"WILKEN: On that issue of "people-of-faith" the subtitle of the book is "Finding the Sacred in the Middle of Everything." so it might sound to some like pantheism. Do you believe that the "sacred", as you define it, is found in all religions?But being part of a 'diversity-in-unity' Communion, if it is okay for Episcopalians to be panentheists, it is okay for any Anglicans to be panentheists.
JEFFERTS SCHORI: Yes, I think it probably is. We're not pantheists, many Episcopalians might be understood to as "panentheists". The difference being that pantheists see everything as God and panentheists see God reflected in all of God's creation. When we talk about human beings being made in the image of God that's a piece of what we are talking about and we would extend that to all of creation. "
What do you think?
I feel all Spongish about this (i.e. I am sceptical) ...
But being part of a 'diversity-in-unity' Communion, if it is okay for Episcopalians to be panentheists, it is okay for any Anglicans to be panentheists.
Sure, an Episcopalian can be a Panentheist. Heck, an Episcopalian can be a functional atheist and still be a bishop. There are no doctrinal standards for heresy in the Episcopal church - unless of course you count defying the Canons to be heresy. Then there are all kinds of heresies, and all kinds of well-funded lawyers to enforce them. And since an Episcopalian is an Anglican, then we can certainly say the an Anglican can be a panentheist. But these are all the wrong questions. A temporal organization can contain within it any number of people with such ideas.
So let's ask the right question. Can a Christian be a panentheist? No. A Christian cannot be a panentheist. The two are mutually exclusive. To affirm for one is to deny the other.
Now while Pageantmaster wrote this comment, but would you really say that you will find Pageantmaster in this comment, or even that Pageantmaster's face is to be found reflected in this comment?
One hears this sort of rubbish all the time from over the pond - the confusion of the creator with His creation.
It is of course, nonsense, I am sure someone wiser than I will be able to identify this particular heresy du jour from the Presiding 'Bishop'.
I detect that Bishop Katharine's willingness to include, rather than exclude, all of the world's human begins might be a lot more vocationally Christian than the 'faith' of the frightened exclusivists - whose sole premise for their expectation of salvation appears to be that of their own assumed self-righteousness. Perhaps a bit more humility, and a little less hubris might serve them better than nasty criticism.
Christ's parable of the Publican and the Pharisee speaks volumes here. "God so loved the World..."
Hi Fr Ron
The trouble is that Bishop Katharine's willingness to include all heresies in her unbiblical panentheism is a denial of the gift of Christ upon the cross - it makes it meaningless that that sacrifice was made for us, and takes the point out of the Christian life of belief and reception of Christ into our lives.
It may be worthwhile considering the whole of that verse in John 3:16 you quote:
"God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES in him shall not perish but have eternal life"
While God does indeed love the whole of His creation and each and every one of us, and calls all of us to serve others, believer and unbeliever alike [the parable of the good Samaritan], he does not offer indiscriminate grace and salvation to all, but provides that in the words of John 1:10-12
"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. YET TO ALL WHO RECEIVED HIM, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right TO BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."
While God does indeed love all and seek after all [the parable of the lost sheep], we have the right to affirm or reject him, to believe or receive him, and to those who do so, he gives us the greatest gift of all, the right TO BECOME children of God.
Isn't that wonderful?
The question I am asking concerns 'panentheism'. I see a relationship between 'panentheism' and 'inclusivism' and 'universalism', but the specific question is not about how inclusive the gospel is, or your/my missional vision is, or whether we believe all people will be saved or not.
The question is about the relationship between God and the world, or God and creation, and whether Christian doctrine is panentheist or not.
It is a fair question to ask, and (I suggest) a good question to ask, because there is an argument that Eastern Orthodoxy is panentheist in a manner that (typically, traditionally) Western Orthodoxy is not.
But the question is about panentheism; not about anything else. One could believe that God was going to save every human being, the last one being snatched up just before the world is consumed by divine fire! That would be universalism without panentheism.
Conversely, as I understand it, panentheism has challenges to explain, such as why some creatures kill and devour other creatures, why earthquakes kill some people while others proclaim that 'God is love', and so forth.
Semantics, semantics, all is semantics! Why do people get so worried about mere words. Salvation is not dependent on getting the right word - excepting The Word, who has become flesh and dwells among us!
Are you saying that TEC members are not capable of nutting out the basics of the Faith - in Christ Jesus, God's only Son, Our Lord?
Their following of the Credal statements - in so far as they touch on the divine and fully human nature of Jesus - surely gives them as much validity in the Church as those who idolise The Book (of the words) that describe the pilgrimage of human beings who feel they have discerned all the fullness of the Mind of God?
I suspect that few Epsicopalians are Spongians. I, myself, regard his theories on Incarnation and Resurrection to be somewhat woolly. But I do not believe he is 'a limb of Satan' that some on this blog seem to believe.
I do believe that the Presiding Bishop of TEC is a deeply spiritual person, devoted to the mission of Christ's love at work in God's world; that she believes in the Credal Doctrines of the Church Catholic, that she thrives on the efficacy of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; and that she is Trinitarian and a Thinker.
I also believe she is God's choice for TEC at this point in its openness to Christ's offering of Himself for the salvation of ALL.
These petty attacks on ECUSA, the P.B. and her polity are nothing less than attacks on God's revelation of openness to ALL.
Jesus did not die just for the Church, but for the world. And as soon as the Church begins to accept this painful fact, the sooner these spiteful little factions in the Church will begin to disappear. Kyrie eleison!
Peter, you have asked a good and important question. I cannot speak specifically of the PB's views, so my comments here are more general in scope.
I am doubtful that the terminology of panentheism is at all helpful (although I recognise the important distinction from pantheism). There is a sense in which it has an element of truth in what it affirms - Scripture clearly affirms and celebrates that the glory of God is both reflected in and found throughout all of creation (e.g. Isaiah 6:3).
However, it is seriously problematic in what it does not say - that there is a profound demarcation to be upheld between the Creator God and creation itself. The former alone is to be worshipped, and never the latter (for such is idolatry - Rom. 1:25).
The real issue I have with panentheists is that they very often deny any existence of God other than what is found within creation. As I understand it, they deny any form of theism other than panentheism, and at that point I think they are advocating a very different position to that articulated in Eastern Orthodoxy (which I think has a lot more going for it).
If panentheism is completely in line with Christian orthodoxy, then that is fine.
If it is not, then it is a concern, not so much that a bishop seemingly approves of it, but that many Anglicans/Episcopalians do.
There is no attack on anyone here, only a genuine search for the truth.
As far as I can tell you have not actually answered the question!
You are precisely right, +Tim, there are nuances to consider; it is not a straightforward "panentheist" = "heretic" (nor the opposite!).
Much depends on the definition of "panentheism."
Peter, your substantive question was: "What do you think". And I told you. (You don't have to accept what I think).
Err, okay, Ron.
But rereading what I wrote, I think it clear that I am asking people to comment on what they think about whether Anglicans can be panentheists or not.
Reading +Tim's comment, I was intrigued enough to inquire when did Anglican bishops begin putting crosses before their names. This answer is from Nashotah House:
"The custom derives from the era when medieval bishops would humbly sign their names by prefixing the title "Sinner" or "Sinful Servant". So Anselm of Canterbury might sign his letters in this way:
Your Sinful Servant,
The cross prefix is merely a symbol of one being a "sinner" - that is one in need of the redeeming cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
And I thought he was pulling rank! So "+++Rowan" means extremely bad sinner?!
Still, I wonder why evangelical Anglicans feel the need to use these medieval affections.
Apart from Genesis 1-2, the most helpful passage for us here is Romans 8, where we read the creation was "subjected to frustration", but now "waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" so that it can be "liberated from its bondage to decay".
So, we ought to speak of a creation which reflects God's glory, but is marred by sinfulness and decay in the same way as human beings. However, it is looking forward to a glorious redemption.
The problem with panentheism is that it sees the reflection of God's glory, but not the decay or frustration. It sees creation as perfected rather than longing for redemption. It is then a short path from there to underplaying the need for human redemption through Christ.
Perhaps, Martin, because some of them might actually feel that they are sinners too. But don't quote me!
Rather a long response, but since you wrote, I thought I ought to do credit to what you say with a bit of effort.
You say: "Semantics, semantics, all is semantics! Why do people get so worried about mere words. Salvation is not dependent on getting the right word - excepting The Word, who has become flesh and dwells among us!"
Not semantics - it is an issue of whether God is indistiguishable from or even partly composed of his creation, or instead the Lord and creator of that creation. This knocks on to whether salvation is granted to all humanity, just for being created by God, or whether the words of St John do in fact mean what Christians have always held in their creeds that Salvation is available to those people who 'receive' and 'believe'.
You say: "Are you saying that TEC members are not capable of nutting out the basics of the Faith - in Christ Jesus, God's only Son, Our Lord?
Their following of the Credal statements - in so far as they touch on the divine and fully human nature of Jesus - surely gives them as much validity in the Church as those who idolise The Book (of the words) that describe the pilgrimage of human beings who feel they have discerned all the fullness of the Mind of God?"
It is not for me to determine what TEC members or any others are capable of, only whether what members of that church write as being their understanding is consistent with what we read in "The Book (of the words) that describe the pilgrimage of human beings who feel they have discerned all the fullness of the Mind of God?", by which I assume you mean the Holy Bible.
Obviously if people just regard the Holy Bible as a description of the pilgrimage of human beings discerning the Mind of God, they will come to different conclusions [such as the views the Presiding Bishop seems to express] than Christians who believe that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and sufficient for salvation [as the Articles say] so that whatever is not read in it, is not to be required to be believed by Christians. I would hope that you regard the Holy Bible as rather more than a "pilgrimage of human beings who feel they have discerned all the fullness of the Mind of God"
You say: "I suspect that few Epsicopalians are Spongians. I, myself, regard his theories on Incarnation and Resurrection to be somewhat woolly. But I do not believe he is 'a limb of Satan' that some on this blog seem to believe."
I don't know how many Episcopalians are Spongians, and have no view on whether Bishop Spong is a limb of Satan or not.
- cont. below
You say: "I do believe that the Presiding Bishop of TEC is a deeply spiritual person, devoted to the mission of Christ's love at work in God's world; that she believes in the Credal Doctrines of the Church Catholic, that she thrives on the efficacy of the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; and that she is Trinitarian and a Thinker"
I have no idea what she thinks, how spiritual or devoted she is - all one can go on are her published views such as this interview.
You say: "I also believe she is God's choice for TEC at this point in its openness to Christ's offering of Himself for the salvation of ALL."
She is certainly somebody's choice, but I have no information on whether God played any part in that - I am sorry to say I see no evidence in her actions or conduct that she is building up the body of Christ - rather her incumbency has been marked by pain, litigation, declining numbers and persecution of orthodox believers, most recently her vicious pursuit of Bishop Mark Lawrence. Far from being inclusive, her period of office has seen notable exclusion of our brother and sister Christians in TEC.
As noted before, Christ offered himself on the Cross for the salvation of all WHO BELIEVE AND RECEIVE HIM in the words of St John.
You say: "These petty attacks on ECUSA, the P.B. and her polity are nothing less than attacks on God's revelation of openness to ALL."
Well no, these are not petty attacks, but criticism of the published views of the Presiding Bishop. If she publishes views, then people are entitled to examine the extent to which they are in conformity with the revelation of God contained within Holy Scripture, the creeds, and indeed the doctrine of the Episcopal Church for that matter [which Carl will be pleased to know does still exist].
The revelation of God is not under attack, and is not dependant on the PB's published views, rather the other way round.
You say: Jesus did not die just for the Church, but for the world. And as soon as the Church begins to accept this painful fact, the sooner these spiteful little factions in the Church will begin to disappear. Kyrie eleison!"
Jesus did die for the world, to reconcile it to God, but as St John says, the world did not receive him, and still does not, although increasing numbers of people are. However, as St John also says, Salvation while offered to all, is available to those who receive and believe, that is to those who commit themselves to him in whatever way. Those who reject and turn their back on him have free will to do so, and while as far as I know Christ will go after them, he will not insist.
This is an important belief the church has always held, the church being no more than those who have received and believed in Him, although not necessarly identical with what is institutionally called 'the church'.
Why do these things matter? Well because if people are only given half the story, that Jesus died for all, without it being explained that to take up that offer requires belief or at least a willingness to receive Christ, they are not being told the Good News; similarly if people are led to believe that concentrating on the creation is as good as or identical with the worship due to God, they are also being misled.
This disagreement is interesting to me, and brings back warm memories of theological discussions of yore. My understanding of panentheism—from my experience in the Education For Ministry (EFM) program years ago at Trinity Church Wall Street—is that it is an Eastern Orthodox doctrine that is a theological answer to pantheism. That God is not “co-extensive with the universe” but rather God is in some sense “inside” or “within” all of creation, but yet is much more than simply the “sum” of all things. To me this disagreement simply shows that the Presiding Bishop (and many other High Church Episcopalians including me!) are much more in sympathy with Eastern mysticism than with the neo-Puritan theology of Sydney and Nelson con evos.
The PB as not at all as clear as you are about panentheism. Her words can be read as saying that she believes creation itself is made in the image of God. If so, this is an extraordinary rendition of "panentheism' because it is vulnerable to the charge that it means God is a capricious, volatile, inhuman brute: for this is how creation (or 'nature') is often experienced.
Peter, exactly how do youi known that "the PB (is) not at all clear as Karl) is about panentheism"?
And, Pageantmaster, you say you know nothing about the PB's views on (anything). Have you actually ever been in coversation with her, face to face? Some of us have had that particular privilege, and have been impressed by her under-standing of, and adherence to, the credal definitions.
My own understanding of panentheisim, from the roots of that word, is that something of God exists in all that God has created. Is that not a good thing?
Of course, anyone with a brain claiming to 'know' God, will realise that God is also 'above' the Creation. This isd what makes the Incarnation of Christ such a wonderful and humbling experience for us human beings.
I know that the Creeds speak of savlation being available to those who believe in the Triune nature of God; but it does not, therefore necessarily mean that God did not intend all human beings - created in the divine Image and Likeness - to be heirs of the salvation of Christ Incarnate. That is God's prerogative - not ours.
A parallel to the idea that only a certain 'class' of humanity will be 'saved', can be found in many religious bodies - one of which is the Roman Catholic Church, which has grave doubts about the salvation of anyone who isn't a Baptized Catholic. Anathemas are being pronounced by Christians all the time - look at ACNA and GAFCON.
I am working on the transcript of what the PB said in a public interview, and saying that is not clear to me.
I cannot work on other conversations unheard by me and unavailable in public transcripts.
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