Re: [asa] Providence?

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Thu Sep 11 2008 - 16:46:21 EDT

From my review of Arthur Peacocke et al., All There Is, in the March 2008 PSCF:

Panentheism is, Peacocke says, an "admittedly inelegant term for the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates the whole universe, so that every part of it exists in God and (as against pantheism) that God's Being is more than, and is not exhausted by, the universe" (p.22). He quotes Augustine's image of creation as a finite sponge immersed in and pervaded by an infinite ocean to illustrate this. There is divine transcendence, for God is "Ultimate Reality and Creator" (p.23), but divine immanence must be given special emphasis.

Note that nothing is said about God being dependent upon the world. In fact that is no part of the basic etymology of the word, that all is in God. Nor is it contained in the meaning often given the word, that God is in all things (vgl. Acts 17:28). The belief that God requires &/or depends on the world is a tenet of process theology & many panentheists hold to process theology but it's not just because they are panentheists. In response to Dave Siemens, it is those who insist that a dependence of God upon the world is intrinsic to panentheism who are "fudging definitions."

& the question of whether or not panentheists are theists is purely a matter of terminology and not of great importance. The more important question should be whether or not Christians can be panentheists & no one has presented any reason - without fudging definitions - why they can't be. As Peacocke pointed out, Augustine could be considered one.

Whether or not a panentheistic theology provides the best way of interpreting and presenting the Christian faith can, of course, be debated. Personally I have some problems with it and never use that term to describe my own theology. I do, however, believe that God is present to all things. If someone therefore wants to call me a panentheist I won't get upset unless that is used to imply that I'm a process theologian or something else I'm not.


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Received on Thu, 11 Sep 2008 16:46:21 -0400

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