DOI link for Panentheism
DOI link for Panentheism
Panentheism is the view that all things are contained within the divine, although God is also more than the world. In the ﬁrst place, then, it is a proposal about how we might conceive the relationship between God and world. The term as such does not appear in the Bible or in the classic creeds. But many philosophers and theologians today believe that it conveys insights that are crucial to the Christian tradition. Panentheism is also being aﬃrmed by Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu philosophers, among others (Biernacki and Clayton 2013). In this chapter, however, we concentrate on Western philosophy and on the Christian tradition. The concept of God in the oldest strata of the Hebrew Bible is not signiﬁcantly
panentheistic. Only in the later prophets and the intertestamental period does one begin to encounter a more mystical notion of God’s Spirit as permeating the cosmos. These tendencies are intensiﬁed in the “cosmic Christ” passages in the New Testament (Col. 1-2, Heb. 2:5 ﬀ., and esp. in the Prologue to John), which aﬃrm that all things came to be through Christ and that they exist in him. Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” (en Christo) some ninety-three times in the New Testament, emphasizing that Christians ﬁnd themselves actually dwelling in Christ. The gospel of John aﬃrms that believers exist in and participate in the Spirit. And Paul, speaking on the Areopagus in Athens, quoted a Greek poet in order to aﬃrm that “in [God] we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). The meaning of the word “panentheism” is “all-in-God.” But panentheism
actually stands for a whole family of theologies that aﬃrm a closer relationship between God and world than was allowed by many classical philosophical theologies. The theologies of many modern theologians have thus been called panentheistic, whether or not the term actually occurs in their writings. In its most generic sense, panentheism stands for any theology that emphasizes the closeness of God and a strong sense of God’s immanence within the world, as long as it does not fall into panentheism or atheism. Panentheists hold that creation takes place, and remains, within the being of God.
Thus the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church deﬁnes panentheism as “the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates the whole universe, so that every part of it exists in Him, but (as against Panentheism) that His Being is more than, and is not exhausted by, the universe.” In this view, God does not ﬁrst create a world of separately existing things and then later enter into this world to carry out the divine
will. Such a view, we claim, would be foreign to the biblical model of God. As we will see, developments within modern science make it harder to conceive of divine agency within the world unless the world already exists within and is permeated by the divine Spirit. Panentheism implies a twofold “in”: all created objects are in God, and God is in
all things. This “in” is not merely spatial or logical; it is meant to express a two-sided (dialectical) relationship, a relationship of being. No panentheists believe that this twofold relation makes ﬁnite things inﬁnite or “makes us God,” as pantheists may aﬃrm. Instead, we conceive persons as so closely linked to God that one can speak of them as being “within” God – yet without thereby becoming identical to God.