Panentheism (from Greek "Polytonic|πᾶν" (pân) "all"; "Polytonic|ἐν" (en) "in"; and "Polytonic|θεός" (Theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from
pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe. [cite web
title= The Worldview of Panentheism - R. Totten, M.Div - © 2000| publisher=Web page| accessdate=2007-10-14]
In panentheism, God is not exactly viewed as the creator or demiurge but the eternal animating force behind the universe, with the universe as nothing more than the manifest part of God. The cosmos exists within God, who in turn "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe and that the universe is contained within God. [cite book
title= The Encyclopedia of Christianity pg. 21
publisher= Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
author = Erwin Fahlbusch, Geoffrey William Bromiley, David B. Barrett
year = 1999
isbn = 0802824161] Panentheism holds that God is the "supreme affect and effect" of the universe.Fact|date=September 2008
North American Indians were and still are largely panentheistic, conceiving of God as both immanent in Creation and
transcendentfrom it. (Indian writers have also translated the word for God as the Great Mystery [ Russell Means, "Where White Men Fear To Tread" (Macmillan, 1993), pp. 3-4, 15, 17.] or as the Sacred Other [George Tinker (Osage), , p. 89. He defines the Sacred Other as "the Deep Mystery which creates and sustains all Creation".] ) An exception is the Cherokeewho were monotheistic. [ [http://www.peoplesoftheworld.org/text?people=Cherokee Peoples of the World: The Cherokee] , website found 2008-03-24.] Most South American peoples were largely panentheistic as well (as were ancient South East Asian and African cultures).Fact|date=February 2007 The Central American empires of the Mayas, Aztecs as well as the South American Incans (Tahuatinsuyu) were actually polytheistic and had very strong male deities. Neoplatonismand Hermeticismare polytheistic and panentheistic. Plotinustaught that there was an ineffable transcendent "God" (The One) of which subsequent realities were emanations. From the One emanates the Divine Mind ( Nous) and the Cosmic Soul (Psyche). In Neoplatonismthe world itself is God. This concept of God is closely associated with the " Logos" as stated in the 5th century BCworks of Heraclitus(ca. 535– 475 BC), in which the "Logos" pervades the cosmosand whereby all thoughts and things originate; e.g., "He who hears not me but the Logos will say: All is one."
Development of a formal philosophy
The German philosopher
Karl Christian Friedrich Krause(1781–1832) seeking to reconcile monotheismand pantheism, coined the term "panentheism" ("all in God") in 1828. This conception of God influenced New England transcendentalistssuch as Ralph Waldo Emerson. The term was popularized by Charles Hartshornein his development of process theologyand has also been adopted by proponents of various New Thought beliefs. However despite formalization of this term in the west as late as the 18th century, the formal analysis of panentheism is not new; for example, philosophical treatises have been written on it in the context of Hinduismfor millennia.
Beginning in the 1940s, Hartshorne examined numerous conceptions of God. He reviewed and discarded pantheism,
deism, and pandeismin favor of panentheism, finding that "panentheistic doctrine contains all of deism and pandeism except their arbitrary negations." Hartshorne formulated God as necessarily being able to become "more perfect," contending that God had absolute perfection in categories for which absolute perfection was possible, and relative perfection (i.e., was superior to all others) in categories for which perfection can not be precisely determined. [Charles Hartshorne, "Man's Vision of God and the Logic of Theism" (1964) ISBN 0-208-00498-X p. 348]
Panentheism and Religion
Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity
In Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity, creation is not "part of" God, and the Godhead is still distinct from creation; however, God is "within" all creation, thus the parsing of the word in Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity is "pan-entheism" (God indwells in all things) and not "panen-theism" (All things are part of God but God is more than the sum of all things).
The Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches have a doctrine called panentheism to describe the relationship between the Uncreated (
God, who is omnipotent, eternal, and constant) and His creation that bears surface similarities with the panentheism described above but maintains a critical distinction.
Most specifically, these Churches teach that God is not the "watchmaker God" of the Western
European Enlightenment. Likewise, they teach that God is not the "stage magician God" who only shows up when performing miracles. Instead, the teaching of both these Churches is that God is not merely necessary to have created the universe, but that His active presence is necessary in some way for every bit of creation, from smallest to greatest, to continue to exist "at all". That is, God's energies maintain all things and all beings, even if those beings have explicitly rejected Him. His love of creation is such that he will not withdraw His presence, which would be the ultimate form of slaughter, not merely imposing death but ending existence, altogether. By this token, the entirety of creation is sanctified, and thus no part of creation can be considered innately evil. This does not deny the existence of evil in a fallen universe, only that it is not an "innate" property of creation.
This Orthodox Christian panentheism is distinct from a
fundamentalistpanentheism in that it maintains an ontological gulf or distance between the created and the Uncreated.
Other Christian panentheists
Panentheistic God-models are exceptionally common amongst professional theologians (
exegetes, Christian ethicists, and religious philosophers). Process theology, Creation Spiritualityand Panentheist Circle, three Christianviews, contain panentheistic worldviews. Their models of panentheism are distinct from that of the Orthodox Churches. A similar statement attributed to Jesusby the and interpreted by the New Thought movement as being synonymous: "The Father and I are one."
Some argue that panentheism should also include the notion that God has always been related to some world or another, which denies the idea of creation out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo).
Thomas Jay Oordadvocates panentheism, but he uses the word "theocosmocentrism" to highlight the notion that God and some world or another are the primary conceptual starting blocks for eminently fruitful theology. This form of panentheism helps in overcoming the problem of evil and in proposing that God's love for the world is essential to who God is.
Panentheism was a major force in the Unitarian church for a long time, based on
Ralph Waldo Emerson's concept of the Oversoul. This survives today as the panentheistic religion, Oversoul. [http://www.hi-des-website.com/oversoul/nav5plus.htm] Charles Hartshorne, who conjoined process theology with panentheism, maintained a lifelong membership in the Methodist church but was also a Unitarian. In later years he joined the Austin, TX Unitarian Universalist congregation and was an active participatent in that church. [http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/charleshartshorne.html]
Many Christians who believe in
Universalismhold Panentheistic views of God in conjunction with their belief in apocatastasis, also called universal reconciliation. [For example, see http://www.savioroftheworld.net/conclusion.htm and http://www.newbeginningministries.com/articles/Oneness_True_Spiritual_Life.html] Christian Universalistsoften point to Bible verses such as Ephesians 4:6 (" [God] is over all and through all and in all") and Romans 11:36 ("from [God] and through him and to him are all things") to justify both Panentheism and Universalism.
Panentheism in Judaism
Panentheism is often viewed as component of
Hasidic Judaismand Kabbalah. Aspects of Panentheism are also evident in the theology of Reconstructionist Judaismas presented in the writings of Mordecai Kaplan.
Panentheism in Islam
Sufisaints and thinkers, primarily Ibn Arabi, held beliefs that were somewhat panentheistic. These notions later took shape in the theory of wahdat ul-wujud(the Unity of All Things). Twelver Shi'ismhas a panentheistic trend, represented by scholars such as Sayyid Haydar Amuli, Mulla Sadra, and Ayatollah Khomeini(all of whom were influenced by Ibn Arabi). Some Sufi Orders, notably the Bektashis, continue to espouse panentheistic beliefs. Likewise, the Universal Sufi movement, which is inspired by Islam but is a form of Sufism separate from Islam. Nizari Ismailifollow panentheism according to Ismaili doctrine.
Panentheism in the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith, God is described as a single, imperishable God, the creator of all things, including all the creatures and forces in the universe. The connection between God and the world is that of the creator to his creation.cite encyclopedia |last= Smith |first= Peter |encyclopedia= A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith |title= God |year= 2000 |publisher=Oneworld Publications |location= Oxford |id= ISBN 1-85168-184-1 |pages= p. 116] God is understood to be independent of his creation, and that creation is dependant and contingent on God. God, however, is not seen to be part of creation as he cannot be divided and does not descend to the condition of his creatures. Instead, in the Bahá'í understanding, the world of creation from God, in that all things have been realized by him and have attained to existence.cite book |author = `Abdu'l-Bahá |authorlink = `Abdu'l-Bahá |origdate = 1904-06 |year = 1981 |title = Some Answered Questions |publisher = Bahá'í Publishing Trust |location = Wilmette, Illinois, USA |id = ISBN 0877431906 |url = http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-53.html.iso8859-1#gr5 | pages = p. 202-203 ] Creation is seen as the expression of God's will in the contingent world,cite encyclopedia |last= Smith |first= Peter |encyclopedia= A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith |title= creation |year= 2000 |publisher=Oneworld Publications |location= Oxford |id= ISBN 1-85168-184-1 |pages= p. 164-165] and every created thing is seen as a sign of God's sovereignty, and leading to knowledge of him; the signs of God are most particularly revealed in human beings.
Panentheism in Hinduism
Brahmanis the transcendent and immanent Ultimate Reality of Hinduism. Many schools of Hinduism are panentheistic and the first and most ancient ideas of panentheism originate in the Vedas, Upanishads, as well as the " Bhagavad Gita". The Purusha Suktaand Hiranyagarbha Sukta of Rig Vedaand verses from the Bhagavad Gitaand Shri Rudramsupport this viewpoint. Panenthestic views are stated explicitly in several stotras.
Krishnasays to Arjuna: "I pervade and support the entire universe by a very small fraction of My divine power". ( Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, verse 42)
The Vedasara Shivastotram says, "It is you from whom this universe of forms emerges, and it is you within whom it stays. It is you in whom it finally disappears". [http://www.shaivam.org/ssvedasarast.htm]
The panentheistic view of Hinduism has been termed by some scholars as
monistic theism. For example, in Vaishnavism, it is interesting to note that the schools were all panentheistic. Vallabha's school of pure monism Shuddhadvaita, Nimbarka's school of differential monism Dvaitadvaita, and Ramanuja's school of qualified monism Vishistadvaitaare all panentheistic. Additionally, Gaudiya Vaishnavismis also panentheistic, which was presented by Lord Caitanyaas the doctrine of Acintya Bheda Abheda[Caitanya Caritamrita, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust] (Acintya=inconceivable Bheda=difference Abheda=oneness). In Saivitetheology, some schools of Saiva Siddhantaand Kashmir Shaivismare also panentheistic.
Panentheism is the view that the universe is part of the being of God, as distinguished from pantheism ("all-is-God doctrine"), which identifies God with the total reality. In contrast, panentheism holds that God pervades the world, but is also beyond it. He is immanent and transcendent, relative and Absolute. This embracing of opposites is called dipolar. For the panentheist, God is in all, and all is in God. --
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
Gnosticism, Manichaeism, and Kabbalism
Some branches of
Gnosticismbelieve in a panenthiestic view and hold the belief that Godexists only as sparks of light in the visible material world. We need to know the sparks within ourselves to get back to God who is in the Fullness or Pleroma. This rigid dualism is seen most clearly in the teachings of Manichaeism.
Gnosticism is Panentheistic, believing that the true
Godis separate from the physical universehowever, there are aspects of the true God in the physical universe as well. Thus, "All-In-God" as stated in one of the Sayings of Gospelof Thomas: "Lift Up A Stone And You Will Find Me There..." This seemingly contridictory interpretion of Gnosticism's theology is not without controversy. Since a good God would not manifest or work through the evil or fallen material world of the demiurge.Fact|date=August 2008
Valentinian Gnosticism claims that matter came about through emanations of the supreme being, and to some this event is held to be more of an accident than of being on purpose.Fact|date=September 2008 To other Gnostics, the emanations are akin to the
Sephiroth of the Kabbalists- description of the manifestation of God through a complex system of reality.
New Thought Movement
Religious Science, and Divine Scienceare denominations that represent a panentheistic worldview within the New Thoughtbelief system.
Panentheism is an integral concept in many "New Age" philosophies; it is supported most specifically by the Seth readings given by the psychic
Jane Roberts(1929-1984). Seth, the "entity" whom Roberts purportedly channeled, said that God is composed of mental energy, that God's mental energy is the formative substance of all beings and things, and that God's consciousness is carried on this energy, thus making God's consciousness omnipresent. Seth frequently referred to God as "All That Is" and said "All faces belong to God." Seth described God as a gestalt of all the individuals within it; he said that God knows itself as itself, yet also knows itself as each individual. See Cosmotheism.
New Thought Movement
John B. Cobb
Thomas Jay Oord
* [http://www.stnews.org/package-7-414.htm List of Panentheists]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-150936448344699981&q=quantum&time=1260000 Arthur Peacocke] , winner of the 2001
Templeton Prizeand theology faculty member at Oxford University
* [http://christiancadre.org/topics/panentheism.html Christian Cadre, Panentheism Anyone?]
* [http://wildfaith.homestead.com/mcdaniel.html Dr. Jay McDaniel on Panentheism]
* [http://www.frimmin.com/faith/godinall.html Biblical Panentheism: God in All Things, by Jon Zuck]
* [http://www.panentheism.org.uk Panentheist Circle]
* [http://www.panentheism.com Symbiotic Panentheism]
* [http://meaningoflife.tv/video.php?speaker=polkinghorne&topic=complete John Polkinghorne on Panentheism]
* [http://panendeism.org/default.aspx Panendeism.org]
* [http://spiritualminded.blogspot.com/] Spiritual Minded
* [http://www.uj.edu/Media/Images/SCM/ContentUnit/3078_9_6695.pdf Panentheism Sources in Judaism compiled by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.