Is Christianity really monotheistic?


#1

I was shown this the other day to “prove” that I am wrong…
{The Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are exclusively considered monotheist, they believe in and worship a single god. Some scholars argue against this, pointing to the original Hebrew text itself , where the word for god is expressed in numerous ways, El, Elohim, El Roi, El Elyon, El Olam, YHWH, and El Shaddai. Translators show this difference by capitalizing the term and translating it as “God”. According to some scholars, the use of these different terms for god in the Hebrew “Bible”, reflect the idea they were talking about different gods. In short, the Israelites worshiped a single god among multiple gods, and thus all Abrahamic religions are truly Henotheistic, “allegiance to one god while conceding that others also exist.”}

{Passages in the “Old Testament” support this theory, Elohim is used, though translated to God, and it is the plural form of El. The author’s context also shows the use of a plural form, Genesis 1:26; “Then God said, Let US make man in OUR image, and the authors use Elohim in this passage. Exodus 20:3, “You shall have NO OTHER GODS before me also show a henotheistic approach. Genesis 35:11, “and God said to him, I am God Almighty, here El Shaddai is used, which some scholars argue that El Shaddai refers to the highest god in a pantheon of lesser gods.}

Not that I believe any of it. Just an interesting view I thought I would share.
And hopefully get some advice on rebutting these claims.


#2

Even if the ancient Israelites were henotheistic (which is possible IMHO, but who knows?) does not necessarily mean that post-Exilic and modern Judaism and Christianity are.


#3

[quote="Ron_in_minden, post:1, topic:331812"]
I was shown this the other day to "prove" that I am wrong.........
{The Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are exclusively considered monotheist, they believe in and worship a single god. Some scholars argue against this, pointing to the original Hebrew text itself , where the word for god is expressed in numerous ways, El, Elohim, El Roi, El Elyon, El Olam, YHWH, and El Shaddai. Translators show this difference by capitalizing the term and translating it as “God”. According to some scholars, the use of these different terms for god in the Hebrew “Bible”, reflect the idea they were talking about different gods. In short, the Israelites worshiped a single god among multiple gods, and thus all Abrahamic religions are truly Henotheistic, “allegiance to one god while conceding that others also exist.”}

{Passages in the “Old Testament” support this theory, Elohim is used, though translated to God, and it is the plural form of El. The author’s context also shows the use of a plural form, Genesis 1:26; “Then God said, Let US make man in OUR image, and the authors use Elohim in this passage. Exodus 20:3, “You shall have NO OTHER GODS before me also show a henotheistic approach. Genesis 35:11, “and God said to him, I am God Almighty, here El Shaddai is used, which some scholars argue that El Shaddai refers to the highest god in a pantheon of lesser gods.}

Not that I believe any of it. Just an interesting view I thought I would share.
And hopefully get some advice on rebutting these claims.

[/quote]

An interesting argument, but baseless.

All of these names are just different names for God.

I have three names, a first, second, and last. All of these names refer to me, and I can answer to any of them.

Any person has multiple names, based on their place in life. A man can, at one time, be called father, son, uncle, boss, or by his given name. So it is with God.


#4

[quote="Ron_in_minden, post:1, topic:331812"]
I was shown this the other day to "prove" that I am wrong.........
{The Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are exclusively considered monotheist, they believe in and worship a single god. Some scholars argue against this, pointing to the original Hebrew text itself , where the word for god is expressed in numerous ways, El, Elohim, El Roi, El Elyon, El Olam, YHWH, and El Shaddai. Translators show this difference by capitalizing the term and translating it as “God”. According to some scholars, the use of these different terms for god in the Hebrew “Bible”, reflect the idea they were talking about different gods. In short, the Israelites worshiped a single god among multiple gods, and thus all Abrahamic religions are truly Henotheistic, “allegiance to one god while conceding that others also exist.”}

{Passages in the “Old Testament” support this theory, Elohim is used, though translated to God, and it is the plural form of El. The author’s context also shows the use of a plural form, Genesis 1:26; “Then God said, Let US make man in OUR image, and the authors use Elohim in this passage. Exodus 20:3,** “You shall have NO OTHER GODS before me **also show a henotheistic approach. Genesis 35:11, “and God said to him, I am God Almighty, here El Shaddai is used, which some scholars argue that El Shaddai refers to the highest god in a pantheon of lesser gods.}

Not that I believe any of it. Just an interesting view I thought I would share.
And hopefully get some advice on rebutting these claims.

[/quote]

Lets analyze that sentence shall we?

** “You shall have NO OTHER GODS before me **

What is the context? ie the general distribution and location of the people of Israel when this assertion was made.
Were they among monotheistic cultures?
Hardly, in fact if you care to dig you would find that NONE of the surrounding curltures were monoteistic, all had very complex and crowded :rolleyes: pantheons of gods and godesses.
What about the end of the sentence? The "me" part.
Seems to me it is in the 1st person singular, now later the Bible expands on God that in fact He is 1 God with 3 distinct persons and the "OUR image" is in fact 1 of the places in scripture where this principle is demonstrated. :thumbsup:


#5

Funny, these were some of the scriptures used by Justin to prove to Jews (Trypho, a Jewish Philosopher) that Jesus was the Only Begotten Son, and visited Abraham, Jacob, and others prior to His Advent.

Try “Dialog with Trypho” by Justin Martyr. :thumbsup:


#6

Michael - Yup, John 8:58 - Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.


#7

Dialog with Trypho is one of the Early Church Fathers writings that led me to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

There can only be one God not many, one of the requirements of God is Creator from whom are all things and for whom we exist, through whom are all things and through whom all exist. There cannot be many.

Henotheism is true only in the sense that the followers of the One True God recognize that there are so-called gods (ie they are called gods but are not).

There is no God but One. For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth (ie Roman Emperors) 1 Corinthians 8:4-5.

Do Christians believe that Roman Emperors are gods? No. But we recognize that they believed themselves to be such.


#8

Well, I’m still a piker when it comes to high theology, but I am about to embark on “Against Heresies” by Irenaeus.

Seems like all this talk about names of God is reminding me of RCIA class and talking about the different early thoughts on the Trinity. Docetism, Monothelitism, Arianism, Modalism, etc.

Weren’t the early major creeds a result of these? Like the Athanasian Creed of the Trinity?


#9

[quote="Mount_Carmel, post:6, topic:331812"]
Michael - Yup, John 8:58 - Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am.

[/quote]

I do love the Gospel of John. :)


#10

[quote="Michael57, post:8, topic:331812"]
Well, I'm still a piker when it comes to high theology, but I am about to embark on "Against Heresies" by Irenaeus.

Seems like all this talk about names of God is reminding me of RCIA class and talking about the different early thoughts on the Trinity. Docetism, Monothelitism, Arianism, Modalism, etc.

Weren't the early major creeds a result of these? Like the Athanasian Creed of the Trinity?

[/quote]

Well Michael you are two steps ahead of me in high theology. You are Catholic and have been through RCIA. I am still in the registering for RCIA phase.

Yes you are right the Divinity of Jesus Christ has produced possibly the largest number of isms more than any other doctrine.


#11

Certainly Christians and Jewish people acknowledge that other gods exist! … False gods. One true God among many false gods.


#12

Thanks for all the good information, I will definitely try to find that letter by Justin Martyr and some others. Peace.


#13

I thought this question was going to be about the Trinity. It seems others have already answered well. Yes, Christianity is monotheistic and always has been.

From a metaphysical stance, it would be impossible for more than one God to exist if He is omnipotent. Since an omnipotent God is all-powerful by definition and that means nothing can exist that is outside His power or is not sustained by it. Thus everything would be created by and sustained in existence by an omnipotent God. So that nothing else in existence can be God besides the true God since everything else owes their existence to the true God.

There is a huge difference between God, the Creator of the universe and the many gods of the Romans which were really like superheroes, and not the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, self - existing, and necessary being.

This is one of the revelations of the Jews, that there is only one God and Creator, who is jealous of our worship. That is He proclaims there is no other God besides Him. To say that the ancient Jews believed in more than one God is to completely mistranslate scripture. Even the traditions of the Jews affirm their belief in one God.


#14

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’**

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

  • Acts 17:22-31**

#15

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.