…Theistic Interpretations

April 21, 2009

Most people think there is really only one way of thinking about God. If the “Do you believe in God?” question is posed to most, they will be responding to their belief or disbelief in a Theistic God. Theism holds that God is an almost person-like ( but this varies to many different extents for different people) entity living outside of the world, universe and reality as we know it capable of interceding into the world we know to perform miracles, communicate with creation, and become revealed to believers.Some say, critically or endorsing that this version of God is like a parent in the sky. Of course in many ways, theism is the basis for the language we speak of about God in most of the West. Father, Lord, King. Historically the pronoun “He” is used for the theistic version of God, yet in more recent years some have begun to intersperse “He” and “She” interchangeably and some have begun to try to get past gender pronouns altogether. Still others, probably most in the West that still hold to theism, use pronouns for simplification only, understanding that God is genderless.

Deism is the view held by many of the “Founding Fathers” in American History as well as many of their contemporaries. Today most “Deists” lean towards what we now call “Agnosticism.”*  Deism holds that there is a God existing in some form, often viewed in the same form as Theism, yet God in this case remains outside of the world, not “interfering,” not performing miracles, not revealing much to creation. God “set the watch” and stepped back to let things run their own course.

Pantheism is the view that God is in fact in and of everything. This is common in many religions and philosophies of the East. Divinity is present and living in every living thing, so all life in every form is sacred and divine…yet equally so. “Yes I believe Jesus was divine,” said one pantheist to theologian N.T. Wright. “Yet so am I. So is a bunny rabbit.” Western religions parallel with some pantheism in that those that follow true Christianity believe they have the living spirit of God, the holy spirit, residing in them and they also hold to the sacredness of God and the creation, yet it’s that equalizing factor that sets pantheism far apart. For a pantheist, a rabbit and Jesus or a cancer cell and Buddha are equally on par.

In recent years many Christian philosophers and theologians of the more liberal strain have begun to classify themselves as “Panentheist.” I myself find this view very attractive and plausible. It’s the “en” between pan and theism that signifies a dramatic difference from pantheism or even theism. Panentheism holds that God is both above, beyond and outside of the world as we know it yet also moving through and living in creation and the world as we know it as well. Thus the environment and the living creatures throughout the universe share in sacredness and are facets of God yet God also dwells outside of all as well in a type of Deistic manner. In this case, panentheists may differ as to whether God intercedes on behalf of creation, performs miracles or the depth of God’s revelation to creation.

Scriptures point to both Theism and Panentheism at different times. Old Testament records of Judaic thought often spoke of God as “the wind that blows through the trees” and the like. All forms capture different aspects of God and all forms leave room for different views within.

* Generally Agnosticism defines one as stating “not knowing” or “not sure” as to the existence of God. Agnostics believe that there may or may not be a God and find that even if there is a God, that God is so far removed from modern creation that there is no effect on anything in life or the world brought about by that God, which is how this overlaps somewhat with Deism.

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One Response to “…Theistic Interpretations”

  1. […] https://dmhamby2.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/theistic-interpretations/ Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Reformulating Thoughts on the Trinity…Theistic InterpretationsPrayers and an EarthquakeBiblical Answers for a Biblically Illiterate Atheist. Posted by dmhamby2 Filed in Religion, Uncategorized 1 Comment » […]

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