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In a religious system the belief that there is only one god and that there are no other competing gods.
Monotheistic faiths often come from centralized initiatives, demanding the total rejection a pluralism of gods. Monotheism is often linked to strong political powers, powers that define a strong relation between the one ruler and the one single god; the ruler secures the faith in the god, and the god bestows his blessings and legitimacy upon the ruler.
It could also be claimed that monotheism is a natural development in the history of religions, as most present monotheistic religions were first defined in polytheistic cultures.
Still, few religions have ever developed pure monotheism. Most religious systems tend to account for a pluralism of powers in the world, and while these are called something else but "gods", they have in reality qualities and powers that are strong enough to qualify for being gods in polytheistic religions.
In Christianity, Jesus and the Holy Spirit form together with God the Trinity. Modern Sunni Islam has lifted Muhammad up to perfection, and Twelver Shi'i Islam defines its imams in a manner that differs little from secondary gods of polytheistic structures. In Christianity, Judaism and Islam, there have been strong belief in holy men and women. In Judaism and Islam this aspect of religion is losing popularity and is rejected by religious leaders. In all religions there is the belief in a devil as well as angels and different demons.
A variant of monotheism is henotheism, which is the preference of one god, but where one accepts that there are several gods in the world.

By Tore Kjeilen