What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

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What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby Joe121589 » Mon Sep 18, 2017 9:39 pm

Im a little bit confused about this. I know its not pantheism in saying that God is the totality of all that exists. Yet from what I also know, creation does not exist independent of God. From what we experience, we are independent from anything that is not us. For example, I know I am not a chair, and I also recognize that I exist independent of the chair. But I dont exist independent of myself. So it is hard to imagine having a distinct existence from something my existence is dependent on. Then God is understood as being itself instead of being one being among many. Yet that begs the question of where creation fits in. Since according to our understanding of any form of creation, anything we create, say a painting would still say that both the painting an I are two beings. So I guess the question is do we relate to God as a different person, such as a friend, or as our innermost being, or both. IN Trinitarian language, I have heard the Holy Spirit compared to God within, Jesus as God as a friend and the Father as God in transcendence. Yet back to the Point, I dont know how correct this is to say, but does Panentheism say that we are neither distinct from God or are God himself? Or is that just a misconception?
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby DaveB » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:10 pm

Joe - it is a confusing subject, in many ways. 'Traditional' panentheism, as developed by Alfred North Whitehead and the 'Process Theology" school of thought represented by Charles Hartshorne, is very challenging philosophically and imo not much use for religious purposes.

'Popular' panentheism appeals to many, when it takes the form of a 'middle way' between Pantheism and Deism; for this kind of pantheism God is not the sum total of the universe, so to speak, nor is He a watchmaker that set everything up, wound it up, and away He went, not even a ghost in the machinery; rather, God is IN everything, as well as being transcendent 'ABOVE' everything.

Here is a poem by George MacDonald in the book by Rolland Hein, "The Harmony Within, the Spiritual Vision of George MacDonald" . I think this shows a definite leaning toward panentheism:
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All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby davo » Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:25 pm

“...the power and mercy of God’s grace is NOT limited to man’s ability to comprehend it...”
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby DaveB » Tue Sep 19, 2017 7:49 am

If you really want to work at it, here's a fairly reader-friendly presentation that avoids technicalities somewhat:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panentheism/
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Sep 19, 2017 8:41 am

Here's the Wiki and Calvinist Got Questions links on it:


Just a couple of footnotes here.

The Calvinist site does have problems with it - from a Calvinist perspective. The Wiki article says this:

Panentheism is also a feature of some Christian philosophical theologies and resonates strongly within the theological tradition of the Orthodox Church.[citation needed] It also appears in some Roman Catholic mysticism[citation needed] and in process theology.


Since I incorporate elements of Franciscan theology and contemplation...As well as elements of Eastern Orthodox/ Eastern Catholic theology...into my Charismatic Anglo-Catholic outlook... this would apply to me.
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby Joe121589 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:40 pm

Holy-Fool-P-Zombie wrote:Here's the Wiki and Calvinist Got Questions links on it:


Just a couple of footnotes here.

The Calvinist site does have problems with it - from a Calvinist perspective. The Wiki article says this:

Panentheism is also a feature of some Christian philosophical theologies and resonates strongly within the theological tradition of the Orthodox Church.[citation needed] It also appears in some Roman Catholic mysticism[citation needed] and in process theology.


Since I incorporate elements of Franciscan theology and contemplation...As well as elements of Eastern Orthodox/ Eastern Catholic theology...into my Charismatic Anglo-Catholic outlook... this would apply to me.


The Site Gotquestions was pretty down on panentheism. In general, I try to avoid the website, as I find that they have too much a Fundamentalist basis on understanding the Scriptures.
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby Seer After Truth » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:13 pm

Since I have some time and this is actually something that I have contemplated now for a few years I will offer my two cents...

Some background: Before I became a universalist, among many subjects, I read and studied Nicholas of Cusa, the orthodox church, a little of Thomas Aquinas, some mystics, all for the reason of wanting to know God and to contemplate who and what is God. So one of the consequences of doing this is really looking at all of existence as in God. Now, I have always intuited that God encompasses all things, but it was not a conscious thing. The whole God in a distance thing never resonated with me and I always thought that it was a wrong view of God. Nevertheless, to answer the query of panenthesim.

I became a universalist in late 2012 and since then part of what I have been trying to do is to connect all of my prior life experience with the universalism. The reason is because unlike other learning experiences, this conversion to universalism was a total foundational change in me. Or perhaps a clarification of what I always have been as a person, yet never realized. Anyway, I came across the term Panentheism I think in relation to John Scotus Eriugena. (Of course, I looked up his page just now on wikipedia and they reference his leaning as towards pantheism...hmm.) One interesting fact about him (he is the last or almost the last person in Ramelli's Christian Doctrine of the Apocatastasis) is that as late as he was (815-877 according to his wiki article), he knew Greek. He was a universalist.

(I guess I should say here that I subscribe to that view, although like anything else, I do not pretend to be as thorough with it as I would want to be, except for the extent to which I have thought about the concept).

My understanding when I came across him of Panentheism is the idea that God encompasses all things (is the ground of all being, as it has been said on this forum many times and in the original post), is in everything but is not the thing (that is to say, all things that exist exist as distinct of God).

I re-read the original post and here is my outlook: To me, it puts God as literally never being separated from us and we are never really separated from Him. We feel the separation from him as life (when we are in sin and death), but that is not reality. John 3:21 "...Where if we come to the light it will be seen that our deeds have been carried out in God" (my paraphrase) supports the idea that somehow, we are distinct yet God is with us. I have thought about this scripture for so long, it is one of my favorite scriptures as it tells me that the full picture that we do not see now but is reality now is how God is with us at all times in a distinct way and yet, we are still distinct as well. One reminder I do for myself is to continually think that God is present in all things whether we do good or commit evil (not a statement that says God approves of our evil acts). God is always present to forgive and restore us in our humanness. To a large extent, I am ok with the fact that there is a lot of mystery here. Interstingly, I think that no matter how one perceives God as pantheistic, panentheistic, deistic, or any other stic, there will always be an unkown part about how God is related to us, whether we are just a part of God and "think" we are distinct from Him, part of God and yet truly distinct from him, or distant from Him and just distinct. You know, it seems that the distant from God just does not have any weight to it...

I hope that is helpful and I have not been too long winded. I could talk about this all day!

Peace in your searching,

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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby DaveB » Wed Sep 20, 2017 5:19 pm

Thanks for the post, Will, it's good to hear from you.
I'll have to brush off my Nicholas of Cusa - it's been a long time! :D
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All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby Joe121589 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:28 pm

This had me thinking about how we think of God in a dualistic way where God is viewed as one being among many. I dont know if this is a good analogy, but many have made the analogy of all things revolving around God, including humanity. Yet I have noticed among many Universalists is the willingness to place moral demands on God, in particular saying that he would be unjustified in sending anyone to Eternal Torture. So I have this theory that revolvment is an obsolete concept. The best analogy I can think of is in Trinitarian theology there is both one and three, which makes any dualism obsolete. In my Catholic background, otherness is a significant and complementary concept. For example, I remember talking with a Priest about sexual morality, and the whole principle is a giving to the other on both sides, and why Pornography is sinful because its a non-giving form of sexuality without any love, and only using the other for ones own pleasure. So back to the point, my theory is that Trinitarian Theology embraces the paradox of both one and many, which traditionally is understood to be a mystery. I think it was Fr. Rohr who mentioned that if many Christians dropped the Trinity, it would make no difference, as many(Particularly Fundamentalists) have very dualistic conceptions of God and creation. In many forms of Eastern Mysticism, particularly Theravada Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, they have a notion of oneness that in order to achieve this oneness, all individuality has to be recognized as illusory in order to be joined into the one.
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby DaveB » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:39 pm

Very interesting thoughts, Joe. I'll be reading that again.
All things bright and beautiful,
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All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
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Re: What does Panentheism actually mean relationally

Postby Holy-Fool-P-Zombie » Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:56 am

Joe121589 wrote:So back to the point, my theory is that Trinitarian Theology embraces the paradox of both one and many, which traditionally is understood to be a mystery.


Paradoxes can be mysteries also. And the typical Eastern Orthodox answer...which I normally agree with...is to chalk it up to divine mystery.

Let me share the Eastern Orthodox view from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism - which I also agree with:

In Christianity, creation is not considered a literal "part of" God, and divinity is essentially distinct from creation (i.e., transcendent). There is, in other words, an irradicable difference between the uncreated (i. e., God) and the created (i. e., everything else). This does not mean, however, that the creation is wholly separated from God, because the creation exists in and from the divine energies. In Eastern Orthodoxy, these energies or operations are the natural activity of God and are in some sense identifiable with God, but at the same time the creation is wholly distinct from the divine essence.[citation needed] God creates the universe by His will and from His energies. It is, however, not an imprint or emanation of God's own essence (ousia), the essence He shares pre-eternally with His Word and Holy Spirit. Neither is it a directly literal outworking or effulgence of the divine, nor any other process which implies that creation is essentially God or a necessary part of God. The use of the term "panentheism" to describe the divine concept in Orthodox Christian theology is problematic for those who would insist that panentheism requires creation to be "part of" God.

God is not merely Creator of the universe, as His dynamic presence is necessary to sustain the existence of every created thing, small and great, visible and invisible.[34] That is, God's energies maintain the existence of the created order and all created beings, even if those agencies have explicitly rejected him. His love for creation is such that He will not withdraw His presence, which would be the ultimate form of annihilation, not merely imposing death, but ending existence altogether. By this token, the entirety of creation is fundamentally "good" in its very being, and is not innately evil either in whole or in part. This does not deny the existence of spiritual or moral evil in a fallen universe, only the claim that it is an intrinsic property of creation. Sin results from the essential freedom of creatures to operate outside the divine order, not as a necessary consequence of having inherited human nature.

Joe121589 wrote: I think it was Fr. Rohr who mentioned that if many Christians dropped the Trinity, it would make no difference, as many(Particularly Fundamentalists) have very dualistic conceptions of God and creation. In many forms of Eastern Mysticism, particularly Theravada Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, they have a notion of oneness that in order to achieve this oneness, all individuality has to be recognized as illusory in order to be joined into the one.


Probably. I have been sharing Fr. Rohr's messages here and pointing people to his site at Contemplation. It is very good, to sign up for his newsletter. I am also familiar with Theravada Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. Let me share his message from today:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other”
doesn’t make any sense.
—Rumi [1]

Unitive, non-dual consciousness opens our hearts, minds, and bodies to actually experience God in the now. Ultimate Reality cannot be seen with any dualistic operation of the mind, where we divide the field of the moment and eliminate anything mysterious, confusing, unfamiliar, or outside our comfort zone. Dualistic thinking is highly controlled and permits only limited seeing. It protects the status quo and allows the ego to feel like it’s in control. This way of filtering reality is the opposite of pure presence.

We learn the dualistic pattern of thinking at an early age, and it helps us survive and succeed in practical ways. But it can get us only so far. That’s why all religions at the more mature levels have discovered another “software” for processing the really big questions like death, love, infinity, suffering, the mysterious nature of sexuality, and whoever God or the Divine is. Many of us call this access “contemplation” or simply “prayer.” It is a non-dualistic way of living in the moment. Don’t think, just look (contemplata).

Non-dual knowing is learning how to live satisfied in the naked now, “the sacrament of the present moment” as Jean Pierre de Caussade called it. This consciousness will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us. Words by themselves divide and judge the moment; pure presence lets it be what it is, as it is. Words and thoughts are invariably dualistic; pure experience is always non-dualistic.

As long as you can deal with life as a set of universal abstractions, you can pretend that the binary system is true. But once you deal with concrete reality—with yourself, with someone you love, with actual moments—you find that reality is a mixture of good and bad, dark and light, life and death. Reality requires more a both/and approach than either/or differentiation. The non-dual mind is open to everything. It is capable of listening to the other, to the body, to the heart, to all the senses. It begins with a radical yes to each moment.

When you can be present in this way, you will know the Real Presence. I promise you this is true. You will still need and use your dualistic mind, but now it is in service to the greater whole rather than just the small self.

Gateway to Silence:
God is right here right now.
References:

[1] The Essential Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks (HarperOne: 2004), 36. Used with permission.


Remember. There's always ROOM for Rumi.

And there is NO conflict...Between seeing the Eastern Orthodox perspective - regarding divine energies...And stilling the mind, like Zen and Mindfulness prescribe. It's combining Anglo-Orthodox theology and Catholic contemplation - via the Buddhist Zen and Mindfulness traditions. See Christian and Zen, you ask?. :D

We should sing a song - about Fr. Rohr's reflection and the Eastern Orthodox perspective - presented today. :lol:

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