monotheism

monotheism

[mon-uh-thee-iz-uhm]
monotheism [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, Christianity, and Islam, as well as Zoroastrianism. Some eastern religions, notably Vaishava, Saiva, Sikhism, and some Hindu sects, tend to promote the omnipotence of one particular god within the pantheon, and thus display some monotheistic characteristics. Monotheism arose in opposition to polytheism, the belief in many gods. Monism, or nondualism between the physical and the spiritual, presupposes unity but deemphasizes personal monotheism. See also God.

Belief in the existence of one god. It is distinguished from polytheism. The earliest known instance of monotheism dates to the reign of Akhenaton of Egypt in the 14th century BC. Monotheism is characteristic of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all of which view God as the creator of the world, who oversees and intervenes in human events, and as a beneficent and holy being, the source of the highest good. The monotheism that characterizes Judaism began in ancient Israel with the adoption of Yahweh as the single object of worship and the rejection of the gods of other tribes and nations without, initially, denying their existence. Islam is clear in confessing one, eternal, unbegotten, unequaled God, while Christianity holds that a single God is reflected in the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

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