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Thread: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

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    Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    Or at the least tritheistic? The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Although said to be one godhead, so too is the Hindu Brahman the single godhead of many gods. So Christianity is no more a monotheism than is Hinduism. Add to this the way saints are worshipped, especially by certain Catholics, then it takes on a very polytheistic feel.

    Is it perhaps a consequence of Christianity being influenced as it replaced native polytheistic thought in Europe?

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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    There are two trains of thought in Christianity. The first, is Unitarianism, where the belief is that the father, son and holy ghost are one entity. In that situation, no. They are monothiestic.

    The other is Trinitarian. The believe that the father, son, and holy ghost are constructs of a single deity. They're each able to act independently, and each holds divine energy, but together they for a single deity. I've also heard it explained as the father is the deity while the son and holy ghost contain divine power and are aspects of him, but not divine on their own. So again, no. They're monotheistic.
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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    Interesting. And which popular Christian denominations fall into which train of thought. I imagine Catholicism and Protestantism monotheist and Gnosticism Trinitarian? Where does Eastern Orthodox fall?

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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    Technically: It depends on which denomination you're dealing with and how you want to look at certain theological assumptions. You can in several cases argue until you're red in the face either way.

    Practically: The Nicene Creed starts with "We believe in one God..." and, despite all the hilarious ways that it complicates the issue, most Christians will agree with that affirmation.
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    Bronze Member Bartmanhomer's Avatar
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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    No. Christianity is monotheistic.

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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    On theological technicality no, they're monotheistic. Of course if it quacks like a duck... I've at least always thought Catholics were basically polytheists. Again though, there's a bunch of little, fairly complicated or semantic things, which are used to justify monotheism, at least among the orthodox church doctrine. I think the saint thing is very much influenced by previous pagan religion. The trinitarian heresies explicitly condemn what you have described the godhead as, however. Gnosticism is... well it's a bit of it's own thing and is obviously heretical, so really shouldn't be considered part of this discussion.

    I would like to point out there have been arguments that Hinduism is monotheistic. The Hindu view on God is somewhat complex and not really definitive. There's some scholarship discussing various parts, like Hindu Theism which recognizing divine power as a manifestation of a singular creative power across multiple forms and levels. Hinduism is in large part pantheistic and in my opinion should probably not be compared so superficially with Christianity.
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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    Imagine an entity existing in 3 dimensional space + time, appearing in 4 dimensional space + time.

    Observing from 3D space, you can not see the entire entity - only parts... but each part seems (seen from 3D space) to be a separate entity. It is still one thing in it's natural space (4D) but you can't tell that in 3D space.

    Think of it like that.
    Last edited by B. de Corbin; 14 Nov 2018 at 09:17.
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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    No. The technical terminology is homoousios--there's not a good translation for this, but basically it means coessential/consubstantial, or of the same essence/substance. The aspects of the trinity are three hypostases in one ousia.

    It would really be more correct to call the trinity three existences in one entity.
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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    Having been Catholic for the first 15 years of my life, including all the rites and being educated in a Catholic school... no, modern Christianity and Catholicism are not polytheistic. In Catholicism, the saints aren't God and they aren't worshipped... they are honored and revered but they are not worshipped. Nor is Jesus. Nor is Mary. You can pray to the saints, Jesus or Mary... but they are not God, not Divine within themselves and not worshipped.

    As far as the Holy Trinity go... Shahaku, Corbin and Thalassa have given good explanations there and I'm too tired right now to rehash them.

    There are some early versions of the Abrahamic faiths that are arguably polytheistic, but that's a completely different situation to the modern versions.

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    Re: Is Christianity actually polytheistic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    Having been Catholic for the first 15 years of my life, including all the rites and being educated in a Catholic school... no, modern Christianity and Catholicism are not polytheistic. In Catholicism, the saints aren't God and they aren't worshipped... they are honored and revered but they are not worshipped. Nor is Jesus. Nor is Mary. You can pray to the saints, Jesus or Mary... but they are not God, not Divine within themselves and not worshipped.

    As far as the Holy Trinity go... Shahaku, Corbin and Thalassa have given good explanations there and I'm too tired right now to rehash them.

    There are some early versions of the Abrahamic faiths that are arguably polytheistic, but that's a completely different situation to the modern versions.
    Eh, Jesus is God. He's just the same God (sort-of) as the Father. Treating him as not-God is more a Jehovah's Witness thing. Mary and the Saints are definitively not deities though under Catholic doctrine.
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    Yoda told stories, and ate, and cried, and laughed: and the Padawans saw that life itself was a lightsaber in his hands; even in the face of treachery and death and hopes gone cold, he burned like a candle in the darkness. Like a star shining in the black eternity of space.

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    "But those men who know anything at all about the Light also know that there is a fierceness to its power, like the bare sword of the law, or the white burning of the sun." Suddenly his voice sounded to Will very strong, and very Welsh. "At the very heart, that is. Other things, like humanity, and mercy, and charity, that most good men hold more precious than all else, they do not come first for the Light. Oh, sometimes they are there; often, indeed. But in the very long run the concern of you people is with the absolute good, ahead of all else..."

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    "You come from the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve", said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth; be content."

    Aslan, Prince Caspian by CS Lewis



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