(An extract from the article, "So,
what is God?"
which is available in this section of the
Judaism, Christianity and Islam have a common heritage. (The basis of
Christianity has been presented in another section of
explained”.) In essence,
each of the three monotheist religions maintains that there is
only one god. There is also a very strong emphasis,
monotheism, on the ‘transcendent’ nature of God. Within the
theology of all
three religions, God is understood as all-powerful, all-knowing and
ability to fully understand or experience him. He then theoretically transcends us,
and even our ability to perceive him.
His transcendence separates his being from our own within this context. Many Christians actually think of God as a ‘being
in Heaven’ and completely separate from his creations. All
monotheist religions believe that God wants to
maintain a personal
relationship with each of us.
On the other hand the pantheist
religions – which
include Taoism in its early form, much of Buddhism and some segments of
– view God as the
basis of reality
itself , or the ‘ground of being’.
Indeed everything is understood as
having a one-ness with reality, and as such, with God. He is, as far
are concerned, very much a part of this world. God, the universe, and indeed even
ourselves, are one and the same. That is, God is totally
“immanent” or all pervading, and not
transcendent at all.
Because of their view of God’s relationship to the universe, pantheists
believe that it is
possible to have a personal relationship with
him. That is because in summary, he is us and we are him!
Now, it is not that the issue of immanence is foreign to monotheist
religions. Even the Christian Old
Testament mentions God’s
pervading nature and the relationship of his ‘sustaining’ power to
the continuance of our world [Jeremiah
23:24, Job 34:14-15 as
examples]. The New
Testament has some more explicit examples to further highlight this
17:27-28, Colossians 1:17].
Despite such examples, we rarely hear discussion about God’s
immanence in the Church. In its defence, the transcendent nature of
God and all that flows from that, including our ability to
individually enter into a personal relationship with such a God,
reduces the importance of his immanence for the average Christian.
though, the two opposing
views of God’s
being, i.e. immanence and
transcendence, are actually
the Christian theology of “panentheism”.
Although as stated it is not an issue for the
average Christian pulpit, the concept of God as the ‘ground of
received considerable thought from learned twentieth century Christian
theologians such as John Macquarrie and Paul Tillich. It is not surprising that the same thoughts
expressed within the theology of Judaism and Islam. Theology from the
middle ages (within all three monotheist religions) also contains
references to the immanence of God, i.e. God as the ground of being.
This older theology was heavily influenced by monotheist mystics.
The Christian theology of panentheism offers us
complex concept – a God who transcends
yet simultaneously ‘enables’ its continued reality through
Although having the same ultimate
outcome, there are two versions of Panentheism. One version is
“Panen-theism” meaning, “All things are within God but God is more than
the sum of all things.” An
version, pronounced “Pan-entheism”, theorises that
“God dwells in all things”
as well as simultaneously being transcendent and outside the universe.
are again differing ways of depicting how
God creates reality within panentheism. In the first, God is the
being’ (the basis of all reality itself), or he creates the universe
from himself (Creatio ex Deo). Within the second model, God,
pervading reality, maintains its existence via “Creatio Ex
Nihilo” – creating
it out of nothing, i.e. ‘willing it’ or ‘thinking
You can imagine it like this: God’s
being is akin to a hugely powerful mind, and within that mind is a
thought that is our universe and all that exists within it. As such,
God has his self-existence (Mind/ Eternity/ Heaven) and within it we
have own separate being (in the space-time continuum that is the
universe). Unlike the pantheist model, our existences within the
theology of panentheism have separation from God’s
being. That is, we may exist within him but
we have a
genuine individual being of our own.
Every moment of reality is dependent on God’s
immanent, all pervading, creative and sustaining power within panentheism. God is also simultaneously outside the confines of
space and time of
our universe. As
opposed to us,
and explained earlier, God’s basis itself is within ‘Eternity’.
in mind too that God, although ‘enabling’
exist, allows nature to follow its own course. He does not directly
everything happen! By and large, reality is governed by the laws of
cause and effect that he has designed into it. By ‘design’, I don’t
mean he built it all in literally seven days, as in the
the Bible’s Old Testament book of Genesis. It is more likely he
designed his laws into the universe before initiating the “big bang”, which has subsequently rolled out reality
into the perfect state of
existence that it is. God
clearly has a motive for hiding himself from
us too, in a material sense, and that is discussed in the Lead Article,
“Believing in God”
within the section of the same name.
So, it is no surprise that his handiwork in our universe
is hidden from us. I
have tried to present a
view of the current theories of science, and their relationship to
an article devoted to the subject, “Science and religion”
within this section of the
theory of panentheism, it is obviously possible for us to enter into a
personal relationship with God (as expected within the fundamentalist view of
section of this website, which includes this article, is devoted
completely to presenting
God as a believable concept.
Other alternative views of God’s being, including monotheism
and pantheism, are
included and reconciled there. The article, “So,
what is God?”
within this section delves into the nature of God’s
The website also contains
guidance on how to determine
for yourself whether God does exist. An entire section, “Believing in God”
has been provided to address that issue. It is all
how to identify evidence of God’s presence within our lives and genuinely
evaluate it – thereby
building up a body of evidence that will stand the test of time, indeed
grow with the passing of time. The stumbling block for most
us, when beginners, is knowing how and where to look for this potential
final section of the website explains
to read website info
time you, the reader, may first read high
level information in Lead Articles after clicking the major headings
You can then
drill down into supporting articles when, and
if, you require a deeper understanding on any subject.
be achieved from links in Lead Articles or by selecting "Supporting
Articles" from the far left column on those pages.