Sunday, March 11, 2007

[THO] Boehme's Panentheism

In preparing my paper on Jacob Boehme I have run into the pantheism/panentheism debate. Pantheism is pretty easy to understand, it is the idea that God is the sum of all that is. But panentheism is often confused with the heterodox pantheism even though nothing could be further from the truth.

For Boehme there is a wisdom (word) present in all things which has two functions. First it is the suffucing of nature with the divine giving the potential for salvation to all of creation, this he gets at using hermetic philosophy. But more importantly for Boehme, and others who take panentheism seriously, creation itself is able to convey understanding about God and life. Creation becomes a book of God. These ideas also come out in a panentheistic reading of the New Testament.

Boehme lived in the time when the Medieval Synthesis was crumbling. We were moving from a geocentric view of creation to a heliocentric view. And everything needed to be rethought. From a 21st century perspective many of Boehme's ideas seem quite profound and orthodox, but in his time cages were being rattled.

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