Monday, September 10, 2007

General approaches Agnosticism · Atheism Deism · Dystheism Henotheism · Ignosticism Monism · Monotheism Natural theology · Nontheism Pandeism · Panentheism Pantheism · Polytheism Theism · Theology Transtheism Specific conceptions Ahura Mazda Alaha · Allah Amaterasu· Susano-o Baal · Bhagavan Demiurge . Deus Deva (Buddhism) · Deva (Hinduism) God in Buddhism · God in Sikhism Great Architect of the Universe · Holy Spirit Holy Trinity · Jesus, the Christ Krishna · Monad Kami Nüwa 女媧 · Oneness (concept) Pangu 盤古 · Shang Ti SUMMUM · Supreme Being Tetragrammaton · The Absolute The All · Alpha and Omega The Lord · Creator deity General practices Animism · Esotericism Gnosis · Hermeticism Metaphysics · Mysticism New Age · Philosophy New Thought Religion Related topics Chaos · Cosmos Cosmic egg · Existence God and gender · God complex God the Sustainer · Spiritual evolution Problem of evil · Euthyphro dilemma Theodicy · Transcendence For the Celtic Frost album, see Monotheist (album)
In theology, monotheism (from Greek μόνος "one" and θεός "god") is the belief in the existence of one deity or God, or in the oneness of God. By the same token, monotheistic religions may still include concepts of a plurality of the divine, for example the Christian Trinity, or the veneration of Saints, as well as the belief in "lesser spirits" such as angels or demons.

Origin and development
Further information: Comparative religionGod, and Theism
Some argue that there are various forms of monotheism, including:
On the surface, monotheism is in contrast with polytheism, which is the worship of several deities. Polytheism is however reconcilable with Inclusive monotheism, which claims that all deities are just different names or forms for the single god. This approach is common in Hinduism, e.g. in Smartism. Exclusive monotheism, on the other hand, actively opposes polytheism. Monotheism is often contrasted with theistic dualism (ditheism). However, in dualistic theologies as that of Gnosticism, the two deities are not of equal rank, and the role of the Gnostic demiurge is closer to that of Satan in Christian theology than that of a diarch on equal terms with god (who is represented in pantheistic fashion, as Pleroma).

Henotheism involves devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of other gods. Similarly, monolatrism is the worship of a single deity independent of ontological claims regarding that deity.
Theism a term that refers to the belief in the existence of a god or divine being.
Deism is a form of monotheism in which it is believed that one god exists. However, a deist rejects the idea that this god intervenes in the world.
Monistic Theism is the type of monotheism found in Hinduis, encompassing pantheism, monism, and at the same time the concept of a personal god
Pantheism holds that the Universe itself is god. The existence of a transcendent supreme extraneous to nature is denied. Depending on how this is understood, such a view may well be presented as tantamount to atheism, deism or panentheism.
Panentheism, or Monistic Monotheism, is a form of theism that holds that god contains, but is not identical to, the Universe. The 'one god' is omnipotent and all-pervading, the universe is part of god, and god is both Immanent and Transcendent.
Substance monotheism, found in some indigenous African religions, holds that the many gods are different forms of a single underlying substance. Varieties

Early History
Ancient Middle-Eastern religions may have worshipped a single god within a pantheon and the abolition of all others, as in the case of the Aten cult in the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, under the chiefly influence of the Eastern-originating Nefertiti. Iconoclasm during this pharaoh's rule is considered a chief origin for the subsequent destruction by some groups of idols, holding that no other God before the preferred deity (dually and subtly acknowledging the existence of the other gods, but only as foes to be destroyed for their drawing of attention away from the primary deity).
Other issues such as Divine Right of Kings may possibly also stem from pharaonic laws on the ruler being the demigod or representative of the Creator on Earth. The massive tombs in the Egyptian pyramids which aligned with astronomical observations, perhaps exemplify this relationship between the pharaoh and the heavens.

In ancient Egypt
Zoroastrianism is considered to be one of the earliest monotheistic beliefs, but the Zoroastrian definition of monotheism is neither comparable nor compatible with the monotheism of other religions that - in addition to being monotheistic - are also monist.
In Zoroaster's revelation, Ahura Mazda is a transcendental and universal God, the one uncreated Creator (standard appellation) and to whom all worship is ultimately directed. However, Zoroaster also perceives Mazda to be wholly good, and that His creation is wholly good. In conflict with creation is anti-creation, evident in the created world as decay and disorder. Since anti-creation is purely destructive it cannot have been created (otherwise it would self-destruct) and hence must - like the Creator himself - be uncreated.
In the Gathas, Zoroaster does not acknowledge any divinity other than Ahura Mazda. However, the hymns of Indo-Iranian religious tradition (of which the Gathas are a part) are always addressed to a specific divinity and those closely associated with Him, and in this sense the Gathas are not (necessarily) a denial of the other divinities, but the exhaltation of a specific one. Although not mentioned by name (in the Gathas, [Ahura] Mazda is itself an epithet, not yet a proper name), Zoroaster implicitly acknowledges the existence of other Ahuras "Lords", as in "thou who art the mightiest Ahura and the Wise (Mazda) One" (Yasna 33.11). In addition to these lords that are "worthy of worship" (yazata), Zoroaster also refers to the daevas as the 'wrong' gods, or 'false' gods, or gods 'that should not be worshipped' and whose followers are to be brought onto the path of righteousness. In later Zoroastrian tradition, the daevas are demons, but this is not yet evident in the prophet's own poetry.
Zoroastrianism is thus monotheistic inasfar as all worship is untimately directed to Ahura Mazda. However, unlike Zurvanite Zoroastrianism, neither revealed nor present-day Zoroastrianism is monist. At no time did Zoroastrianism preclude the existence or worship of other divinities, which are today considered to be aspects or evidence of creation and hence of the Creator. The invocation of divinities besides Ahura Mazda is however common practice in Zoroastrian tradition, and is not necessarily either a sign of henotheism (the one extreme interpretation) or the worship of pure abstractions (the other extreme): In the past it was common for an individual, household or clan to adopt a patron divinity and although several attempts have been made to define ancient Zoroastrianism on the evidence of such adoptions - for instance, in inscriptions or in theophoric names - these are inherently unsuitable for that purpose.

Abrahamic religions
The Hebrew Bible takes a position of henotheism. According to the book of Judith, the Patriarchs (starting with Abraham), left the gods of their fathers. (Jdt 5:7) God is later to reveal Himself not as the only God, but rather as the god whom Abraham knows. (Gen 15:17) In such a respect, God is not God alone, but the god who was worshipped by Abraham's clan. In such a context, it is a type of tribal deity, that although was worshipped alone, did not explicitly exclude the existence of other gods, who were not relevant to them. In the early Mosaic era, the possibility of other gods is left an open question, although by this stage Israel claims that their God is greater. (Ex 18:11) This same subtle shift is shown in 2 Chr 2:5, and could indicate that Israel understood that the God they recognised was God alone, and other gods were therefore false. This would be Monotheism in the proper sense of the word. By the time of the prophet Isaiah, Monotheism is solidly and explicitly accepted. "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." (Is 44:6) Thus, the development of the people of Israel to a true Monotheism, appears to be a gradual process, with the exception of Gen 1:1. It is therefore likely that Gen 1:1 was redacted later than the other examples supplied, and so, the development of Monotheism comes firstly on a tribal level, and gradually advances to recognition that the God of Israel is the only God. It is into this context that Christianity emerges, and thus Christianity was from the outset Monotheistic. (John 1:1)
In the west, the Hebrew Bible has been the primary source describing how and when Monotheism was introduced into the Middle East and the west. As believed by followers of some of the Abrahamic religions, it teaches that when Abraham discovered God (Genesis 12:1-9 [4] ; 13:14-18 [5] ; 15 [6] 18 [7] ; and 22 [8]), he thus became the world's first Monotheist. According to these, until then, in ancient history all cultures believed in a variety of multiple deities such as in idolatry, forces and creatures of nature as in animism, or in celestial bodies as in astrology, but did not know the one and only true God.
However, the Hebrew Bible teaches that, at Creation, Adam and Eve knew God (and so did their descendants) but that over the ages, God and his name were forgotten. This is how one of the most important Jewish sages, Maimonides describes the process in his work the Mishneh Torah:
In the days of Enosh mankind made a huge error...they reasoned that since the Lord created the stars and the heavenly spheres and placed them in the skies giving them great significance, and they serve before Him, it is therefore fitting to praise and elevate them and give them honor believing this to be the Lord's will to honor that which He makes great and honorable...The people then built altars to worship the stars and to praise and bow down to them...and this was the essence of idol worship (avoda zara)...After a few generations false prophets arose and said that the Lord had actually commanded people to worship the stars...and they built images in their honor...spreading these false images by building them in gathering places, under trees, on tops of hills, and in valleys, gathering people who bowed down to them declaring: 'Such and such an image brings good or bad luck and therefore fear it'...after a number of generations, the Divine Name was completely forgotten...until the mighty one (Abraham), began to question this in his mind and asked 'How could it be that the heavenly sphere moves without a Mover behind it? because it is impossible that it moves itself', and he had no teacher and no-one to inform him for he lived in Ur of the Chaldees surrounded by foolish idol worshippers...He (Abraham) subsequently arose and made it known to the people that there is only one Lord in the entire world and that only He should be worshipped, gathering people from city to city and kingdom to kingdom until he came to the land of Canaan calling out as it says: '[Abraham] planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called in the name of God, Lord of the Universe (El olam). (Genesis 21:33)' (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Sefer Mada ("Book of Knowledge"), Chapter 1, Hilchos Avodah Zarah ("Laws of [forbidden] idol worship"). Hebrew text)

Monotheism in the Hebrew Bible
Further information: Judaism
Judaism is one of the oldest known monotheistic faiths. The best-known Jewish statements of monotheism occur in the Shema prayer, the Ten Commandments and Maimonides' 13 Principles of faith, Second Principle:
"[God], the Cause of all, is one. This does not mean one as in one of a pair, nor one like a species (which encompasses many individuals), nor one as in an object that is made up of many elements, nor as a single simple object that is infinitely divisible. Rather, God is a unity unlike any other possible unity. This is referred to in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4): "Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one."
There has historically been disagreement between the understanding of monotheism among Hasidic Jews and the original perspective of the Mitnagdim Jews on this issue. A similar situation of opposing views on monotheism is seen in modern times among Dor Daim, students of the Rambam, segments of Lithuanian Jewry, and portions of the Modern Orthodox world toward Jewish communities that are more thoroughly influenced by Lurianic Kabbalistic teachings such as Hasidism and large segments of the Sepharadi and Mizrahi communities. This dispute is likely rooted in the differences between what are popularly referred to as the "philosophically inclinded" sources and the "kabbalistic sources;" the "philosophic sources" include such Rabbis as Saadia Gaon, Rabenu Bahya ibn Paquda, Abraham ibn Ezra, and Maimonides. The "kabbalistic sources" include Rabbis such as Nahmanides, Bahya ben Asher, Rabbi Yitzhak Saggi Nehor, and Azriel. The Vilna Gaon is usually granted great respect in modern times by those who side with both views; by the more kabbalistic segments of Judaism he is regarded as a great kabbalist; those who take the other side of the issue regard him as a strict advocate of the people of Israel's historical monotheism.

Monotheism Jewish view

Main article: Shema The Shema
Further information: Christianity
Christians profess belief in one God. Historically, most Christian churches have taught that the nature of God is something of a mystery. Among early Christians there was considerable debate over the nature of Deity, with some factions arguing for the divinity of Jesus and others calling for a unitary conception of God. These issues were to form one of the main subjects of contention at the First Council of Nicea.
The First Council of Nicaea, held in Nicaea in Bithynia (in present-day Turkey), convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325, was the first ecumenical For Jews and Muslims, the idea of God as a trinity is heretical - it is considered akin to polytheism. Christians overwhelmingly assert that monotheism is central to the Christian faith, as the very Nicene Creed (among others) which gives the orthodox Christian definition of the Trinity does begin with: "I believe in one God".
Some groups, self-styled as Christian yet eschewing orthodox theology, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, followers of Mormonism, and Oneness Pentecostals, do not teach the doctrine of the Trinity at all. The Rastafarians, like many Christians, hold that God is both a unity and a trinity, in their case God being Haile Selassie. As well, individual Christians formulate their own opinions on the matter which may or may not follow the doctrine of their tradition. Some Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church practice Veneration of Saints, which critics claim is a form of polytheism, prompted by grave lay misunderstandings of the practice within and without the Roman Catholic Church.

Christian view

Main articles: Tawhīd and Hanif Islamic view

Main article: Bahá'í concept of God Bahá'í view
Further information: Indian religions and Dharma

Eeastern religions

Main article: Hindu views on monotheism Hinduism
Further information: Sikhism
Sikhism is a distinctly monotheistic faith that rose in northern India during the 16th and 17th centuries. Sikhs believe in one, timeless, omnipresent, supreme creator. The opening verse of the Guru Granth Sahib, known as the Mool Mantra signifies this:
Punjabi: ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
Transliteration: Ik ōaṅkār(or ikoo) sat nām karatā purakh nirabha'u niravair akāl mūrat ajūnī saibhaṁ gur prasād.
English: One Universal Creator God. The Name Is Truth. Creative Being Personified. No Fear. No Hatred. Image Of The Undying, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent. By Guru's Grace ~
The word "ੴ" is pronounced "Ik ōaṅkār" and is comprised to two parts. The first part is simply: "੧" - This is simply the digit "1" in Gurmukhi signifying the singularity of the Creator. Together the word means: "There is only one Creator God"
It is often said that the 1430 pages of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib are all expansions on the Mool Mantra. Although the Sikhs have many names for God, they all refer to the same supreme being.
The Sikh holy scriptures refer to the One God who pervades the whole of Space and is the creator of all beings in the whole Universe. The following quotation from the SGGS highlights this point:
"Chant, and meditate on the One God, who permeates and pervades the many beings of the whole Universe. God created it, and God spreads through it everywhere. Everywhere I look, I see God. The Perfect Lord is perfectly pervading and permeating the water, the land and the sky; there is no place without Him."SGGS Page 782
The Sikhs believe that Allah - The name of God used by Muslim is a valid name to use. Similarly, the name Hari, Raam, Paarbrahm, Krishan which are names of God used by Hindus are frequently mentioned in the Sikh holy scriptures. The same God of the Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc is known as the Akal Purakh(means the true immortal i.e God) or Waheguru, the primal being of the Sikhs.
It is also stated in Guru Granth Sahi that:
Which means that from that god we all are created nobody is above or beneath anyone.


Further reading

Abrahamic religion
Monistic theism
The People of Monotheism
Psychology of religion

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