Henotheism – meaning one god – is a term referring to a belief that divinity is fundamentally a unity but reveals itself in multiplicity.

This is argued to be a correct interpretation of some religions usually called polytheism – such as the Ancient Egyptian and Greek religions (in some formulations, anyway).

For example, ‘the gods’ are often described in terms of generations going back to some single primal source – so there is an hierarchy of gods from more ancient, remote, abstract and fundamental entities, coming down to more recent and specifically relevant gods.

Some people have suggested that Henotheism also describes Mormonism – but it doesn’t.

The reason is that Mormonism is a about ultimate deities who are personages. There are, indeed, (at least) two generations of deity in Mormonism: God the Father (and Heavenly Mother) giving birth to the next generation; which includes Jesus Christ and Men and Women.

Jesus Christ becomes divine in the same way as God the Father – then lives a genuinely mortal life and experiences real mortal death; and Men and Women are hoped and intended to follow the same route.

As far as the second generation goes, the direction is away from the abstract impersonality of the eternal ‘intelligences’ as which Men and Women originated; and towards fuller and more concrete personhood as first spirit children of God, then incarnate spirit children, then resurrected incarnate spirit children. In other words, the opposite direction from Henotheism.

In Mormonism there is also the suggestion that there will potentially be further (third, and beyond) generations of Men and Women – potentially recapitulating the path of the second generation.

So while there is a partial similarity between ancient Henotheism and modern Mormonism – this is misleading, because the dissimilarities are even greater; and these make a profound difference to the underlying metaphysical model of divinity.

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