Henotheism – What is it?
Henotheism is the belief that there is one God without denying the existence of other deities. The largest example of henotheism among today's world religions is found in Hinduism. In this system, the practice of bhakti is common in which a person worships or reveres one deity while acknowledging many others. In the Hindu tradition, more than 300 million gods and goddesses exist.
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Ancient Greek religion also provides an example of henotheism. For example, Zeus was an important deity who ruled over eleven other gods. All of these deities were believed to be divine, yet one was considered stronger than the others.
Some have suggested that the ancient Israelites were henotheists. This is based on the verses in Scripture that speak of the Lord being more powerful than the other gods. In addition, many occasions were mentioned when the Israelites disobeyed God and served idols or other gods. However, the fact that other gods were mentioned or even worshiped by some people in the Old Testament does not indicate that the Bible teaches henotheism. Instead, Deuteronomy 6:4 clearly teaches that the Lord is one. Genesis 1:1 teaches that God created the heavens and the earth. In Isaiah 45:5 God taught, "I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God."
In the New Testament, Jesus is revealed as God in human form (John 1:1). He did not claim to be another god, but rather one with the Father. He taught that He was the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). Rather than teaching worship of multiple gods, Jesus demanded worship to one God—a view of God that accepted Him as uniquely divine.
In 1 Corinthians 8:4-6, the apostle Paul also made an important statement about God that relates to the idea of henotheism: "Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that 'an idol has no real existence,' and that 'there is no God but one.' For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords'— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist."
Scripture is explicitly clear that there is only one God. Henotheism is therefore a belief that stands in conflict with the Bible's clear teachings. There is not one God above other gods. There is one God and no other gods. This God has been revealed through the Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His life for us and desires to have a relationship with us today, offering eternal life to all who believe (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).
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