On the Phenomenon of Serial Polytheism

Written by Dyami Millarson

What is said on page 578 of this work can be generally applied to monotheistic religions: “it became soon divided into an infinity of sects and systems.” Different nuances in the interpretation of the one Deity immediately lead to splits in monotheistic religions, such that serial polytheism is achieved. Monotheistic sects are worshipping different Gods because they interpret their one God differently. Having a different interpretation of God in monotheism effectively means worshipping another God, and therefore such deviations lead to sectarian splits and serial polytheism. One God leads to an endless series of new Gods. Serial polytheism may not occur within an monotheistic individual’s lifetime, but over the course of time, it will almost certainly happen. One historical example of serial polytheism is the conversion of Northwestern European countries from catholicism to protestantism.

This page explains — from a Christian perspective — the same point about there being different monotheistic Gods: “Many Muslims and Jews (and even some Christians) claim that all three monotheistic Abrahamic faiths worship the same God. But do Christians really worship the same God as the Jews, or the same God as the Muslims? Simply put, no, we do not. […] While Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are monotheistic religions asserting there is only one God, they disagree about who God is. Therefore, if who God is, is not consistent among the three systems, those systems cannot possibly worship the same God. The same could also be said within the umbrella of Christianity itself; the theology of the Roman Catholic and many Protestant churches paint the picture of a different God than the one known and loved in the authentic living Tradition of the Orthodox Church.”

In conclusion, there being multiple monotheisms means there is a polytheistic reality, i.e. a reality of people worshipping different Gods. The One God idea inevitably leads to sectarianism and serial polytheism, and thus a polytheistic reality is created from monotheism. This is not much different from ancient times where people devoted themselves to particular Gods. People like having a fully stocked shop; they like being able to pick different God ideas. It is like a market, and when there is plenty of choice, people can find the God idea they are looking for. Polytheism is the reality of a diverse market; monotheism tries to protect a market from developing diversity but inevitably ends up developing market diversity anyway.

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