Varieties of Theism: Monotheism, Polytheism, Deism, Pantheism, and More

Classical / Philosophical Theism

There is a theoretically infinite variation in what people mean by “God,” but there are a few common attributes which are frequently discussed, in particular among those who come from a Western tradition of religion and philosophy. Because this type of theism relies so much upon a broad framework of intersecting religious and philosophical inquiry, it is often referred to as “classical theism,” “standard theism,” or better yet “philosophical theism.” Classical / Philosophical Theism

What is Agnostic Theism?

Whereas atheism and theism deal with belief, agnosticism deals with knowledge. The Greek roots are a which means without and gnosis which means “knowledge” - hence, agnosticism literally means “without knowledge.” In the context where it is normally used it means: without knowledge of the existence of gods. Since it is possible for a person to believe without claiming to know for sure that any gods exist, it's possible to be an agnostic theist.

What is Monotheism?

The term monotheism comes from the Greek monos, which means one, and theos, which means god. Thus, monotheism is the belief in the existence of a single god. Monotheism is typically contrasted with polytheism, which is a belief in many gods, and atheism, which is an absence of any belief in any gods. Monotheism

What is Deism?

Deism is actually a form of monotheism, but it remains distinct enough in character and development to justify discussing separately.

In addition to adopting general monotheism, deists also adopt the belief that the single existing god is personal in nature and transcendent from the created universe. However, they reject the belief, common among monotheists in the West, that this this god is immanent, which is to say presently active in the created universe.

What are Henotheism and Monolatry?

Henotheism is based upon the Greek roots heis or henos, which means one, and theos which means god. It’s not a synonym for monotheism, despite the fact that it has the same etymological meaning. The word monolatry is based upon the Greek roots monos, which means one and latreia, which means service or religious worship. It appears to have been first used by Julius Wellhausen to described a type of polytheism in which just a single god is worshipped, even though other gods are accepted as existing somewhere out there. Henotheism and Monolatry

What is Polytheism?

The term polytheism is based on the Greek roots poly, which means many, and theos, which means god. Thus, the term is used where several gods are acknowledged and/or worshipped. Throughout the course of human history, polytheistic religions of one sort or another have been the dominant majority.

What is Pantheism?

The word pantheism is built from the Greek roots pan, which means all, and theos, which mens god; thus, pantheism is either a belief that the universe is God and worthy of worship, or that God is the sum total of all there is and that the combined substances, forces, and natural laws which we see around us are manifestations of God.

What is Panentheism?

The word panentheism is Greek for “all-in-God,” pan-en-theos. A panentheistic belief system posits the existence of a god that interpenetrates every part of nature, but which is nevertheless fully distinct from nature. This god is therefore part of nature, but at the same time still retains an independent identity.

What is Impersonal Idealism?

In the philosophy of Impersonal Idealism, universal ideals are identified with the concept of a god. One of this philosophy’s spokesmen, Edward Gleason Spaulding, explained his philosophy thus: “God is the totality of values, both existent and subsistent and of those agencies and efficiencies with which these values are identical.”