Question: “How many gods are there?”
Answer: Various religions have various answers to the question “How many gods are there?” Religions that hold a monotheistic worldview believe there is only one real God. Polytheistic religions allow for multiple gods. The Bible unequivocally teaches there is only one God, and He created all things, sustains all things, and transcends all things.
Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the three main monotheistic worldviews that accept the existence of only one God, and no other. While monotheism embraces the reality of other supernatural or spiritual entities, it does not allow that they are truly gods, and it rejects the belief that any creature could challenge the power of the one true God.
Atheism is a worldview that rejects the existence of God, the spiritual world, or gods of any kind. From the atheist’s perspective, there is no such thing as a personal, divine being who caused or created any part of the material world.
Polytheism is a worldview that believes more than one or numerous finite gods are present in the world. Polytheism takes many different forms. In some, all the gods are relatively equal. In others, the gods are subject to a hierarchy. Examples of polytheistic belief systems include Hinduism (which teaches the existence of millions of gods), some forms of Buddhism, Taoism, Shintoism, Paganism, and Mormonism. Mormons typically deny this classification, arguing that they worship only one God. Be that as it may, Mormonism still endorses a belief in an indefinite number of gods.
Pantheism is a worldview held by most Hindus, many Buddhists, and other New Age religions. Pantheists claim God “is all and in all.” He permeates all things, comprises all things, includes all things, and is contained within all things. Since nothing exists apart from God, all things are in some way associated with God. The world is God, and God is the world. In pantheism, God is infinite, but not personal—all is God, and God is all.
Islam, Judaism, and Christianity all teach the existence of a singular, personal, transcendent, preexistent, self-existent, omnipotent, sovereign, and eternal God. Jewish and Christian Scripture says, “I alone am God. There is no other God—there never has been, and there never will be” (Isaiah 43:10, NLT; see also Isaiah 44:6, 8).
But Christianity sets itself apart with a distinct perspective on God’s nature. God has revealed Himself to be triune: the one God exists in three co-existent, co-eternal, co-equal Persons who share the same nature. The three Persons of the Trinity are God the Father (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2), God the Son (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3–4; Mark 1:10–11; John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
It’s important to understand that the Trinity doctrine does not imply three Gods. The Bible is clear that there is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5). But He exists in tri-unity.
People have imagined for themselves many gods, given them names, fashioned their images, and drawn up elaborate stories of their feats and foibles. But “we know that ‘An idol is nothing at all in the world’ and that ‘There is no God but one’” (1 Corinthians 8:4). The myriad of gods and goddesses that have come and gone in the history of the world are nothing but cut-rate imitations of the One who’s really in charge. Demonic deception is behind false gods and their idols, as Satan continues to lead people astray from the truth: “The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20).
The Bible says that the one true God is the sovereign Creator of the universe (Isaiah 42:5; Ephesians 1:11). He is eternal (Psalm 90:2); He is personal (Deuteronomy 34:10); He is holy (Psalm 99:3). The Bible says this one God is all-knowing (Isaiah 46:10), all-powerful (Matthew 19:26), and present everywhere (Psalm 139:7–10). The one true God never changes (James 1:17). Scripture confirms the presence of many false, so-called gods (Deuteronomy 32:17), but none of these counterfeits possess the unsurpassed excellence of the Lord God Almighty. He alone is worthy of worship, honor, and glory (Revelation 5:12).
Recommended Resource: Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias