Christianity and pandeism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Catholic Church and Pandeism)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A number of Christian writers have examined the concept of pandeism (a belief that God created and then became the universe and ceased to exist as a separate and conscious entity[1]), and these have generally found it to be inconsistent with core principles of Christianity. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, condemned the Periphyseon of John Scotus Eriugena, later identified by physicist and philosopher Max Bernhard Weinstein as presenting a pandeistic theology, as appearing to obscure the separation of God and creation. The Church similarly condemned elements of the thought of Giordano Bruno which Weinstein and others determined to be pandeistic.

From ancient times to the Enlightenment[edit]


Johannes Scotus Eriugena

Max Bernhard Weinstein examined the philosophy of 9th century Irish theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena, who proposed that "God has created the world out of his own being", and identified this as a form of pandeism, noting in particular that Eriugena's vision of God was one which does not know what it is, and learns this through the process of existing as its creation.[2] In his magnum opus, De divisione naturae (also called Periphyseon, probably completed around 867 AD), Eriugena viewed creation as the self-manifestation of God. "God knows that He is, but not what He is. God has existential knowledge, but no circumscribing knowledge of His essence, since, as infinite, He is uncircumscribable.".[3] According to Dermot Moran, "Eriugena's cosmological account has been criticized for collapsing the differences between God and creation, leading to a heresy later labeled as pantheism."[3]

Eriugena himself denied explicitly that he was a pantheist. "God is all in all. All things that are in God, even are God, are eternal...the creature subsists in God, and God is created in the creature in a wonderful and ineffable way, making himself manifest, invisible making himself visible...But the divine nature, he finally insists, because it is above being, is different from what it create within itself."[4] The system of thought outlined is a combination of neo-Platonic mysticism, emanationism, and pantheism which Eriugena strove in vain to reconcile with Aristotelean empiricism, Christian creationism, and theism. "The result is a body of doctrines loosely articulated, in which the mystic and idealistic elements predominate, and in which there is much that is irreconcilable with Catholic dogma."[5] De divisione naturae was condemned by a council at Sens by Honorius III (1225), for promoting the identity of God and creation.

Weinstein also found that thirteenth century scholastic theologian and philosopher Bonaventure, who accepted the neo-Platonic doctrine that "forms" do not exist as subsistent entities, but as ideals or archetypes in the mind of God, according to which actual things were formed, showed strong pandeistic inclinations.[6] Of Papal legate Nicholas of Cusa, who wrote of the enfolding of creation in God and the unfolding of the divine human mind in creation, Weinstein wrote that he was, to a certain extent, a pandeist.[7]

Giordano Bruno[edit]

Weinstein found that pandeism was strongly expressed in the teachings of Giordano Bruno, who envisioned a deity which had no particular relation to one part of the infinite universe more than any other, and was immanent, as present on Earth as in the Heavens, subsuming in itself the multiplicity of existence.[8] Lutheran theologian Otto Kirn criticized as overbroad Weinstein's assertions that figures including Eriugena, Anselm of Canterbury, Nicholas of Cusa, Bruno, and Mendelssohn all were pandeists or leaned towards pandeism.[9] Weinstein was not alone in considering Bruno a pandeist. Discover editor Corey S. Powell wrote that Bruno's cosmology was "a tool for advancing an animist or Pandeist theology,"[10] and this position was agreed with by science writer Micharl Newton Keas,[11] and The Daily Beast writer David Sessions.[12]

The Venetian Inquisition had Bruno arrested on 22 May 1592. Among the numerous charges of blasphemy and heresy brought against him in Venice, based on Mocenigo's denunciation, was his belief in the plurality of worlds, as well as accusations of personal misconduct. The Roman Inquisition, asked for his transfer to Rome, where he was sent in February 1593. The numerous charges against Bruno, based on some of his books as well as on witness accounts, included blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology, and involved some of the basic doctrines of his philosophy and cosmology. Luigi Firpo speculates the charges made against Bruno by the Roman Inquisition were:[13] holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith and speaking against it and its ministers; holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity, divinity of Christ, and Incarnation; the virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus; about both Transubstantiation and Mass; claiming the Eternity of the world; believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes; and dealing in magics and divination.

On 20 January 1600, Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic and the Inquisition issued a sentence of death.[14] He was turned over to the secular authorities. On Ash Wednesday, 17 February 1600, in the Campo de' Fiori (a central Roman market square), and burned at the stake.[15] All of Bruno's works were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1603. After a seven year trial there, he was put to death.

Post-Enlightenment developments[edit]

In the 1800s[edit]

In the 1820s to 1830s, pandeism received some mention in Italy. In 1832 and 1834, publishers Angelo Ajani and Giovanni Silvestri, respectively, each posthumously published volumes of sermons of Italian Padre Filippo Nannetti di Bibulano (aka il Filippo Nani, Padre da Lojano; 1759–1829), who named pandeism as being among beliefs he condemned, railing against "Jews, Muslims, Gentiles, Schismatics, Heretics, Pandeists, Deists, and troubled, restless spirits."[16] Nannetti further specifically criticized pandeism, declaring, "To you, fatal Pandeist! the laws that create nature are contingent and mutable, not another being in substance with forces driven by motions and developments."[17] In 1838, another Catholic Italian, phrenologist Luigi Ferrarese in Memorie Riguardanti la Dottrina Frenologica ("Thoughts Regarding the Doctrine of Phrenology") critically described Victor Cousin's philosophy as a doctrine which "locates reason outside the human person, declaring man a fragment of God, introducing a sort of spiritual pandeism, absurd for us, and injurious to the Supreme Being."[18]

Towards the end of the century, in 1897, Reverend Henry Grattan Guinness wrote critically that in India, "God is everything, and everything is God, and, therefore, everything may be adored. ... Her pan-deism is a pandemonium."[19]

Twentieth century on[edit]

A 1906 editorial by a Unitarian minister in the Chattanooga Daily Times stated that Jesus, "who in exultant faith said 'I and the Father are one,' was a Pandeist, a believer in the identification of the universe and all things contained therein with Deity."[20]

Christian reconstructionist Rousas John Rushdoony sharply criticized the Catholic Church in his 1971 The One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy, asserting, “The position of Pope Paul came close to being a pan-Deism, and pan-Deism is the logical development of the virus of Hellenic thought."[21] Adventist theologian Bert B. Beach wrote in 1974 that "during the Vatican Council there was criticism from WCC Circles" to the effect that "ecumenism was being contaminated by “pan-Deist” and syncretistic tendencies."[22]

In 1996, Pastor Bob Burridge of the Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies wrote in his Survey Studies in Reformed Theology an essay on "The Decrees of God,"[23] also identifying the notion of God becoming the universe as incompatible with Christianity:, writing, "All the actions of created intelligences are not merely the actions of God. He has created a universe of beings which are said to act freely and responsibly as the proximate causes of their own moral actions. When individuals do evil things it is not God the Creator and Preserver acting. If God was the proximate cause of every act it would make all events to be "God in motion". That is nothing less than pantheism, or more exactly, pandeism."

Burridge disagreed that such is the case, decrying that "The Creator is distinct from his creation. The reality of secondary causes is what separates Christian theism from pandeism."[23] Burridge concludes by challenging his reader to determine why "calling God the author of sin demand[s] a pandeistic understanding of the universe effectively removing the reality of sin and moral law."[23] Pandeism has been specifically criticized for not having a personal God, with Christian website stating "the god of pandeism is not involved in the operation of the universe, and neither can he/it at all discern human experience. “God” is as near to you as the chair you’re sitting on, and he/it is just as inert. The pandeistic god has no more concern for you than the chair has."[24] Christian apologist John Oakes has described pandeism as an "ad hoc and a weak marriage" of pantheism and deism.[25] English theologian and Anglican priest, Graham Ward, insists that "Attention to Christ and the Spirit delivers us from pantheism, pandeism, and process theology,"[26] Consistent with a broader Catholic rejection of the New Age movement, in 2013, Catholic author Al Kresta observes that: "New Age" cosmologies reject materialism, naturalism and physicalism. They are commonly pantheistic or pandeistic. They frequently try to commandeer quantum physics and consciousness studies to illustrate their conception of the cosmos."[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paul Bradley (2011). This Strange Eventful History: A Philosophy of Meaning. Algora Publishing. p. 156. ISBN 9780875868769. Pandeism combines the concepts of Deism and Pantheism with a god who creates the universe and then becomes it.
  2. ^ Max Bernhard Weinstein, Welt- und Lebensanschauungen, Hervorgegangen aus Religion, Philosophie und Naturerkenntnis ("World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Nature") (1910), page 283-84
  3. ^ a b Moran, Dermot, "John Scottus Eriugena", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  4. ^ O'Meara, John J., "Introduction", The Mind of Eriugena, (John J. O'Meara and Ludwig Bieler, eds.), Dublin: Irish University Press 1973.
  5. ^ Turner, William. "John Scotus Eriugena." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 30 June 2019 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. ^ Max Bernhard Weinstein, Welt- und Lebensanschauungen, Hervorgegangen aus Religion, Philosophie und Naturerkenntnis ("World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Nature") (1910), page 303: "Andere Ganz- oder Halbmystiker, wie den Alanus (gegen 1200), seinerzeit ein großes Kirchenlicht und für die unseligen Waldenser von verhängnisvoller Bedeutung, den Bonaventura (1221 im Kirchenstaate geboren), der eine Reise des Geistes zu Gott geschrieben hat und stark pandeistische Neigungen zeigt, den Franzosen Johann Gersan (zu Gersan bei Rheims 1363 geboren) usf., übergehen wir, es kommt Neues nicht zum Vorschein."
  7. ^ Max Bernhard Weinstein, Welt- und Lebensanschauungen, Hervorgegangen aus Religion, Philosophie und Naturerkenntnis ("World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Nature") (1910), page 306: "Er ist bis zu einem gewissen Grade Pandeist. Gott schafft die Welt nur aus sich (de nullo alio creat, sed ex se); indem er alles umfaßt, entfaltet er alles aus sich, ohne doch sich dabei irgend zu verändern."
  8. ^ Max Bernhard Weinstein, Welt- und Lebensanschauungen, Hervorgegangen aus Religion, Philosophie und Naturerkenntnis ("World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Nature") (1910), page 321
  9. ^ Review of Welt- und Lebensanschauungen, Hervorgegangen aus Religion, Philosophie und Naturerkenntnis ("World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Nature") in Emil Schürer, Adolf von Harnack, editors, Theologische Literaturzeitung ("Theological Literature Journal"), Volume 35, column 827 (1910).
  10. ^ Powell, Corey S., "Defending Giordano Bruno: A Response from the Co-Writer of 'Cosmos', Discover, March 13, 2014: "Bruno imagines all planets and stars having souls (part of what he means by them all having the same "composition"), and he uses his cosmology as a tool for advancing an animist or Pandeist theology."
  11. ^ Michael Newton Keas (2019). UNbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion. pp. 149–150.
  12. ^ David Sessions, "How 'Cosmos' Bungles the History of Religion and Science", The Daily Beast, 03.23.14: "Bruno, for instance, was a 'pandeist', which is the belief that God had transformed himself into all matter and ceased to exist as a distinct entity in himself."
  13. ^ Luigi Firpo, Il processo di Giordano Bruno, 1993.
  14. ^ Discussed in Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950, ch. 7.
  15. ^ Fitzgerald, Timothy (4 December 2007). Discourse on Civility and Barbarity. Oxford University Press. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-19-804103-0. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  16. ^ Padre Filippo Nannetti di Bibulano (aka il Filippo Nani, Padre da Lojano), in Sermons and Panegyrics of the Father Filippo Nani of Lojana, Giovanni Silvestri, publisher, 1834, p. 284, Sermon XVIII: Miracles: "Ma questa religione predestinta col taumaturgo segnale si trova ella nel mondo i' Dove? in qual gente? in qual lido? Nelle sinagoghe giudaiche, o nelle meschìte dell l'Asia? Nelle pagoda cinesi, o nella società di Ginevra? Giudei, Maomettani, Gentili, Scismatici, Eretici, Pandeisti, Deisti, geni torbidi, e inquieti." ("But this religion predestined by the thaumaturgist signal, where in the world is she? in which people? on which shores? In Jewish synagogues, or mosques of Asia? Pagoda in Chinese, or in society in Geneva? Jews, Muslims, Gentiles, Schismatics, Heretics, Pandeists, Deists, and troubled, restless spirits.")
  17. ^ Padre Filippo Nannetti di Bibulano (aka il Filippo Nani, Padre da Lojano), in Sermons and Panegyrics of the Father Filippo Nani of Lojana, Giovanni Silvestri, publisher, 1834, p. 286, Sermon XVIII: Miracles: "A te, fatal Pandeista! le leggi della creata natura son contingenti e mutabili; non altro essendo in sostanza che moti e sviluppi di forze motrici."
  18. ^ Luigi Ferrarese (1838). Memorie risguardanti la dottrina frenologica (in Italian). p. 15. Dottrina, che pel suo idealismo poco circospetto, non solo la fede, ma la stessa ragione offende (il sistema di Kant): farebbe mestieri far aperto gli errori pericolosi, così alla Religione, come alla Morale, di quel psicologo franzese, il quale ha sedotte le menti (Cousin), con far osservare come la di lui filosofia intraprendente ed audace sforza le barriere della sacra Teologia, ponendo innanzi ad ogn'altra autorità la propria: profana i misteri, dichiarandoli in parte vacui di senso, ed in parte riducendoli a volgari allusioni, ed a prette metafore; costringe, come faceva osservare un dotto Critico, la rivelazione a cambiare il suo posto con quello del pensiero istintivo e dell' affermazione senza riflessione e colloca la ragione fuori della persona dell'uomo dichiarandolo un frammento di Dio, una spezie di pandeismo spirituale introducendo, assurdo per noi, ed al Supremo Ente ingiurioso, il quale reca onda grave alla libertà del medesimo, ec, ec.
  19. ^ Henry Grattan Guinness, "First Impressions of India", in John Harvey Kellogg, and the International Health and Temperance Association's, The Medical Missionary (1897), pages 125-127.
  20. ^ "Man of Sorrows: Place of Jesus in the Religion of Today", Chattanooga Daily Times, Chattanooga, Tennessee (September 24, 1906), page 5, column 5, paragraph 4.
  21. ^ Rousas John Rushdoony, The One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy (1971 [2007]), Ch. VIII-7, p. 142-143.
  22. ^ Bert Beverly Beach, Ecumenism: Boon Or Bane? (1974), p. 259 (quoting George H. Williams, Dimensions of Roman Catholic Ecumenism (1965), p. 31-32).
  23. ^ a b c Bob Burridge, "Theology Proper: Lesson 4 – The Decrees of God", Survey Studies in Reformed Theology, Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies (1996); quoted in Mapson, Knujon, ed. (2017). "A Brief History of Pandeism". Pandeism: An Anthology. John Hunt Publishing/Iff Books (with author subsidy via Kickstarter). p. 30. ISBN 978-1785354120.
  24. ^ "What is pandeism?".
  25. ^ John Oakes (May 25, 2013). "What is your response to pandeism?".
  26. ^ Graham Ward (2016). How the Light Gets In: Ethical Life I. p. 313. ISBN 978-0199297658. Attention to Christ and the Spirit delivers us from pantheism, pandeism, and process theology.
  27. ^ Al Kresta, Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism's 21st-Century Opponents, "Science and Warfare With Religion" (2013), p. 255-256, n. 30, ISBN 1592767257.

Attribution: contains material from the articles De divisione naturae, Giordano Bruno, and Pandeism.