Panentheism is necessarily dualistic

Pantheism versus panentheism

This summer I did a review of Brian McLaren's book for the Journal factum A Generous Orthodoxy which has now been published in issue 7/2007 (pp. 10–15).

When setting the book presentation, a small (but significant) misprint crept in. On page 14 I mention that Spencer Burke currently links the old Trinitarian confessions of the Church Fathers with panentheism. In the printed text, however, the phrase "pantheistic view" is quoted twice. In fact, Burke avows himself in his book A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity (Jossey-Bass, 2006, pp. 194-195) to a panentheistic conception of God. So it has to mean twice: »panentheistic view«.

This little misprint provides an opportunity to briefly reflect on the difference between pantheism and panentheism?

The term panentheism goes back to the Freemason Karl C.F. Krause (1781–1822) and describes a religious worldview according to which only God exists and the universe is a part (or an emanation) of God (Greek. pan en theo: all in god). Pantheism, on the other hand, equates the universe with God (Greek. pan theos: everything is God). The world with all its appearances is therefore identical with God.

The doctrine of panentheism wants to overcome the dualism of God and creation and strives for the reconciliation of pantheism and theism. The distinction between creator and creature is therefore an artificial and mostly problematic one for a panentheist.

Not only Spencer Burke sympathizes with panentheism. Doug Pagitt also writes in his contribution to the book edited by Robert Webber Listening To The Beliefs Of Emerging Churches: Five Perspectives (Zondervan, 2007) on p. 142:

The idea that there is necessarily a distinction between matter and spirit or between creation and creator needs to be reconsidered.

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