The Origins of the New Testament, Part XVII: The Birth of Mark, the First Gospel

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 25 March 2010 0 Comments
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Ann Holtz from Knoxville, Tennessee, writes:

How does Panentheism differ from your vision of God beyond theism?


Dear Ann,

The two would be close, but I do not think that human beings should ever try to define God. Panentheism is one more human attempt at an explanation.

Panentheism suggests that God is experienced in and through all things, but tries to distinguish itself from the claims made by Pantheism that God is identical with all things. Panentheism was designed to assert "the beyond" nature of the transcendent.

My sense is that all human beings can do is to talk about how we believe we have experienced God, which is quite different from who or what God is. Horses cannot, because of the limits of their horse consciousness, describe what it means to be human. I wonder why any of us think that human beings, because of the limits of our human consciousness, can describe what it means to be God.

So I am not drawn to any words that purport to define God. I am deeply drawn to God but am content to experience that reality, not to define it. So Theism, Pantheism, Panentheism are of little value to me. Thanks for enquiring.

John Shelby Spong



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