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Tuesday
Aug122014

Theological Term of the Week

panentheism
“[T]he view that God encompasses everything that exists, including the universe we inhabit, yet there is more to God than just the universe,” so that “the universe is part of God.”1

  • Scriptural evidence against panentheism:
    … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … (Romans 3:23 ESV) (If God encompasses everything that exists including all of us, then he encompasses evil, since we have all sinned.)

    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV) (This verse says God doesn’t change, but a panentheistic god would change as the universe changes.)

  • 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 What’s Your Worldview? by James N. Anderson:
    Panentheists often suggest that the relationship between God and the universe is similar to the relationship between you and your body. Your body is only part of you; there’s more to you than your body. You have a physical aspect (the body) and a spiritual aspect (the mind or soul). Similarly, God has a physical aspect (God’s mind or soul, which animates and directs the universe).

    Another idea commonly associated with Panentheism is that God is dependent on the universe… . Just as humans need a physical body in order to be complete, God needs the natural universe in order to be complete.

Learn more:

  1. GotQuestions.org: What is panentheism?
  2. Theopedia: Panentheism
  3. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: What is panentheism?
  4. Elwell Evangelical Dictionary: Panentheism
  5. Norman Geisler: PanentheismPart One and Part Two
  6. James N. Anderson: Why Am Not a Panentheist

Related terms:

Filed under Worldviews

1From What’s Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life’s Big Questions by James N. Anderson, page 79.

Do you have a a theological term 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.

Clicking on Theological Terms in the navigation bar above will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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