Are human beings divine in essence, destined to
eventually become God?
Involvement in Far Eastern or New Age religions is
ordinarily connected to the belief that man is divine. In fact, this is the
motivation behind the traditional Hindu greeting called namahste.
This Sanskrit word means, "I bow to the Divine in you." The hands,
placed palm-to-palm in an upward, prayerful pose, and the polite bow are
intended to be a daily reminder, an often-recurring recognition of the 'Universal
Self' within all men. The premise is that we are all potential Christs. We
are all potential Buddhas. We are all evolving into ultimate, absolute
oneness with the Godhead. We all contain this 'seed' of the Divine.
Realizing this 'higher Self' is promoted as the key to bliss and
enlightenment. Yogi Bhajan propagated this view. He taught, "It is true
that between man and God there is no difference. The difference is in the
realization. Man has never realized that he is God, man has always realized
that he is man."1
Many other voices from the East echo this sentiment. Baba
Muktananda, swami of Siddha Yoga, urged his adherents, "Kneel to your
own self. Honor and worship your own being. Meditate on your own self. God
dwells with you as you."2 Sai
Baba, a popular, modern guru in India, has informed his followers that the
person who realizes the atma-principle becomes God himself. And
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi unflinchingly instructed, "Each individual in his
true nature is the impersonal God."3
Bible doctrine runs contrary to this view. The psalmist David, speaking
to the Creator, said, "What is man that you take thought of him, and
the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little
lower than God, and you crown him with glory and majesty!" (Psalm
8:4–5 NAU) Notice, it does not say that man is a manifestation of God
or even equal to God, but "a little lower than God."
We need to remember that it was a desire to be "like God" that
brought about the fall of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3:5)
Jesus revealed the correct view of man's state when he
explained, "If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will
love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John
14:23 RSV) Jesus never said that his disciples would become God. He
simply pledged that God would make them his abode, his home. He promised
that in a personal way, he would indwell their hearts. Jesus also explained
to his followers:
"I am the vine, you are the branches…without
Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a
branch and is withered." (John 15:5–6)
Four things need to be said about this vitally important passage:
(1) There is no permanent, eternal life apart from the
vine (Jesus). Those who are not joined to him "wither"
spiritually, separated from the source of life.
(2) Once believers are joined to Jesus, the life-sap of the Spirit of
Christ (the Holy Spirit) flows through them, producing the fruit of the
(3) Though divine life resides in born again believers, they never
become God—individual branches never actually become the vine as a
whole. Branches are dependent on the vine for existence. So we are
dependent upon Jesus as our life-source.
(4) If the traditional Eastern view is right, Jesus would have never
made this statement. For no one could ever be 'disconnected' from the
vine. Even the most evil would still possess a higher Self, identifiable
A yoga devotee is promised 'enlightenment' if he
escapes the confines of the senses and achieves what has been termed "I
AM Consciousness." This is supposedly an awakening of the
understanding that we all, as emanations of the Divine, have an infinite
existence—with no beginning and no end. Atman (the soul) and Brahman
(the Oversoul) blend together with no lines of distinction. So ANY person
has a right to say, "I AM THAT I AM" or "I AM GOD."
The Christian, biblical position is antithetical. Only God, the
omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent One, has the right to say, "I AM
THAT I AM." (Exodus 3:14–15 KJV) For any human being to make
such a claim is not only wrong; it is blasphemous and spiritually egoistic.
The Jews of Jesus' day well understood this and tragically, a number of
them—not recognizing Jesus' Messiahship—labeled him a heretic and
blasphemer for having said, "Before Abraham was, I AM." (John
Notice Jesus described Abraham as a created being with a beginning point,
yet he described himself as being eternally self-existent with no beginning.
If Jesus espoused the idea that all men are divine, he would probably have
said something like, "Abraham had an I AM nature, I have an I AM nature
and all of you have the I AM nature." Instead, he reserved this status
and this declaration to himself, to the consternation of the Israelite
leaders. Little did they know that he was the same One who spoke out of the
burning bush to Moses, saying, "I AM THAT I AM." (Exodus 3:14
KJV) Because Jesus had a pre-incarnate existence as the eternal image of
the invisible God, in his human state, he still had the right to declare his
eternal divinity. No other human being could ever make such a bold claim and
To attribute divinity to all men necessarily involves
attributing sinfulness to God. If we are all emanations of the Divine
then not only the positive, but the negative, not only the good, but the
evil in every human being is an expression of God's very own being. Is it
really logical to say, "We are all God!"—when the pronoun
"we" includes not only good people, but rapists, murderers,
thieves, liars, blasphemous persons and the like? This is once again
inconsistent with the revelation that "God is light and in him is no
darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)
Finally, the belief that we are all God is usually married to a
pantheistic view of the universe. God is no more than a cosmic current
permeating all things, an impersonal energy force that human beings can
manipulate or control. When these viewpoints are married they actually
relegate God to a position subservient to man. Yogi Bhajan even offered the
analogy, "Man can make God change; God cannot make man change. This is
a cosmic law. The key can open the lock; the lock cannot open the key."4
He also declared, "The Almighty God is very weak before the man of
God."5 The truth is altogether opposite—finite man is very
weak before the Infinite God, ethically and morally accountable to him and
subject to his laws.
This topic has never been addressed with any better logic
than that found in the next two quotes:
An expert on world religions, Dean Halverson also noted,
"according to the Upanishads, the goal of enlightenment is for the
individual self to lose its separate identity in the universal Self. The end
result of biblical salvation, on the other hand, is to have everlasting
relationship with God. Eternal life means to be in relational communion with
a personal God, not in an undifferentiated union with an impersonal
1 Yogi Bhajan, The Teachings of Yogi
Bhajan, The Power of the Spoken Word, p. 76, #274.
2 Jack and Betty Cheetham, An Age of
Meditation (Plainfield, New Jersey: Logos International, 1976) p.15.
3 Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Science of Being and Art of
Living (New York: Meridian, an imprint of Dutton Signet, a division of
Penguin Books, 1995) p. 271.
4 Yogi Bhajan, The Teachings of Yogi
Bhajan, The Power of the Spoken Word, p. 79, #288.
5 Ibid., p. 131, #522.
6 Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Christianity
Under Attack (Dallas: Quest Publications, 1985) p. 18; quoted in Ron
Rhodes, New Age Movement (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan
Publishing House, 1995) p. 60.
7 Ibid., p. 43; quoted in Ron Rhodes, New Age
Movement, p. 60.
8 Dean C. Halverson, ed., The Compact Guide to World
Religions (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1996) p. 91; quoted in J. Isamu
Yamamoto, Hinduism, TM & Hare Krishna (Grand Rapids, Michigan:
Zondervan, 1998) p. 45.