I interact often with Mormons on the question of whether they are polytheists. They deny it, though they willingly say that they believe that there is an unknown number of gods in addition to their god. However, they say that doesn’t make them polytheists because they only worshipone god. In support of their profession, they refer to the frequent biblical references to the gods of the nations, and even of pagan gods worshiped by Israel.
Of course, they ignore such sceptical references to gods as Deuteronomy 32:21: “They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols.” And I Corinthians 8:5: “Although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth…” In other words, biblical references to “gods” don’t refer to actual deities, but rather to the idols of the pagans. It is a form of sarcasm.
And what does the Bible say about those idols? “[They] have cast their gods into the fire, for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone” (Isaiah 37:19). The idols of the pagans have no divine power, but are only the artifacts of men’s hands, empty wood and stone. The one real God ridicules such foolishness: “They know not, nor do they discern, for He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, ‘Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?’ He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, ‘Is there not a lie in my right hand?’” (Isaiah 44:18-20).
The point of the biblical references to “gods” is not because there are actually other gods, but because there aren’t. The belief in other gods is presented as foolishness and self-deception. Yet these are the very references that the Mormons use to maintain their claims.