Conceptions Of God In Christianity - Monotheism
Lesson - 2A


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The following are questions with answers taken from various Wikipedia articles. This is to highlight some relevant points on the subject—"Conception of God in Christianity"—which people should understand before continuing the bible study. The answers are excerpt taken from the full articles written on the subject. You can readily study the full articles written on the subject by clicking on the source link after each answer.
Note:
The answers to the following religious questions are taken from various Wikipedia articles due to their neutral point of view principle.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view  However, it is still highly recommend that you search the internet for more information on the subject.

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Throughout the history of the world just about everyone has believed in some sort of god. Historically humans have always had a belief in a greater Being as part of their culture. There is a sense in which humanity has simply accepted that there is a God or gods.

But, who is God?
The fact that most people believe in some god raises an obvious question:  Who is the God we should listen to and worship? Though all professing Christians claim to be believe in one God, they have different conception of God.  So, how can anyone be certain that he or she is worshiping the true God?

God

2A.1   What is a God?

From the Wikipedia article on God, these are written:

God is a deity in theistic and deistic religions and other belief systems, representing either the sole deity in monotheism, or a principal deity in polytheism. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God  (as of Aug. 15, 2009, 13:58 GMT).

From the Free Dictionary by Farlex:

God - the supernatural being conceived as the perfect and omnipotent and omniscient originator and ruler of the universe; the object of worship in monotheistic religions

God is defined as

  • God is a deity in theistic religion, representing the sole deity in monotheism.
  • God is the supernatural being conceived as the perfect and omnipotent and omniscient originator and ruler of the universe; the object of worship in monotheistic religions.


Monotheism

2A.2   What is Monotheism?

From the Wikipedia article on Monotheism, these are written:

In theology, monotheism (from Greek μόνος "only" and θεός "god") is the belief that only one god exists.[1] The concept of "monotheism" tends to be dominated by the concept of God in the Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Druze, 
Source: Wikipedia, Monotheism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monotheism (as of Apr. 3, 2010, 19:52 GMT).

From the Free Dictionary by Farlex:

Monotheism - The doctrine or belief that there is only one God.
Source:  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/monotheism

Monotheism is defined as;

  • Monotheism is the doctrine or belief that only one god exists.

The concept of "monotheism" tends to be dominated by the concepts of God in the Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The three great faiths called Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were born of an event that each remembers as a moment in history, when the One True God appeared to an Iron Age sheik named Abram and bound him in a covenant forever. Abram is the later Abraham, the father of all believers and the linchpin of the faith, and indeed the theology, from which the three communities of that God's worshipers emerged. The history of monotheism had begun.  Peters, Francis E.; Esposito, John L. (2006). The children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Princeton University Press.


Monotheism in Abrahamic religions

2A.3   How do monotheism in Judaism and Islam, differ significantly with Christianity?

From several Wikipedia articles these are written:

Monotheism: All three religions claim to be monotheistic, worshiping an exclusive God, though known by different names.[18] For all three, God creates, is one, rules, reveals, loves, judges, and forgives.[16] However, Christianity's complex Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with Jewish and Muslim concepts of monotheism. They reject the incarnation of God in Christ—one of the distinctive features of the Christian religion. Although Christianity does not believe in three gods, rather three personalities in one "Almighty God,"[19] the concept of Trinity remains a problem for the other major Abrahamic religions.[20]
Notable differences in beliefs:
Some Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ are incompatible with Judaism and Islam. Many Christians[who?] see Christianity without the incarnation of God as meaningless and useless. For Muslims and Jews the Christian belief in Jesus Christ as God the Son, both human and divine at the same time, is considered incompatible with their understanding of Idolatry.
Source: 
Wikipedia, Abrahamic religions, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions (as of Apr. 4, 2010, 15:17 GMT).

Abrahamic religions
In traditional Jewish thought, which provided the basis of the Christian and Islamic religions, monotheism was regarded as its most basic belief. Judaism and Islam have traditionally attempted to interpret scripture as exclusively monotheistic whilst Christianity adopts Trinitarianism, a more complex form of monotheism, as a result of considering the Holy Spirit to be God, and attributing divinity to Jesus, a Judean Jew, in the first century AD, defining him as the Son of God. Thus, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit".

Source: Wikipedia, Monotheism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monotheism (as of Apr. 3, 2010, 19:52 GMT).

Judaism and Christianity share the belief that there is One, True God, who is the only one worthy to be worshipped. Judaism sees this One, True God as a singular, ineffable, undefinable being. Phrases such as "Ground of All Being," "Unfolding Reality" and "Creator and Sustainer of Life" capture only portions of who God is to Jews. While God does not change, our perception of God does, and so, Jews are open to new experiences of God's presence. Christianity, with a few exceptions, sees the One, True God as having triune personhood: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, so Christians generally look to the Scriptures (both Hebrew and Christian) for an understanding of who God is.
Source:  Wikipedia, Christianity and Judaism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_and_Judaism  (as of Apr. 5, 2010, 14:56 GMT).

The three Abrahamic monotheistic religions differ significantly as follows:

  • All three religions claim to be monotheistic, however, Christianity's complex Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with Jewish and Muslim concepts of monotheism.
  • Some Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ are incompatible with Judaism and Islam.
    • Many Christians see Christianity without the incarnation of God as meaningless and useless.
    • For Muslims and Jews the Christian belief in Jesus Christ as God the Son, both human and divine at the same time, is considered incompatible with their understanding of Idolatry.
  • In traditional Jewish thought, which provided the basis of the Christian and Islamic religions, monotheism was regarded as its most basic belief.
    • Judaism and Islam have traditionally attempted to interpret scripture as exclusively monotheistic
    • Whilst Christianity adopts Trinitarianism, a more complex form of monotheism, as a result of considering the Holy Spirit to be God, and attributing divinity to Jesus, a Judean Jew, in the first century AD, defining him as the Son of God. Thus, "Father, Son and Holy Spirit".
  • Judaism and Christianity share the belief that there is One True God, who is the only one worthy to be worshipped.
    • Judaism sees this One, True God as a singular, ineffable, indefinable being.
    • Christianity, with a few exceptions, sees the One, True God as having triune personhood: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit.

Monotheism in Christianity

2A.4   How do monotheism (belief in only one God) in Christianity differ significantly?

From several Wikipedia articles these are written:

Trinity or Trinitarianism

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead.[1] The doctrine states that God is the Triune God, existing as three persons, or in the Greek hypostases,[2] but one being.[3] (Personhood in the Trinity does not match the common Western understanding of "person" as used in the English language—it does not imply an "individual, self-actualized center of free will and conscious activity."[4]:pp. 185-6. To the ancients, personhood "was in some sense individual, but always in community as well."[4]:p.186 Each person is understood as having the one identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures.) Since the beginning of the third century[5] the doctrine of the Trinity has been stated as "the one God exists in three Persons and one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."[6]
Source:  Wikipedia, Trinity, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity  (as of Mar. 29, 2010, 14:27 GMT).

Binitarianism

Binitarianism is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead (or God). Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet with binitarianism there is a "twoness" in God. . . . . . . . . . . While binitarianism is sometimes used self-descriptively[1][2], it is also used to denote Christian error or heresy[3] as are the following related terms:  "Bitheism", a belief in two separate beings in one "God family" who are in perfect harmony/agreement with each other/one another, composed of the Father and the Son as two distinct Gods, and the Holy Spirit as not a God, but rather as the living power of God that flows/emanates between both the Father and the Son.
Source:  Wikipedia, Binitarianism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binitarianism  (as of Apr. 3, 2010, 17:40 GMT).

Unitarianism

Unitarianism is a Nontrinitarian Christian theology which teaches belief in the single personality of God, in contrast to the doctrine of the Trinity (God as three persons).[1] According to its proponents, Unitarianism reflects the original God-concept of Christianity.  . . . . . . Beliefs:  Unitarians believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the New Testament and other Early Christian writings. Adhering to strict monotheism, they maintain that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, perhaps even a supernatural being, but not God himself. They believe Jesus did not claim to be God, nor did his teachings hint at the existence of a triune God. Unitarians believe in the moral authority, but not necessarily the divinity, of Jesus.
Source:  Wikipedia, Unitarianism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarianism (as of Apr. 3, 2010, 18:05 GMT).

Monotheism in Christianity generally refer to three contrasting theologies, all professing belief in One God, but with different concept of God.

  • Trinitarianism - The doctrine of the Trinity teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead.
    • The doctrine states that God is the Triune God, existing as three persons, but one being.
    • Since the beginning of the third century the doctrine of the Trinity has been stated as "the one God exists in three Persons and one substance, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • Binitarianism -  is a Christian theology of two personae, two individuals, or two aspects in one Godhead (or God).
    • Classically, binitarianism is understood as strict monotheism — that is, that God is an absolutely single being; and yet there is a "twoness" in God.
    • It is related to the term "Bitheism", a belief in two separate beings in one "God family" who are in perfect harmony/agreement with each other/one another, composed of the Father and the Son as two distinct Gods, and the Holy Spirit as not a God,
  • Unitarianism - is a Nontrinitarian Christian theology which teaches belief in the single personality of God.
    • Unitarians believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the New Testament and other Early Christian writings.
    • Adhering to strict monotheism, they maintain that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, perhaps even a supernatural being, but not God himself.
    • They believe Jesus did not claim to be God, nor did his teachings hint at the existence of a triune God.

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NOTE: The use of the terms, Trinitarian, Binitarian, or Unitarian in this website are not intended to refer to any religious organization but only to denote numerical orientation in the number of persons in one God in order to simplify the way of presenting the different concept of God in Christianity.

 
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