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(thē`ĭzəm), in theology and philosophy, the belief in a personal God. It is opposed to atheism and agnosticism and is to be distinguished from pantheismpantheism
[Gr. pan=all, theos=God], name used to denote any system of belief or speculation that includes the teaching "God is all, and all is God." Pantheism, in other words, identifies the universe with God or God with the universe.
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 and deism (see deistsdeists
, term commonly applied to those thinkers in the 17th and 18th cent. who held that the course of nature sufficiently demonstrates the existence of God. For them formal religion was superfluous, and they scorned as spurious claims of supernatural revelation.
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). Unlike pantheists, theists do not hold God to be identical to the universe. Like deists, they believe that God created the universe and transcends it; unlike the deists, they hold that God involves himself in human affairs. For a summary of the arguments that support theism, see GodGod,
divinity of the three great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as many other world religions. See also religion and articles on individual religions. Names for God

In the Old Testament various names for God are used.
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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In the broadest sense, theism means a belief in God. The general implication, however, is that the belief is held in a conscious and rational manner; hence theism is usually applied only to a system of beliefs that has some claim to be regarded as a philosophy. Wiccans are considered polytheists, believing in more than one god. They might also be regarded as pantheists, believing that the divine is in all of Nature.

Theism is the direct antithesis of atheism, which is a denial of the existence of a god. Theism is also distinguished from deism, a belief held by a group of eighteenth-century writers on natural religion who thought of god and the world as being quite separate and distinct.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a religious world view proceeding from an understanding of absolute being as an infinite divine person who is transcendent to the world and who created the world in a free act of will and continues to control it. (In orthodox Christianity, god is understood as a “trinity” of three such persons.)

Acceptance of the transcendancy of god distinguishes theism from pantheism. In theism, god is conceived as the source of the being of all things yet is separate from all things. (Catholic theology, however, postulates an “analogy of being” between the being of god and the being of things.) Theism differs in this both from monistic mysticism, with its concept of the identity between god and the world, and the pantheistic concept of emanation, by which the world is described as naturally and necessarily emanating from the fullness of divine being. The acceptance of the continuing, conscious, active role of god in the world distinguishes theism from deism and accounts for the concepts of divine providence and the miracles that are characteristic of theism.

Theism developed in its purest form within the framework of three genetically linked religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The term “theism” was first used by the English philosopher R. Cudworth.

Marxism-Leninism’s critique of theism as a type of religious world view is based on the general principles of the critique of any form of religious consciousness. (SeeRELIGION.)

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the form of the belief in one God as the transcendent creator and ruler of the universe that does not necessarily entail further belief in divine revelation
2. the belief in the existence of a God or gods
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005