What Do Christians Need to Know about Pantheism?
- Heather Riggleman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2021 13 May
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ve likely heard the quote, “May the force be with you.” The blockbuster movie series that began in 1977 gave birth to a hunger for entertainment where good conquers evil. Producer, George Lucas stated that he wanted Star Wars to inspire young people to ask spiritual questions about God as he included worldviews from pantheism. In Star Wars, the idea of God is found in the Force.
George stated, “I put the Force into the movie in order to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people – more a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system.” In the movie, Master Jedi Obi Won Kenobi introduces us to the Force sitting in his desert hut. He explains to Luke Skywalker what the force is. Obi Won explains, “The Force is what gives the Jedi his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together.” This is the essence of pantheism this worldview is infiltrating the media, literature, health practices, and even the church.
What Is Pantheism?
Pantheism is the doctrine that believes God is one with the universe and that God is in all things, meaning, God is everything and everyone and that everyone and everything is God. A tree is God, the rock is God, an animal is God, the ocean is God, you are God. There is no distinction between God and the world. The universe is God and God is the universe. Breaking down the word, “Pan” means all, and “Theism” refers to a divine being.
This means pantheism rejects the idea that God is a being and it rejects God’s immanence, His personhood, and His transcendence. God is a being (God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit) that is above, beyond, and the Creator of the universe as the Bible teaches so when pantheists say that “God is everything and everything is God,” this is meant to capture that idea that God does not transcend the world. Religions that share pantheistic views include Agnosticism, Apatheism Atheism, Buddhism, Deism Henotheism, Hindusim, and several New Age religions to name a few.
Christianity says that God created everything, not that he is everything or that everything is God: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) "You alone are the Lord. You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars. You made the earth and the seas and everything in them. You preserve them all, and the angels of heaven worship you." (Nehemiah 9:6) If this were true of God than God would fully support worshipping the stars, a rock, animals, carved images of calves, etc. It would not be wrong to worship such an object, because that object would, in fact, be God. But this isn’t the case. Not only does God command we are not to worship idols (One of the Ten Commandments), but God also reminds us He is separate from all things and His presence is everywhere.
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:7-12
The Apostle Paul perhaps says it best, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom 1:25).
What Do Christians Need to Know about Pantheism?
Other religions overlook sin because sin either isn’t recognized or is repackaged into something else. They believe everyone is able to with God without the intercession or need for Jesus or involvement in the church. While we know that God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son to die for us (John 3:16), we also know that Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father where He interceded for us (Romans 8:34). We reach God through the Spirit which Jesus gave us this gift and we meet with Him through prayer, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance,” (Acts 2:4). They also believe they can either become god or like god and that the divine dwells within.
Today, depending on the worldview, pantheism is practiced through naturalism, mindfulness, and strong ethos with this belief statement, “We are an inseparable part of Nature, which we should cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We should strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally. We believe in treating all living creatures with compassion, empathy, and respect. We believe in the inherent value of all life, human and non-human. We believe in freedom, democracy, justice, equity, and non-discrimination, and in a world community based on peace, an end to poverty, sustainable ways of life, and full respect for human rights.”
They also believe in fate instead of understanding we are God’s masterpieces, created by God on purpose, for His purpose as Paul wrote, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Instead, they believe their lives are dictated by chance.
How Can Christians Share the Gospel with Pantheists?
When entering in a conversation with a new ager, Stars Wars can beneficial because you are entering into a fight between good and evil. In fact, you aren’t fighting flesh and blood but a spiritual battle you can’t see. Put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and remember the words of Yoda, “Many of the truths we cling to depend on our point of view.” Or as Paul puts it,” All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Remember Jesus and His use of story and parables. Listen to your friend and by all means, do not judge nor should you stereotype him. Instead, be Jesus with skin on. Get to know them, become their friends, develop a relationship with mutual respect and then use your story, your testimony to share the Gospel. When they talk about enlightenment, you can share the salvation of Christ. When they are in awe of nature, you can share about the Creator.
The common ground you both have is the common belief of the spiritual world and you can share that Jesus is the only way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Keep in mind they also believe the Bible cannot be trusted. Many believe the apostles got Jesus’ message wrong. Some believe they deliberately added teachings and requirements not endorsed by God. Others think the Bible has been altered over the centuries to fit the agenda of the church. You can share how the Bible is the inspired Word of God that God uses to reveal Himself to humanity. Its purpose isn’t to dictate but to reveal God to us and to introduce us to Christ and we know that the Bible is the inspired Word of God useful for teaching. Regardless of where you begin sharing the gospel, remember God’s greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, and may the faith be with you.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Dewang Gupta
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.