faith · God · Theology

The Difference A Word Makes

I’m mentioning Rowan Williams a lot recently. That’s because he’s brilliant ! I was listening to him being interviewed recently and at one point, he was talking about Pantheism and Panentheism.

The Pantheist believes that God is the sum total of all that is. Rocks, trees, animals, people, the universe.

As he was talking I had the image of triangles in my mind. One triangle represents everything that is. The other represents God. See my little diagram below, where ‘everything’ and ‘God’ are not only exactly the same shape, but are the same size.

Pantheism = God is everything

Panentheism is a belief that God is in everything. The little word ‘in’ makes a big difference.

Everything we look at, all that exists – the green triangle in my diagram below – has at its core, the presence and activity of God.

I’ve tried to show that by making the green triangle exactly the same shape as the big blue triangle. Being the same shape means that the universe reflects the nature of God, but is not identical with God.

The totality of everything – Rocks, trees, animals, people, the universe … is soaked through with God but it certainly doesn’t exhaust God.

And to quote Roman Williams – ‘That’s pretty much where I’ve got to be’

Me too. I love the idea that you can be immersed in something much bigger than yourself.

Grace and Peace.

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