Soft and Hard Monotheism?

Is it possible to have a monotheism that doesn’t reject other gods as false? But that wouldn’t be truly monotheistic. Is it possible to have a monotheism that focuses on an all-loving, compassionate power? But that wouldn’t be truly monotheistic. Monist, maybe, or henotheist, but never truly monotheistic.

One might say that all monotheism is radical; it isn’t truly monotheism if it doesn’t espouse a belief in an exclusive, singular supreme power that is ultimately tyrannical and controlling.

I live in the largest Catholic enclave in Asia and I’m thankful that most of these same Catholics aren’t taking their monotheism seriously. Because, honestly, the truly monotheistic ones would be extremely difficult to deal with.

I think that needs to be said.

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5 thoughts on “Soft and Hard Monotheism?

  1. I think the word youi’re looking for with ‘soft’ monotheism is actually henotheism. the bible, for instance, is largely henotheistic: worshipping one god to the exclusion of all others but not denying that others exist necessarily.

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    • Exactly. My thoughts about true monotheism are that it is uncompromising and, therefore, fringe in multicultural societies like ours. Da’esh, for example, are truly monotheistic and incompatible with most (decent) societies.

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  2. At the very least, some of the old polytheistic ways became folk traditions under the guise of the Catholic Church. Ideally they wouldn’t have been lost at all, but it’s still something. And if anything, polytheism has taught me to respect all religions a hell of a lot more (even if I don’t follow them anymore *coughCatholicismcough*) because to deny one’s gods is to allow others to deny my own.

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    • “…to deny one’s gods is to allow others to deny my own.”

      That is a good way to look at it! And yes, at the very least, Catholicism has allowed the old customs to survive through folk practices. I don’t think Catholicism would’ve been as successful if it didn’t.

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  3. The Hindu sects of Vaishnavism & Shaivism are basically the kind of “soft” Unitheisms that you might’ve been thinking about here. They both acknowledge one supreme entity who is creator, sustainer & dissolver of the entire Kosmic manifestation while acknowledging numerous subordinate Gods who are ministers of the Supreme entity who is identified with Brahman. The Gods too receive veneration and oblations/offerings while only the Supreme being can be the ultimate object of Meditation/contemplation & the one who grants Moksha(Liberation) from the Samsaric cycle of eternal birth & death.

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