What is panentheism?

by Matt Slick

Panentheism (Greek pan which means "all," en which means "in," and theos which means "God") is the position that God is greater than the universe; the universe is in God; He permeates every part of nature, is part of nature, extends beyond nature, and is also distinct from it.  Panentheism should not be confused with pantheism which says God and nature are the same and cannot be distinguished.  However, panentheism maintains that God is changing. "Panentheists think of God as a finite, changing, director of world affairs who works in cooperation with the world in order to achieve greater perfection in his nature ... they believe the world is God's body."1

Panentheism maintains that God has two "polls": actuality and potentiality.  God's actual existence and nature is changing; but His potential, what He can become, does not change.

Panentheism is unbiblical since it denies God’s transcendent nature, says that God is changing, confuses creation with God, denies miracles, and denies the incarnation of Christ along with the atoning sacrifice.

Furthermore, if the universe is changing and God is changing, then it means his nature is also changing. But if his nature is changing, how can he be God? He would be different from one minute to the next. How then is his essence divine, immutable, and self consistent?  It would make no sense. 

Where is God in panentheism?  Is he in or outside of the universe?  If the universe is in God, then its properties must be similar or identical to God's properties.  But the universe is physical.  So, how then can God be outside the physical universe?

Since we exist in the universe, then do our souls comprise part of God?  Are we then divine in some way?  But, some people are evil.  Does this mean that there are parts of God that are evil?  It would make no sense.

Panentheism cannot stand to scrutiny.  It is not coherent and cannot be true.


  • 1. Geisler, Norman. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000, p. 576
About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.