Conversation with a Pantheist
Not so long ago, I was asked to officiate a wedding for a young couple at the behest of a relative. I was told that the mother of one of the couple was religious and was seeking a minister that would assist. The couple was not active in church and came from different religious backgrounds, so the mother’s church had refused the ceremony. I decided I would at least meet the couple to see if I could be of assistance, and at a minimum see where there faith actually rested. I met them at a little sandwich shop, and we began our meeting. The couple started of very eager to meet and was excited about their plans. We took some time discussing how they met, and what led up to the marriage. Then we went through a series of questions concerning the role of the husband and the wife, and what marriage would mean to each of them. As we discussed this, a liberal trend emerged on these views. They were not traditional Christian views, so I decided to turn the conversation to the spiritual.
In this discussion I discovered that they were not Christian at all. They did not even feel the need to have God mentioned in their service at all, and wanted no forms of prayer to God (as the creator of the universe). They explained they did not believe in God, but that the universe itself was God, and that Karma controlled everything. They believed that when you die, you would, then become one with the universe. I discussed with them different scriptures showing that God did exist and that Jesus is the creator of all creation, to include the universe. (Genesis chapters 1 and 2; John 1:1-3). They flatly rejected the scripture. I asked them why they wanted a minister of the Lord God to perform their wedding. They said they wanted one because they needed to please the mother. I told them I could not solemnize a marriage before God, when he was not invited to the wedding.
Pantheism comes from two Greek words meaning “all” (Pan) is “God” (theos). Pantheism is a belief that God and the universe are one and the same, or God consists of everything and everyone. That is the culmination of everything in the universe is God. It is a type of philosophy; rather than a religion. (Mander, William. “Pantheism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 7 July 2016, plato.stanford.edu/entries/pantheism/.). It is a redefinition of what we perceive as God. Judaism and Christianity are monotheist in their view of God, meaning one God, but separate from creation. The “old gods” like the Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Romans gods are polytheistic, meaning multiple gods and some are separate from creation and some are not.
Pantheism reports that God is a persona not a person. This view of God infers that the Universe is God, and God is the Universe. There is no separate consciousness that separates the two. This means that God didn’t make the earth or define laws of nature or physics or anything else. God simply exists in everything. It is important to understand that this philosophy does not believe that every animal, plant, or river has its own soul. God and the universe are not created and infinite. The universe (God) has always existed and will always exist. The belief that God and the universe is one is a modern belief that fosters a philosophy that at face says we should tolerate all religions because all paths lead to God. However; believers of this theology are not tolerant of strict dogma and rituals. Pantheist believe everyone should have their own path to realization of their oneness with God and the universe. This is most probably because they do not believe in an afterlife. We must be sure not to group Pantheist in with Deism.
Deist believe that God has his own consciousness and took an active role in the creation of the universe. Once God created the universe, he just left it to be. God is impersonal in the life of his creation. Believers of this religious philosophy support scientific inquiry, and the Big Bang theory. (Beyer, Catherine. “Pantheism Explained.” Learn Religions, Apr. 17, 2019, learnreligions.com/pantheism-95680.) The New Age movement, some Native American, WICCA, and eastern religions subscribe, in part or all, to Pantheistic thoughts including some forms of Hinduism, Unity Christian Science and Scientology.
It is easy to see why Christianity rejects such a philosophy of the universe (God). Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There are some pretty clear distinctions brought up here. First, there is a definite point where time was created and in that point we find the “beginning”. “In the beginning”, means at the start of time, the following is then mentioned that God created. This means that the universe was clearly created and that it was not in existence in eternity past this point where time begins. The second is a separation of God from the creation. The term used here in the Hebrew is Elohim. This term means “strong one, mighty leader, supreme Deity”. Once again, this separation clearly shows there is a difference from God and his creation. If we look at Nehemiah 9:6 we will also see that the distinction of God and his creation is manifested.
“Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshipppeth thee.” (Nehemiah 9:6)
Nehemiah is very careful to distinguish God as being unique from anything else there is. Nehemiah gives God credit for creation of heaven, the heavens, and everything that is in them, and the earth, including the seas. Nehemiah also proclaims that God is rightly worshipped as the creator and sustainer of all creation, to include the angels. God declares himself in Isaiah 45:5 “I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.” This is a clear indicator that God is separate from his creation.
God asks Job, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7) This passage shows that God even tells us that he was present prior to the creation. It also tells us that he planned out the creation. Me measured, and established the foundations. God made one intelligent decision after another in the forming of the building blocks of the creation. The Spirit of wisdom is recorded in Proverbs 8:22-30 as saying, “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;”. Jesus himself claimed to be God and in the presence of the Father from before the foundations were created.
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:5)
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)
The Genesis record of creation shows a God that was intimately involved in his creation. It also shows that he took pride in his creation. He looked and saw that it was good at each stage. This means that he had measurable benchmarks, like any good project manager would have.(Proverbs 3:19) He established these benchmarks and noted when each one was met to standard. God not only created, but he actively sustains his creation. (Job 12:10; 38:8-11; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Corinthians 8:6). King David wrote beautifully describing the faithful care of God over his creation, “He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habituation, which sing among the branches. He watereth the hills from his chambers: the eath is satisfied with the fruit of thy works….” (Psalm 104:10-13) The psalm goes in even more detail concerning the love and care of the Lord God over his creation.
What is so silly about man, is that we probably the smartest of all God’s creations, certainly the most capable (Genesis 11:6), and yet we cannot figure out what the animals seem to reveal themselves. God tells us to look at the rest of creation and see that he made it. “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?” (Job 12:7-9) Jesus said that a sparrow does not fall to the ground without our heavenly father knowing about it. (Matthew 10:29) With this level of care we see demonstrated every day, how can we not be in awe of God? The scriptures tell us over and over that nature declares God (Psalm 19:1-4; 97:6), and the even the earth, moon, and stars declare the glory of God (Psalm 96:11-13; 148:1-6; 148:7-10; Isaiah 55:12). Perhaps the Pantheist is misinterpreting this message that he whole universe is declaring concerning God and his relationship to his creation. In missing this message, they miss the next part. Jesus is the creator of whom we are speaking. John the Apostle explains to us.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:1-5). Perhaps we are seeing this very truth played out in the heart of the pantheist. The light is shining in the darkness, but in their arrogance, they cannot comprehend it. Take a look at John 3:16-20 and see what it says about what condemns a man.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (John 3:16-20)
You see Jesus, the creator of the universe and all creation became a living, mortal man and dwelt among us. While here scripture tells us he was tempted in every way that a man can be tempted in, yet he remained sinless. He was able to do this because he was also the Son of God, thus making him, God. He was condemned for our transgressions committed against him through the fall of Adam, and subsequently all sin thereafter. The penalty for sin is death. Being convicted in our place, he (Jesus) was sentenced to death. This death payed the penalty for our sin. So we would not have to die for our own sin, nor the sin inherited from Adam. Jesus then becomes the only way that we are forgiven. If we reject Jesus, or God (Jesus), then we reject this gift that he chose to give us. That means the sin was forgiven, but the rejection of Jesus becomes the manner in which someone is condemned. Those who reject Jesus do so because the Word of God points our sin, and establishes the authority of Jesus as God. It points to Jesus as the redeemer, and the judge. Those who reject Jesus, reject the authority of God in an effort to avoid the necessity to face the truth. They prefer to live in sin, and reject the idea of someone being able to tell them if what they do is right or wrong. This is rebellion against God, and they make themselves an enemy of God. This scripture says that if you chose to be an enemy of God then that is your choice. You will then be treated as an enemy because you have rejected Jesus.
But there is hope, even for those who have rejected Jesus and are still breathing. You can repent and turn from your sin. He is waiting for you to come and accept his Word. He paid the price for all sin, including rejection. Because in actuality, all have sinned against God. None of us can measure up to God’s righteousness. None of us are right with God in ourselves. We are made right with God through the righteousness of Christ, who gave himself for us, for you. If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus died, was buried, and arose from the grave in order to justify the forgiveness of your sin, then you will be saved. The neat thing is that he did this while we were enemies with him. He knew that we hated him and his authority, yet he loved us anyway. He loved us enough to come down here, become his own creation, and suffer death for us, so we could see his love and accept him as the loving God he truly is. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Scripture tell us that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. That is awesome to know that God accepts everyone.