The Problem with Pantheism

Did you or your children ever play little league baseball? Can you remember a time when only the winners of the league (and maybe 2nd and 3rd place) took home a trophy? Perhaps like me you have a hard time with the recent trend of participation trophies. I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way someone got the bright idea that every kid who bought a pair of cleats should get a trophy. Rewarding the kids who work hard, practice and hone their skills is no longer a priority. Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps we’re trying to spare the feelings of the losers. Perhaps the virtue of participation really is more important than the concept of winning. Personally, I think this is a bunch of bunk. Maybe a kid can’t hit a fastball. So what? Let’s help him find his own gift; maybe it’s playing a tuba or swimming. Maybe she’s a natural born writer or scientist. My point is that we should award the kids in an area that they deserve recognition. If every kid that runs onto a baseball diamond gets a trophy, the trophies become somewhat meaningless, right? What’s so special about winning a trophy if everyone gets a trophy?

Right now you’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with pantheism. I’m making a point – trust me.

The Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy defines pantheism as follows:

Pantheism is a metaphysical and religious position. Broadly defined it is the view that God is everything and everything is God. A slightly more specific definition says [that] pantheism … signifies the belief that every existing entity is, only one Being; and that all other forms of reality are either modes (or appearances) of it or identical with it.

This concept of pantheism is common amongst Eastern and New Age religions. Whenever you hear a person talk about “The All” or “The One” you can rest assured they are espousing a belief in pantheism. A person who expresses a belief in pantheism is normally trying to convince others to respect nature. The argument is that we should care for and respect nature and other people because all of it – man, rocks, mountains, trees, animals and etc. – are all part of “The All.” Everything is God so we should treat everything with the proper respect.

This all sounds great doesn’t it? The problem is that this isn’t the Biblical view of creation. Rather, the Bible teaches that we should be able to recognize God based on His creation. Our appreciation of creation and nature should cause us to fall on our knees and worship the true, living God. We may discover the general attributes of God by examining His creation; for instance, He is a God who appreciates beauty, love and friendship. He is a God who loves painting glorious skies and landscapes just to watch our mouths fall open in wonder. However, we must not confuse the Creator with creation. These revelations that can be found in nature are general. If we want to learn the specific attributes of God we must study the Special Revelation found in Scripture and in the person of Jesus Christ. When we confuse the general and special revelations of God we are making the same mistake that Paul addresses in Romans 1:25, “[We exchange] the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve created things rather than the creator.”

I would take it one step further and suggest we are in violation of one of the Ten Commandments.  When we worship creation as if it were God, we are creating idols. Yes we should respect, preserve, and care for our environment; but only because it is a gift from God, not because it is God.

If we consider all of creation God – you are God, I am God, the trees are God, Squirrels are God and etc. – than there is nothing special about being God; much like little league participation trophies, God becomes meaningless.

Look at it this way … if everything is God, than nothing is God. Pantheism is akin to atheism in the sense that God becomes unnecessary. I prefer to learn about the real, living God as revealed in the Scriptures. Yeah, it takes more effort and more dedication than simply pronouncing that nature is God, but it is more rewarding in the end.

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