Author Topic: Pagan monotheists?  (Read 842 times)

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Offline biro

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Pagan monotheists?
« on: April 13, 2019, 04:41:42 PM »
Have there been any, since the days of Egyptian sun worship?
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2019, 04:46:19 PM »
The modern Tengrist revival has shades of monotheism though I don't know how strict it is. I think you could argue that some modern Daoists qualify as well.

Though my guess would be that depending on how strict your criteria are, you're not going to find a lot of pagans that are more than henotheists.
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Offline Alin

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2019, 05:13:36 PM »
Maybe zoroastrianism, they believe that there is one universal, transcendent, supreme God, Ahura Mazda. Zoroaster claimed that Ahura Mazda is almighty not omnipotent. This is what i read.
(Ahura means "Being" and Mazda means "Mind" in a sacred Old Iranian language called Avestan). Zoroaster keeps the two attributes separate as two different concepts in most of the Gathas(are 17 Avestan hymns believed to have been composed by Zarathusthra (Zoroaster) himself. They form the core of the Zoroastrian liturgy ) and also consciously uses a masculine word for one concept and a feminine for the other, as if to distract from an anthropomorphism of his divinity.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2019, 06:05:07 PM »
Platonism was basically monotheistic- other gods were seen as emanations from the One. Many important schools of Hindu philosophy had a similar concept. And yes, mainstream Daoism could be construed that way too.
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2019, 09:08:38 PM »
This is a very difficult question because we can call Abrahamic religions monotheistic because we draw a clear line between the Godhead and other spiritual beings. Since Pagan religions are totally different systems even when they still focus on a supreme being, it's very hard to make an analogous distinction.

To give a more crude example (as opposed to the sophisticated "philosophical religions" already mentioned), the Yoruba worship a pantheon of orishas while recognising Olorun as a supreme deity from which everything that exists, including the orishas, emanates. I imagine close peoples like the Fon and Igbo might have similar ideas. The Maasai also have many gods and totems while recognising a single one as the ultimate reality, encompassing both good and evil (which has an uncanny parallels with the Hellenistic worship of Abraxas). Chinese heaven-worship, like Turkic/Mongolian heaven-worship (Tengrism as Volnutt mentioned) may also add monotheistic tones to a system with lesser deities.
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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2019, 08:10:15 AM »
That sounds akin to the 'soft polytheism' of several neopagan groups. 'All gods are one God, and all goddesses are one Goddess, and the one God and one Goddess are two sides of the One Source of all' - in which invoking a particular deity is seen as simply working with the particular aspect of Deity.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2019, 08:53:43 AM »
That sounds akin to the 'soft polytheism' of several neopagan groups. 'All gods are one God, and all goddesses are one Goddess, and the one God and one Goddess are two sides of the One Source of all' - in which invoking a particular deity is seen as simply working with the particular aspect of Deity.

This probably has a lot to do with the influence from Theosophy, Golden Dawn, etc.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2019, 08:55:26 AM »
This is a very difficult question because we can call Abrahamic religions monotheistic because we draw a clear line between the Godhead and other spiritual beings. Since Pagan religions are totally different systems even when they still focus on a supreme being, it's very hard to make an analogous distinction.

To give a more crude example (as opposed to the sophisticated "philosophical religions" already mentioned), the Yoruba worship a pantheon of orishas while recognising Olorun as a supreme deity from which everything that exists, including the orishas, emanates. I imagine close peoples like the Fon and Igbo might have similar ideas. The Maasai also have many gods and totems while recognising a single one as the ultimate reality, encompassing both good and evil (which has an uncanny parallels with the Hellenistic worship of Abraxas). Chinese heaven-worship, like Turkic/Mongolian heaven-worship (Tengrism as Volnutt mentioned) may also add monotheistic tones to a system with lesser deities.

Yeah, there is an important difference between having a supreme being among beings, and a completely transcendent God.
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Offline Rhinosaur

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2019, 12:32:54 PM »
I believe that some traditional eastern African religions are at least somewhat monotheistic in their outlook, focusing on one overall divine being.

Offline juliogb

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2019, 02:15:06 PM »
This is a very difficult question because we can call Abrahamic religions monotheistic because we draw a clear line between the Godhead and other spiritual beings. Since Pagan religions are totally different systems even when they still focus on a supreme being, it's very hard to make an analogous distinction.

To give a more crude example (as opposed to the sophisticated "philosophical religions" already mentioned), the Yoruba worship a pantheon of orishas while recognising Olorun as a supreme deity from which everything that exists, including the orishas, emanates. I imagine close peoples like the Fon and Igbo might have similar ideas. The Maasai also have many gods and totems while recognising a single one as the ultimate reality, encompassing both good and evil (which has an uncanny parallels with the Hellenistic worship of Abraxas). Chinese heaven-worship, like Turkic/Mongolian heaven-worship (Tengrism as Volnutt mentioned) may also add monotheistic tones to a system with lesser deities.

Aren't the guarani indigenous from South America monotheists? As far as I remember they believe in this supreme entity named Nhanderú (Nhande - inclusive our, Rú - father).

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2019, 03:38:31 PM »
Yeah, some Tupians do believe Nhanderuvuçu is a supreme deity which created Tupã (which is often assumed to be the actual supreme deity), but I'm not sure if their cosmogony emphasises his role any more than, say, the Ancient Greeks emphasised Chaos.
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Offline KostaC

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2019, 12:16:58 AM »
This is cheating, but there were pagans who sympathized with Judaism and wanted to align their beliefs and rituals with Judaism as close as possible without converting.
"It is possible that the native Cappadocian cult of Zeus Sabazios slowly integrated into the cult of Jahve Sabaoth practiced by the numerous and intellectually predominant Jewish colonies, and that associations (sodalicia, thiasoi) of strict monotheists formed, who fraternized with the Jews, but who considered themselves free from the Mosaic Law. The importance and exalted ideas of these associations can be gathered from the fact that when someone asked Apollo of Klaros whether the Hypsistos alone was without beginning and end, he answered: 'He is the Lord of all, self-originated, self-produced, ruling all things in some ineffable way, encompassing the heavens, spreading out the earth, riding on the waves of the sea; mixing fire with water, soil with air and earth with fire; of winter, summer, autumn and spring, causing the changes in their season, leading all things towards the light and settling their fate in harmonious order.'"

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Offline Alpha60

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2019, 12:42:29 AM »
Platonism was basically monotheistic- other gods were seen as emanations from the One. Many important schools of Hindu philosophy had a similar concept. And yes, mainstream Daoism could be construed that way too.

Indeed.

Although strictly speaking, wouldn’t it be semantically ideal to restrict the use of the word Paganism to the conceptually related old religions of the Roman Empire, to which Interpretatio Graeca could be  easily reconciled* and within which proto-Gnostic religions like Neoplatonism did exist in a non-polytheistic manner? 

*I would argue Zoroastrianism is not per se Pagan,  but rather an edge case with Pagan relatives such as the Chaldean religion and the Mithraic cults within the Roman Empire, but also with relations to the Abrahamic faith.  And when we get to Daoism, while one could liken Chinese folk religion to Roman religion, is classical Daoism even remotely operating in the same thought-space as the Pagan religions of the region surrounding Rome? 

** I would also perhaps be inclined to consider the idea that the Pagan label is not useful for purposes of religious study due to the ambiguous definitions thereof, with contemporary religions relatively unrelated to the ancient Egyptian, Hellenic, Chaldean, Roman and Germanic religions, like Wicca, falling under its umbrella; the use of the term in particular seems possibly detrimental to Christianity, because it provides a vast array of dangerous, anti-Christian cults a way of simply declaring their non-Christian nature and thus more readily ensnaring those who are in a crisis of faith.

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Offline Agabus

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2019, 09:54:44 AM »
Many important schools of Hindu philosophy had a similar concept.

The school of Hinduism with which I am conversant believe all the members of their "pantheon" are avatars of Vishnu.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2019, 09:55:00 AM by Agabus »
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Pagan monotheists?
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2019, 12:38:26 PM »
KostaC: Samaritanism also came up through a, let's say, more complete attempt, as narrated in the Scriptures.
"May the Lord our God remember in His kingdom all Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, which heralds the Word of Truth and fearlessly offers and distributes the Holy Oblation despite human deficiencies and persecutions moved by the powers of this world, in all time and unto the ages of ages."

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