Panentheism

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The panentheistic God/universe setup is like a mutual admiration society: God needs you, and you need God. ~ Norman Geisler
In his poetic description of the sun god, Ikhnaton avoids both the separation of God from the world that will characterize theism and the identification of God with the world that will characterize pantheism. ~ John Culp

Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a philosophical stance which posits that God (or Ultimate Reality or The All) interpenetrates every part of observable Nature, and extends beyond it. Panentheism is differentiated from pantheism, which treats the discernible Universe as a Cosmos synonymous with God; in pantheism, God is the whole Universe, while in panentheism, the whole universe is within or a portion of Ultimate Being, or God, conceived as an eternal sustaining presence or animating force beyond it. While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism asserts that God is greater than the universe. Major traditions of Hinduism and many forms of mysticism involve either panentheism or pantheism.

Quotes[edit]

  • In Emerson's case, we know who the god was — even his name and address. His utterances are too highly differentiated for mistake. The divine voice is of course one. All things are one to Emerson. But the one in this instance seems sufficiently distinguished from its other articulatenesses to involve a polytheistic rather than a generally immanent explanation. To us the god is inescapably Emerson himself; it is at least excusable, practically, to identify what you find in no other conjunction. Naturally the inference is that we are all gods, and no doubt Emerson would willingly have adopted, with whatever modifications, the current “panentheism” which unites his pantheism with theism, for though he never lost sight of the existence of the many he always saw them as ultimately resident in the one.
    • William Crary Brownell, American Prose Masters (1909), p. 143.
  • Various advocates and critics of panentheism find evidence of incipient or implicit forms of panentheism present in religious thought as early as 1300 BCE. Hartshorne discovers the first indication of panentheistic themes in Ikhnaton (1375–1358 BCE), the Egyptian pharaoh often considered the first monotheist. In his poetic description of the sun god, Ikhnaton avoids both the separation of God from the world that will characterize theism and the identification of God with the world that will characterize pantheism … Early Vedantic thought, as well as some modern Indian thought, implies panentheism in non-Advaita forms that understand non-dualism as inclusive of differences.
  • It is impossible to place any high value on mental work, unless we believe that it has a cosmic setting, and that behind human undertakings there is the support of a Divine Power. Thus religious conviction is looked upon with no disfavour, but it is rather an admission of infinity into man's finite life, an acknowledgment of an unseen order of things, than a movement toward a new world not to be gained save through shock and revolution. There is much closer kinship to Panentheism, the creed of the noblest minds of the Renaissance, than to the distinctively Christian view which these men incline to look upon as a mere refuge for the weak and sickly. Religion for them is rather an invisible Presence which attends their work than a specific form of spiritual experience.
    • Rudolf Eucken, on some forms of Humanism and related philosophies, in The Problem of Human Life as Viewed by the Great Thinkers from Plato to the Present Time (1910), p. 462.
  • The panentheistic God/universe setup is like a mutual admiration society: God needs you, and you need God. … God depends on the world, and the world depends on God … Since God is always growing, or "in process," he never perfectly achieves his aims. In metaphorical terms, God is always on the path but he never reaches his destination. The actual is what he is; the potential is what he is eternally becoming.
    • Norman Geisler, as quoted in The Last Temptation of Christ Denied (1989) by Bob Passatino and Gretchen Passatino.
  • These distinctions make sense only when AR [absolute perfection in some respects, relative perfection in all others] is assumed (hence Spinoza's failure, who assumed mere A). Just as AR is the whole positive content of perfection, so CW, or the conception of the Creator-and-the-Whole-of-what-he-has-created as constituting one life, the super-whole which in its everlasting essence is uncreated (and does not necessitate just the parts which the whole has) but in its de facto concreteness is created — this panentheistic doctrine contains all of deism and pandeism except their arbitrary negations. Thus ARCW, or absolute-relative panentheism, is the one doctrine that really states the whole of what all theists, if not all atheists as/well, are implicitly talking about.

External links[edit]

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