The following academic paper highlights the up-to-date issues and questions of Ethical Monotheism. This sample provides just some ideas on how this topic can be analyzed and discussed.
God is made known in as many ways as there are types of people in the world, but it is always the same God, ruling the world by rational rules. This theology is called ethical monotheism. Monotheism is the belief in one true God. Monotheists believe that their God is the one and only God and any other God is a ‘fake’.
People are monotheists if they believe that there is only one God who is holy or distinct, separate, special different and set apart; for monotheists, God is not part of the universe, but He transcends it. The world is changeable and finite whereas, God is perfect and infinite. Judaism was, many years ago, a monolatrous faith.
This means that Jews believed in one God but understood others existed. Others at that time were polytheist, as they believed in lots of different Gods.
Then after the Ten Commandments, God told his people to worship the one true God. From then on Judaism became a monotheistic faith. Monotheism and monolatory are similar but different terms. In order to be monotheistic you have to just believe in only one God and not accept any others but him. In order to be monolatrous, you again believe and worship one God however; you know and understand other Gods.
Ethical monotheism is the term used to indicate belief in one God, who is concerned with people’s moral behaviour.
The belief is that God sets the moral rules by which people should live, and judges them according to the ways in which they behave. The primary belief of Judaism is that God is one. God is a single unity that is undivided, indivisible and unique. The first prayer of the Jewish faith is a declaration of this conviction: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one!” Many verses in the scriptures support the oneness of God. In biblical times there were battles against paganism or the belief in many Gods, all of whom control different aspects of the universe. They were seen to be humans who had surrealistic powers. The Jewish God however is not like that. He is the ultimate subject. He is the cause of everything there is; he is the source of all existence, the single and indivisible being. A threat to the unity of God is that of dualism or the belief in two great forces for example a light God and a dark God. Also trinitarianism went against the unity of God, however, believers insist that they believe in one God but he manifests in three persons: the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
God is also eternal or above and outside of time. He is described as having no beginning and no end. God is neither subject to the laws of birth and death, renewal or decay. God was here before life began and will be here when life ends “thou hadst formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God” (Psalm 90:2). God is the one and only constant in a life which is full of ephemera, “He was before time and is not encompassed by it” (Bahya ibn Asher ibn Halawa) Linked closely with God being eternal is the belief God is infinite. Something that is described as being infinite means that it goes on forever. Therefore the same can be said of God.
Another attribute of an ethical monotheistic God is that he is holy. To be holy means you are different, separate and sacred. Holy was called by Rudolf Otto, the philosopher, as ‘the mystery which terrifies’ or ‘mysterium tremendum’. God’s holiness will always be impossible for us to comprehend as is it totally beyond us, the unknown. Holiness is said to be like a fire: it repels and attracts at the same time. All believers in a holy God have given expression to this holiness by designating certain places, people, and days. The whole nation of Israel, committed to such a holy God, felt itself under obligation to be holy (Leviticus 11:45).
According to the book of Genesis God is the source of the universe. The Genesis story explains how God worked for six days. It tells us he made the heavens, the earth, the land and the sea. He made food, the sun, the moon. He also created sea-creatures, insects, mammals and birds. Finally he said “let us make man in Our image” This belief in God the creator is now a main feature of the synagogue liturgical service. The congregation make a declaration in which they say God ‘is the author and guide of everything’. This proves God is intimately involved in the world that He made: every season, every birth, and every death. He is with us through every stage of his divine creation. In believing this Jews also believe that God is immanent and transcendent. This means that at the same time, God is close to each and every one of us and there is no escape from Him. Judaism teaches that God is both dwelling in everything (immanent) and beyond our understanding (transcendent).
The moral qualities attributed to God fall into two categories; his sterner qualities e.g. his righteousness and his justice and his gentler qualities e.g. his goodness. In the Hebrew bible as a whole the two categories are equally stressed and are seen as balancing each other. God created the world with justice and compassion. When God judges and punishes, his judgement is always fair and more importantly his punishment fits the crime with extreme precision. On the other hand when God rewards someone he does this too with extreme precision. These two together “measure for measure” basically his punishments match his rewards. Numbers, Chapter five contains an example of “measure for measure” when God punishes an adulterer by making her ‘body swell’. Whatever happens in the world happens because God wants it to be, it is God’s will.
God as judge indicates His authority and right to punish people for not living according to the standards of His expected behavior. In Torah He delivered His people from their enemies as long as the Israelites were obeying Him. However, when they disobeyed He allowed other nations to conquer Israel as punishment for disobeying. Since God is judge and since God knows everything we do there is no way He can be unjust in His judgement. As long as we have accepted God and are living our lives in a way that we are serving Him, then we are fulfilling God’s will.
Justice does not always prevail. However the Torah promises life after death. Everyone will rise from the grave and stand in Judgement. God will send those who are justified to the world to come. Those who God does not justify will cease to be. Jews know God will make the right decisions and will therefore dedicate their lives to him to prove to Him that they should be rewarded.
God is omnipresent. This means God fills the universe in all its parts and is present everywhere at once. Not a part, but the whole of God is present in every place. This is true of all three members of the Trinity. They are so closely related that where one is the others can be said to be, also. Therefore, when man is sinning God is there. If a child is doing something a parent has told him not to do, God is there. There is no place man can go to hide from God. God is also said to be omniscient; he knows everything. “Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up” (Psalm 139:1-3) God’s knowledge is out of space and time. Like Him, his knowledge is infinite and eternal. God knows our past and futures. No-one can hide anything from God.
An ethically monotheistic God has all the attributes I have mentioned above. God is concerned by everybody’s behaviour and shows these attributes in his caring role. God is perfectly good. God is goodness and goodness is God. Finally, it may be said that the belief in an Ethically Monotheistic God is the foundation of the Jewish Faith.
A1b) An ethically monotheistic God is a God who is concerned with people’s moral behaviour. This is important to Jews however to be monotheistic is seen to be the pinnacle of which the faith is based.
Actions are transformed by beliefs in a monotheistic God. Judaism is not a theory but a way of life. The first commandment is “Do Not worship any other Gods but me”. This means that God wanted all of his people to be faithful, true and loyal to him and only him.
Monotheistic beliefs contain ethically beliefs as God is good in everyway. Monotheism transforms ethical actions into acts of worship. Therefore as long as Jews believe in one God his ethical side will follow it basically is a means of unity: the Jews mission, to demonstrate what it means to walk in the palms of God. If a Jew helps someone like they were told to do “Love thy God and thy neighbour” then they are actively worshipping God in an ethical way. It is also important that the above command is actually not two separate commands but a united one.
In some systems of ethics, the believer can choose what the right way to behave is. In Judaism, the ethics are absolute. Rules regarding behaviour are laid down in the Torah. The task is to learn and follow them. However there is still a choice. They are not made to follow the law however, if they do or they don’t they still believe in God and that is said to be the most important.
Jews believe that God is all the attributes I have mentioned earlier on, therefore to believe in God is a belief in his ethical qualities. God is ethical. If he wasn’t then He wouldn’t be a supreme, supranatural being. Jews believe in the unity of God and his oneness. Therefore his ethical attributes are part of that.
However, if a Jew was asked which is more important, they would say to believe in the one true God. This is because if they don’t believe like a monotheist should then, in short they aren’t following God’s will and overall are not a true Jew.
Every faith is based upon the belief in God/s whether it is one God or many Gods. In this case it is the belief in one God, the belief in God is the most important thing to any believer. As long as they believe the rest of the faith will follow. In conclusion, it is better to believe than to base your beliefs on the way God acts.