Panendeism as a Religious Worldview
Religions can usually be divided into theistic and non-theistic forms. Popular theistic forms are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. 'God,' in these religions, is a personal entity who is separate from creation and separate from humanity. God is up there. We are down here. There is no overlap. In theological language, God is transcendent, but not immanent. God is over nature (supernatural) but not present within nature.
Non-theistic religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism postulate that nature is the totality of everything. Usually, this form of pantheism says that there is nothing transcendent to be found in nature.
Panendeism suggests that God can be both transcendent and immanent. God can be more than nature. But God is also found in nature. Panendeism leads us to consider the possibility that God created nature within God's self, so-to-speak. There is nothing outside of God. Therefore, we do not seek or relate to a "God in heaven." God is with us, even in us.
Panendeism as a Philosophical Worldview
The second benefit to Panendeism is philosophical in nature. In Panendeism, we no longer need separate humanity into the religious "saved" and "damned" or "sinners" and "saints" categories.
We are all members of the same human family. This doesn't mean that everyone is good and does good. But it does mean that we are capable of much good and that when punishment is required, it's geared towards reform and correction, not towards retribution. Because we are all part of that which we call God, the way we treat others is the way we treat God and the way we treat ourselves. Therefore, it becomes important to follow conscience and what we might call the Golden Rules or universal principals of moral behavior.
We can potentially escape the religious and political tribalism of the past that have kept us bound to exclusivism and violence and often precipitated wars. There is only one humanity and that humanity is also, in a sense, divine. We honor the sacredness we see in the other. We can learn to celebrate the differences instead of just tolerating them. What would our world look like if we could wake up to this realization?
Panendeism as a Practical Worldview
The third benefit of Panendeism, could well be the practicality of this worldview. It's not about gaining a heavenly reward someday or about escaping a future hell in an afterlife. Rather, it's about learning to live wisely in our world today, to take relationships and our planet seriously, while also celebrating life in all its fullness. If we and our world are all a part of that which we call God, and if this God has left the stewardship of our relationships and our world up to us, then we don't look for Superman to swoop down from the sky to save us. We don't pray for God to change things that have been put within our power and influence to change. We don't ask or leave it to God to act.
We are the agents for change in our world. Our relationship to our Creator, on whatever level we acknowledge that, can be helpful and empowering to us, but the job is up to us. As the old adage says, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." Whatever we long to see on earth, we must be the primary dreamers and architects of the betterment of society and our world. Can we reach a utopia? I don't know. I don't know if we can build heaven on earth. But I am convinced that we need not have a hell here either. All is sacred. All is part of the web of life and being. Therefore we have a response-ability to one another and to our world to lead beneficial lives. Otherwise, we may very well see our own demise.
Written by Bill McCracken