God’s intention for us in creation (Part 5): Pantheism or Deism?

This series of posts on creation asks the question – how can we best live in, learn from and interact with creation in order to be healthy and closer to God? As we have seen in the previous posts the Word is full of teaching and reflection on this question, so it must be important. This post is about the interlocking relationship between God and creation. How close and similar is God to us and what He has made, and how high above and different?

Something I find interesting is the two worldview extremes we can fall into about this – pantheism and deism. Pantheists see creation and God as so close together that they are essentially inseparable, leading ultimately to idolatry and nature-worship. The pantheist experiences the world as full of beauty and deeper meaning like Shakespeares plays or Mozart’s symphonies. On the other hand, deists think of creation and God as separated by a huge existential gulf, leading ultimately to atheism and science-worship. The deist sees the world as a machine that runs predictably according fixed laws which need to be explored and understood.

I would venture to say that these are the two natural viewpoints that us humans are inclined towards. It seems to me we all tend towards being either more new-age mystical (my world is ultimately metaphorical, spiritual and ‘divine’) or more rational (my world is ultimately logical, scientific and ‘natural’). But are these biases simply about personality, or can they be unhealthy? So many things are affected by them: our understanding of what ‘spiritual’ and ‘physical’ means, our expectations about bodily resurrection and what ‘going to heaven’ will be like, our preference for or dislike of sacraments and cathedrals, our engagement with the ‘green’ movement, and just the kinds of things we think about walking on the beach between the seagulls and the sand and the sound of the sea. And ultimately, it affects the way you believe God interacts with you.

In which direction are you inclined? Are you slightly more mystical or rational? And what is the righteous way in Jesus?

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One thought on “God’s intention for us in creation (Part 5): Pantheism or Deism?

  1. Is there really that much difference between deism and pantheism, or are they a lot closer to each other than would first appear?
    For example, both deny – essentially – that God may be personally known and that he is supernaturally active in the world and throughout the world. They both lead to worship of nature – either because nature itself is seen as being ‘god’, or because humans are seen as being so amazing, particularly in respect to their achievements, that they or their collective pronouncements are seen as ‘god’.

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