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Friday
Mar282008

Theological Term of the Week

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panentheism

A belief system which views the universe as contained within God, yet God is also greater than the universe, extending beyond it. It is different from pantheism, which views God and the material universe as identical, and also different from biblical theism, which views God as present everywhere in the universe, sustaining everything in the universe, without the universe being a part of God.
 
  • From the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 2, Section 2. (A biblical Christian view of the relationship between God and the universe.)
    God hath all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of himself; and is alone in and unto himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: he is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever himself pleaseth. In his sight all things are open and manifest; his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature; so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain.
  • From Panentheism—Part One by Norman Geisler.

    panentheism
    Rather than viewing God as the infinite, unchanging sovereign Creator of the world who brought it into existence, panentheist think of God as a finite, changing, director of world affairs who works in cooperation with the world in order to achieve greater perfection in his nature.

    Theism views God’s relation to the world as a painter to a painting. The painter exists independently of the painting; he brought the painting into existence, and yet his mind is expressed in the painting. By contrast, the panentheist views God’s relation to the world the way a mind is related to a body. Indeed, they believe the world is God’s “body”…. [L]ike some modern materialist who believe the mind is dependent on the brain, panentheists believe God is dependent on the world. Yet there is a reciprocal dependence, a sense in which the world is dependent on God.

Learn more

  1. Norman Geisler:  PanentheismPart One and Part Two
  2. What is panentheism? from GodQuestions.org
The term panentheism was suggested by threegirldad, who says that panentheism is “another age-old heresy that is running rampant of late.”  Tune in next week for another age-old heresy that ain’t dead yet.
 
Have you come across a theological term that you don’t understand and that you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for this post. I heard the term panentheism for the first time just the other day.

Another similar theory is Pandeism, which has God begin as God, but then become the universe and lose the attributes of God, until some point in the future where the universe ends and becomes God again. Pandeism may not be an "age-old" heresy, but it is a heresy nontheless, and Pandeists are in no better shape than Panentheists.

June 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPenrick Kell

I've never heard of pandeism. Thanks from bringing that to my attention.

June 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

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