proving the men can be called gods (elohim) as is evident in Ezekiel 28:2? Ancient Near Eastern literature is only relevant to his argument when he can use it to argue for the divine council but must be ignored when it refutes his presupposed theology.

Ancient Near Eastern paganism was full of references of men being called and or worshiped as gods. Gnosticism adapted this thinking into biblical terminology to produce their theological heresies, as does Heiser. From Akkadian literature, The Gilgamesh Epic proclaims “Thou art wise, Enkidu, art become like a god!”30)The Gilgamesh Epic, Tablet 1.iv.34; in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 75, similarly in Tablet 2.ii.11, p. 77 Egyptian text, one Pharaoh can speak of his father’s death as deification. “When my father became a god and I seated myself on the throne of my father[.]”31)Treaty Between Mursilis and Duppi-Tessub of Amurru; in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 203; also see A Dispute Over Suicide, p. 405, 407; The Instruction for King Meri-Ka-Re, p. 415 A Pharaoh could also call himself a god while alive, “The majesty of this god…”32)The Egyptian Mines in Sinai; in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 229 Or as Ramses II referred to himself as “every foreign country was in humility under the feet of this good god… I rise like the sun disc and shine like Re[,]”33)Peace between Egypt and Hatti; in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 257 calling himself “the great living god[,]”34)Peace between Egypt and Hatti; in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 257 and making a goddess out of woman he married: “Then [his] majesty saw that she was fair of face [like] a goddess…. Then his majesty caused he name to be: the King’s Wife Maat-nefru-Re[.]”35)Peace Between Egypt and Hatti; in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 258 Even expressing similarity to Jehovah’s famous self-revelation in Exodus 3:14, one Pharaoh states, “But as I live! I AM While I Am!”36) The Instruction for King Meri-Ka-Re, in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 416 Ugaritic literature such as the Keret Epic calls the king Keret “a son of El”37)The Keret Epic, C.i.10, 20; in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 147 and is questioned whether he would die “like the mortals, … Shall, then, a god die, An offspring of the Kindly One not live?”38)The Keret Epic, C.ii102-106; in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ed. James B. Pritchard) 3rd Edition, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ: 1969), p. 147-148  Heiser is educated in Egyptian and Ugaritic literature and has apparently synchronized this pagan ideology into the Bible.

Concerning man becoming gods, Heiser writes, “When we are made divine (glorified) on the new earth we all outrank angels.”39) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 158 He, of course, teaches this second tier of gods are above the mere angels in rank. He says, “Our inheritance of the nations with Jesus at the end of days (Rev 3:21) is in a glorified, resurrected—divine—state.”40) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 159 So it is only when men become divine that the Dominion Mandate is fulfilled, since that is when Eden is actual spread over the earth. This would seem to imply that he views man’s origin as divine as we saw was primary to Gnostic thought. “Both Jeremiah and Isaiah describe kingdom living as a transformed society, one that cannot be accompanied without the presence of the Spirit and the divine messiah, as well as humans made divine.”41) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 353, fn 11 Notice in this quote the confusion produce the logical fallacy of equivocation. Heiser refers to the “divine messiah” as well as “humans made devine[,]” which being stated within immediate context, the term “divine” seems to place deified man on ontological par with the divine messiah. This may be an accident in his writing as he elsewhere says the messiah is Jehovah on a distinct ontological level from his gods, which here man is taking the place of these gods. But I question how orthodox his understanding of the Trinity and Christology is, and deification is clearly not orthodox.

Heiser’s concept projects the thought that when Christ returns He will overthrow the corrupt gods of Psalm 82 and deify men to take their places over the nations. “The corrupt divine sons of God of Deuteronomy 32:8 would be displaced by new divine sons of God—glorified believers.”42) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 160 He reiterates, “when the nations of the earth are taken back by Yahweh, the lesser elohim of those nations will be displaced by Yahweh’s reconstituted council, his earthly sons and daughters made divine and set over the nations.”43) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 352 Thus men will be above the angels as well as the gods that are casted down. We also see similar thoughts from The Hermetic Corpus: “for man is a divine being and is not to be counted amongst the other creatures on earth but amongst those in heaven called gods. Indeed, if we have to speak the truth boldly, the true man is above the gods, or at least fully their equal in power.”44) The Corpus Hermeticum, book 10; in  The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 51

We find Hermeticism and Gnosticism close kin, even a line from the Hermetica is quoted in the Gospel of Thomas. Gnosticism has been suggested to be divided into four schools for easy classification: 1) Thomas School, 2) Sethian School, 3) Valentinian School, and 4) Hermetic School.45) The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, ed. Marvin Meyer, HarperOne (New York, NY) 2008, p. 777-798 Hermeticism teaches, “The human souls which gain immortality are transformed into spirits and thence to the choruses of the gods.”46)The Corpus Hermeticum, book 10; in  The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 47 Thus the deification doctrine is like Heiser’s, when immortality is given and individuals are transformed at the end times. Heiser even agree with the Hermetic Gnostic text, Excerpt from the Perfect Discourse which expresses the Egyptian theory that statues are empowered by the souls of these gods to defend his redefinition of elohim. “For just as the Father, the Lord of the universe, creates gods, so too people—mortal, earthly, living things, who are not like God—create gods. People give and receive power. People become divine and create gods.”47)Excerpts from the Perfect Discourse (trans. Marvin Meyer); in The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, ed. Marvin Meyer, HarperOne (New York, NY) 2008, p. 431 also see p. 432 Men can make idols and through divine rights of a ritual, breath spiritual entities into the statues.

The hermetic doctrine teaches: “The human soul, that is not every human soul, but a pious one, is spiritual and divine. When such a soul has freed itself from the body and passed the test of piety, which is to know God and to harm no man, it becomes pure Nous…when the Nous becomes a divine power, it is oblige to receive a fiery body to serve God[.]”48)The Corpus Hermeticum, book 10; in  The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 50 Note how similar this is to Heiser’s thought. First, it is the divine soul being disembodied which is divine, hence a god; as Heiser defines elohim. Secondly, the divine soul receives a fiery body, which the luminescent imagery is again Heiser’s understanding of identifying a god, and yet it is a “fiery body,” not completely disembodied, which connects to Heiser’s deification since he attaches deification to the resurrected body (assuming he actually believes in a physical, tangible bodily resurrection—which seems questionable).

Hermeticism also broke down classifications of the spiritual realm as Heiser does. “His spiritual substance governs the heavens, the heavens govern the gods, and the powers, which are appointed by the gods, govern men. This is the host of gods and powers.”49) The Corpus Hermeticum, book 17; in  The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 78 There is one God above all, with “heavens” personified which Hieser does also. Referring to Daniel 4:25-26 [in Hebrew verses 22-23], he states, “Verse 25 says very plainly that the Most High is sovereign. It is clearly singular. The phrase ‘heaven is sovereign’ is interesting because the Aramaic word translated heaven (shamayin) is plural and is accompanied by a plural verb. The plurality of shamayin can point to either the members of the council or the council as a collective.”50) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 54 Below the “heavens” of Hermeticism are the gods, then the powers governing over men. When men become gods in Heisers view, we are over the angels/powers like Hermeticism.

Gnostic text discovered at Nag Hammadi express, “[When I was] baptized the fifth [time] in the name of the Self-Generated One by these same powers, I became divine.”51)Zostianos (trans. John D. Turner); in The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, ed. Marvin Meyer, HarperOne (New York, NY) 2008, p. 564 So it is not necessary to wait to the end times to become divine. Another Gnostic text says, “And [I] turned to myself and saw the light that [surrounded] me and the good that was in me, and I became divine.”52)Allogenes the Stranger (trans. John D. Turner); in The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, ed. Marvin Meyer, HarperOne (New York, NY) 2008, p. 690 The popular maxim from the Delphi Oracles, “know yourself” was frequently repeated in Gnosticism to express knowing yourself was to know God through the inner divine spark. Heiser expresses not just that we become gods, but that we already are, just waiting to complete the process. “We are in the process of becoming what we are—the divine-human children and household of Yahweh.”53) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 353 Notice, the tense “what we are” is present tense, while awaiting the process of becoming. Heiser’s emphasis on his doctrine of deification is to help us know what we are, that we would know ourselves as gods.

He assures us, “We do not become deities on ontological par with Yahweh…. Rather, we are made like him, receiving a glorified body[.]”54) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 319, fn. 6 Here we find reason to question exactly what he thinks about a resurrected glorified body is. If “Yahweh” is God, can He have a body or must He be disembodied? Christ took on a body, but what is Heiser’s understanding of His resurrected body? Heiser points to David Litwa, We Are Being Transformed, who is from the Australian Catholic University in Melbourn, whose purpose of the book is to describe Paul’s salvation experience with analogies from Greco-Roman philosophy.55)see M. David Litwa, We Are Being Transformed: Deification in Paul’s Soteriology (Berlin Walter de Gruyter, 2012), p. 31 So Heiser is dependent upon a Catholic scholar who interprets Paul in light of pagan authors. That is exactly how he handles the Old Testament. But as N. T. Wright has revealed in the research, “Nobody in the pagan world of Jesus’ day and thereafter claimed that somebody had been truly dead and then come to be truly, and bodily, alive once more.”56)N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN: 2003), p. 76 Wright concludes his lengthy discussion about the pagan view of resurrection by saying, “Third, Pauls views on resurrection remain rooted firmly in Judaism – which is hardly surprising, because no pagans known to us ever imagined that resurrection could or would really take place, let alone offered any developed framework o thought on the subject.”57)N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN: 2003), p. 272

Heiser is thoroughly explicit with references to man become gods, so much so it seems odd I have not seen others criticizing him over this topic. Heiser writes, “what the Church really is—the reconstructed divine-human family of God.”58) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 308 He refers to the “(divinization) of believers[,]”59) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 308, fn. 2 with a citation from Crispin Fletcher-Louis who comments that humanity ought to be considered “both angelmorphic and divine.”60)Crispin Fletcher-Louis, “The Worship of Divine Humanity as God’s Image and the Worship of Jesus,” in The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism: Papers from the St. Andrew Confrence on the Historical Origin of the Worship of Jesus (ed. Carey C. Newman, James R. Davila, Gladys S. Lewis) (Leiden-Brill: 1999), pp. 112-128 (esp. 113-120); as cited by Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 308-309, fn. 2 He displays the “star” vocabulary as evidence for man becoming gods. “The ‘morning star’ phrase takes back once more to the Old Testament which at times uses astral terminology to describe divine beings.”61) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 312 This comment presented in context of Revelation 2:28 is his proof text of teaching deification. Oddly, he also references Numbers 24:17, but offers no explanation why it was never interpreted as implying a divine messiah. Or worse, how his proof text of this messianic prophecy does not put man’s divine nature on ontological par with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Hermetic Corpus also has divine astral language, stating, “and the gods appeared in the form of stars with all their constellations, and heaven with the gods was complete in every detail.”62) The Corpus Hermeticum, book 4; in  The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 30 Presenting a monolatry theology, like Heiser prefers to polytheism, the Hermetica says, “The sun is the greatest god of the gods in heaven, for whom all heavenly gods gave way as to a king and master.”63) The Corpus Hermeticum, book 5; in  The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 34-35 Herodotus spoke of the Massagetae, saying “The only god they worship is the sun, and to him they offer the horse in sacrifice; under the notion of giving to the swiftest of the gods the swiftest of all mortal creatures.”64)Herodotus, Histories 1.216; in Herodotus, Histories (Trans. George Rawlinson), Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY: 1997), p. 117 Obviously these were a polytheistic people since they acknowledged other gods, but only sacrificed to the sun.

Heiser continues his deification doctrine. He defines theosis with synonyms as “divinization, glorification, and deification.”65) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 319, fn. 5 He says, “Humanity will become divine and displace the lesser elohim over the nations under authority of the unique divine son, the resurrected Jesus.”66) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 353 Heiser shares some proof text for his heresy. “We will be made like him (1 John 3:1-3). We will become divine.”67) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 314 Heiser references this text based on his assumption that the term “sons of God” means gods. The context of this passage is clearly dealing with resurrected bodies as Paul mentions, “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God…. even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:19, 23). Heiser writes, “He became as we are so that we might become as he is.”68) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 318 This is actually a rough quote from the early church fathers which I have written on elsewhere.69)see Heath Henning, Crept in Unawares: Mysticism, Truthwacthers Publications (Truthwatchers.com, 2019), p. 157-158 I commented in a post some years ago:

Early Christians made similar statements, such as Irenaeus, who writes: “how will man pass into God, unless God had first passed into man?”70) Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book IV, Chap. XXXIII The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 1, p. 507 Hippolytus asked, “But if thou art desirous of becoming a god…”71) Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, Book X, chap. XXIX; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 5, p. 151 Cypran72)Cyprian, Treatise VI.:11;The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 5, p. 468 Clement of Alexandria73)Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, chap. I; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 2, p. 17 and Novatian made similar comments, such as Christ “offering divinity” to man.74) Novatian, Treatise Concerning the Trinity, chap. XV; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 5, p. 624 Christians also had divinely ordained right to judge–even angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)–but understood even more in applying this terminology of deification, such as having holiness and immortality imputed to the Christian believer (either present tense judicially or future tense in glorification).75)Heath Henning, Josephus’ Testimony of Christ: Evidence of Authenticity,” Aug. 10, 2018; http://truthwatchers.com/josephus-testimony-of-christ-is-it-reliable/

Hence, this terminology was meant not as become gods by a new nature, but rather being imputed specifically immortality which is an attribute of God (1 Timothy 6:16). Heiser is obviously interpreting his gods as ontologically distinct from angels and men, so views mankind being deified as an ontological factor, even if it remains as lesser gods than Jehovah.

Angels do not have authority to rule in this world or the world to come, but man does (Hebrews 2:5-6 cf. 1 Corinthians 6:3), which is why Jesus Christ had to take human nature to properly rule over the world (Hebrew 2:9, 16) since man was given dominion (Genesis 1:26-28). It should be remembered that Christ remains in His Human form, resurrected and glorified, but never removed from His human nature. Heiser must have a misconstrued idea of the hypostatic nature of Christ, since Christ remains fully God (Heiser defining “god” as disembodied) and fully man. How does Heiser understand the kenosis (Philippians 2:6-7)? Did Christ have to cease being God to become incarnate? Or if Heiser think Jesus Christ remained as God on earth then by his definition of “god” Christ would have to be disembodied. Hence, Heiser would in such a case be docetic like some ancient Gnostics. Somewhere he has to have major theological issues to hold to his disembodied definition. If he views Christ remaining as God than He does not have a physical glorified resurrected body. Thus Heiser would be denying an actual resurrection for a spiritual resurrection like the Jehovah Witnesses cult. Norman Geisler accurately stated decades earlier, “There are serious salvation problems in denying the physical nature of the resurrection of Christ. As pointed out earlier, the New Testament teaches that belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ is a condition for salvation (Rom. 10:9, 10; 1 Cor. 15:1-5).”76)Norman Geisler, The Battle for the Resurrection, Thomas Nelson Publishers (Nashville, TN: 1989), p. 33 Since the saints are said to be like Christ at the resurrection (1 John 3:2), Heiser deification implies we become disembodied spiritual beings in heaven. His definition of “god” has to reflect on his understanding of the resurrection being physical and bodily. His whole theological system falls apart and is self-defeating. He necessarily falls under a category of heretical.

It was the pagan world that rejected and mocked at the idea of a physical and bodily resurrection (Acts 17:32). Tertullian spoke of his view of the resurrection when he was a pagan as “the theme of ridicule.”77)Tertullian, Apology 18; in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Edited by Alexander Roberts, D.D., & James, Donaldson, LL.D., Hendrickson Publishers, 2012, Vol. 3, p. 32 Theologian Rolland McCune wrote, “Biblical immortality for human beings affects the body. Soul immortality is more Platonic than Pauline.”78)Rolland McCune Promise Unfulfilled: The Failed Strategy of Modern Evangelicalism, Ambassador International (Greenville, NC: 2004), p. 295 When Gnosticism attached itself to Christian terminology it redefine resurrection to a pagan thinking and denied the physical bodily aspect of this biblical doctrine, just as Michael Heiser is doing. The Gospel of Thomas which claims Jesus as saying, “Jesus said, ‘I shall destroy [this] house, and no one will be able to build it [again].’”79)Gospel of Thomas, 71; The Nag Hammadi Scripture: The International Edition, edited by Marvin Meyer, Harper Collins (New York, NY: 2007), p. 149 In the Gnostic text titled The Treatise on Resurrection (The Letter to Rheginus), the editors introduction states: “This idea is related to another important theme in the text: spiritual existence is fundamentally the only real form of existence.80)The Nag Hammadi Scripture: The International Edition, edited by Marvin Meyer, Harper Collins (New York, NY: 2007), p. 50 The text says: “He [Christ] arose and swallowed the visible through the invisible, and thus he granted us the way to our immortality.”81)The Treatise on Resurrection 45,23; The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition, edited by Marvin Meyer, Harper Collins (New York, NY: 2007), p. 53 Hence our “immortality” is “invisible” not physical as in a true resurrection. Again it says, “Rheginus, do not get lost in details, nor live according to the flesh for the sake of harmony. Flee from divisions and bonds, and then you already have resurrection.”82)The Treatise on Resurrection 49,9; The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition, edited by Marvin Meyer, Harper Collins (New York, NY: 2007), p. 55 Pagans and Gnostics viewed the body as a prison keep one trapped in a decay corrupting world which was undesirable to remain in. Death, or the after life, was intended to be a liberation from a perishing existence, not be transformed into an imperishable physical body as Paul taught (1 Corinthian 15:50-55).

Furthermore, we find a self-defeating premise due to his definition of “god” being disembodied. If we ignore his foolish redefinition of “god” which is a heretical denial of a basic Christian doctrine of a physical bodily resurrection, then we can only find one other definition of his “gods” in Psalm 82. Since he teaches these gods are ruling over the nations, and men become gods to replace the rebellious gods currently ruling over the nations, the only commonality we can identify from this use of the word “gods” is the fact that they are ruling over the nations. Hence, the classic interpretation of Psalm 82 being rulers over the nations is obvious once Heiser’s fake definition is exposed.

Closing this article, it is probably appropriate to touch on Second Temple Judaism. In Pseudo-Phocylides, the discussion of resurrection appears as deification. “It is not good to dissolve the human frame; for we hope that the remains of the departed will soon come to the light (again) out of the earth; and afterward they will become gods.”83)Pseudo-Phocylides, 102-104; P. W. Van Der Horst, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 579 Notice here the expression is clearly describing the word “god” as bodily resurrection contrast to Heiser. The comment connected to this passage states, “On the basis of this half line [104] some scholars have asserted that Ps-Phoc was not a Jew but rather a pagan or a Christian. One should bear in mind, however, that the resurrected were often regarded as angels, and angels are often called ‘gods’ in Jewish text.”84) P. W. Van Der Horst, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1985), Vol. 2, p. 579, fn. g. Again, this is contrary to Heiser. The facts of ancient languages, properly understood reading of ancient literature (whether pagan, Jewish or Christian), and sound theological reading of the Bible is all contrary to Heiser!

As I have expressed in the earlier posts about my concern of Heiser’s theology, not only being Gnostic and heretical, but also that what he is advancing is very similar to the depiction of the antichrist religion portrayed in the Bible. The fact that the antichrist will be worship as a god (Revelation 13:12) and will exalt himself above all others called gods (2 Thessalonians 2:4) has a major implication with his “divine plurality” as well as his doctrine of men becoming gods. Interestingly, my book Crept In Unawares: Mysticism, which documented from the Bible and ancient belief of the church father’s understanding that the antichrist would be Gnostic with modern trends of apostasy, ended with the last two chapters on the topics of “Deification” (Chaper 8),85) Heath Henning, Crept In Unawares : Mysticism, Truthwacthers Publications (Truthwatchers.com, 2019), p. 157-178 and “Kingdom Now—Dominionism” (Chapter 9).86) Heath Henning, Crept In Unawares : Mysticism, Truthwacthers Publications (Truthwatchers.com, 2019), p. 180-192 Within Heiser’s theology we find this same recipe of apostasy leading people to be receptive of the deception of the antichrist.

He mentions that Genesis 3:15 is alluded to in Romans 16:20, which he says, “the crushing isn’t performed by Jesus, the son of Eve and risen messiah. Rather, Paul has God crushing the serpent under the feet of beleivers!”87) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 243 One must wonder if he is hinting at dominion theology here. He makes Christians into aggressor to advance their deified rulership. “The kingdom of God is the aggressor…. It is the gates of hell that are under assault—and they will not hold up against the Church.”88) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 285 If he is equating the fallen divine council that rules over the nations of the world, then he is expressing that Christians are to assault these rulers to take over the nations. Heiser writes, “Being ‘the sons of God’ also means being members of God’s governing rule—his council. Believers have a divinely appointed purpose. Adam and Eve were supposed to make all the world Eden—to spread the kingdom of God so that we could enjoy the love of God, our Father.”89) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 310 So he believes the job of Christians is to spread the kingdom of God across the world to rule over the world. He confirms this stating, “Once the nations are restored to Yahweh through the gospel, believers will displace the divine beings who presently dominate the nations and rule in their places as Yahweh’s children and corulers.”90) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 311 He further relates, “The armies of heaven who witness the final demise of the antichrist and his hordes are a combination of Yahweh’s elohim and humans made divine.”91) Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the supernatural worldview of the Bible, Lexham Press (Bellingham, WA: 2015), p. 374 So he depicts an army of his fallen divine plurality on one side and an army of “Yahweh’s elohim and humans made divine” on the other side, battling amongst each other ending with “God crushing the serpent under the feet of beleivers!” If this does not sound like pagan mythology, I don’t know what does!

Follow the entire series of assessing Hieser’s theology.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy (Part 1) is focused on Heiser’s hermeneutic method as the root of his errors but is not very expressive of his theology.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: Polytheism (Part 2) is dealing with why he should be considered a polytheist even if he denies the accusation. Simply put, his term “divine plurality” is what he uses as a synonym to refer to his belief in many gods.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: Redefining אלהים (Part 3) further elaborates his polytheistic views and refutes his arguments against being labeled a polytheist.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: gods or Angels (Part 4) discusses how other Bible scholars that have similar research in Second Temple Jewish literature understand this language to refer to angels, not gods.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: Deification (Part 5) may be the most significant assessment of Heiser’s theology and draws on the many parallels of his theological views and Gnosticism and exposes his heretical doctrine that men become gods.

Michael Heiser’s Gnostic Heresy: Paradigm passages (Part 6) [not yet available] will discuss Heiser’s paradigmatic passages to explain his errors and provide an accurate exegesis of Psalm 82; Deuteronomy 4:19-20; 32:8-9; and John 10:34.

I intend to provide the entire series as a free ebook when completed which will be available to download as a PDF.

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