The definition of monotheism is “the doctrine or belief that there is only one god.” Christians and Jews claim that their religions are monotheistic.
I was baptized (at three weeks old) and raised in the Episcopal church, which I loved until I went to college. There, I learned to think, ask questions, and doubt many of my core beliefs. From that point on, nothing was sacred—not even the assertion that Christians are monotheists.
That notion is full of inconsistencies. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity is an ill-conceived idea from the fourth century. It claims that even though God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three entirely different entities, they are of one substance. To me, this is double talk that makes no sense, especially if one dehumanizes God and humanizes Jesus. By that logic, God is one being, Jesus is another, and the Holy Spirit is yet another.
Anyone with basic math skills can tell that is three, not one.
Most of my clergy friends pretend that the Trinity doesn’t exist and don’t preach, teach, or even refer to it. It’s an embarrassment.
Many Christians are told, and believe, that the Christian Bible is sacred and was written by God. I do not believe this (surprise!). But I’ve seen priests kiss the Bible and hold it high in the air toward a nonexistent heaven, and I’ve seen people take oaths on it as if it is another god.
The Bible has two parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. I’ve been reading and studying the Bible for over sixty years, and the god worshipped in the Old Testament is as different from the god worshipped in the New Testament as night and day. This is not monotheism but two different gods (I hope).
My Jewish friends adhere to 613 laws and often treat those laws as more important than God. This was one of Jesus’s biggest pet peeves.
In my Episcopal church, I’ve seen priests kiss the altar and allow only a few others besides themselves to even touch it—like it’s another god. I see the altar as just a piece of stone or wood to put things on, like a cross, which is another sacred symbol or god that people worship.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also sometimes treated like a god or the fourth member of the Trinity. In some Christian churches, statues of Mary are everywhere, but a statue of Jesus is hard to find.
In Eastern Christianity, icons are worshipped like gods.
I think I’m a monotheist because my only god is Creation, a force in the universe that I know almost nothing about.
I don’t think Jesus or the Holy Spirit are gods. Jesus was a human being with a life-transforming message, and the Holy Spirit is the force of agape that exists within every human being but is often suppressed by hate, prejudice, or indifference.
I suspect a lot of people would agree that I could be considered a monotheist, but many would also say I’m not a Christian, even though Jesus is my Christ, because I don’t believe most of the institutional church’s dogma.
But I do believe that all Followers of Jesus are commanded to go out and show agape to the hurting world.
Are you a monotheist?
Image courtesy of Jennifer Boyer (CC BY-ND 2.0)