Is God Transcendent, Latent Within Us, or Both?

What is Humanity's Relationship to God?

  • Fully transcendent (Deistic, Theistic)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Totally within us, latent, as Divine potential

    Votes: 2 20.0%
  • Primarily transcendent, but *also* present within us in some capacity

    Votes: 4 40.0%
  • None of the above fits my belief

    Votes: 4 40.0%

  • Total voters


Gnōthi seauton
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Terra Firma
Thought I'd see what people believe about our relationship with God, as Humanity - either individually or collectively. God can be `Source,' Brahman, YHWH/Jehovah, Allah, Krishna, Christ, Dharma, Buddha Nature, or whatever else you prefer. It can be personal or impersonal, pure energy or abstract Intelligence.
My own vote is for #3 ... since I believe that the Divine Presence is latent within us, but is in no way limited relative to (its own) overall Source. Also, I believe in the existence of an entire Hierarchy of increasingly spiritual levels, or states of consciousness & existence ... à la the classical and medievalist "Great Chain of Being," yet with something like a Godhead Whom & which stands ultimately transcendent.

My belief in the spirit within, to put it colloquially, is based on many things. In terms of sacred scripture, there are the words of St. Paul, who speaks of "Christ in you, the Hope of Glory" (Col 1:27). I have also found the Eastern concept of Buddha nature to embody this same idea.

As for the transcendence of Deity, I am a panENtheist, but not a pantheist. Biblically, we are told that "In [G-d] we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Also, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita:
Having pervaded this whole universe with a fragment of Myself, I remain.
And in the Hebrew Old Testament, Jacob's Ladder speaks to me of an ascent and descent of Divine energies and beings ... which goes on every moment, of every day, since the very first moment of Creation.

It may be a little strange for me to vote, since I regard myself as a nontheist. But since you cast the net so widely for what may be regarded as "divine", perhaps I can cast a vote after all.

My vote is for "Totally within us, latent, as Divine potential ". The potential is for wisdom, creativity, rationality, character, self-esteem, a benevolent sense of life, and similar accomplishments. This potential is human potential, which we may actualize in our lives, although I suppose it could almost be thought of as divine, since it represents one's personal ideal of perfection.


I'm orthodox Roman Catholic, so – Transcendant and Immanent

With regard to panentheism, Christianity East and West make a critical distinction:

"This orthodox Christian panentheism ... maintains an ontological gulf or distance between the created and the Uncreated. Creation is not "part of" God, and the Godhead is still distinct from creation; however, God is "within" all creation, thus the Orthodox parsing of the word is "pan-entheism" (God indwells in all things) and not "panen-theism" (All things are part of God but God is more than the sum of all things)."
Panentheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This may seem a moot point, but Christianity is ever cautious to defend the philosophical position that God is not 'obliged' to create, nor that the act of creation is 'necessary' if God is God – as heterodox panentheism, if understood as 'all things are part of God', would then make creation a necessity of the Absolute in that it would be 'obliged' to realise itself.

Again, Christian theology holds God as free from all such constraint, that creation is a 'free act', and thus an act of 'love' in the fullest sense of self-giving.

What Greek theognosis called 'The Great Chain of Being' Christian Theology calls 'Divine Plenitude'.

If we want to discuss this aspect further, we're into Aristotle and Aquinas ...

I'm pretty much in line with Thomas. I take my argument from the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:24-28.

"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring."

Jesus told the Pharisees not to look for the physical manifestation of the kingdom of God:

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

I beileve that God is separate from His Creation, yet upholds the universe with His Power.

"Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:" - Hebrews 1:2-3

The redemption of the physical universe is directly tied into the spiritual dimension. God created the world by the Spirit and the Word, and through that channel He will restore the universe.

"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." - Romans 8:22-23

Remember that when Adam and eve rebelled that God told them that when they ate of the forbidden tree, they will die that day. Well, they did die that day, but not physically. They died spiritually, their sin seprated them from God. This caused a rift in creation that directly resulted in the decay of creation. And eventually Adam and Eve died physically. When Christ died for the sins of man, He paved the way for the reverse to happen. We are made alive in Christ spiritually, through the Spirit, by the Word of the Gospel. Then we will be resurrected and creation restored at the last day.

The change in creation can only come about with complete destruction of the old. Like the seed that must fall and die in Jesus' parable.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." - II Peter 3:10-13

The very elements will be dissolved in fevent heat. Isn't this what scientists believe what will happen when the universe collapses in a reversal of the big bang? God is going to create all thing new again, only this time, it will be restored through the Spirit. There will be no corruption, no decay, the laws of physics will be adjusted.

Just my thoughts on the matter.
Zagreus said:
Thought I'd see what people believe about our relationship with God, as Humanity - either individually or collectively. God can be `Source,' Brahman, YHWH/Jehovah, Allah, Krishna, Christ, Dharma, Buddha Nature, or whatever else you prefer. It can be personal or impersonal, pure energy or abstract Intelligence.
Hi Zagreus. I like this topic. Please keep in mind that my response is mostly in Christian terminology. (I guess someone could argue that point, but then arguments are always around.) Anyway, the thoughts here are worded the way they come to me. I can most definitely see that the same thoughts might be worded in other traditions. Taking a deep breath and plunging right in….

I see God as both transcendant and immanent. Uncreated—The Source of All Being. Love. Light that embraces and shines in the Darkness, bringing the Darkness to Light. Pure.

I see God as Parent. I see the Son of God as existing with God and in God and as the second aspect of God. I personally recognize the second aspect of God as the Christ. I believe in the Son of Man and Son of God, and I do recognize the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth, because I remember and honor how He has introduced Himself to me from as far back as I can remember in this existence as I know it. And I love Him.

I see what Christianity terms as The Holy Spirit as God’s very own Spirit which is able and oh so willing to live and work within us and may be illustrated in various aspects of His Creation. I think that we often limit what is referred to as The Trinity with our own ideas and theology, our limited language, and most especially through how we use what we do understand—what comes out of our mouths from inside our hearts, and how and why we say what we say. And when we present the idea of a limited God, I truly believe we do a great disservice to ourselves, our fellow human beings, and all of God’s Creation. And He sees it.

I do not know exactly how God works. I know that I do not yet have the whole story, and I don’t think anyone does. I think it is okay to learn about man’s ideas about God, because I think God reveals Himself in many ways, and one of these ways is through earnest communication with each other. I’ve heard it said that He meets us where we are. I am so glad He seems to know where to find me, even when I seem to wander off -track. He knows my path better than I, because He created it for me. I am glad He has given me the Way to know whatever it is He wants me to know about Him. And I believe He does the same for everyone. The language may sound different, the literature may seem to contradict, the concepts may look foreign most of the time. But I think the worst thing we can possibly do is to assume we know everything that The Great Spirit has revealed. We just don’t—and all is not revealed. “He” tells us as much, and does it around every corner and among every nation throughout time as we perceive it.

I picture a multiverse with a multidimensional fabric...

I picture spirit pressing into this fabric..that is our visible universe..

Plato saw the shadows on the cave wall..

I see us all as expressions of G-d...
Thanks for the answers and contributions of everyone so far. Some good points have been made, and I'm glad that you were able to respond, Mark. I was intentionally trying to cast a wide net, because I knew the answers varied.

Thomas, thank you for bringing up the distinctions between different varieties of panentheism. My own belief is that of panen-theism (God infusing nature, yet ultimately transcendent), and I hold that this applies to each of us as a self-contained Spiritual Unit. I am not a believer in the monad as taught by Liebniz - having no doors or windows. :(

The Monad, to the best of my reckoning, is a Spark in God's Flame. If you watch a candle, there are occasional sparks that flash temporarily into and back out of existence - perhaps due to impurities in the wick. There is much food here for thought, and hint enough, whether one is Gnostically inclined or otherwise. ;)

Mind you (and me, and everyone - Mahat, i.e.), even the "flash" (wordplay - flesh) into the world of phenomenal appearance for each spark, is only apparent separation, or isolation, relative to the parent Flame. The sparks could in no wise exist were it not for the Flame. :)

So you see, the dire heresy of separateness, as they say in the East, seems to me - the very idea ... that each of us, as a spark, somehow actually exists, or even could exist, apart from our Parent Source, the Flame. No such could be, for even the wick, the upadhi, as mulaprakriti, is PART of the pleroma. Or is it?

I think Christ is the in-between in the Divine equation of Spirit + matter. This is like God in the Highest, interacting with God in the lowest, yielding a natural result. The birth of Christ (or consciousness, as a Universal Principle), is something that I think God planned from the very beginning. And while this may sound impersonal, as a Principle, it is difficult to look at a newborn baby and not feel the Goodness, or even SEE it, in the baby's smile. So I think the Divine potential, that Spark, is there ... clothed in the form of a future Son of God (Divine potential) which is clothed in the form of human being - or Humanity (as the One incarnation of THE Spiritual Soul, singular).

Your post really speaks to me, InLove. As you say, we might express similar ideas in a different form, but I think they embody the same truths. When it comes to disagreement, I find I often stray to one or the other extreme of two pieces of wisdom ... offered by the same Apostle:
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." - and the rest of I Cor, ch. 13, ending with - "But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love."
"Beware lest any man spoil you, through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ." (Colossians 2:8)
It is as if St. Paul is here echoing the words of His Master, wherein Christ says, "Be ye wise, as serpents, and harmless, as doves." But these are like the two wings of a single bird, and if we only have one, we tend to go around in circles! :p

And Dondi, although I am not thoroughly Gnostic (and I know you're not either), I have come to understand much of what you're describing in more allegorical, or symbolic terms. So again, I think it's as InLove (Debora?) is saying ... language, even thought, and certainly sometimes theological or interpretative differences - as standing in the way, yet perhaps we have more of a shared understanding than we realize! :)

wil, your post reminds me of some of my contemplations of late, very much inspired by the artwork of Athanasius Kircher. Truly a "dude of wonders," as one enthusiast puts it, the image that comes to mind is the frontispiece of his Ars magna lucis et umbrae, or `The Great Art of Light and Darkness.'


I would be the first to say that I do not know what GOD is. GOD could be all the votes you have or none of them. I feel it's up to GOD to tell us what he or she or it is. Just my 2 cents.
I'm with Thomas on this one.

Thomas, thank you for pointing out the fine distinction of pan-entheism and panen-theism. Interesting. I consider myself in the pan-entheism camp (in Him I live and move and have my being). I'll soon be reading a book co-authored by Marcus Borg (liberal panentheist Jesus Seminar scholar) and N.T. Wright (conservative, evangelical Anglican priest) called The Meaning of Jesus, Two Visions. Should be in interesting comparison of views.