Concept of God ~ Panentheism – Neoplatonism – Monotheism

Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) “all”; ἐν (en) “in”; and θεός (Theós) “God”; “all-in-God”) A panentheistic belief system is one which posits that the one God interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe.[1]

In panentheism, God is viewed as creator and/or animating force behind the universe, and the source of universal truth. This concept of God is closely associated with the Logos as stated in the 5th century BCE works of Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC), in which the Logos pervades the cosmos and whereby all thoughts and things originate; e.g., “He who hears not me but the Logos will say: All is one.” A similar thought espoused by Jesus and interpreted by Unity as being synonmous: “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30)

Panentheism is essentially a unifying combination of theism (God is the supreme being) and pantheism (God is everything). While pantheism says that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe and that the universe is contained within God. Panentheism holds that God is the “supreme affect and effect” of the universe.

North American Indians were and still are largely panentheistic, conceiving of God (or the Sacred Other as George Tinker, a member of the Osage Nation, describes the Deep Mystery which creates and sustains all Creation in his book Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation) as both immanent in Creation and transcendent from it. An exception is the Cherokee who were monotheistic.[citation needed] Most South American peoples were largely panentheistic as well (as were ancient South East Asian cultures).[citation needed] The Central American empires of the Mayas, Aztecs as well as the South American Incans (Tahuatinsuyu) were actually polytheistic and had very strong male deities.

Neoplatonism is polytheistic and panentheistic. Plotinus taught that there was an ineffable transcendent God (The One) of which subsequent realities were emanations. From the One emanates the Divine Mind (Nous) and the Cosmic Soul (Psyche). In Neoplatonism the world itself is a God.

In theology, monotheism (from Greek μόνος “one” and θεός “god”) is the belief in the existence of one deity, or in the oneness of God.[1] In a Western context, the concept of “monotheism” tends to be dominated by the concept of the god of the Abrahamic religions and the Platonic concept of God as put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.

The concept of monotheism has largely been defined in contrast with polytheistic religions, and monotheism tends to overlap with other Unitary concepts, such as monism.

Whereas monotheism is a self-description of religions subsumed under this term, there is no equivalent self-description for polytheist religions: monotheism asserts itself by opposing polytheism, while polytheism does not use the same argumentative device, as it includes a concept of divine unity despite worshipping a plethora of gods.[2] By the same token, monotheistic religions may still include concepts of a plurality of the divine, for example the Trinity, in which God is only one but has three different persons (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). Additionally, many Christians believe God to have two natures (a divine one and Human-Jesus Christ) and only God can be adored as such. Christians of a catholic tradition venerate the Saints among them Mary as human beings that had remarkable qualities, have lived their faith in God to the extreme and continue to assist in the process of salvation for others.[3]

Some argue that there are various forms of monotheism, including:

Henotheism involves devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of other gods. Similarly, monolatrism is the worship of a single deity independent of the ontological claims regarding that deity.

Theism a term that refers to the belief in the existence of a god or divine being.

Deism is a form of monotheism in which it is believed that one god exists. However, a deist rejects the idea that this god intervenes in the world.

Monistic Theism is the type of monotheism found in Hinduis, encompassing pantheism, monism, and at the same time the concept of a personal god Pantheism holds that the Universe itself is god. The existence of a transcendent supreme extraneous to nature is denied. Depending on how this is understood, such a view may well be presented as tantamount to atheism, deism or panentheism.

Panentheism, or Monistic Monotheism, is a form of theism that holds that god contains, but is not identical to, the Universe. The ‘one god’ is omnipotent and all-pervading, the universe is part of god, and god is both immanent and transcendent.

Substance monotheism, found in some indigenous African religions, holds that the many gods are different forms of a single underlying substance.

On the surface, monotheism is in contrast with polytheism, which is the worship of several deities. Polytheism is however reconcilable with Inclusive monotheism, which claims that all deities are just different names or forms for the single god. This approach is common in Hinduism, e.g. in Smartism. Exclusive monotheism, on the other hand, actively opposes polytheism. Monotheism is often contrasted with theistic dualism (ditheism). However, in dualistic theologies as that of Gnosticism, the two deities are not of equal rank, and the role of the Gnostic demiurge is closer to that of Satan in Christian theology than that of a diarch on equal terms with god (who is represented in pantheistic fashion, as Pleroma).

Ancient Middle-Eastern religions may have worshipped a single god within a pantheon and the abolition of all others, as in the case of the Aten cult in the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, under the chiefly influence of the Eastern-originating Nefertiti. Iconoclasm during this pharaoh’s rule is considered a chief origin for the subsequent destruction by some groups of idols, holding that no other god before the preferred deity (dually and subtly acknowledging the existence of the other gods, but only as foes to be destroyed for their drawing of attention away from the primary deity).

Other issues such as Divine Right of Kings may possibly also stem from pharaonic laws on the ruler being the demigod or representative of the Creator on Earth. The massive tombs in the Egyptian pyramids which aligned with astronomical observations, perhaps exemplify this relationship between the pharaoh and the heavens.

Zoroastrianism is considered to be one of the earliest monotheistic beliefs, but the Zoroastrian definition of monotheism is neither comparable nor compatible with the monotheism of other religions that – in addition to being monotheistic – are also monist.