Jump to content
des

Panentheism 101

Recommended Posts

Ok, I threatened to introduce it, and now I will! And here I the ground rules:

1. You can't use any jargon terms unless you explain them so that the average intelligent

lay person can understand it. For example if you want to use "open theology" you need to explain what that is so we don't have to do websearches etc.

2. You can't quote articles unless they are in lay language.

3. The discussion should be accessible to an intelligent person who has not read this for years and years.

 

So here goes:

Here were ideas I gleaned from the other discussion. Panentheism is the idea that God is IN everything (God is everything is pantheism). We were discussing if this means that God ever is outside nature. There seems to be mixed opinions on that. I think God is both inside nature and by necessity outside as well. The reason for that is that there was a creation moment.** OTOH, it is my argument that God *needs* creation and humanity. Perhaps as a natural outgrowth of being God or just for some purpose like God needing us to be "hands and feet" or needing someone to be in awe of creation. We might even be co-creators, ie

we might need to "assist God in furthering creation", this might be thru arts and sciences or other means.

 

**(BTW, if you want to ask what God was doing *before* creation, maybe God was creating hell for people who ask those kinds of questions. ;-))

 

Ok any comments? Questions might be things like:

1. What'd'ya think of a panentheistic God?

2. Could such a God be personal and if so how?

3. Could such a God exist outside of the universe?

4. What do you think about the co-creator idea?

5. Do you think God "needs" creation? Why/Why not?

 

Btw, I am not so interested in a debate, and that's why I didn't put this in the debate section. The questions I listed were for discussion purposes, but don't need to be limited to these. Anybody from the other discussion is free to join this if they stick by the rules, which I can't enforce. :-) But I really want to discuss this and be able to. Thanks.

 

 

--des

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here were ideas I gleaned from the other discussion. Panentheism is the idea that God is IN everything
Panentheism is not that GOD is IN everything, it's that EVERYTHING is IN God. Think of a great big circle. That's God. Now think of an itty bitty circle inside of the big circle. That's us and everything else. Of course, it's not that simple, not that cut and dry. For example God (the big circle) "seeps into" the universe (the little circle).
1. What'd'ya think of a panentheistic God?

2. Could such a God be personal and if so how?

3. Could such a God exist outside of the universe?

4. What do you think about the co-creator idea?

5. Do you think God "needs" creation? Why/Why not?

1 - I believe that our relationship to God is panetheistic.

 

2 - A panentheistic God would be more personal than an "old man in the sky sitting completely outside the universe" God, because IN a panentheist God we live and move and have our being.

 

3 - Yes AND No. Yes, in that God is transcendant (and so is more than the universe or is also outside the universe) and no in that God is immanent (we live inside God like a fish in the ocean. God surrounds us and permeates us).

 

4 - I think co-creation is intrinsic in a panentheist God because if we exist inside of God then all we do helps co-create.

 

5 - To relate. To give and to receive. To love and to receive love. Etc ...

 

PS - I think these questions would have fit nicely in the other thread on panentheism. The only reason that thread moved over to discussing process theology was because of my initial question.

Edited by AletheiaRivers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for starting this des! The other one is interesting... but my eyes keep glazing over :P

 

1.I like the panentheistic idea.

 

2. God is personal - indwelling; active in the world without interfering in free will - kindof a Bruce Almightly type God.

 

3. Our universe? Yes. God is everywhere - to me

 

4. DK, doesn't really appeal... as noted in the McLaren thread... is that the same sort of create reality with your thoughts sort of thing?

 

5. No. I think he likes it... most of the time. A parent model comes to mind. Parents love there kids (most of the time :P ) and have a hard time imagining life without them...(sorry, drifted off to wealth and the carribean for a minute...) but would have had a good, if different, life without them.

 

Looking forward to everybody's opinions!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

God: A Panentheistic View

... or ignorance what that world is and can respond to it, taking fully into account

... the panentheistic idea of God as being immanent and transcendent. ...

http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/discontent/god.htm

 

Biblical Panentheism: God in all things

... Jesus is fully and completely human, but fully divine, as well. Panentheism

presents another one: God is completely transcendent, and yet, ...

http://www.frimmin.com/faith/godinall.html

 

MSN Encarta - God

... God may be conceived as transcendent (“above” the world), emphasizing his ...

in panentheism God is understood as both transcendent and immanent. ...

http://uk.encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761567455/God.html

Edited by BrotherRog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey this is great everybody. Yes, my eyes were starting to glaze over as well. Though I am still reading it. Aletheia, really I don't feel you have to feel bad about people responding like this. We aren't all geniuses. :-) But yet, as I said where else can you discuss God with a bipolar personality (or something)??? :-)

 

 

BTW, I am not going to stick to Aletheia's neat colors. But I might add she did a wonderful job. I might lose them. Who knows.

 

>>Here were ideas I gleaned from the other discussion. Panentheism is the idea that God is IN everything Panentheism is not that GOD is IN everything, it's that EVERYTHING is IN God. Think of a great big circle. That's God. Now think of an itty bitty circle inside of the big circle.

 

Yes, I see the difference. I think actually I just worded it backwards something like webdyslexia. :-)

 

 

>2 - A panentheistic God would be more personal than an "old man in the sky sitting completely outside the universe" God, because IN a panentheist God we live and move and have our being.

 

Yes I see that, and, gosh darn, Paul did say that (or was quoted as saying that anyway).

These ideas are not new Christianity or some kind of new thing a few radicals thoguht up. But are at the very heart of what we consider Christianity (and prob. Judiasm as well).

By personal I am not meaning an old man with a beard or Jesus for example, I mean the kind of God that knows everything there is to know about us personally. I have mixed feelings about that. Seems like a micromanager. And if God would know everything why doesn't he/she do more. Stop the Holocaust, stop the tsunamis? .

 

>3 - Yes AND No. Yes, in that God is transcendant (and so is more than the universe or is also outside the universe) and no in that God is immanent (we live inside God like a fish in the ocean. God surrounds us and permeates us).

 

Ok, I gather that as well. God must be both.

 

>4 - I think co-creation is intrinsic in a panentheist God because if we exist inside of God then all we do helps co-create.

 

Cynthia (I think). I don't think co-creation is some mumbo jumbo New Age sort of term.

It's the "all things work together for good" sort of thing. Its tangible with examples like (but totally not limited to): loving others, parenting, teaching, gardening, artistic creation, using our talents/gifts, stewardship of the Earth, etc. etc. Nothing fuzzy about it, imo. By doing these things, we act as part of God but we also create making new things possible (loving children, growing plants, artistic creations, sustainable ecosystems, etc.) At least this is my understanding. It's Jesus' caring for the "least of these".

 

>5 - To relate. To give and to receive. To love and to receive love. Etc ...

 

Yep, these are good. :-)

 

>PS - I think these questions would have fit nicely in the other thread on panentheism. The only reason that thread moved over to discussing process theology was because of my initial question.

 

I do too. But I'd like to see/be able to participate in as unjargon filled discussion as possible. I don't want to have to read for ten years before I am able to participate. As I said I don't hold any sort of ill-will or hard feelings.

 

Yes!!!! I did it-- the color thing! :-)

 

 

--des

Edited by des

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By personal I am not meaning an old man with a beard or Jesus for example, I mean the kind of God that knows everything there is to know about us personally. I have mixed feelings about that. Seems like a micromanager. And if God would know everything why doesn't he/she do more. Stop the Holocaust, stop the tsunamis? .

 

I knew you didn't mean an old man in the sky, but if only subconciously, most Christians do have that view/idea. I brought it up because, if you read the webpages that argue against panentheism, one of the arguments they use is that a panentheistic God ISN'T PERSONAL. :o I think to myself "Really?" how much more personal can you get?

 

As far as God knowing all there is to know about us? I'd say yes. Everything that can be known. That doesn't include a knowledge of the future as if the future has already happened and God can just look at it. This is my opinion of course.

 

As far as wondering why God didn't step in to stop the Holocaust or the Tsunami? It's hard for me to put my views into words without coming across as callous, but I'll try. Sorry if it's going to far off topic, but I think it's applicable to your original 5 questions.

 

My first thought is - Why do we consider it important for God to step in and prevent the deaths of LARGE amounts of people, but we don't get as equally worked up over just one death? Why is it the QUANTITY of deaths, all at once, that is important?

 

Over a period of months as many people die of every cause as happened in the tsunami. Why wouldn't it be just as important for God to step in and prevent every one of those deaths as well? If God is going to prevent the MASS deaths of people then he needs to prevent EVERY death, every minute of every day, because the life of a single person dying in a car accident is just as important as one dying in a tsuanami.

 

My second thought is - What would have been the long term consequence of God stepping in and stopping the holocaust? The saving of life would have been WONDERFUL. However, after that, what?

 

I would think it would be obvious that it was divine intervention that stopped the Holocaust. With the tsunami, I imagine God could have done it in a way that it would seem natural, but the Holocaust? It would have been obvious that it was a "miracle".

 

So now people KNOW without a doubt that there is a God. They have NO CHOICE but to believe. People would no longer be FREE to believe otherwise.

 

How would people start to act if they absolutely knew that God was "watching" their every move? (Not that God would do that.) I would think at first everything would be fine. As time went on however, I think humanity might start to feel a little, well, "stalked" is the word that comes to mind. We know God's there, watching, but we still can't see Him.

 

Would people choose to do good because they wanted to or would they choose to do good because they felt they HAD to? If you do something because you feel you HAVE to, are you truly doing it of your own free will?

 

I've heard so many ex-Christians say "I'll worship God as soon as he gives me proof he exists." I used to feel the same way. Now I believe that for God to do so would be a BAD thing. I think God wants sentient life to grow in love and to make this and every planet a "paradise". At that time we will have the "Kingdom of Heaven" on earth. But we have to WANT to do this FREELY and we mostly (not completely) have to do it on our own. :)

Edited by AletheiaRivers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My interests tend towards process philosoph/theology; which has a lot to say about panentheism. The following is a short section from a paper I wrote on how God acts in the world. (also, see the the book by Clayton and Peacocke)

 

Process thought rejects concepts of a distant, unengaged God in favor of a God that is everywhere present in the universe and experiences the universe. This is through and through a panentheistic ontology (Clayton and Peacocke 2004) and gives us a first hint as to how God is able to act in the world by virtue of God's imminence in it (Peacocke 1993, 157-160). In all panentheistic ontologies, the universe is said to be contained within God. Such theologies are motivated by the desire to explain the simultaneous experience of God's imminence and transcendence.

 

This belief is found in many of great religious traditions of the world. In Hinduism, which has been informed by millennia-old Indian philosophical thought, we find the teaching that the Self is intimately associated with the Absolute. This is expressed in the Chandogya Upanishad, the most ancient of the Upanishads, where it is proclaimed: "Tat tvam asi", That art thou (Radhakrishnan and Moore [1957] 1989, 69). These thoughts are the substance of a panentheistic concept of God in which we and all that is have our existence as a 'part' of God's being. Also, in Christianity we can see a panentheistic God. In the verse below, we find Paul quoting the philosopher-poet Epimenides and telling us of the human quest for God: "They would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him - though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For 'In him we live and move and have our being'." (Acts 17:27-28)

 

It has been argued that panentheism is not only consistent with humanity's experience of God but is what ultimately allows for the experience of God (Borg 1997, 32-54; Peacocke 1993, 157-160) .

 

 

Borg, Marcus J. 1997. The God We Never New - Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith. San Francisco: HarperSanFranscisco.

 

Clayton, Philip, and Arthur Peacocke, eds. 2004. In Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being - Panentheistic Reflections on God's Presence in a Scientific World. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

 

Peacocke, Arthur. 1993. Theology for a Scientific Age. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

 

Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, and Charles A. Moore, eds. [1957] 1989. A Source Book in Indian Philosophy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Edited by Ross

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great thread!

 

Re: proof of God - I think that is a decision you make on the front end of experience. There is proof of God all over the place - not big voice from the sky proof - on that I agree with Altheia - but proof that you can choose to interpret for or against the existence of God based on the incompleteness of the evidence. (I should get a cup of coffee down before trying philosophy!!!)

 

Re: co-creators - I think you're saying interconnectedness... which I believe in - all things being connected, perhaps as part of God (small circle)... (cellular intelligence/chaos theory) the species-centric part is where I diverge... I think that trees and bunnies do a much better job of being what/who they are... of fully taking part in their Godness and bunnieness than human beings do. Much about this in eastern meditation literature.

 

Re: tragedy/death in general... true Aletheia... I think it is the knee jerk reaction to loss of life (or terms of life) in a way that you cannot protect yourself from... lots of this in the news (Shiavo), but I haven't heard (given that I try hard not to listen to coverage, this may not be surprising ;) ) anyone talking about death in a way that makes sense to me... faith gave me a new take on death. It doesn't strike me as the worst thing... or even as a bad thing. If you are strongly christian, wouldn't death be something to look forward to??? Along with, of course, the grief of the people you would leave here for a while... but joyful overall??? I believe Paul speaks to this, feeling obligated to stay for the cause, but longing for death. I believe that christian funerals used to be joyful send-offs in some christian traditions. Oh death, where is thy sting.... I don't understand the "life" (defined as a beating heart) at all costs from a christian standpoint.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cynthia. Hi! :lol: (I wish there was a "waving" emoticon.)

 

There is proof of God all over the place - not big voice from the sky proof - on that I agree with Altheia - but proof that you can choose to interpret for or against the existence of God based on the incompleteness of the evidence.
I am truly flabergasted when I talk to those who don't believe in God and the reason, they say, is that there is no proof. Sure there's room for doubt. As I mentioned earlier, I think that is necessary, but I also (like you) think there is proof all over the place. :D
Re: co-creators - I think you're saying interconnectedness...
Interconnectedness is probably a better definition of what I believe as well. All life co-creates with God just by nature of the relationship of the universe to God (panentheism). I agree about other species doing a better job at being what they are. I know my cats are better at doing what cats do then I am at doing what a human is supposed to do. ;) Edited by AletheiaRivers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do I get to participate in this topic or is everything I have to offer too intellectual, too filled with jargon, and way above the heads of "lay" people?

 

This stuff doesn't seem near as difficult to me as, say, something like trigonomety!! :P

 

God: A Panentheistic View

... or ignorance what that world is and can respond to it, taking fully into account

... the panentheistic idea of God as being immanent and transcendent. ...

http://www.angelfire.com/zine2/discontent/god.htm

 

Biblical Panentheism: God in all things

... Jesus is fully and completely human, but fully divine, as well. Panentheism

presents another one: God is completely transcendent, and yet, ...

http://www.frimmin.com/faith/godinall.html

 

MSN Encarta - God

... God may be conceived as transcendent (“above” the world), emphasizing his ...

in panentheism God is understood as both transcendent and immanent. ...

http://uk.encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761567455/God.html

 

 

BrotherRog,

 

Excellent sites! Whereas these ideas were very isolated from the populace a few years back (was this due to some intellectual snobbery, or that the time for such ideas had not ripened?) I am amazed now at how abundant the sources have become!!

 

I especially like this from the second listed site:

 

No view of God is larger than the panentheistic view. All other theisms (deism, theism, polytheism, animism, pantheism, atheism) are fragmented theologies compared to panentheism. This is the ground for an inexhaustible faith-that God is present right now, in every cell of our bodies, in every beat of our hearts, in every person, in every star, in every loving thought, birthing every particle of every atom of the entire Creation into a constant stream of existence, the invisible Nothing and Nowhere that brings forth Everything and Everywhere. God in all things and all things in God invites wonder, and wonder invites all to touch God.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hopefully this will be understandable, but I think it is important to not be misled by analogies. I'm thinking particularly of the analogies AlethiaRiver provided of a little circle within a big circle, and a fish in the ocean. The problem for our understanding of panentheism, is just what is meant by the idea that the world is INCLUDED in God?

 

We can put a round porous object in a round fishbowl so that the water "seeps" into the object, but is this the sense that is meant by the panentheist? In what way does the ocean "include" the fish? The reason these analogies can be misleading, in my opinion, is that they imply the idea of "substance". Yeah, I know, I know... now I'm getting into concepts that are too "difficult". :angry: But, unless this difference is grasped between the modern concept of reality, and panentheism, (a substance ontology and an event ontology) you'll never really understand how, for instance, prayer can be effectual, God/dess can act, how we can be co-creators, and science can be integrated with values.

 

I'd like to suggest that, although all analogies can be misleading, that these two might provide a better understanding of what is meant by God "including" the universe:

 

1. The past is included in the present.

2. The teacher is included in the student.

 

BTW, it is as true to say that the world is included in God, as to say that God is included in the world. And when you get to the point when you ask in what way is this true, rather than immediately thinking that there is no way for this to be true, you will be ready to learn.

 

I'm still just trying to be helpful. :(

 

Don

Edited by PantaRhea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a lengthy and well thought out reply regarding my use of the circle and fish analogies, but I've decided for the moment not to post it.

 

The past few days have been hard ones for me both on this board and in my personal life. I imagine it's time for me to take a break because I can't help but think I'm not communicating very clearly. :(

Edited by AletheiaRivers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had a lengthy and well thought out reply regarding my use of the circle and fish analogies, but I've decided for the moment not to post it.

 

The past few days have been hard ones for me both on this board and in my personal life. I imagine it's time for me to take a break because I can't help but think I'm not communicating very clearly.  :(

 

 

Communicating by this method has its advantages and disadvantages, as we all know. A major disadvantage is that we often "read between the lines" in trying to make up for the missing verbal and visual signals that we so often rely on in order to discern the intent of another.

 

All this to say, as I read your message I read between the lines and detect some hurt and offense. And, reading my message I see some justification for it. I hope you understand that I had no intention of criticizing you personally and that my intention was to clarify, not condemn.

 

Please forgive me for my lack of tact and insensitivity. As the Quakers say, I'll hold you to the Light in my thoughts and ask that your days become lighter.

 

Don

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alethia-

 

Sorry for the tough time...hang in there, and rest in the Lord. I will be praying for you. As I have said before, while I may at times disagree, and at others not understand :D , you've always written with sincerity and in a very Christ-like manner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aletheia - Hang in cyberfriend... I get my feelings hurt here too. I don't think it's intended. Just the lack of 90% of communication (tone, expression, body language) :P Hope you'll come back!

 

Re: fish in ocean... I think that is the perfect analogy for panentheism. The fish is not necessary to the water but has a symbiotic relationship with it (environmentally); the fish is in and is permeable to and infused with the water and needs the water for survival. I would love to have God gills! Maybe the Pineal gland???? :P

 

Panta - the information isn't tough, and I enjoy your thoughts. The eyes glazing over part on the other thread, at least for me, involves the long semantic discussions. I have a hard time paying attention to subtle differences in definitions of words that I rarely run across and that no one seems to quite agree on! :blink: I enjoy the exchange of ideas... I thought the limit on jargon was an inspired thought by des. It seems we have a better shot at exchanging ideas rather than definitions. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the well wishes and support guys. :)

 

I'm not going anywhere, but more than likely won't be participating as much. We'll see. I'm a chatterbox and staying away could be more than I could handle. :P

 

God gills! :lol: I love it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the well wishes and support guys.  :) 

I'm not going anywhere, but more than likely won't be participating as much. We'll see. I'm a chatterbox and staying away could be more than I could handle.  :P

Glad to hear you're not running off! Anyway, I've been avoiding the Panentheism rooms more out of the fact that I barely have enough time to keep up with my own!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PantaR, actually I do think that you "splained" things well. :-)

 

Aletheia and PantaR,

I'm not trying to shut anyone up or out, but just trying to get a discussion going where I don't have to have a theology degree first. I never ever intended to hurt anyone's feelings. I feel you have a right to be as jargony as you want. It's just that, for some of us, jargon will knock us out of the ability to discuss anything. I'd have to read up for years to get to the place where I know what you guys are saying. Is this bad, a terrible thing? No-- I mean where will you take such thoughts? Talk at work? Church even? I don't think so. This is THE appropriate forum. OTOH, what if I want to talk about some topic that is being discussed and I don't get the vocabulary? The idea of starting the Panentheism 101 thing seemed like an ideal way to set some ground rules for making a topic understandable and accessible.

One of the forums I participate in has a "newbies" section. That might be an idea here.

What about Theology 101 forum or something??

 

 

Aletheia, I sure agree with what Darby said (well minus the disagree with most things you say part). I hope you feel ok with things. And gosh, am sorry if I contributed any to your feelings.

 

As for anybody using analogies. I think the trouble is, no analogies are perfect, and some are only partially workable. But in this case, analogies might be pretty much all we have. You can use circles and oceans and .... But we see how hard it is to put it into other types of language. You end up with lots of terms that have to be understood before used.

 

As for the waving icon, NO NO NO. :-)

 

 

--des

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RE: the "fish in the sea" analogy. My current visual image for God is something akin to a giant cosmic amoeba; i.e. a being that is distinct from Creation and yet fully able to surround all of it and yet has permeable boundaries. Granted, this image doesn't "preach" very well - so I tend to keep it to myself.. ; )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BroRog... can you imagine the discussion about asexual reproduction??? LOL

 

So, in this amoeba (is there an out of the amoeba?), are we like the mitochondria? Or part of the fluid?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Des, You didn't say or do anything to upset me. No worries. As for the waving icon, I should have qualified the statement: An icon with a hand that is beside the face, but that DOENS'T MOVE in any way. LOL! :D

 

BroRog: An ameoba is appropriate to what I was trying to say with the "leaky circle" comment. Permeable boundaries. Thank you. When I pray I am going to have a HARD time getting that amoeba visual out of my mind! :blink:

 

Cynthia: Hehehe. I used the word mitochondria in the Christology thread (I think) to ponder the difference between creation out of God "stuff" (a cell) or creation Ex Nihilo (a mitochondria). Too cool you mentioned it here.

Edited by AletheiaRivers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PS:

 

in this amoeba (is there an out of the amoeba?)

 

Ah ha! Exactly! :lol:

 

If God decided to create space outside himself (like classical theism says), how would you imagine it would happen?

 

I don't want to write more, because I think to do so would obscure my idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haha! God as the great ameoba! I think God would like it as I always considered that God has a great sense of humor. :-)

 

However, it does kind of remind me of a bad episode of Star Trek classic (I think there's one of those somewhere.) I think you should preach a sermon, see how many walk out. :-)

Hey I'd stick around.

 

Thanks re the non-moving waving hand, Aletheia. I had visions of the Admin. putting that in. (shudder). I was kind of interested in keeping my epilepsy controlled.

 

 

--des

Edited by des

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

About the circle within the circle etc metaphors.

All metaphors are limited, inadequate, technically incorrect.

But we do need some way to think about God.

Simplified ones, at first, do help shift our thinking.

 

Marcus Borg uses the circle within a circle metaphor:

God We Never Knew book, page 51, footnote 2.

"Of course these diagrams cannot be taken literally.

It does not make sense to think of either the universe

of God as having borders, as the ovals suggest."

 

We all can't take giant leaps to the other side.

We get there step by step.

 

When a person can break down complexed ideas,

and explain them simply, that, to me, indicates the

person knows the subject well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×