What Is Pantheism?

Why Does Christianity Refute Pantheism?

Pantheism
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Pantheism (pronounced PAN thee izm) is the belief that God consists of everyone and everything. For example, a tree is God, a mountain is God, the universe is God, all people are God.

Pantheism is found in many "nature" religions and New Age religions. The belief is held by most Hindus and many Buddhists. It is also the worldview of Unity, Christian Science, and Scientology.

The term comes from two Greek words meaning "all (pan) is God (theos)." In pantheism, there is no difference between deity and reality.

People who believe in pantheism think God is the world around them and that God and the universe are identical.

According to pantheism, God permeates all things, contains all things, connects to all things, and is found in all things. Nothing exists isolated from God, and everything is in some way identified with God. The world is God, and God is the world. All is God, and God is all.

Different Types of Pantheism

Both in the East and West, Pantheism has a long history. Different types of pantheism have developed, each identifying and uniting God with the world in a unique way.

Absolute pantheism teaches that only one being exists in the world. That being is God. Everything else that appears to exist, in reality, does not. Everything else is an elaborate illusion. Creation does not exist. Only God exists. Absolute pantheism was set forth by the Greek philosopher Parmenides (fifth century B.C.) and the Vedanta school of Hinduism.

Another view, emanational pantheism, teaches that all life springs from God similar to how a flower grows and blooms from a seed. This concept was developed by the third century philosopher, Plotinus, who founded Neoplatonism.

German philosopher and historian Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) presented developmental pantheism.

His view sees human history as a magnificent progression, with God self-unfolding in
the temporal world by Absolute Spirit.

Modal pantheism developed from the ideas of seventeenth century rationalist Spinoza. He contended that  only one absolute substance exists in which all finite things are mere modes or moments.

Multilevel pantheism is seen in certain forms of Hinduism, especially as communicated by philosopher Radhakrishnan (1888-1975). His view saw God manifested in levels with the highest being Absolute One, and lower levels revealing God in ever increasing multiplicity.

Permeational pantheism is encountered in Zen Buddhism. God penetrates all things, similar to "the Force" in the Star Wars movies.

Why Christianity Refutes Pantheism

Christian theology opposes the ideas of pantheism. Christianity says that God created everything, not that he is everything or that everything is God:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, ESV)

"You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you." (Nehemiah 9:6, NLT)

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:11, ESV)

Christianity teaches that God is omnipresent, or exists everywhere, separating the Creator from his creations:

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7–10, ESV)

In Christian theology, God is everywhere present with His whole being at all times. His omnipresence does not mean that he is diffused throughout the universe or penetrates the universe.

Pantheists who give credence to the idea that the universe is real, agree that the universe was created "ex deo" or "out of God." Christian theism teaches that the universe was created "ex nihilo," or "out of nothing."

A fundamental teaching of absolute pantheism is that humans must master their ignorance and recognize that they are God. Christianity teaches that God alone is the Most High God:

I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me. (Isaiah 45:5. ESV)

Pantheism implies that miracles are impossible. A miracle requires God to intervene on behalf of something or someone outside of himself. Thus, pantheism rules out miracles because "all is God and God is all." Christianity believes in a God who loves and cares about people and intervenes miraculously and regularly in their lives.

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Zavada, Jack. "What Is Pantheism?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-is-pantheism-700690. Zavada, Jack. (2017, August 23). What Is Pantheism? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-pantheism-700690 Zavada, Jack. "What Is Pantheism?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-pantheism-700690 (accessed January 22, 2018).