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Monolatrism or monolatry (Greek: μόνος (monos) = single, and λατρεία (latreia) = worship) is the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity. The term was perhaps first used by Julius Wellhausen.
Monolatry is distinguished from monotheism, which asserts the existence of only one god, and henotheism, a religious system in which the believer worships one god alone without denying that others may worship different gods with equal validity.
In ancient Israel 
||The neutrality of this section is disputed. (April 2012)|
||This article contains too many or too-lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (April 2012)|
Recognized scholars have formulated a substantial case for ancient Israel's practice of monolatry.
"The highest claim to be made for Moses is that he was, rather than a monotheist, a monolatrist. ... The attribution of fully developed monotheism to Moses is certainly going beyond the evidence."
"As absolute monotheism took over from monolatry in Israel, those who had originally been in the pantheon of the gods were demoted to the status of angels."
"The exclusivity of the relationship between Yahweh and Israel is an important element in Israel's oldest religious tradition. However, it is not necessary to ascribe the present formulation of the commandment ["you shall have no other gods before me"] to a very early stage of the tradition, nor is it advantageous to interpret the commandment as if it inculcated monotheism. The commandment technically enjoins monolatry, but it can be understood within a henotheistic religious system."
"In the ancient Near East the existence of divine beings was universally accepted without questions. As for unicity, in Israel there is no clear and unambiguous denial of the existence of gods other than Yahweh before Deutero-Isaiah in the 6th century B.C. … The question was not whether there is only one elohim, but whether there is any elohim like Yahweh."
This was recognised by Rashi in his commentary to Deuteronomy 6:4 that the declaration of Shema accepts belief in one god as being only a part of Jewish faith at the time of Moses, but would eventually be accepted by all humanity.
Some scholars claim the Torah (Pentateuch) shows evidence of monolatrism in some passages. This argument is normally based on references to other gods, such as the "gods of the Egyptians" in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 12:12). The Egyptians are also attributed powers that suggest the existence of their gods; in Exodus 7:11-13, after Aaron transforms his staff into a snake, Pharaoh's magicians do likewise.
This, however, does not seem to mean that the other gods were considered to deserve this name, in the sense that they had no real power or property; and later prophet Jeremiah confirms that they did not create the Earth and are going to perish.
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine —Exodus 19:5
Tell them this: "These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens." —Jeremiah 10:11
In Christianity 
The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, writes that "an idol has no real existence" and "there is no God but one" (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). He argues that "although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth", "yet for us there is one God". The reason is that only the one god created the Universe ("God, the Father, from whom all things came", "Jesus Christ, through whom all things came"). In verse five, Paul carefully distinguishes between actual divine beings and things that are incorrectly called gods. [This statement itself is correct. "5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)" Things called gods, and things that are gods and lords.] However, in vs. 5, it says that "there are many gods, and many lords" (NKJV, NASB, etc., while some translators put "gods" and "lords" in quotes). In his second letter to the Corinthians when he refers to "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), he is generally interpreted as referring to the devil or the material things put before God, such as money, rather than acknowledging any separate deity from God. In addition, in Isaiah 44:6, God states "I am the first and the last, beside me there is no god".
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) teaches that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three distinct beings belonging to one Godhead. "They are one in purpose. They are perfectly united in bringing to pass Heavenly Father's plan of salvation."  Latter-day Saints further believe that prayer should be directed at God the Father only, in the name of Jesus Christ. "From the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets, we know that we are to worship God the Father and pray to Him only." 
Member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Jeffrey R. Holland has stated, "We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance." 
Latter-day Saints interpret Jesus' prayer in John 17:11, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are," to refer to the characteristics, attributes and purpose that the Son shares with the Father, in hopes that people can some day share in those as well. In Mormonism, being one with God means gaining immortality, perfection, eternal life, and reaching the highest level in his kingdom. As D. Todd Christofferson states, "we may become one with God" as Jesus did.
Joseph Smith taught that humans can become joint-heirs with Christ, and thereby inherit from God all that Christ inherits, if they are proven worthy by following the laws and ordinances of the gospel. This process of exaltation means that humans can literally become gods through the atonement; thus, "god" is a term for an inheritor of the highest kingdom of God. This allows for the existence of many gods in the future, but only one as ruler over life in this universe.
To the extent that monolatry is considered not-monotheism, the classification of Mormonism as monolatrous is strongly disputed among Latter-day Saints. Bruce R. McConkie stated that "true saints are monotheists." 
Some respondents to the claim that Mormonism is monolatrous suggest the need for a more complex understanding of monotheism and monolatry going beyond limited dictionary definitions. 
- Frank E. Eakin, Jr. The Religion and Culture of Israel (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1971), 70.
- Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, second edition (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1979), 351.
- Frank E. Eakin, Jr. The Religion and Culture of Israel (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1971), 70 and 263.
- Frank E. Eakin, Jr. The Religion and Culture of Israel (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1971), 107 and 108.
- John Day, "Canaan, Religion of," in David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary, six volumes (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 1:835.
- Raymond F. Collins, "Ten Commandments," in David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary, six volumes (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 6:385.
- John J. Scullion, "God (OT)," in David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary, six volumes (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 2:1042.
- John McKenzie, "Aspects of Old Testament Thought" in Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, eds., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990), 1287, S.v. 77:17.
- "1 Corinthians 8:5b, in the NKJV and several versions". Retrieved 19 March 2013.
- Isaiah 44:6
- What do we know about the nature of the Godhead?, LDS Church
- Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, LDS Church
- Jeffrey R. Holland, The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent
- D. Todd Christofferson (October 2002), "We will not be one with God and Christ until we make Their will and interest our greatest desire.", LDS General Conference
- Widmer, Kurt (2000), Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830-1915, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, p. 6, ISBN 978-0-7864-0776-7, OCLC 43615415 page=92.
- Barry R. Bickmore, Of Simplicity, Oversimplification, and Monotheism
- Re: Polytheism
Further reading 
- Robert Needham Cust (1895). Essay on the Common Features which Appear in All Forms of Religious Belief. Luzac & Co.
- Robert Wright (journalist), The Evolution of God (2009) (esp. pages 132 et seq discussing conflict between Elijah and Jezebel).
- Mike Schroeder, author of 85 Pages In The Bible; Llumina Press 2005
- Moses and Monotheism
- The Biblical Idea of Idolatry by Jose Faur, differentiating the monolatry authorized by the Bible from the idolatry/iconolatry which is proscribed therein