Sunday, August 30, 2009

Christian Panentheism

"In Him we live and move and have our being," says Paul to the Athenians, quoting one of their poets. Pan-en-theism means "all in God," rather than "God is all," which would be Pan-theism. In God, says Panentheism, everything is. All take part in the being of God, though all are not identical with God's being.

Which isn't quite the God of the old testament, who seems locational; his sphere of being does not seem to encompass all that is, regardless of whether he played a role in the creation of it.

All that is "is" because it takes part in some system of being, some sphere of being. My mug of Panera coffee is a mug of panera coffee because it takes part in a system of being, of beings plural, of which I am a part and apart from in as much as I am being individually from it. If by death, then by death; if by spirit, then by spirit.

Certainly much of my being is made for me.

And you Christian, who do you say God is? A ghost, whose chalky white shape might on some hallowed eve be seen wandering over graveyards? No, says Christian, he is not. A vapor, or a substance of any sort? No, says Christian, he is a Spirit. What is a Spirit?

If I cut off your arm, Christian, is your arm "you" as much as the rest of you? No, says Christian, my arm is not me. How much of you, Christian, would I need to remove before I removed you? You cannot remove me, says Christian, for I am not my body. What are you, Christian? I am my soul, says Christian. What is your soul, Christian? It is spirit, says Christian.

What is a spirit? The spirit of a team is the relationship that they share, the thing that is caused by their togetherness, in purpose and action and being. It is the being they share. The team's being is through the players, but the players are not identical with the team, its spirit.

What if all human being were to suddenly disappear? Atomic fallout, let's say, or global warming. My Panera mug of coffee left sitting on this stucco sill. It would no longer be a mug of Panera coffee, as it would no longer be caught up in human being, through which it has achieved that being. Do we believe it would be here at all? Yes, says Christian. Yes, says Atheist.

How would it be? It would still take part in a system, a physical system. An Is-ness. It would be a field of energy upon which forces would continue to play their role.

What does that mean? Nothing more or less than God.

Surely I've misspoken, somewhere.

1 comment:

Ryan Hofer said...

I'm not so sure the team causes the togetherness. Maybe they just put themselves in a place to understand it, whether accidentally or with a knowledge of the process.