Harmonizing the Bible - "Strict Monotheism" or Mono-Yahwism

Evangelical, Michael Heiser in his paper, Introduction to the Divine Council tells us "the council of the Gods"
"is one of the most neglected, misunderstood, side-stepped—and critical—doctrinal areas in the Old Testament. In fact, it is the backdrop for most of New Testament theology.
"I don’t make that last assertion lightly. I’m not saying that without an understanding of this issue you can’t comprehend the Bible. I’m saying that without it you can’t comprehend it precisely or fully, or even well. You will inevitably miss out on the context for much of what goes on in the New Testament, a context understood and utilized by the apostles at every turn. Remember back....I talked about how the church has been missing the ancient context for its theology for millennia? How we’ve lost the ancient Israelite and first century lenses for understanding what’s going on in the Bible?
"...Read prayerfully and closely, because you’ll never look at your Bible the same way again once you meet God’s original heavenly family—the sons of God."

Heiser gives a masterful dissertation showing how the Hebrew Bible gives a more insightful understanding of the council of the Gods than do the English translations. Yet this doctrine still comes through. You will need to read the full paper to get a true understanding as he builds, gives examples and argues how the scriptures are clear. For example, Heiser explains:
The first list below contains passages where the word elohim or ha-elohim is in the Hebrew text where you read “gods.” The second list has verses where the Hebrew word is elim.
The plural elohim / ha-elohim
Psalm 86:8 - Among the gods there is none like you, O Yahweh; neither [are there any works] like your works.
Psalm 95:3 - For Yahweh is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
Psalm 96:4 - For Yahweh is great, and deserving of exceedingly great praise: he is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 97:7 - All who served images were put to shame; those who boasted in mere idols; even all the gods bow down before him [Yahweh, see v. 5 preceding]
Psalm 97:9 - For you, O Yahweh, are Most High above all the earth: you are exalted far above all gods.
Psalm 135:5 - For I know that Yahweh is great, and that our lord is above all gods.
Psalm 136:2 - O give thanks to the God of gods: for his mercy endures for ever.
Psalm 138:1 - I will praise you with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise to you.
The plural elim
Exodus 15:11 – Who is like you, O Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders?9
Psalm 58:1 - Do you indeed decree what is right, O gods? Do you judge people fairly?
The Hebrew writers referred to the God of Israel as “THE God” (par excellence) or “Most High” (greater and more exalted than all others) and these verses imply more than one god. And this is the reason why so many evangelical scholars and pastors want the “sons of God” to be human beings in certain passages. They think having heavenly sons of God in certain passages puts polytheism in the Bible. Heiser explains the difference between polytheism and monothesism. This is only a brief look at his arguement:
Those who want to argue that these references to other gods cannot be taken as reflecting what Israelites really believed don’t realize how that objection does injustice to both the biblical text and the God of Israel. What I mean here is that, if the above verses are not conveying factual information relative to biblical theology, then God’s superiority is a mockery. For example, if Moses is comparing Yahweh to beings that don’t exist, how is Yahweh glorified. To have Moses “really” saying “Who is like you, O Yahweh, among the beings that aren’t real” is to judge God’s greatness by nothing. We’re greater than something that doesn’t exist! So is a microbe. This view unintentionally brings God down quite a few notches, to say nothing of the deception involved on Moses’ part—and even God’s since he inspired the words. Saying “among the beings that we all know don’t exist there is none like Yahweh” is tantamount to comparing Yahweh with Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, or some fictional literary figure. This reduces praise to a snicker. It also makes the writer somewhat mentally unbalanced. He sings Yahweh’s praise before beings he really believes aren’t there? He commands the same imaginary beings to worship Yahweh (Psa. 29:1)? Worse yet, Yahweh presides over a council of beings that don’t exist? Why would the Holy Spirit inspire such nonsense?

More substantive is the fact that those who don’t want to take the text for what it says in such verses fear that they might be affirming polytheism as part of the belief system of the biblical writers. This is a concern only in that we use the word “monotheism” in a particular way that means “the belief that no other gods exist,” as opposed to “the belief that there is one unique God.”11 Polytheistic religions typically have a group of gods who fight and scheme against one another for power, and sometimes leadership of the lead god in charge can (and does) change in such religions. These systems also universally assume that the gods can be identified with parts of the creation, and that at least subset of the pantheon is basically equal in power and ability (or they have powers and abilities that offset the powers and abilities of the other “top tier” gods). Other terms relevant to this question are also flawed, such as henotheism (the belief in one superior god among other gods) and monolatry (the belief that you should worship only one god though others exist). These terms are deficient in that they do not sufficiently describe what the biblical writers believed. Henotheistic systems can have the lead god toppled and replaced by another god who then becomes “superior” (one wonders on what grounds, since just prior to that the god was inferior). Monolatry fails to articulate why one God is superior and what criteria make him superior—it comments only on worship.

LDS Critics who say that the LDS cannot be Christians because we believe in polytheism, the belief of many Gods. These are the Bible verses they use to show that there is only one God, "strict monotheism." With a true understanding of the divine council of the Gods these verses reveal only that as far as Israel is concerned Yahweh is their ONLY God, the only one they are to worship, there is no other who compares:

Deuteronomy 4:39 ...the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
Deuteronomy 4:35 ...that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.
Deuteronomy 6:4 — Hear, O Israel: The LORD thy God is one LORD. (Hebrew Shema-Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Deuteronomy32:39 — See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
2 Samuel 7:22 — Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God; for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
2 Samuel 22:32 For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?
1 Kings 8:60 — That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
2 Kings 19:15 — And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.
2 KINGS 5:15 — And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
1 Chronicles 17:20 — O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.
Nehemiah 9:6 — Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou has made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.
Psalm 18:31 — For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?
Psalm 86:10 — For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.
Isaiah 37:16 — O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou has made heaven and earth.
Isaiah 37:20 Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.
Isaiah 43:10-11 — Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.
Isaiah 44:6 ... I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isaiah 44:8 ... Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
Isaiah 45:5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: ...
Isaiah 45:21 — Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time: who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me.
Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Isaiah 46:9 — For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.
Hosea 13:4 — Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me; for there is no savior beside me.
Joel 2:27 — And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
Zechariah 14:9 — And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.


Mark 12:28-34 — And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
John 17:3 — And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Romans 3:30 — Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
1 Corinthians 8:1-6 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
Galatians 3:20 — Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
Ephesians 4:6 — One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
1 Timothy 1:17 — Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 2:5 — For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
James 2:19 — Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

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