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The concept differs from monismthe doctrine that the universe originated in one basic principle, such as the mind, indicating idealism, or matter, referring to materialism. Monism holds that there is only one kind of reality, while monotheism has two realities: God and the universe.

Philosophers and scholars debate the merits of monotheism and polytheism. One of the weaknesses they identify with polytheism involves questions about the ultimate origin of things in situations where numerous gods are included. Various theologians and philosophers have offered that monotheism is a later development in the history of religions than polytheism. Some argue that polytheistic faiths were more primitive culturally, ethically, and philosophically, making monotheism a "higher" form of religion because it's a refinement of polytheistic religions.

Although polytheistic beliefs might be older than monotheistic concepts, this view is heavily value-laden and can't readily be disentangled from cultural and religious bias. The origin of monotheism is unclear. The first recorded monotheistic system arose in Egypt during the time of Akhenaten, who ruled in the 13th century BCE, but it didn't survive long after his death.

Some suggest that Moses brought monotheism to the ancient Hebrews, though he might have been henotheistic or monolatrous, meaning worshiping one god without denying the existence of others.

Some evangelical Christians regard Mormonism as a modern example of monolatry because Mormonism teaches the existence of many gods of many worlds, yet worships only one on this planet. Because the primary religions of Western culture are monotheistic, there no longer is much debate in the West about the attributes of monotheism vs. The choice that remains is between monotheism and atheism. Because monotheism believes that there is only one god, it is common for believers to think this god created all of Monotheism and is totally self-sufficient, without depending upon any other beings.

This is true in the largest monotheistic religious systems: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism. Most monotheistic systems tend to be exclusive, meaning that they don't simply believe in a single god; they also deny the existence of the gods of other religious faiths. Occasionally a monotheistic religion treats other gods as aspects or incarnations of their one, supreme god; this is relatively infrequent and has occurred mostly during a transition between polytheism and monotheism when the older gods must be explained away.

Because of this exclusivity, monotheistic religions have historically displayed less religious tolerance than polytheistic religions, which have been able to incorporate the gods and beliefs of other faiths with relative ease. Nor is there anything in sound science or philosophy to invalidate this teaching that Monotheistic belief was imparted by God to primitive man.

While it may be true that human life in the beginning was on a comparatively low plane of material culture, it is also true that the first men were endowed with reason, i. Monotheism the other hand, a humble degree of culture along the lines of art and industry is quite compatible with right religion and morality, as is evident in the case of tribes converted to Catholicism in recent times; while retaining much of their rude and primitive mode of living, they have reached very clear notions concerning God and shown remarkable fidelity in the observance of His law.

It is thus quite in accordance with the accredited results of physical science to maintain that the first mancreated by Godwas keen of mind as well as sound of body, and that, through Divine instruction, he began life with right notions of God and of his moral and religious duties. This does not necessarily mean that his conception of God was scientifically and philosophically profound. Here it is that scholars are wide of the mark when they argue that Monotheism is a conception that implies a philosophic grasp and training of mind absolutely impossible to primitive man.

The notion of the supreme God needed for religion is not the highly metaphysical conception demanded by right philosophy. If it were, but few could hope for salvation. The God of religion is the unspeakably great Lord on whom man depends, in whom he recognizes the source of his happiness and perfection; He is the righteous Judge, rewarding good and punishing evil ; the loving and merciful Father, whose ear is ever open to the prayers of His needy and penitent children.

Nor are these notions of a supreme being utterly lacking even where barbarism still reigns. Lang, in his "Making of Religion" New York,have emphasized a point too often overlooked by students of religion, namely, that with all their religious crudities and superstitionssuch low-grade savages as the Pygmies of the Northern Congo, the Australians, and the natives of the Andaman Islands entertain very noble conceptions of the Supreme Deity.

To say, then, that primitive man, fresh from the hand of Godwas incapable of monotheistic beliefeven with the aid of Divine revelationis contrary to well-ascertained fact. From the opening chapters of Genesis we gather that our first parents recognized God to be the author of all things, their Lord and Master, the source of their happinessrewarding good and punishing evil.

The simplicity of their life made the range of their moral obligation easy of recognition. Worship was of the simplest kind. Mosaic monotheism The ancient Hebrew religion, promulgated by Moses in the name of Jehovah Jahwehwas an impressive form of Monotheism.

That it was Divinely revealed is the unmistakable teaching of Holy Scriptureparticularly of Exodus and the following books which treat explicitly of Mosaic legislation. Even non-Catholic Scriptural scholars, who no longer accept the Pentateuchas it stands, as the literary production of Moses, recognize, in great part, that, in the older sources which, according to them, go to make up the Pentateuchthere are portions that reach back to the time of Moses, showing the existence of Hebrew monotheistic worship in his day.

Now, the transcendent superiority of this Monotheism taught by Moses offers a strong proof of its Divine origin. Those who reject the claim of Mosaic Monotheism to have been revealed have never yet succeeded in giving a satisfactory explanation of this extraordinary phenomenon. It was, however, Monotheism, pre-eminently the religion of the Hebrew people, destined in the fullness of time to give place to the higher monotheistic religion revealed by Christ, in which all the nations of the earth should Monotheism peace and salvation.

The Jewish people was thus God's chosen people, not so much by reason of their own merit, as because they were destined to prepare the way for the absolute and universal religion, Christianity. The God of Moses is no mere tribal deity. He is the Creator and Lord of the world. He gives over to His chosen people the land of the Chanaanites. He is a jealous Godforbidding not only worship of strange gods, but the use of images, which might lead to abuses in that age of almost universal idolatry.

Love of God is made a dutybut reverential fear is the predominant emotion. The religious sanction of the law is centred chiefly in temporal rewards and punishments. Laws of conduct, though determined by justice rather than by charity and mercy, are still eminently humane. Christian monotheism The sublime Monotheism taught by Jesus Christ has no parallel in the history of religions.

God is presented to us as the loving, merciful Father, not of one privileged people, but of all mankind. He lays hold of the individual soul and reveals to it its high destiny of Divine sonship. At the same time, He impresses on us the corresponding duty of treating others as God's children, and hence as our brethren, entitled not simply to justicebut to mercy and charity.

To complete this idea of Christian fellowship, Jesus shows Himself to be the eternal Son of Godsent by His heavenly Father to save us from sinto raise us to the life of grace and to the dignity of children of God through the atoning merits of His life and death.

The love of God the Father thus includes the love of His incarnate Son. Personal devotion to Jesus is the motive of right conduct in Christian Monotheism. Co-operating in the sanctification of mankind is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth and life, sent to confirm the faithful in faithhope, and charity. Such is the Monotheism taught by Jesus. The guaranty of the truth of His teaching is to be found in His supreme moral excellence, in the perfection of His ethical teaching, in His miraclesespecially His bodily resurrectionand in His wonderful influence on mankind for all time.

John ; 1 Corinthians As Christianity in its beginnings was surrounded by the polytheistic beliefs and practices of the pagan world, a clear and authoritative expression of Monotheism was necessary. Hence the symbols of faithor creeds, open with the words: "I [we] believe in God [ theon, deum ]" or, more explicitly, "I [we] believe in one God [ hena theon, unum deum ]".

See Denzinger-Bannwart"Enchiridion", ; cf. Among the early heresiessome of the most important and most directly opposed to Monotheism arose out of the attempt to account for the origin of evil. Good they ascribed to one divine principle, Monotheism to another. These dualistic errors gave occasion for a vigorous defence of Monotheism by such writers as St. Augustineetc. Louis, The same doctrine naturally held the foremost place in the teaching of the missionaries who converted the races of Northern Europe ; in fact, it may be said that the diffusion of Monotheism is one of the great achievements of the Catholic Church.

In the various conciliar definitions regarding the Trinity of Persons in Godemphasis is laid on the unity of the Divine nature; see, e. The medieval Scholasticstaking up the traditional beliefbrought to its support a long array of arguments based on reason; see, for instance, St. Thomas"Contra Gentes", I, xlii; and St. Anselm"Monol. During the last three centuries the most conspicuous tendency outside the Catholic Church has been towards such extreme positions as those of Monism and Pantheism in which it is asserted that all things are really one in substance, and that God is identical with the world.

The Churchhowever, has steadfastly maintained, not only that God is essentially distinct from all things else, but also that there is only one God. III, "De fide", can. Mohammedan monotheism Of Mohammedan Monotheism little need be said. Its keynote is islamsubmissive resignation to the will of Godwhich is expressed in everything that happens. Allah is, to use the words of the Koran"The Almighty, the All-knowing, the All-just, the Lord of the worlds, the Author of the heavens and the earth, the Creator of life and death, in whose hand is dominion and irresistible power, the great all-powerful Lord of the glorious throne.

God is the mighty. He is the King, the Holy. The influence of the Bibleparticularly the Old Testamenton Mohammedan Monotheism is well known and need not be dwelt on here. Monotheism and polytheistic religions What has thus far been said leads to the conclusion that Christian Monotheism and its antecedent forms, Mosaic and primitive Monotheism, are independent in their origin of the Polytheistic religions of the world. The various forms of polytheism that now flourish, or that have existed in the past, are the result of man's faulty attempts to interpret nature by the light of unaided reason.

Wherever the scientific view of nature has not obtained, the mechanical, secondary causes that account for such striking phenomena as sun, moon, lightning, tempest, have invariably been viewed either as living beings, or as inert bodies kept in movement by invisible, intelligent agents. This personalizing of the striking phenomena of nature was common among the highest pagan nations of antiquity. It is the common view among peoples of inferior culture today.

It is only since modern science has brought all these phenomena within the range of physical law that the tendency to view them as manifestations of distinct personalities has been thoroughly dispelled.

Now such a personalizing of nature's forces is compatible with Monotheism so long as these different intelligences fancied to produce the phenomena are viewed as God's creatures, and hence not worthy of Divine worship.

But where the light of revelation has been obscured in whole or in part, the tendency to deify these personalities associated with natural phenomena has asserted itself. In this way polytheistic nature-worship seems to have arisen. It arose from the mistaken application of a sound principle, which man everywhere seems naturally to possess, namely, that the great operations of nature are due to the agency of mind and will.


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  1. Monotheistic definition, pertaining to, characterized by, or adhering to monotheism, the doctrine that there is only one God: a monotheistic religion. See more.
  2. Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one deity, or in the oneness or uniqueness of God. It is a type of Theism, and is usually contrasted with Polytheism (the belief in multiple gods) and Atheism (the absence of any belief in gods). The Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), as well as Plato's concept of God, all affirm monotheism, and this is the usual conception debated.
  3. MONOTHEISM, in its literal meaning, oneness of the godhead (i.e., one God).The concept of monotheism is embedded in the domain of religious discourse, and its full and relevant significance must be derived from the connotation which it carries within this domain.
  4. The three great monotheist religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--may have powerful teachings to guide humanity, but they have come down to us in this part of the world through the hegemonic forces of Europe and Asia Minor and the Arab world.
  5. monotheism (mŏn`əthēĭzəm) [Gr.,=belief in one God], in religion, a belief in one personal god. In practice, monotheistic religion tends to stress the existence of one personal god that unifies the universe. The term is applied particularly to Judaism Judaism, the religious beliefs and practices and the .
  6. Monotheism (from the Greek monos "only", and theos "god") is a word coined in comparatively modern times to designate belief in the one supreme God, the Creator and Lord of the world, the eternal Spirit, All-powerful, All-wise, and All-good, the Rewarder of good and the Punisher of evil, the Source of our happiness and perfection. It is opposed to Polytheism, which is belief in more gods than.
  7. Define monotheism. monotheism synonyms, monotheism pronunciation, monotheism translation, English dictionary definition of monotheism. n. The doctrine or belief that there is only one God. mon′o·the′ist n. mon′o·the·is′tic adj. mon′o·the·is′ti·cal·ly adv. n the belief or doctrine that there.
  8. Monotheism is a religion or belief system that involves just one luttrolterpmaslaystepovusletseipratin.coinfoent religions have different numbers and types of gods. Those with no Gods such as Buddhism and Taoism are atheist religions, and Humanism is an atheist philosophy. Those with many Gods are polytheist, including Hinduism, ancient Roman Religions, Wicca, most types of Paganism and old Semite religions.

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