Can there be a such thing as Pantheistic Christianity?

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Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 03:35 pm
I'm still 'finding my way' as far as God goes. I choose not to be Atheist as it's, quite frankly, dull, but I also can't accept God as the human-like being depicted in the Bible.

I've read Tao Teh King by Lao Tzu (Taoism), which describes Nature as being the ultimate source of all. Through the book, I realized that if I replaced the word nature with the word God, it summed up my views.

My God is the creator of all, but is not a being, an entity, a man, a woman, and no adjective can be used to describe it. It just is. Because it is the creator of all, the closest we can get to it is through the world it created for us.

In my opinion, the human mind cannot worship God without bearing false witness for worshiping the thought of God, an image of God, or an action of God is not worshiping God.

Sorry if I'm rambling, and I'm even more sorry if this doesn't make sense Smile
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 03:51 pm
@dharma bum,
I don't know how many times people have called me a pantheist on this forum.

Anyway, some reading I found that you might like:
Universal Pantheist Society - Christianity and Pantheism by Michael W. Fox

The Wiki on pantheism contains a brief on pantheism in Christianity. Included is the following link, which I found to be particularly interesting:
Process theology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
dharma bum
 
Reply Fri 10 Jul, 2009 07:56 pm
@dharma bum,
Thanks a lot Didymos, nice articles Smile
 
pagan
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 05:20 am
@dharma bum,
To be honest dharma_bum, i cant see that anyone is going to have an easy time being pantheistic and a christian. I don't believe they are incompatible, but as a pagan who recognises some value in the myth of Christ and his teachings, nevertheless the christian church would consider me an outsider.

But you dont have to be a 'christian' to revere christ. Many jews and the muslims do for a start, considering him to be a prophet. But does not your handle signal an interest in buddhism? There are many who recognise the sermon on the mount for example as being obviously inspired through enlightenment. I have also read that the 'lost years' of Christ refer to his travelling east to india.

It has also been noted the similarity in life myth of Krishna and Christ. Many believe the one myth to have travelled and become the other.
Quote:

In my opinion, the human mind cannot worship God without bearing false witness for worshiping the thought of God, an image of God, or an action of God is not worshiping God.
hmmmm..... not sure how to interpret that, but pantheism would appear to be a nightmare of images with such a view! Unless you can take refuge in not seeing the wood for the trees. Smile
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 05:44 am
@pagan,
The problem for all those who try to describe god they loose their way.I do believe Taoism never tries to or even names this entity.You cant even call it an entity because that conjures up a picture.
All we can ever do is see or look for footprints.If anyone is brave enough to describe him they usually have to become very rhetoric in a very short time.
Christianity is no exception unless you see him as a message rather than a living god.Pantheists in my opinion are atheists with frocks on.The two could never unite.
 
pagan
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 05:55 am
@xris,
xris;76962 wrote:
.Pantheists in my opinion are atheists with frocks on.


lol! well it is true that some atheists believe in the supernatural. Ghosts, psychic interactive and all that.

But actually the term pantheism has 'widened' i think. Smile
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 06:07 am
@pagan,
pagan;76965 wrote:
lol! well it is true that some atheists believe in the supernatural. Ghosts, psychic interactive and all that.

But actually the term pantheism has 'widened' i think. Smile
Well im not sure,they claim not to be atheist but when questioned defy to describe their image of god.It would be ok if they could say im naturalist or i believe this or that but they never do.
 
pagan
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 06:32 am
@xris,
?? but what if a pantheist doesnt believe in one god to rule them all, but does believe in a pantheon of 2 or more gods(goddesses)?
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 06:48 am
@pagan,
pagan;76970 wrote:
?? but what if a pantheist doesnt believe in one god to rule them all, but does believe in a pantheon of 2 or more gods(goddesses)?
well thats not my experience of pantheists,if they claimed that ide ask for a description.Those I've experienced will argue the atheist view but still claim not to be.I find them a bit of an enigma.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Mon 13 Jul, 2009 05:46 pm
@xris,
xris;76962 wrote:
The problem for all those who try to describe god they loose their way.


All of them? Anyone who describes God at all necessarily loses their way? You can prove this?

xris;76962 wrote:
I do believe Taoism never tries to or even names this entity.


Sure Taoist describe and name: it's called Tao, and it's like an empty vessel and so forth. It's all in that book, the Tao te Ching.

xris;76962 wrote:
Pantheists in my opinion are atheists with frocks on.The two could never unite.


Pantheism is, philosophically, difficult to distinguish from atheism: pantheism posits a kind of God that most atheist find agreeable.

To say that Christianity and pantheism are incompatible is to deny what is in front of one's face: there have been, in fact, and are, in fact, pantheist Christians.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2009 12:47 am
@dharma bum,
hey I don't think it's a dumb question at all, it is a very good question. But I don't think it is really pantheism that you're after.

There is a certain tradition, called Apophatic Theology. Not a very attractive word, I admit, but it points to something very similar to what you are describing. 'God' so far surpasses all attempts at description, and is so immeasurably greater than any particular thing, that 'He' cannot be described or thought of.

There is a very beautiful work of mystical medieval theology which describes this understanding, called The Cloud of Unknowing, by Anonymous Monk (how apt, eh?).

In many ways, the Christian schools of mystical theology are convergent with the Indian wisdom schools, also. There is a kind of universality to that understanding. It is trans-cultural.

I think the key point is, to really feel that unknowing, very deeply. Not just a casual sort of 'I dunno' but the realisation that the unknowable is something in the very middle of being. (This is actually the case.) I suspect this is something you are feeling, hence your question.

Keep going with it.
 
xris
 
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2009 09:03 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;77093 wrote:
All of them? Anyone who describes God at all necessarily loses their way? You can prove this?



Sure Taoist describe and name: it's called Tao, and it's like an empty vessel and so forth. It's all in that book, the Tao te Ching.



Pantheism is, philosophically, difficult to distinguish from atheism: pantheism posits a kind of God that most atheist find agreeable.

To say that Christianity and pantheism are incompatible is to deny what is in front of one's face: there have been, in fact, and are, in fact, pantheist Christians.
Tell me one believer that can describe his god with certainty?.....Whats an empty vessel then Tom?its another way of admitting we cant describe him...Once again you assume that others are not aware of certain knowledge, i know darned well that there are christian pantheists also hindus can be classified as such but i have never had a debate with one that could describe his belief system without acknowledging both beliefs are incompatible with the other.They are atheist with frocks on.If you would like to explain their position with authority do so.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 14 Jul, 2009 07:46 pm
@xris,
xris;77200 wrote:
Tell me one believer that can describe his god with certainty?.....


Now you have added a new element: with certainty. There are a great many people who claim to be able to provide accurate, absolute descriptions of their God with complete certainty. Look up Christian fundamentalism if you want examples. This is not esoteric knowledge.

And for these people, they can describe their God with certainty: it's God as they understand Him to be. Whether or not their God makes any sense is another matter entirely.

xris;77200 wrote:
Whats an empty vessel then Tom?its another way of admitting we cant describe him...


No, the empty vessel parable is a description of Tao - not of any "him".

xris;77200 wrote:
Once again you assume that others are not aware of certain knowledge,


You said that Taoists do not describe Tao - which is false. They do in fact describe Tao, and have ever since the Tao te Ching was set down.

This is not hidden information, it's available to anyone who decides to read the old Taoist text - which can be found in a variety of translations for free online.

xris;77200 wrote:
i know darned well that there are christian pantheists also hindus can be classified as such


Therefore, one can be a Christian pantheist. Pantheism and Christianity can, in fact, have, in fact, "united" to use your terminology.

xris;77200 wrote:
but i have never had a debate with one that could describe his belief system without acknowledging both beliefs are incompatible with the other.


The extent of your experience with Christian pantheists is irrelevant. Simply because you have never debated with such a person, it does not follow that such a person does not exist.

xris;77200 wrote:
They are atheist with frocks on.If you would like to explain their position with authority do so.


As I said, Pantheism is essentially the same as atheism except that pantheists take something that atheists doe believe in and decide to call that thing God.

To say that they are "atheists with frocks on" is to insinuate some sort of attempt on the part of pantheists to hide their true beliefs - which is a wildly unnecessary slander against a large group of individuals. There is no reason to assume insincerity on the part of anyone.
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 01:52 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Tom i will take each of your nit picking points at a time...I made the comment that Taoists never name their creator,you said they called it Tao..Tao is not the name of their creator its their way of life, its literal meaning might be an empty vessel but its not their god.OK..
Pantheists can call themselves what they like but my opinion is that they are basically atheists and that it my opinion can not be attached to christianity,it is my opinion,now if you wish to dispute that be my guest...
Tell me one ,anyone who claims to know god who can not be found to contradict their description of their god,its my opinion if you want to dispute that be my guest..
Tom i think you have a problem left over from another thread,if it bugs you that much get it of your chest or leave me alone.All the best Xris..
 
Zetetic11235
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 02:26 am
@xris,
xris;77369 wrote:
Tom i will take each of your nit picking points at a time...I made the comment that Taoists never name their creator,you said they called it Tao..Tao is not the name of their creator its their way of life, its literal meaning might be an empty vessel but its not their god.OK..
Pantheists can call themselves what they like but my opinion is that they are basically atheists and that it my opinion can not be attached to christianity,it is my opinion,now if you wish to dispute that be my guest...
Tell me one ,anyone who claims to know god who can not be found to contradict their description of their god,its my opinion if you want to dispute that be my guest..
Tom i think you have a problem left over from another thread,if it bugs you that much get it of your chest or leave me alone.All the best Xris..


Joseph Campbell: "God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that."

This seems to fit perfectly with the Tao, and with the Pantheistic view of god. Tao is what is logically possible, the 'Ten thousand things' are what are physically manifest. Tao is what delineates what can be. In essence, Tao is that unreachable horizon, the line between what is possible and imposible, what delineates reality, and so by definition what transcends all levels of intellectual thought. In a sense, God could be taken to be this unreachable delineation of reality. This is basically the Pantheistic perspective.




DT, I have not really seen you explicitly lay out your beliefs, so I can only comment to a limited degree. 'God is everything' or rather 'God is that which delineates reality and is thus just beyond the horizon of contemplation' is certainly a valid point of view. It is (at least it seems to me to be) more linguistic than anything, and it seems like its aim is simply to give a feeling of mysticism that comes from, as Wittgenstein put it, viewing the world sub specie aeterni . If paired with the teachings of Christ, taking the divine aspects metaphorically, they seem fairly compatible. Of course, the metaphor would be interpreted from the standpoint of pantheism, which seems to me totally valid.
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 03:25 am
@Zetetic11235,
Zetetic11235;77374 wrote:
Joseph Campbell: "God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It's as simple as that."

This seems to fit perfectly with the Tao, and with the Pantheistic view of god. Tao is what is logically possible, the 'Ten thousand things' are what are physically manifest. Tao is what delineates what can be. In essence, Tao is that unreachable horizon, the line between what is possible and imposible, what delineates reality, and so by definition what transcends all levels of intellectual thought. In a sense, God could be taken to be this unreachable delineation of reality. This is basically the Pantheistic perspective.




DT, I have not really seen you explicitly lay out your beliefs, so I can only comment to a limited degree. 'God is everything' or rather 'God is that which delineates reality and is thus just beyond the horizon of contemplation' is certainly a valid point of view. It is (at least it seems to me to be) more linguistic than anything, and it seems like its aim is simply to give a feeling of mysticism that comes from, as Wittgenstein put it, viewing the world sub specie aeterni . If paired with the teachings of Christ, taking the divine aspects metaphorically, they seem fairly compatible. Of course, the metaphor would be interpreted from the standpoint of pantheism, which seems to me totally valid.
I have no trouble with your view of Taoists or their views.I still maintain pantheists are schizophrenic in their proclaimed views.I could say im in agreement with say christian teachings but i dont believe him to be the son of god,nor do pantheists, so how do they hang their coat on christian faith.
Admitting the possibility of god is not a metaphor,claiming god for certainty is definitely not a metaphor.These vague mystical claims without spelling out the details, is atheism with a coating of holy water.Their is a vast difference between pantheists and taoists as one claims no god the other is that we cant know him.I as an agnostic come closer to taoists than pantheists.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 08:39 pm
@xris,
xris;77369 wrote:
I made the comment that Taoists never name their creator,you said they called it Tao..Tao is not the name of their creator its their way of life, its literal meaning might be an empty vessel but its not their god.OK..


I never said it was their God or their creator. Taoism does not have a "creator" or a "God" in the pure western sense of the term. Tao is the analogous concept in Taoism to God in Christianity. It is named Tao.

The literal meaning of Tao is not an empty vessel - the parable is a figurative description of the Tao.

xris;77369 wrote:
Pantheists can call themselves what they like but my opinion is that they are basically atheists and that it my opinion can not be attached to christianity,it is my opinion,now if you wish to dispute that be my guest...


Sure: Pantheists are not, by definition, atheists because they call something 'God'. The God of pantheism, however, is typically something that's existence atheists do not dispute.

Historically, it is true, as you have admitted, that there have been pantheist Christians. Therefore, it is true that pantheism can be Christian.

xris;77369 wrote:
Tell me one ,anyone who claims to know god who can not be found to contradict their description of their god,its my opinion if you want to dispute that be my guest..


You want me to give an example of someone who can describe their God without contradicting himself? No, I'll refrain: because doing so is beside the point. It remains true that there exists some people who describe their God with absolute certainty.

xris;77369 wrote:
Tom i think you have a problem left over from another thread,if it bugs you that much get it of your chest or leave me alone.All the best Xris..


No, xris, I have a brand new problem: your strange and false assertions regarding religious belief in this thread.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 15 Jul, 2009 09:06 pm
@dharma bum,
I remember a quote from the Tao Te Ching: "The sage does not contend, and so no-one can contend with him"

I would say this is characteristic of the traditional Chinese approach which was to 'maintain harmony' rather than engage in disputation. However I also find it a useful guideline. It is one of those pithy statements from the Tao Te Ching which has a practical meaning.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 02:16 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;77527 wrote:
I never said it was their God or their creator. Taoism does not have a "creator" or a "God" in the pure western sense of the term. Tao is the analogous concept in Taoism to God in Christianity. It is named Tao.

The literal meaning of Tao is not an empty vessel - the parable is a figurative description of the Tao.



Sure: Pantheists are not, by definition, atheists because they call something 'God'. The God of pantheism, however, is typically something that's existence atheists do not dispute.

Historically, it is true, as you have admitted, that there have been pantheist Christians. Therefore, it is true that pantheism can be Christian.



You want me to give an example of someone who can describe their God without contradicting himself? No, I'll refrain: because doing so is beside the point. It remains true that there exists some people who describe their God with absolute certainty.



No, xris, I have a brand new problem: your strange and false assertions regarding religious belief in this thread.
Well i have a problem with you,you contradict yourself,time and again, and fail to recognise that i have an opinion that you claim is false, just because i have it.You dont contest my opinions in debate, you merely, in your normal superior manner, claim my opinions are false.You then have the audacity to refuse to answer a question because its "beside the point."Well my dear friend, I do believe you have a problem, so until you resolve it ,leave me alone..
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 16 Jul, 2009 03:00 am
@xris,
xris;77601 wrote:
Well i have a problem with you,you contradict yourself,time and again,


Show me a contradiction. These are things we can and should discuss.

xris;77601 wrote:
and fail to recognise that i have an opinion that you claim is false, just because i have it.


I do not disagree with something simply because you say it. Instead, I correct what I understand to be errors of fact and misleading interpretation. You certainly have your opinions - if I did not recognize that you have opinions I could not very well contest those opinions.

xris;77601 wrote:
You dont contest my opinions in debate, you merely, in your normal superior manner, claim my opinions are false.


I do nothing but say, "Nope, you're wrong"? As I recall, I typically say something closer to: "Nope, you're wrong for X(y, maybe z) reason(s)." At the very least, I provide an alternative to your claim. And I do not recall ever turning down a request or challenge to expand upon and explain my alternative.

Please, show some such oversight you think I have made.

xris;77601 wrote:
You then have the audacity to refuse to answer a question because its "beside the point."


You asked me to give an example of a a sort of person I never claimed existed in the first place. Is it reasonable of me to demand that you give me an example of your brilliant guitar playing, when you have made no claim to being a brilliant guitar player?

If the existence of someone who can, without contradiction, describe God. I see no relevance of this endeavor to any topic we have discussed in this thread. If there is some relevance, be my guest to explain it.

xris;77601 wrote:
Well my dear friend, I do believe you have a problem, so until you resolve it ,leave me alone..


Users do have the option to ignore other users. I'm not sure how to operate that function as I've never used it myself, but I'm sure another moderator can help you out. Maybe PM jgweed.
 
 

 
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