Tag Archives: Shintoism

Sunday Terminology: Polytheism


Polytheism: The English equivalent of the Greek word meaning πολυς and θεος is, many god(s).  This is the belief system that teaches there are more than one God. A plurality of distinct and separate deities or a pantheon of gods and goddesses exists. However, polytheists do not necessarily worship all deities equally, but they tend to particularize one god as a main god over many other gods and goddesses. In this sense, they can be more Henotheists, differentiating one deity as the main one for worshiping. “Polytheism is distinguished from theism, also called monotheism, on the basis of polytheism’s claim that divinity, while personal and distinguished from the universe, is many rather than one.”[1] It is also contrasted with pantheism, though these two doctrines are embraced side by side in the same religious traditions in the East. All other religious beliefs in the world are overwhelmingly polytheistic with the exception of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism in the East are characterized as polytheism.

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Footnotes:

[1] Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical dictionary of theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1984), 861. Print.