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What is henotheism?

definition henotheism

Question: "What is henotheism?"

Answer:
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, henotheism is the belief in one god without denying the existence of others. Hinduism is a classic example of this belief in practice. Hindus generally worship one god, yet acknowledge that there are many other gods that can be worshiped as well. The religion of the ancient Greeks and their worship of the Olympians is another well-known example, with Zeus being the supreme ruler of eleven other gods. All twelve were worshiped, each individually by a different sect or temple.

Many historians believe that the early Israelites were henotheists. There are several passages in the Old Testament that possibly hint that the ancient Israelites were not fully developed monotheists. They seemed to sometimes believe other nations had their own gods—but that the Hebrew God was the supreme God. If this view of ancient Israelite henotheism is accurate, the Israelites did not hold this viewpoint as a result of what God had revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The Bible is very clear on the issue of multiple gods: there is only one God. The whole of the Bible hinges on this fact, for, if other gods existed, then Jesus Christ would never have had to die—there would be many roads leading to heaven. Consider this passage: "So now, what about it? Should we eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God and no other. According to some people, there are many so-called gods and many lords, both in heaven and on earth. But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we exist for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life" (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

Recommended Resources: Jesus Among Other gods by Ravi Zacharias and Logos Bible Software.


Related Topics:

What is atheism?

What is agnosticism?

What is open theism?

What is dualism?

Can monotheism be proven?



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