Similarities and Differences of Monotheism vs. Polytheism
I was born into a Christian household. I believed I was Christian until I turned 15. As a Warrior for God, I got into Dark rituals, exorcisms, possessions, Ouija boards, and Satanic rituals. Things didn't go well for me. I can't remember how many times I would cite St. Michael's prayer, or Psalm 91, or Psalm 140 in the presence of a Dark entity and black out. Or been tossed into the air into a wall. Or a tree. I have periods of time where I can't remember what I did. Others told me that I had a knife in my hand and I cut myself... or others. I changed faiths. I started following a Pagan sect. I learned how to defend myself from the Dark entities. Spells and enchantments, barriers and talismans.
But that's my path. When I had children, I realized I wanted to give them a choice. In my household, growing up, it was either Christianity, or a doomed path into Hell. I don't believe such paths are wrong or right. While Christianity is a popular choice, I don't want them feeling pressured. Again in Paganism, forcing my beliefs onto them might end up hurting them in the long run. We celebrate both in my household. I let my children decide where they want to place their faith and be devout in its teachings. Wherever the choice leads them, I can count on their faith to drive them to a paradise unknown to me. In the end, faith comes from the heart. My children will choose to be either monotheistic or polytheistic.
The Origins of Monotheism
Most Christians believe that Monotheism starts with the Bible. Unfortunately, historically, they are incorrect. Monotheism starts in 1352 BCE, with an Egyptian Pharaoh called Akhenaten. He went against the grain, and told his people that there was only one God in the sky, Aten, the Sun-disk God. His belief system rocked his Pagan peoples. After just 14 years, the people rebelled and nearly wiped his name off of every hieroglyphic mention at the time. His message about Aten was more of a personal relationship. A leader for Egypt, not world conquest. But before you decide that this religion was made from some wacky quack, compare these two passages. The first from Psalm 104 written well after 100 years since Akhenaten's reign:
"Bless the Lord . . . you who coverest thyself with light as with a garment . .
Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters; . . .
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and . . . the trees
Where the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; . . .
(As) the sun ariseth, (the beasts) gather themselves together . . .
There go the ships: there is that leviathan (whale), whom thou hast made to play therein.
And then among the remains of Amarna culture you read the Hymn to the Aten, purportedly written by Akhenaten himself, which says:
When the land grows bright and you are risen from the Akhet (horizon) and shining in the sun-disk by day, . . .
All flocks (are) at rest on their grasses, trees and grasses flourishing;
Birds flown from their nest, their wings in adoration of your life-force;
All flocks prancing on foot, all that fly and alight living as you rise for them;
Ships going downstream and upstream too, every road open at your appearance;
Fish on the river leaping to your face, your rays even inside the sea. (trans. James P. Allen)
Source: History and Civilization, Robert Damen 2013
Aten- The Sun-Disk God
Do you think you could praise Aten?
Origin of Polytheism
Paganism is old. We know from cave drawings and carvings of women, that the early peoples in the Paleolithic Age were polytheistic. They worshiped the sun, the moon, the trees and water. They had gods that had horns, they practiced with herbs. Around 8000-7500 BCE, when peoples began agriculture and they grew their own food; they started praying to gods of life, of death, and rebirth. The word pagan means, "country dweller."
Egyptians are the first of these pagan peoples to write down their gods specifically, often, and through civilization. The oldest of these gods appear around 3100 BCE. Ra- the sun God. Ra then had children. Like monotheism, the gods fashioned themselves into every aspect of Egyptian life. There was a god for the sun, (Ra), moon, (Toth), sky, (Nut), earth, (Geb). They had creation myths, flood myths, an afterlife, and ways to deal with rapists, murderers, and robbers. All Egyptians wanted to live happy, peaceful lives. Those that did not, their hearts would be gobbled up on judgment day, by a fearsome monster with the body of a lion and the head of a crocodile.
Source: Encyclopedia of Mythology, C.P. Allen
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How Christianity Emerged (Historically)
The Bible depicts that monotheism started 2000 BCE, when Adam and Eve were created. While sects and cults were practicing in secret, it wasn't until Judaism formed in 1020 BCE that monotheism had a steady cultural impact. (Jewish faith dictates that the religion started with Abraham, in 1900 BCE. Historically, there is no viable evidence to support this. As with Moses, there is no evidence that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt. If you are Jewish/ or derive from the Jewish faith, my sincerest apologies. I'm not dictating in faith, just history.) Jewish peoples start in the Middle East. Saul, a king, started a monarchy of the Jewish faith in Israel. The Babylonians (a group of people that were pagan), disrupted their faiths and the Jews were exiled into Babylon. Jews were forced to practice their faiths in secret, until Roman rule in AD 66.
Christianity was not the popular religion at the time. Most people held fast to their pagan traditions. However, throughout the poor and slave peoples, Christianity did spark and resonate. A free life, an immortal life, a peaceful life; it was a very attractive religion to the sick, the lame, and the servant classes.The first Christians were Jewish people that Jesus had preached to. In this early age, where monotheism was not the popular religion, the Christian faith was persecuted. In Rome, Christians would be burned at the stake, martyred, and eaten alive.
"Nero punished a race of men who were hated for their evil practices. These men were called Christians. He got a number of people to confess. On their evidence a number of Christians were convicted and put to death with dreadful cruelty. Some were covered with the skins of wild beasts and left to be eaten by dogs. Others were nailed to the cross. Many were burned alive and set on fire to serve as torches at night."
Constantine changed the fate of Christianity forever.
He ruled 306-337 AD. In 313, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christian worship. "It was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best." It was a tolerance creed for all religions in Rome.
Source: Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark
Jewish/ Christian Leaders
Persecution of the Pagans
After the Christians won their religious freedom, the Church sought out its hold in the Roman empire. Under Constantine's rule, they were able to obtain land. Constantine's son, Constantius II began closing pagan temples, killing pagans for performing rituals, and ordered Christians to raid Pagan temples and tombs. In 381 AD, Church's influenced Theodosius and he declared a war on pagans. Pagans caught "worshiping," were sentenced to death.
Paganism was still the preferred religion at the time. Some Christians even converted back to Paganism. The pagan communities voiced their resentments to the Emperors but were ignored. Christians started to destroy all Pagan political literature. In 484 they appointed a Pagan King, Illus, to revolt Emperor Zeno. The revolt lasted for four years. Zeno had triumphed, and had all those captured in the revolt executed.
All the temples that had once been for Pagan use, were now being used for Christian temples and altars. Pope Gregory I said, "Let altars be built and relics be placed there, so that [the pagans] have to change from the worship of the daemones to that of the true God."
The Pagans scattered after the fall of the Roman Empire. They worshiped in secret until the 12th century when the Roman Catholic Church wanted to combat the spread of pagan beliefs or separatists from the Christian faiths. In the time of the Inquisition, the first "witch hunts," were not meant for pagan peoples, but those who had lost their faith in God. With the spread of a cult sect called Catharism, the prosecution of heretics became more frequent. (Catharism, a group of Christians who believed that Satan was the Creator of the world).
Witch trials began in the 15th century. The world's ills, (poverty, freezing weather, failing crops, rising crime,) were blamed on witches. Pope Innocent VIII systemized the persecution of witches. "It has recently come to our ears, not without great pain to us, that in some parts of upper Germany, [...] Mainz, Koin, Trier, Salzburg, and Bremen, many persons of both sexes, heedless of their own salvation and forsaking the catholic faith, give themselves over to devils male and female, and by their incantations, charms, and conjurings, and by other abominable superstitions and sortileges, offences, crimes, and misdeeds, ruin and cause to perish the offspring of women, the foal of animals, the products of the earth, the grapes of vines, and the fruits of trees, as well as men and women, cattle and flocks and herds and animals of every kind, vineyards also and orchards, meadows, pastures, harvests, grains and other fruits of the earth; that they afflict and torture with dire pains and anguish, both internal and external, these men, women, cattle, flocks, herds, and animals, and hinder men from begetting [...]"
Women (and men) that were accused of witchcraft would face torture, ridicule, and ultimately death. While the recorded number of deaths during the witch trials are recorded in the thousands, many historians believe that the number is higher... millions of lives tortured, raped, and burned alive.
Source: "Christianity and Paganism in the fourth to eighth century," Yale University Press, 1997.
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Pros and Cons of Monotheism to Polytheism
Message: forgiven by trusting in God's love and mercy.
Power over People: Prayer, Holy Bible, Trinity, Church, miracles
Percentage of People that Practice: 85% (Monotheism) 55% (Christian)
Thoughts on Life: Trusting God in salvation and daily life.
Thoughts on Death: One soul, risen to either Heaven or Hell.
Thoughts on Magic: Only the Divine can use magic. Humans that do are evil.
Tolerance: To other Monotheistic cultures: capable. Polytheism: low.
Sects: Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Mormon
Cons: Most believe they have a mission from God to make the world believe in this religion ONLY. They can be arrogant, close-minded, bullies, and believe that all believers in different faiths are being guided away from God by Satan.
Message: Expand knowledge along with their understandings of spirit, nature, and beliefs.
Power over People: Prayer, oral story, spells, craft, nature.
Percentage of People that Practice: 1-10% (Other religions)
Thoughts on Life: Energy is a cycle that we establish around ourselves each moment of our lives.
Thoughts on Death: The energy will return. Either in I, or Heaven, or another form, it will always exist.
Thoughts on Magic: Energy manipulation to do good or heal. Those that do not will be punished three-fold.
Tolerance: High tolerance to all religions.
Sects: Wicca, Druidism, Celtic, Egyptian, Norse
Cons: There are dark conjurers, dark believers, spells fail and can kill. Public knowledge can cause rifts in friendships, jobs, life. People still believe that these beliefs are demonic.