What is Panentheism (Dialectical Theism) and What Does It Mean?

What is Panentheism (Dialectical Theism) and What Does It Mean?

June 29, 2021 Off By Felso

Panentheism, “Everything is in God, God and the universe are not one, because God is transcendent to the universe.” It is a philosophy of religion movement. This understanding is also called the “Bipolar understanding of God”.

Panentheism’s understanding of god

Panentheism puts God above the universe (transcendent) with its abstract, absolute and unchanging aspects; sees in the universe (immanent) with its concrete, relative and changing aspects. God has a transcendence outside the universe, in and out of time when he is with him; is both changeable and unchanging.

Panentheism explains the soul’s sole purpose as “to return to the God from which it was formed”. The only way to do this is to go through evolution (evolution), which is the only universal law. It is believed that the universe and beings in which God is united in concrete terms change and develop dialectically with evolution, and that after completing their development, they will return to God, who is eternal and eternal, in this return, souls who complete their evolution will also meet God.

According to panentheism, God is both unchanging (absolute) and changing (relative). Both inside and outside of time; is both finite and infinite. It is both particular and universal at the same time; It is both cause and effect.


According to the English thinker Whitehead, God has an unchangeable quality beyond all kinds of change, as well as a changing and occurring quality. God, with his unchanging side, started the movement and is conscious of the universe. But if God had remained in this position; The first mover would remain free, eternal, and perfect, but would not have participated in existence.

In other words, God is in and conscious of the process of change and formation. Therefore, it is also correct to say that God is immanent (mixed with the matter of the universe, contained in the universe) in the universe. To say that the universe is immanent in God is an indication of the realization that the God-universe relationship is reciprocal. This movement, which is also expressed as process philosophy and started with Whitehead, is called Panentheism or dialectical theism.

Hartshorne says that God has two sides, one abstract and one concrete. God in his abstract nature; absolute, unaffected, inaccessible, and immutable. On the concrete side, it is affected and changes. God is competent in both of these qualities. However, this competence is not like classical theism. The competence there is a frozen competence that does not change. The competence here changes, but this change is a divine change. That is, it is a change in competence, not towards competence. With this definition, Panentheism is separated from both Deism and Pantheism.

In summary; There is an important difference between Pantheism and Panentheism: In Pantheism, everything is God, while in Panentheism, everything has sprung from God.

The representatives of this movement are Whitehead, Hegel, Spinoza, İbn-ül Arabî.


Panentheism, as in the idea of ​​pantheism, is the belief that the universe itself is God, and unlike pantheism, God, the first mover, created the universe and all beings from its essence, and that transcendent dominates the universe as an absolute and unchangeable entity in the consciousness of the universe. In pantheism, everything is God. In panentheism, everything has sprung from God (made up, overflowed).

Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Year 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and Year 3 “History of Contemporary Philosophy” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook