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Varieties of Theism: Monotheism, Polytheism, Deism, Pantheism, and More

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Classical / Philosophical Theism:


Although there is a potentially infinite variation in what people mean by “God,” there are some common attributes which are often discussed, especially among those who come from a generally Western tradition of religion and philosophy. Because this type of theism relies heavily upon a long framework of intersecting religious and philosophical inquiry, it is commonly referred to as “classical theism,” “standard theism,” or better still “philosophical theism.” Read More...

What is Monotheism?:


The word monotheism comes from the Greek monos, which means one, and theos, which means god. Thus, monotheism is a belief in the existence of a single god. Monotheism is usually contrasted with polytheism, which is the belief in many gods, and atheism, which is the absence of any belief in gods. Read More...

What are Henotheism and Monolatry?:


Henotheism is based upon the Greek roots heis or henos, which means one and theos which means god. It’s not a synonym for monotheism, even though it has the same etymological meaning. The word monolatry is based upon the Greek roots monos, which means one and latreia, which means service or religious worship. It seems to have been first used by Julius Wellhausen to described a type of polytheism in which only one god is worshipped even though the existence of other gods is accepted. Read More...

What is Deism?:


Deism is actually a form of monotheism, but distinct enough in character and development to warrant its own section. In addition to adopting general monotheism, deists also accept the specific ideas that the single existing god is personal in nature and transcendent from the created universe. However, they reject the idea that this this god is immanent, which is to say presently active in the created universe. Read More...

What is Polytheism?:


The term polytheism is based on the Greek roots poly, which means many, and theos, which means god. Thus, the label polytheism is used where a plurality of gods are acknowledged and/or worshipped. Through the course of human history, polytheistic religions of one sort or another have been a dominant majority by far. Read More...

What is Pantheism?:


The term pantheism is built upon the Greek roots pan, which means all, and theos, which mens god; thus, pantheism is either the belief that the universe is God and worthy of worship, or that God is the sum total of all there is and that the combined substances, forces, and natural laws which we see around us are but manifestations of God. Read More...

What is Panentheism?:


The term panentheism is Greek for “all-in-God,” pan-en-theos. A panentheistic belief system is one which posits a god that interpenetrates every part of nature, but is nevertheless fully distinct from nature. So this god is part of nature, but still retains an independent identity. Read More...

What is Agnostic Theism?:


Whereas atheism and theism deal with belief, agnosticism deals with knowledge. The Greek roots of the term are a which means without and gnosis which means “knowledge” - hence, agnosticism literally means “without knowledge,” but in the context where it is normally used it means: without knowledge of the existence of gods. Read More...

What is Impersonal Idealism?:


In the philosophy of Impersonal Idealism, universal ideals are equated with the concept of a god. One of this philosophy’s spokesmen, Edward Gleason Spaulding, put it thus: “God is the totality of values, both existent and subsistent and of those agencies and efficiencies with which these values are identical.” Read More...

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