A BRIEF HISTORICAL SURVEY OF THE MONOTHEISTIC CONCEPT IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF AND PRACTICE: DEFINITION OF MONOTHEISM(6)

DEFINITION OF MONOTHEISM(6)

7. Monotheistic Cocept in Semitic Religions

The Semitic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam are generally held to be full expressions of monotheism. These three religions also arose against the background of the polytheism of the ancient near East. These religions are closely related in that they grew from the Semitic cultural background and the foundations of the religion of ancient Israel. However, the respective followers of Semitic religions drew on the fundamental monotheistic vision of ancient Israel somewhat differently, each group filling out the picture of God with colorings and shapes drawn from its own particular culture.

Among the Semitic religions, however, Christianity is questionably monotheistic in the strict sense of the term because of its concept of Trinity, while both Judaism and Islam are strictly monotheistic religions due to their unqualified concept of the unity of God. Both Judaism and Islam simultaneously emphasize that God is One, Who has no image or shape or likeness to His creatures. Therefore He is considered utterly incomparable with His created beings and things. He does not shar divinity with His created beings. He has no incarnation in any form, animal, human and other. He is conceptually and existintially true Being; He is only one and alone.

8. Monotheistic Idea in Sikhism

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion which was developed through synthesizing the mystical tendency of Hinduism with ethical and personal tendencies of Islam. In the teachings of Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539 CE), founding father of Sikhism, there is only one God, who is immortal, unborn, self-existent, creator of all the universe, omniscient, formless, just, and loving. God is both transcendent as pure potentiality and immanent as world – embodiment. Thus God is present in everything. God is personal but is beyond complete knowledge and is to be worshipped mainly in rituals of repeating his name. Revelation comes through gurus who speak the divine word. Humans attain heaven or hell at the end of a lifetime, although they are involved in many rounds of births and deaths. Final salvation for human beings consists in the absorption into God’s being like water blending with water.

In China we see that though early Chinese religion was associated with animism along with polytheism. But there was a tendency toward monotheism in the worship of Shang Ti, the highest Spirit of heavenly spirits. He is also identical with Heaven (Ti’en) Itself. Through the worship of many other spirits and their ancestors, the ancient Chinese tried to please Shang Ti as the supreme ruler of the heaven and earth. He is comparable to Amita in Buddism or God in Christianity and Allah in Islam. He is purposive, personal and perfect. Until 1912, He was the Supreme Duty to Whom the emperor every year used to make sacrifice in behalf of the people.

CONCLUSIONS

Summing up this cross-cultural religio-historical survey, we see that monotheism has arisen in a number of ways. In some cases, it came through rationalization, seeing the logic of unified divine power. In others, mystical experience of everything as one and unified with the divine gave rise to monotheistic expressions. In still other cases, historical experiences of one powerful personal God led toward formulations of monotheist belief.

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