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Lessons In Apologetics #7: Panentheism

The next worldview examined by Geisler in “Christian Apologetics” is Panentheism. Whereas Deism postulated a God detached from His creation for the sake of transcendence and Pantheism claims that God and the world are coterminous for the sake of immanence, Panentheism attempts to conceptualize a God that is distinct from yet part of the world.

To the Panentheist, God is to the world what mind or soul is to the body (193). Like many of the worldviews and methodologies already discussed, Panentheism can be traced back to the days of ancient Greece.

Perhaps one of the foremost examples of Panentheism would be the Demiurge of Platonic thought. Whereas the Judeo-Christian God created matter out of nothing, Plato’s Demiurge did not create the world out of nothing but rather shaped and crafted it out of independent eternally existent matter.

Since the matter which coexists with this version of God is just as eternal as God, God does not necessarily have the ultimate say. As such, Panentheism is also known as finite godism or process theology.

According to Alfred North Whitehead, God is bipolar. No, that does not mean God is depressed though you might be if this system posited is the best man can hope for. The theology of bipolarity hypothesizes a God with one end in eternity where His potentiality and the things He hopes to accomplish are located and His other end located in the temporal world where His actuality is manifested but not always to the extent He might intend as His creations possess their own autonomy.

Since the world and those in it are able to exhibit a degree of independence thwarting God’s will and ends, the bipolar theory of God is also a form of process theology or finite godism. According to process theology, God changes over time, must rely on us for the accomplishment of His plans in the world, and cannot assure from eternity past that He will ultimately prevail.

In his analysis of the theory, Geisler writes, “How can anyone worship a god so impotent that he cannot even call the whole thing off? Is not such a god so paralyzed as to be perilous (210)?” If the Christian has no assurance that God will triumph, from the way the world appears to be going, one would be better off hedging one’s bets by siding with the Devil or sitting the whole thing out all together.

by Frederick Meekins

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