I wanted to know whether the world is separate from God or, in some sense, is God.
Neither is an adequate formulation. It would be ridiculous to say that everything—the bruise on your toe—just is God. I am the principle of life, the telos and end of all activity in the universe. So I am neither removed as a thing apart nor simply identical with the things in the universe.
Later I learned that there is a theological view with a respected tradition called panentheism. This view holds that God is both in the world and more than the world, both immanent and transcendent. This is distinct from pantheism, which holds that God is entirely within the world.
But, if God was, in some sense, the world—the physical universe—how could He also be a Person? “But, Lord, You are also a Person.”
Yes and No. I come to you—but not to raindrops—as a Person, and therefore I am a Person. One cannot be a Person in some modes without being a Person.
But I am also much more than a Person. Just because I seem so familiar to you—we talk just as persons do—should not mislead you into thinking I am “just a guy.” It is true that I have many of the attributes of a person—desires and a history, for example. But again do not assume that desire and history mean just the same for Me as they do for human beings. Keep in mind that I am definitely not a human being.
Listen to this on God: An Autobiography, The Podcast– the dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin.
He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him.
2 thoughts on ““I am also much more than a Person.””
Roxana January 29, 2014
This is more understanding and believable to me even though it is hard to grasp. But that does not bother me. I think a lot of what “is” will and cannot be known by us as “persons’, humans, beyond our comprehension and that is very comforting and understandable to me. It makes much more sense to me than religion and doctrine. I need to re read this a few times, at different times. Your experience is very helpful, comfortable to me, more so as this goes on. I do not read this every day, just as it feels”right”. Keep posting, It helps me, is hopeful for me. I have questions though. I also need to look up the theological view “panentheism”. I have no formal education in theology at all.
Jerry L Martin February 9, 2014
You are reading these posts in the best possible way, just taking in what speaks to you, being enlightened by what you understand and not disturbed, perhaps even comforted by, what is less clear. I very much appreciate your kindness, Roxana, in taking the time to share your reactions with me. It means a lot to me that the posts are meaningful to you.