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Is Panentheism a form of Pantheism?

Discussion in 'Panentheism' started by Starlight001, Mar 19, 2007.

  1. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    You got that right, sister.

    I am not misusing terms. I am simply using them in ways that you don't like. There is a difference.

    It is perfectly legitimate, under the generally accepted definition of theism, to classify pantheism and panentheism, and any other view of God that accepts an existence of God as theism. I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. You seem to have issues with what you consider to be "theism" and wish to distance yourself from it. I have no such desire.

    As for Unitarian Universalism not being a religion, I'll just tell my friends who are UU ministers and seminarians, who studied UU theology at UU seminaries, that they are the clergy of an "interfaith community." :sarcastic

    Look, there was a time when I didn't understand what UU was either, when I self-mockingly referred to us as nothing more than "a social club for religious rejects." But even then, I did not have the impudence to tell others that they were wrong when they referred to UU as a religion.

    I could go on about UU but this isn't the right forum for it. Try going to the UU forum and saying that UU isn't a religion. See what kind of response you get. Otoh, you could try asking instead.
     
  2. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    I think you're quite good when you want to debate. I've seen you.
    The main thing is that you, being INFP, reaally don't like discord. :p
    Whereas I am INTP and like harmony but like my principles even more. :p
     
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  3. Feathers in Hair

    Feathers in Hair World's Tallest Hobbit

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    *cowers under nearby table, donning her traditional helmet of a colander* Discord bad... Harmony good... Conflict- hide! (Though I admire those who stand up for their principles!)
     
  4. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    Hee hee, harmony is one of my principles, no wonder I'm always floundering around here. :p
     
  5. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    Well it should be, shouldn't it? :) I need to remember that more. To think that just earlier today in church I was making the argument (not that anyone was disagreeing) that we can't achieve peace thru violence because the act of violence transforms us into something less peaceful. Karma.

    btw luna, what is your Myers Briggs type, do you know?
     
  6. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    I have no idea. I would bet however that if I were tested all my dots would end up in the middle. I am a Libra after all.

    Actually, I need to remember that good faith debate is not a bad thing. I learn the most around here reading the debates, or at least some of them. When it comes to beliefs, however, I get uncomfortable pushing a point.
     
  7. Feathers in Hair

    Feathers in Hair World's Tallest Hobbit

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    *pulls Luna to thread she's bumped up* C'mon, c'mon! Inquiring minds wanna know!
     
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  8. des

    des Active Member

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    I consider myself a panentheist, otoh, I am not sure that if the universe is *everything* that you can have a God outside the universe. I also believe that God acts thru creation (something like the "we are God's hands and feet, etc." but beyond that as well).I'm not sure if that is a panentheist concept or not. My idea of a pantheist is a little different and it would be something like God IS the universe. My problem with whether you can have something separate from the universe if the universe is everything is a little different, I think. I don't think also that it is semantic, because I think not everybody would have this particular sense. This is a cosmological idea btw.

    I don't think I am a huge arguer. I do participate in the debates but often say my piece and run. :) I tend to get caught up. I much more enjoy the discussion aspects, and think that when I do participate in the debates it is a waste of my time.

    I am INTP (I think). I know it is INT but not sure of the state of the last letter.

    I am not a Unitarian with a capital u. But I consider that it is a religion, and even though I go to a UCC church, I tend to think I am *really* UU. If I would have this feeling that it is just a faith community, I would not feel that way. Why would I identify that way to a community when the UU church I went to doesn't seem like one I want to be part of??

    I think that it is a religion without dogma. I am familiar with this because basically in UCC we don't say what a Christian would need to believe. So we have Christians that consider themselves Christian who don't believe in many things that commonly Christians might consider very essential like a physical resurrection. Maybe others might say we are Christianish, Christian-lite, or somesuch. But the vast majority of UCC people feel they are Christian. But it also doesn't mean we are belief-less.

    Likewise, there are certain tenets of UU. They may not be traditional or dogmatic. But you would not feel too welcome if you didn't believe them. If it were merely a community then it wouldn't matter if you held those tenets or no. (For instance, one would be that there are multiple paths to truth, though I probably didn't word this so well.) If you felt there was one truth with a capital T, you wouldn't feel that you belonged, and wouldn't. Maybe you could still be a member, I mean no one will bar the door, but unless you gained this particular belief then you wouldn't really belong.

    --des
     
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  9. Storm

    Storm ThrUU the Looking Glass

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    It might help if you didn't have such a chip on your shoulder. I'm not the one being hostile, here.

    It doesn't make me uncomfortable; it's simply inaccurate, which is frustrating.

    Yes, under the common usage of the word "theism," that is perfectly acceptable. However, the theological meaning is much more specific.

    It's just like the word "theory." In common usage, it's perfectly acceptable to equate "theory" and "hypothesis," but when you're discussing science, you're expected to know the difference between a theory and a hypothesis, and use the words correctly.

    Likewise, because we are discussing theology, I expect "theism" to mean theism. If you were using the common, inaccurate meaning of theism as "belief in God," that's fine, but is it really so much to ask that you recognize the precise meaning and simply clarify your statement, rather than throw a hissy fit when you confuse someone who thinks you're misusing the theological?

    You have yet to defend your original description of theism, which, given the context, should have been the specific definition. Otherwise, saying that you're both a theist and a panentheist is as pointlessly redundant as saying "I'm both a human and a woman."

    No, I just understand what it really means and understand that it's not what I believe.

    I do have issues with imprecise language in an inappropriate context. I have to translate, the devil's in the details, and precision is important.

    Or you could go tell the Rabbi at my old UU church that he's practicing idolatry. I'd be happy to buy a ticket to that one.

    From the Wiki:
    *re·li·gion
    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

    Once again, the issue is precision. I thought I made it clear that I was referring to UU's lack of set theology, and the fact that labelling yourself as one reveals nothing of what you actually believe. In any event, I'm just not interested in arguing it further.

    I don't know why you've decided to take everything I say as some kind of personal insult, but it's rather tiresome.

    I've been a UU for a decade now, and none of my fellows have ever had an objection to that statement. In fact, we're quite proud of it.

    Why would I ask you, especially when you seem so set on picking a fight?
     
  10. Feathers in Hair

    Feathers in Hair World's Tallest Hobbit

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    *waves hands* Hi, all! I just noticed that this thread is in the 'discussion' subforum. I would be happy to create a thread in the debate subforum if people would like to continue this discussion!
     
  11. Starlight001

    Starlight001 Member

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    Hi *waves* Thanks for the replies... it's interesting! I had no idea that "theism" can mean anything else than just "belief in God". As for my personal beliefs, I'm still kind of confused after reading these descriptions, but I think that they are generally panentheistic... :D But my views about things are generally hard to classify...

    And it's nice to see another INFP here... I'm an INFP too!
     
  12. bflydad

    bflydad Member

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    After seeing the heated debates going back and forth I'm almost scared to post a reply. I am Wiccan and I believe most Wiccan traditions are panentheistic. With that said, I still waffle back and forth as to whether or not God exists external to the all that is the universe(s).

    Without turning this into a debate, I'd be curious if anyone has any scholarly sources from which to provide a definition of panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, and theism (and no, wikipedia is not a scholarly source). Until someone provides something from something that has been peer reviewed, written by people with lots of letters after their names, you can debate definitions without ever resolving anything. A definition only exists within a community. In this case, I would suggest either a religious academic community or a religious theological community. Simply asserting "I'm right, you're wrong" won't move the discussion along. Oh, and in terms of religion, even within the sociology of religion community there is no current agreement on what it is (Weber, Durkheim, Marx for starters), so probably better to try to avoid defining it.
     
  13. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    Hi bflydad, namaste.

    Actually, the "debate" was not regarding the definitions of pantheism and panentheism, or even theism from my perspective. I have heard "theism" used the way that Storm uses it and do not think it's invalid. The "debate" was about whether or not one definition is truer than the other and whether or not UU is a religion. Neither of which really belong in this thread.

    The thing about providing a scholarly source is that in an online discussion forum, sources are usually provided as links to other websites, not books or academic papers. As such, they tend not to be much more "scholarly" than wiki. Methinks that may be the main reason why wiki is cited so much. Not because everyone thinks it's flawless but because its the easiest commonly accepted source to cite online.

    As I said, I have heard the term "theism" used to describe both meanings: 1. a belief in god(s) or 2. a belief in a god that exists separate from and acts on creation. The second concept is often referred to as "classical theism."

    Just as we can't agree on what "religion" is, I doubt that we are going to agree on what "theism" is, even if we had a scholarly source to back it up, because the term has been used in different contexts to mean both. As you said, a definition only exists within a community, so even if some has a lot of letters after her or his name, that wouldn't mean much if he or she is external to the community in question, imo.

    To turn this back vaguely in the direction of the OP, why do you see Wicca as being panentheistic as opposed to pantheistic? Just curious. :)
     
  14. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    Hi Starlight, when one says "all is God," what does the "all" refer to? I think it still refers to existence, as in all of existence. Since the universe by definition is all of existence, anything that is existent is still part of the universe. Therefore, "creation is God" and "all is God" mean the same thing, imo.

    When I said that as a panentheist I believe that God is more than the universe, I didn't mean that God is physically bigger than the universe, as in God is the universe plus something extra. I meant that God transcends the universe.

    I loved the way that lunamoth put it in another thread: God isn't a being, God is being. (She musta been reading Paul Tillich! :p)
     
  15. gmelrod

    gmelrod Resident Heritic

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    My one experience with pantheism in philopsophy is in the work of Spinoza (1632-1667). Because he wrote his work the Ethics, in the style of a geometric proof it makes for very poor quotes. So I will ask your deferance and trust that my paraphrases are reasonably accurate. If you doubt me read the book and then we can debate. OK here it goes

    issued the writ of cheremSpinoza definces God as being infinte in all ways. Due to the nature of infinity there can only be one infinite thing. Spinoza notes that the universe is also defined as infinite. So logicaly (according to Spinoza's definitions) the universe and God must be the same thing with two diffrent names. In this Spinoza denies a personal God who does the events recorded in the bible. For him God is just the sum total of everything that exists. God only has thought inasmuch as there are thoughts in the universe. Needless to say this was not popular. In 1656 the Jewish comunity of Amsterdam basicly an excomunication and curse all in one. (It is very severe if anyone is interested I have the text and can post it in an appropriate forum.) For years afteward his books were burned and many young students began their careers blasting him. Later philosophers rediscovered him and he is now regarded as one of the lesser known greats and is one of my personal favorites.
     
  16. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    He was also a "personal favorite" of Einstein's who was also a pantheist.

    "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings."

    I don't agree, but it's a very mild disagreement. :)
     
  17. gmelrod

    gmelrod Resident Heritic

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    I like him because once you accept his definitions, which is easy, his argument is so darn airtight.
     
  18. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    Spinoza? Yes, it is airtight. But I don't accept his definition of God. Getting someone to accept your definitions is 98% of winning the debate. ;)

    Are you a pantheist, gmelrod? :)
     
  19. des

    des Active Member

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    Ok, since this kind of got lost in all the disagreements (that I agree didn't have anythign to do with panentheism) what about the question of "If the universe, by definition, is everything-- can God be both a part of the universe and separate from it?" I think that was a statement, but now I am wording it as a question. I don't really mean though that God IS the universe-- just that being everything God can't be a part from the universe.
    I think this is a question of whether I am technically a panentheist, but I think it is also a valid question in of itself.


    --des
     
  20. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    Honestly, I think it has to do with how one defines "be." Or to quote Bill Clinton, "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." :p

    I believe that God is the "ground of being" (Paul Tillich). At every given moment God sustains the existence of the universe. So for me, all that IS is part of the universe. God is not "separate" from the universe in my view. But God is more than the universe, transcendent.

    I do believe that if the universe did not exist, there would still be God, but not in any form that we could recognize or comprehend as "existing." (Tho, of course, if the universe did not exist we would not exist to not be able to comprehend its nonexistence. :areyoucra)


    The color of a wall
    depends on the wall.

    In the same manner
    the isness of creatures
    depends on the love of God.

    Take the color from the wall and the color would cease to be.
    So too,
    all creatures would cease to exist
    if they were separated from
    the love that God is.


    -Meister Eckhart
     
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