Monotheism in Christianity: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:00 What is Monotheism?
  • 0:31 Monotheism in Christianity
  • 1:01 Medieval…
  • 2:19 Modern Christian Division
  • 3:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Juli Yelnick

Juli has traveled the world engaging in cultural immersion experiences that bring her Master of Liberal Studies findings to light.

Do you believe in one 'God?' How about one God that manifests in three different ways? This lesson explores the way that Christians describe their belief in one God.

What Is Monotheism?

Monotheism is one of two major styles of religious belief in the world. Monotheism means the belief in only one god. By contrast, polytheism means the belief in the existence of multiple gods or goddesses. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are the three major world religions that consider themselves monotheistic, although Christianity has a more complex explanation of 'one God' than Judaism and Islam do.

Monotheism in Christianity

Christians believe in one God, the God of Abraham, just as members of the Jewish faith and Muslim faith do. Indeed, these three ancient religions all stem from the covenant that God made with Abraham, causing the many similarities that we can identify amongst the three religions today.

However, Christians are unique in that they believe that this one God exists as three beings: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This concept of these three facets of one God is known as the 'Trinity' in the Christian faith.

Medieval Interpretations of the Trinity

While most Christians do believe in the Trinity, there have been some disagreements within the Church throughout its approximately 2,000-year history. In the year 1054 A.D., the Christian Church experienced the 'Great Schism,' which is when the Western portion of the Christian Church, headed in Rome, became effectively separated from the Eastern portion of the Christian Church, which was then headed up in Constantinople. One of the items that drove a wedge between the two groups was the interpretation of the Trinity.

Roman Catholic Christians, as the Western portion of the Christian Church has been known since the Great Schism, interpret the Trinity as one Godhead made up of three divine beings: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Eastern Orthodox Church, as the Eastern portion of the Christian Church has been known since the Great Schism, views the Holy Trinity in a similar fashion, but with one notable distinction.

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