'progressive christianity'

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Mark Carrigher, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. Mark Carrigher

    Mark Carrigher New Member

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    C of E
    Good morning, I have been reading David Bentley Hart and Marcus Borg of late and there concept of God has really caught my imagination. They both seem to ascribe to a panentheistic theology rather than a Dad in the Sky view of God's nature.

    I've always kinds of fluctuated between the two if I'm honest, believing God is everywhere and knows and sees all things but that for my human mind, this feels a little bit abstract and therefore simplifying my view of God into a more singular figure helps me focus my prayers and let's be honest, it's probably the conception of God most of us are bought up with? I mean he is our father after all.

    I wanted to go a little deeper with this. Now I understand that in the modern climate, concepts of energies pervading all things and pluralism in religion is probably much more compelling to the modern mind that the bearded dad in the sky concept. But my issue is really around prayer and its role within a panentheistic theology.

    Prayer is generally intercessionary and spoken in a way that to anyone listening would believe we are certainly speaking to an individual, which we are thanking, asking for something, or just generally conversing. How does prayer work with a panentheistic view? What does one visualise or aim there prayers towards? Is prayer even supposed to be intercessionary in this perspective?

    I do believe that God is in all things, and closer to the panentheistic conception in reality but that its my human mind that needs to make him humanlike to be able to relate to him, and this is fine. But do any ofbyou have positions on this? Do you wrestle with these concepts of God? Does the Church have a clear position on this,? And what are your thoughts on prayer within a panentheistic paradigm?
  2. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The key word in all you have written is the word panentheistic, meaning the concept that the material creation is a part but not the whole of God's being. As opposed to pantheistic, meaning the concept that nature and the physical universe are constituents of the very essence of God, that they are part of what God is; the worship of all gods; belief in many or all gods. [theos a god, and pantheon (a temple of all the gods)]. Though neither of these views adequately describes God or are fully acceptable in a truly Christian Theology.

    The fact that God, Our Heavenly Father, is omnipresent, in all places at all times logically means that he cannot be displaced by material objects. Everything, (including us as individuals, whether regenerate or not), is totally immersed, submerged and saturated, in God. Job.23:9-10, Ps. 139:7-10, Jer.23:23-24. Especially Acts 17:24-28.

    Thus when we address God as "Our Father", we are not speaking to a distant image of an old man with a long white beard like the one on the Cistine Chapel ceiling, but to an immediate presence both beside and within us as we speak. God is not distant, and scripture confirms this.

    If anything this should enhance our prayer life and convince us of God's continual presence even in the midst of our deepest despair. Such faith is however unfortunately not always humanly possible. Mark 15:34. However we have a God that understands very well what it is like to be human. Heb.4:15.

    You don't need to lumber youself with an (either/or), choose one only, option on this subject. A good understanding of what God actually IS allows a satisfactory (both and), scripturally supported, solution to your problem. However this would necessarily involve understanding that neither panentheism nor pantheism are acceptable theological positions, in themselves, for a Regenerate Christian to hold to.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  3. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The Panentheism concept is heretical. You must not conflate God and the created Cosmos. The Triune God created the Cosmos; the triune God is apart from the Cosmos. The Triune God pre-exists the Cosmos (being immortal and everlasting). God intervenes in and visits his creation, but he remains outside of it. God is not bound by location or time's arrow. He can be in all times and in all places, but is not part of those times or places. God is outside. God created the Cosmos; the Cosmos is not God.

    God is apart from his Creation. He is a separate and sovereign being. God cannot be more or less. Creating the Cosmos did not increase him; destroying the Cosmos would not decrease him.

    Panentheism is Hegelian philosophy (or the old Gnostic heresy) trying to tart itself up as actual theology. Don't fall for it.
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  4. Moses

    Moses Member

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    Orthodox Christian
    I don't think panentheism, as described in this thread, is David Bentley Hart's view.