Henotheism (from Greek ἑνός θεός (henos theos), meaning 'one god') is the worship of a single god while not denying the existence or possible existence of other deities. Friedrich Schelling (1775–1854) coined the word, and Friedrich Welcker (1784–1868) used it to depict primitive monotheism among ancient Greeks.
Max Müller (1823–1900), a German philologist and orientalist, brought the term into wider usage in his scholarship on the Indian religions, particularly Hinduism whose scriptures mention and praise numerous deities as if they are one ultimate unitary divine essence. Müller made the term central to his criticism of Western theological and religious exceptionalism (relative to Eastern religions), focusing on a cultural dogma which held "monotheism" to be both fundamentally well-defined and inherently superior to differing conceptions of God.
Friedrich Schelling coined the term henotheism, from heis or heno which literally means "single, one". The term refers to a form of theism focused on a single god. Related terms are monolatrism and kathenotheism. The latter term is an extension of "henotheism", from καθ' ἕνα θεόν (kath' hena theon), meaning 'one god at a time'. Henotheism refers to a pluralistic theology wherein different deities are viewed to be of a unitary, equivalent divine essence. Another term related to henotheism is "equitheism", referring to the belief that all gods are equal. Further, the term henotheism does not exclude monism, nondualism or dualism.
Various scholars prefer the term monolatrism to henotheism, to discuss religions where a single god is central, but the existence or the position of other gods is not denied. According to Christoph Elsas, henotheism in modern usage connotes a syncretic stage in the development of religions in late antiquity. A henotheist may worship a single god from a pantheon of deities at a given time, depending on his or her choice, while accepting other deities and concepts of god. Henotheism and inclusive monotheism are terms that refer to a middle position between unlimited polytheism and exclusive monotheism.
Ahura Mazda is the supreme god, but Zoroastrianism does not deny other deities. Ahura Mazda has yazatas ("good agents") some of which include Anahita, Sraosha, Mithra, Rashnu, and Tishtrya. Richard Foltz has put forth evidence that Iranians of Pre-Islamic era worshiped all these figures, especially Mithra and Anahita.
Prods Oktor Skjærvø states Zoroastrianism is henotheistic, and "a dualistic and polytheistic religion, but with one supreme god, who is the father of the ordered cosmos". Other scholars state that this is unclear, because historic texts present a conflicting picture, ranging from Zoroastrianism's belief in "one god, two gods, or a best god henotheism".
Henotheism was the term used by scholars such as Max Müller to describe the theology of Vedic religion. Müller noted that the hymns of the Rigveda, the oldest scripture of Hinduism, mention many deities, but praises them successively as the "one ultimate, supreme God", alternatively as "one supreme Goddess", thereby asserting that the essence of the deities was unitary (ekam), and the deities were nothing but pluralistic manifestations of the same concept of the divine (God).
The Vedic era conceptualization of the divine or the One, states Jeaneane Fowler, is more abstract than a monotheistic God, it is the Reality behind and of the phenomenal universe. The Vedic hymns treat it as "limitless, indescribable, absolute principle", thus the Vedic divine is something of a panentheism rather than simple henotheism. In late Vedic era, around the start of Upanishadic age (~800 BCE), theosophical speculations emerge that develop concepts which scholars variously call nondualism or monism, as well as forms of non-theism and pantheism. An example of the questioning of the concept of God, in addition to henotheistic hymns found therein, are in later portions of the Rigveda, such as the Nasadiya Sukta. Hinduism calls the metaphysical absolute concept as Brahman, incorporating within it the transcendent and immanent reality. Different schools of thought interpret Brahman as either personal, impersonal or transpersonal. Ishwar Chandra Sharma describes it as "Absolute Reality, beyond all dualities of existence and non-existence, light and darkness, and of time, space and cause."
While Greek and Roman religion began as polytheism, during the Classical period, under the influence of philosophy, differing conceptions emerged. Often Zeus (or Jupiter) was considered the supreme, all-powerful and all-knowing, king and father of the Olympian gods. According to Maijastina Kahlos "monotheism was pervasive in the educated circles in Late Antiquity" and "all divinities were interpreted as aspects, particles or epithets of one supreme God". Maximus Tyrius (2nd century A.D.) stated: "In such a mighty contest, sedition and discord, you will see one according law and assertion in all the earth, that there is one god, the king and father of all things, and many gods, sons of god, ruling together with him."
The Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus taught that above the gods of traditional belief was "The One", and polytheist grammarian Maximus of Madauros even stated that only a madman would deny the existence of the supreme God.
Rabbinical Judaism as it developed in Late Antiquity is emphatically monotheistic. However, its predecessor—the various schools of Hellenistic Judaism and Second Temple Judaism, and especially the cult of Yahweh as it was practiced in ancient Israel and Judah during the 8th and 7th centuries BC—have been described as henotheistic.
For example, the Moabites worshipped the god Chemosh, the Edomites, Qaus, both of whom were part of the greater Canaanite pantheon, headed by the chief god, El. The Canaanite pantheon consisted of El and Asherah as the chief deities, with 70 sons who were said to rule over each of the nations of the earth. These sons were each worshiped within a specific region. Kurt Noll states that "the Bible preserves a tradition that Yahweh used to 'live' in the south, in the land of Edom" and that the original god of Israel was El Shaddai.
Several Biblical stories allude to the belief that the Canaanite gods all existed and were thought to possess the most power in the lands by the people who worshiped them and their sacred objects; their power was believed to be real and could be invoked by the people who patronized them. There are numerous accounts of surrounding nations of Israel showing fear or reverence for the Israelite God despite their continued polytheistic practices. For instance, in 1 Samuel 4, the Philistines fret before the second battle of Aphek when they learn that the Israelites are bearing the Ark of the Covenant, and therefore Yahweh, into battle. The Israelites were forbidden to worship other deities, but according to some interpretations of the Bible, they were not fully monotheistic before the Babylonian captivity. Mark S. Smith refers to this stage as a form of monolatry. Smith argues that Yahweh underwent a process of merging with El and that acceptance of cults of Asherah was common in the period of the Judges. 2 Kings 3:27 has been interpreted as describing a human sacrifice in Moab that led the invading Israelite army to fear the power of Chemosh.
Some scholars have written that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) can be characterized as henotheistic, but others have rejected this stance.
Eugene England, a professor at Brigham Young University, asserted that LDS Presidents Brigham Young and Joseph Fielding Smith along with LDS scholar B. H. Roberts used the LDS interpretation of 1 Corinthians 8:5–6 as "a brief explanation of how it is possible to be both a Christian polytheist (technically a henotheist) and a monotheist". BYU Professor Roger R. Keller rejected descriptions of the LDS Church as polytheistic by countering, as summarized by a reviewer, "Mormons are fundamentally monotheistic because they deal with only one god out of the many which exist."
Kurt Widmer, professor at the University of Lethbridge, described LDS beliefs as a "cosmic henotheism". A review of Widmer's book by Bruening and Paulsen in the FARMS Review of Books countered that Widmer's hypothesis was "strongly disconfirmed in light of the total evidence".
Van Hale has written, "Mormonism teaches the existence of gods who are not the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost" and "the existence of more than one god [is] clearly a Mormon doctrine", but he also said that defining this belief system in theological terms was troublesome. Henotheism might appear to be "promising" in describing LDS beliefs, Hale wrote, but it is ultimately not accurate because henotheism was intended to describe the worship of a god that was restricted to a specific geographical area.
The Argument from love is an argument for the existence of God. The best-known defender of the argument is Roger Scruton.Argument from miracles
The argument from miracles is an argument for the existence of God that relies on the belief that events witnessed and described as miracles – i.e. as events not explicable by natural or scientific laws – indicate the intervention of the supernatural.
One example of this argument is the Christological argument: the claim that historical evidence proves that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that this can only be explained if God exists. Another is the claim that many of the Qur'an's prophecies have been fulfilled and that this too can only be explained if God (Allah) exists.
Defenders of the argument include C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton and William of Ockham.Belief in God
Various theistic positions can involve belief in a God or "gods". They include:
Henotheism, belief in the supremacy of one god without denying the existence of others.
Monotheism, the doctrine or belief that there is only one deity.
Panentheism, the belief that a deity is a part of the universe as well as transcending it.
Pantheism, a doctrine identifying the deity with the universe and its phenomena.
Polytheism, the worship of or belief in more than one god.These positions are all contrasted by atheism, the non-belief in god.Deva (Hinduism)
Deva (; Sanskrit: देव, Deva) means "heavenly, divine, anything of excellence", and is also one of the terms for a deity in Hinduism. Deva is a masculine term; the feminine equivalent is Devi.
In the earliest Vedic literature, all supernatural beings are called Devas and Asuras. The concepts and legends evolve in ancient Indian literature, and by the late Vedic period, benevolent supernatural beings are referred to as Deva-Asuras. In post-Vedic texts, such as the Puranas and the Itihasas of Hinduism, the Devas represent the good, and the Asuras the bad. In some medieval Indian literature, Devas are also referred to as Suras and contrasted with their equally powerful but malevolent half-brothers, referred to as the Asuras.Devas, along with Asuras, Yakshas (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres) are part of Indian mythology, and Devas feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.East Asian religions
In the study of comparative religion, the East Asian religions form a subset of the Eastern religions. This group includes Chinese religion overall, which further includes Ancestral Worship, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and so-called popular salvationist organisations (such as Yiguandao and Weixinism), as well as elements drawn from Mahayana Buddhism that form the core of Chinese Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism at large. The group also includes Japanese Shintoism and Korean Sindoism (both meaning "Ways of Gods" and identifying the indigenous shamanic religion and ancestor worship of such peoples), which have received influences from Chinese religions throughout the centuries. Chinese salvationist religions have influenced the rise of Korean and Japanese new religions—for instance, respectively, Jeungsanism, and Tenriism; these movements draw upon indigenous traditions but are heavily influenced by Chinese philosophy and theology.
All these religious traditions, more or less, share core Chinese concepts of spirituality, divinity and world order, including Tao 道 ("Way"; pinyin dào, Japanese tō or dō, and Korean do) and Tian 天 ("Heaven"; Japanese ten, and Korean cheon).
Early Chinese philosophies defined the Tao and advocated cultivating the de, "virtue", which arises from the knowledge of such Tao. Some ancient schools merged into traditions with different names or became extinct, such as Mohism (and many others of the Hundred Schools of Thought), which was largely absorbed into Taoism. East Asian religions include many theological stances, including polytheism, nontheism, henotheism, monotheism, pantheism, panentheism and agnosticism. East Asian religions have many Western adherents, though their interpretations may differ significantly from traditional East Asian religious thought and culture.
The place of East Asian religions among major religious groups is comparable to the Abrahamic religions found in Europe and the Western World as well as across the Middle East and the Muslim World and Indian religions across South Asia.Gender of God
The gender of God can be viewed as a literal or as an allegorical aspect of a deity. In polytheistic religions, gods are more likely to have literal sexes which would enable them to interact with each other, and even with humans, in a sexual way.
In most monotheistic religions, one cannot apply a gender to God in the usual sense, as God's attributes cannot be compared to those of any other being. Thus, the idea of a "divine gender" is ultimately considered an analogy, used by humans in order to better relate to the concept of God, with no sexual connotation.
God is an intangible spirit in most religions and is therefore thought to have no gender. The preponderance of references to God in both the Old and New Testaments are in the context of a masculine reference, often "Father". However, there are a significant number of feminine allegorical references to God, most often in some maternal role.God and gender in Hinduism
In Hinduism, there are diverse approaches to conceptualizing God and gender. Many Hindus focus upon impersonal Absolute (Brahman) which is genderless. Other Hindu traditions conceive God as androgynous (both female and male), alternatively as either male or female, while cherishing gender henotheism, that is without denying the existence of other Gods in either gender.The Shakti tradition conceives of God as a female. Other Bhakti traditions of Hinduism have both male and female gods. In ancient and medieval Indian mythology, each masculine deva of the Hindu pantheon is partnered with a feminine who is often a devi.God in Hinduism
The concept of God in Hinduism varies in its diverse traditions. Hinduism spans a wide range of beliefs such as henotheism, monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, atheism and nontheism.Forms of theism find mention in the Bhagavad Gita. Emotional or loving devotion (bhakti) to a primary god such as avatars of Vishnu (Krishna for example), Shiva and Devi emerged in the early medieval period, and is now known as Bhakti movement. Other Hindus consider atman within every living being to be same as Vishnu or Shiva or Devi, or alternatively identical to the eternal metaphysical Absolute called (Brahman) in Hinduism. Such a philosophical system of Advaita or non-dualism as it developed in the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy, especially as set out in the Upanishads and popularised by Adi Shankara in the 9th century has been influential on Hinduism.The Dvaita tradition founded by 13th/14th-century Madhvacharya is based on a concept similar to God in other major world religions. His writings led some early colonial-era Indologists such as George Abraham Grierson to suggest Madhvacharya was influenced by Christianity, but later scholarship has rejected this theory. Madhva's historical influence in Hinduism, state Kulandran and Kraemer, has been salutary, but not extensive.God the Sustainer
God the Sustainer is the conception of God who sustains and upholds everything in existence.
Al Qayyum, sometimes rendered "The Sustainer" is one of the 99 Names of God in Islam.
"Creater, Sustainer, Redeemer" is reportedly a "common phrase" in Protestantism in the United States, specifically in Baptist liturgy.Hindu views on monotheism
Hinduism is a religion which incorporates diverse views on the concept of God. Different traditions of Hinduism have different theistic views, and these views have been described by scholars as polytheism, monotheism, henotheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, agnostic, humanism, atheism or non-theism.Monotheism is the belief in a single creator God who is almighty, omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. Hinduism does not posit or require such a belief, and is considered a non-monotheistic religion by scholars of religion. Many traditions within Hinduism share the Vedic idea of a metaphysical ultimate reality and truth called Brahman instead. According to Jan Gonda, Brahman denoted the "power immanent in the sound, words, verses and formulas of Vedas" in the earliest Vedic texts. The early Vedic religious understanding of Brahman underwent a series of abstractions in the Hindu scriptures that followed the Vedic scriptures. These scriptures would reveal a vast body of insights into the nature of Brahman as originally revealed in the Vedas. These Hindu traditions that emerged from or identified with the Vedic scriptures and that maintained the notion of a metaphysical ultimate reality would identify that ultimate reality as Brahman. Hindu adherents to these traditions within Hinduism revere Hindu deities and, indeed, all of existence, as aspects of the Brahman. The deities in Hinduism are not considered to be almighty, omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, and spirituality is considered to be seeking the ultimate truth that is possible by a number of paths. Like other Indian religions, in Hinduism, deities are born, they live and they die in every kalpa (eon, cycle of existence).In Hindu philosophy, there are many different schools. Its non-theist traditions such as Samkhya, early Nyaya, Mimamsa and many within Vedanta such as Advaita do not posit the existence of an almighty, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God (monotheistic God), while its theistic traditions posit a personal God left to the choice of the Hindu. The major schools of Hindu philosophy explain morality and the nature of existence through the karma and samsara doctrines, as in other Indian religions.Contemporary Hinduism can be categorized into four major traditions: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism worship Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi — the Divine Mother — as the Supreme respectively, or consider all Hindu deities as aspects of the formless Supreme Reality or Brahman. Other minor sects such as Ganapatya and Saura focus on Ganesha and Surya as the Supreme. A sub-tradition within the Vaishnavism school of Hinduism that is an exception is dualistic Dvaita, founded by Madhvacharya in the 13th-century (where Vishnu as Krishna is a monotheistic God). This tradition posits a concept of monotheistic God so similar to Christianity that Christian missionaries in colonial India suggested that Madhvacharya was likely influenced by early Christians who migrated to India, a theory that has been discredited by scholars.History of ancient Israel and Judah
The Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah were related kingdoms from the Iron Age period of the ancient Levant. The Kingdom of Israel emerged as an important local power by the 10th century BCE before falling to the Neo-Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE. Israel's southern neighbor, the Kingdom of Judah, emerged in the 8th or 9th century BCE and later became a client state of first the Neo-Assyrian Empire and then the Neo-Babylonian Empire before a revolt against the latter led to its destruction in 586 BCE. Following the fall of Babylon to the Achaemenid Empire under Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, some Judean exiles returned to Jerusalem, inaugurating the formative period in the development of a distinctive Judahite identity in the province of Yehud Medinata.
During the Hellenistic classic period, Yehud was absorbed into the subsequent Hellenistic kingdoms that followed the conquests of Alexander the Great, but in the 2nd century BCE the Judaeans revolted against the Seleucid Empire and created the Hasmonean kingdom. This, the last nominally independent kingdom of Israel, gradually lost its independence from 63 BCE with its conquest by Pompey of Rome, becoming a Roman and later Parthian client kingdom. Following the installation of client kingdoms under the Herodian dynasty, the Province of Judea was wracked by civil disturbances, which culminated in the First Jewish–Roman War, the destruction of the Second Temple, the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity. The name Judea (Iudaea) ceased to be used by Greco-Romans after the Bar Kochba revolt of 135 CE.Kathenotheism
Kathenotheism is a term coined by the philologist Max Müller to mean the worship of one god at a time. It is closely related to henotheism, the worship of one god while not rejecting the existence of other gods. Müller coined the term in reference to the Vedas, where he explained each deity is treated as supreme in turn.Mandala 1
The first Mandala ("book") of the Rigveda has 191 hymns. Together with Mandala 10, it forms the latest part of the Rigveda, its composition likely dating to the Early Iron Age.
Hymn 1.1 is addressed to Agni, arranged so that the name of this god is the first word of the Rigveda. The remaining hymns are mainly addressed to Agni and Indra. Hymns 1.154 to 1.156 are addressed to (the later Hindu god) Vishnu.
índram mitráṃ váruṇam agním āhur / átho divyáḥ sá suparṇó garútmān
ékaṃ sád víprā bahudhâ vadanty / agníṃ yamám mātaríśvānam āhuḥ
"They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni / and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman."
"To what is One, sages give many a title / they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan." (trans. Griffith)
– Rigveda 1.164.46Hymns such as the above in Mandala 1 led scholars such as Max Muller to describe the theology of Vedic religion as a form of henotheism. Muller noted that the hymns of the Rigveda, the oldest scripture of Hinduism, mentions many deities, but praises them successively as the "one ultimate, supreme God", alternatively as "one supreme Goddess", thereby asserting that the essence of the deities was unitary (ekam), and the deities were nothing but pluralistic manifestations of the same concept of the divine (God).The Vedic era conceptualization of the divine or the One, states Jeaneane Fowler, is more abstract than a monotheistic God, it the Reality behind and of the phenomenal universe, which it treats as "limitless, indescribable, absolute principle", thus the Vedic divine is something of a panentheism. In late Vedic era, with the start of Upanishadic age (~800-600 BCE), from the henotheistic, panentheistic concepts emerge the concepts which scholars variously call nondualism or monism, as well as forms of non-theism.Monolatry
Monolatry (Greek: μόνος (monos) = single, and λατρεία (latreia) = worship) is belief in the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term "monolatry" was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.Monolatry is distinguished from monotheism, which asserts the existence of only one god, and henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity.Monotheism
Monotheism is defined as the belief in the existence of only one god that created the world, is all-powerful and intervenes in the world. A broader definition of monotheism is the belief in one god. A distinction may be made between exclusive monotheism, and both inclusive monotheism and pluriform (panentheistic) monotheism which, while recognising various distinct gods, postulate some underlying unity.Monotheism is distinguished from henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity, and monolatrism, the recognition of the existence of many gods but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term "monolatry" was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.The broader definition of monotheism characterizes the traditions of Bábism, the Bahá'í Faith, Balinese Hinduism, Cao Dai (Caodaiism), Cheondoism (Cheondogyo), Christianity, Deism, Eckankar, Hindu sects such as Shaivism and Vaishnavism, Islam, Judaism, Mandaeism, Rastafari, Seicho no Ie, Sikhism, Tengrism (Tangrism), Tenrikyo (Tenriism), Yazidism, and Zoroastrianism, and elements of pre-monotheistic thought are found in early religions such as Atenism, ancient Chinese religion, and Yahwism.Polytheism
Polytheism (from Greek πολυθεϊσμός, polytheismos) is the worship of or belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals. In most religions which accept polytheism, the different gods and goddesses are representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles, and can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a creator deity or transcendental absolute principle (monistic theologies), which manifests immanently in nature (panentheistic and pantheistic theologies). Most of the polytheistic deities of ancient religions, with the notable exceptions of the Ancient Egyptian and Hindu deities, were conceived as having physical bodies.
Polytheism is a type of theism. Within theism, it contrasts with monotheism, the belief in a singular God, in most cases transcendent. Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally, but they can be henotheists, specializing in the worship of one particular deity. Other polytheists can be kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times.
Polytheism was the typical form of religion during the Bronze Age and Iron Age up to the Axial Age and the development of Abrahamic religions, the latter of which enforced strict monotheism. It is well documented in historical religions of Classical antiquity, especially ancient Greek religion and ancient Roman religion, and after the decline of Greco-Roman polytheism in tribal religions such as Germanic, Slavic and Baltic paganism.
Important polytheistic religions practiced today include Chinese traditional religion, Hinduism, Japanese Shinto, Santeria, and various neopagan faiths.Religious philosophy
Religious philosophy is philosophical thinking that is inspired and directed by a particular religion. It can be done objectively, but may also be done as a persuasion tool by believers in that faith.
There are different philosophies for each religion such as those of:
Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of the Supreme Being or deities. In common parlance, or when contrasted with deism, the term often describes the classical conception of God that is found in monotheism (also referred to as classical theism) – or gods found in polytheistic religions—a belief in God or in gods without the rejection of revelation as is characteristic of deism.Atheism is commonly understood as rejection of theism in the broadest sense of theism, i.e. the rejection of belief in God or gods. The claim that the existence of any deity is unknown or unknowable is agnosticism.Theological noncognitivism
Theological noncognitivism is the position that religious language – specifically, words such as "God" – are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered synonymous with ignosticism.
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