Panentheism is not new, stemming as it does from Neoplatonism; and not rare, being widespread, in various forms and to various extents amongst the intelligentsia; yet is an unfamiliar term, even to most people who have encountered it in some form. It is a man-made, philosophical religion which denies the authority of Scripture and brings together many threads of philosophy and speculation, including Neoplatonic Mysticism, speculative philosophy and theology, select elements of Christianity and other religions, speculative science (purporting legitimacy), in particular Evolution, and Environmentalism, with special appeal to Liberal Christians, New Age believers, semi-atheistic intellectuals, Social Gospel practitioners, Social Justice agitators, self-opinionated armchair theologians, “tree-huggers,” narcissistic “do-gooders,” and political Progressives of various other types.
In reality, Panentheism is Humanism in theistic garb, patently not Christianity, appealing to the selfish desire for apotheosis or self-deification, i.e., not to God but to self. Observing the worldwide apostasy of this Age, and the “signs of the times,” there is good reason to associate Panentheism with the One-World Religion, the Religion of Man, which Bible-believers anticipate will evolve into the religion of the Beast of John’s Revelation, otherwise known as the Antichrist.
Whether one believes this assertion or not, I encourage the reader to “save” the basic description, in either text or the graphic form above, and from this time forward examine the theological claims and content of religionists, even one’s own church pastor, in its light, to see how he or she stacks up.
A Linchpin of Liberal One-World Religion
- Increasingly a favored interpretation of Christianity amongst intellectuals.
- Not to be confused with Pantheism (“all is God”).
- Means “all is in God,” which includes evil. Incorporates evil and redefines Redemption through its principle of Dialectic.
- Influenced by Neoplatonist Metaphysics and Hegelian philosophy.
- Related to the Process Theology of Whitehead and the New Theology of Karl Rahner.
- Emphasizes unity of the Trinity (Perichoresis) in love and relationship. Sees love, unity, Pacifism, science, and Environmentalism as the evolutionary path to unity with the Trinity and the universe by reflecting attributes of the Trinity (suggesting apotheosis).
- Portrays God as continuously created and creating, not complete, evolving along with the universe, and influenced by Man.
- Presumes truth about God discoverable in (theoretical) Quantum Physics.
- Bypasses the Biblical Gospel and salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, who becomes at best ancillary. Does not require Bible-based Christianity.
- Influences Liberation Theology such as that of Jurgen Moltmann and Gustavo Gutiérrez.
- Expressed by John A. T. Robinson in his concept of the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God evolving through love and unity, but foresees no literal Second Coming (Parousia) of Christ.
Copyright © 2015 Paul A. Hughes
The rancor we see in online Christian discussion groups these days is just a reflection of the ideological, cultural, geographic, political, and generational mega-split we see in America lately.
There are those who want to take the ideological “ball” and run away with it, meanwhile showing the very intolerance of contrary ideas of which they accuse Conservatives, unable to support their own views and wishes with facts or reason, and unable to handle debate, emotionally or procedurally.
Such individuals then blame those of contrary views for the rancor that they themselves have usually created, and like petulant schoolyard children, take their “ball,” and go home.
© 2014 Paul A. Hughes
by Paul A. Hughes, M.Div
In a retrospect on Crowd Culture: An Examination of the American Way of Life by Bernard Iddings Bell, W. Winston Elliott III (“Tyranny of the Herd”) concludes that
Bell believed that America’s obsession with egalitarianism had impoverished education, the arts, politics, and religion. He did not write against the Common Man’s advancement, but against a society that seemed interested in advancing only on narrowly economic, materialist grounds.
Elliott further summarizes,
Schools had abandoned a foundational curriculum, failed to impart proper manners and civility, and left high achievers, the leaders of tomorrow, to fend for themselves in favor of an all-encompassing focus on equality. Churches, too, increasingly instructed their congregations not in the timeless articles of the faith but watered-down, feckless accommodations to the latest trends.
Bell’s answer was Conservative nonconformity:
… Bell urged rebels to challenge the cultural rot, but he warned these conservative iconoclasts that they should be prepared to suffer—whether in financial deprivation or personal scorn. “We need such nonconformists,” he wrote, “if democracy is not to become absurd”….
A dated but still relevant video, “The Culture of Critique,” exposes the conspiracy begun by the Marxist “Frankfurt School” to undermine the roots and values of Western society. Its method was to be so-called Critical Theory, which “criticizes basically every pillar of Western Civilization, promoting the leftist, liberal, multicultural, feminist viewpoint.” Today, no one can credibly dispute its success.
Those of us who are Conservative and preach revealed truth, Biblical authority, and absolute values find that an increasing number of people question everything we say, not out of curiosity or to find answers, but to undermine the entire basis for truth. The video reveals that such is the plan behind Political Correctness in universities and elsewhere. Moreover, no proof, no explanation, no documentation ever satisfies them; they ignore proof and keep probing for weaknesses, or to wear down their opposition.
Such people have been likened to “playing chess with a pigeon“: no matter how well you play, they just knock over the pieces, poop all over the board, and strut around like they think they are winning.
Conservatives are accused of being polarizing in their absolutes and intractability. The polarization, on the contrary, comes from the Left. It comes down to the basis of truth and the definition of good. The world is moving away from the church and Christian revelation, and not in a way that can be countenanced by any believer. For example, when a million healthy babies are aborted every year as birth-control-after-the-fact, a believer not only cannot in good conscience support the perpetrators of this crime, but is compelled to speak out against it. When mood- and mind-altering drugs are legalized and mainstreamed, the Christian cannot be silent, and must not be moved.
Even many Christians try to make the principle of “love,” by some amorphous and facile definition, the overriding rule for Christian ideology. But read your New Testament: love is to be the Christian’s motivation for actions toward brethren, but never, ever, does love trump principle; else the Apostles, Paul in particular (who wrote the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13), would not expend so much time and ink chastening those who stray, rebuking those who sin, and denouncing false doctrine wherever it is found.
Make no mistake, challenging sin that is increasingly acceptable to a callous world, and worldview, will not be taken as love: it will be called crazy, “looney-tunes,” mean-spirited, oppressive, and all the other catchwords Lefties use. However far Left the world shifts, the Christian must stand firm. As the true Christian refuses to move, he/she will be increasingly marginalized by the Left. Hence the divergence will not be academic, a matter of perspective, but ever more clearly becomes a choice between good and evil.
One term often used to nuke Conservative Christians is the Fundamentalist label. This came about largely due to criticism of conservative Evangelicals, notably by James Barr in his book, Fundamentalism (1977); and was further applied by Western intelligentsia in order to link Conservatives to the Muslim perpetrators of the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979-80 (as a phenomenon or even pathology). Those who lean Left go around pointing out people as Fundamentalist, stereotypically and pejoratively, in order to marginalize them. Typically, the term does not strictly apply, certainly not to all Conservatives.
Earlier, I posted what I described as the Apostle Paul’s “Carnality Index.” The chart is based upon exegesis from the New Testament, and is not overtly political: thus is draws not from worldly categories, but the Apostle Paul’s categories of carnal versus spiritual, and licentious/Libertine (Left) compared to Near-Right spiritual and Ultra-Right Legalist. Those categories just happen to correspond rather closely, relationally, to common socio-political conceptions of today’s Western society.
In the linked chart, those who are stereotyped as Fundamentalist would generally fall in the Legalistic Religionist category, though many Left-leaning pundits would throw anyone to the right of themselves into the same stereotypical, marginalizing ashcan.
Conversely, the Legalistic Religionists would tend to “label[…] those who disagree as liberal unbelieving people who think the Bible isn’t true” (to quote a commentator) — the other side of the same coin. The Legalistic Religionists are just as carnal as Carnal Christians, maybe even the Carnal Unsaved, and fall just as much into the “question mark” area in terms of their salvation. Paul’s writings make it clear that both are “at risk,” being motivated by the “flesh” (SARX, PSUCHE), not the Spirit of God.
Those who are Spiritual Christians are, of course, those who “walk in the Spirit,” not “in the flesh”; and I do believe that truly spiritual Christians fall to the right of Center (Conservative-leaning), especially since “perceived” Center gets shifted ever more Left as society and many professing Christians continue to apostasize.
As intimated above, true Christians believe an eternal, absolute message which does not shift Left any more than to the Far Right, and cannot be compromised, for neither our Lord nor his intent changes.
And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. ~Malachi 3:5 f., KJV
But from now on, in the eyes of the world, the rebellious, Nonconformist underclass is Conservatives who stand for traditional values and propositional truth. Even within the Church, Conservatives will be excoriated as evildoers and “troublemakers”:
When Godly troublemakers act, we can expect many in the Church to denounce them as such. If they bring hardship and persecution upon us, many will ask, as they questioned Moses, “Who put you in charge of us? You have made us look bad in the eyes of the world! It is your fault that we suffer!” It will require great courage and self-sacrifice to stand in the face of bitter criticism, even that of our own brethren. But if in obedience to God, how can we withhold? ~Paul A. Hughes, “God’s Troublemakers”
Meanwhile, America and the West are sinking precipitously into Barbarism in our frenzy to gratify and glorify self, and surrendering to Totalitarianism in our myopic quest for solutions and meaning.
© 2013 Paul A. Hughes
by Rev. Paul A. Hughes
A key to the theology of the Apostle Paul is in understanding his classifications of carnal vs. spiritual, and “saved” versus “unsaved.” That the unsaved live in the flesh and are lost in darkness is clear-cut. Not so clear is the status of those who espouse belief in Christ but live an unregenerate and carnal life, ranging from Left/Libertine to Far Right/Legalist: who by living and thinking according to mere human reasoning and with selfish motivation fall into a “gray area” in terms of salvation vs. judgment.
Natural, foolish, spiritually dead, hopeless, unenlightened, rebellious, reprobate, lawless, malicious, greedy, callous, care for things of the flesh, alienated from God, ungrateful
Romans 8:5-10, 13
1 Corinthians 2:11, 14
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
2 Corinthians 4:4
2 Corinthians 6:14-17
Ephesians 2:1-3, 11-12
Philippians 3:18 –19
2 Timothy 3:1-9, 13
2 Timothy 4:3-4
Renewed, enlightened, dead to sin, alive to God, servants of righteousness, clear of conscience, not condemned, Christ-minded, spiritually minded, led by the Spirit, children of God, patient, a living sacrifice, foolish in human terms, not judged by man, not under law, wise, understanding, thankful, submissive, obedient, forgiving, gracious, circumcised in the heart, humble, patient, acting in love
1 Corinthians 1:27-29
1 Corinthians 2:5-16
2 Corinthians 5:15-17
2 Corinthians 10:2-7
Judgmental, hypocritical, hard-hearted, contentious, disobedient, under threat of judgment, alive to sin, serving sin, living according to the flesh, babes in Christ, factious, saved “as by fire,” “puffed up,” to be faulted and ashamed, heretical, not acting in love, ignorant, children, credulous, lacking understanding, insensitive, wrathful, malicious, envious, foolish, enemies of Christ
Romans 8:5-6, 12-13, 20-23
1 Corinthians 2:11-14
1 Corinthians 3:1-23
1 Corinthians 4:18-21
1 Corinthians 5:1-12
1 Corinthians 6:1-20
1 Corinthians 10:1-33
1 Corinthians 11:16-22, 27-34
1 Corinthians 12:25-26
1 Corinthians 13:1-10
1 Corinthians 14:20, 36-38
1 Corinthians 15:33-36
2 Corinthians 7:1
2 Corinthians 10:2-7
2 Corinthians 12:20-21
2 Corinthians 13:2
1 Timothy 5:8
Judgmental, hypocritical, contentious, disobedient to the truth, subject to judgment by the Law, carnally minded, cause unbelievers to blaspheme, not true Jews, “puffed up,” glory in the flesh, “suffer fools gladly,” legalistic, ritualistic, in bondage to the Law, fallen from grace, vainglorious, envious
Romans 2:1-13, 2:12-29
1 Corinthians 7:19
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
1 Corinthians 10:23-33
2 Corinthians 11:18-31
© 2012 Paul A. Hughes