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Posted: 12.08.19 in Articles category

Have you heard of 'panentheism'? It's not a word you'll find in many dictionaries, but I think it's a very important one that encapsulates a key truth. The word is a composite, constructed by putting together 'pan', meaning all, 'en', meaning in, and 'theism', meaning God. Hence it literally means "all in God" - the concept of God being in all things. As a concept, it seeks to avoid separating God from creation as traditional theism appears to do or to identify God simply being one and the same as creation. The quotation below from Meister Eckhart expresses it well:

Apprehend God in all things

for God is in all things.

Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God.

Every creature is a word of God.

If I spent time with the tiniest creature -

even a caterpillar -

I would never have to prepare a sermon.

So full of God is every creature.

I don't find Eckhart's words to be contentious. They echo the psalmist's words about the heavens declaring the glory of God and the skies proclaiming the work of his hands. They resonate with the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus taught how the beauty of flowers and the feeding of birds reveals God's loving care. They seem to resonate too with the words of St Paul to the men of Athens recorded in Acts 17 when he spoke of God being near to everybody, "for in him we live and move and have our being".

Perhaps it's all about the idea of 'sacrament'. Is that the underlying truth about the material world? The first chapter of Genesis tells us what God created was "very good", so should we view all creation as vehicles of God's grace and goodness? I might like to think so, but ... And of course there is a but. Maybe it's simply my personal failings, but I'm not sure that I can think of wasps in that way!

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