Responsive and Unresponsive Deity: The Religious Character of Panentheism and Classical Theism According to Charles Hartshorne
Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Matthew L. Laub
Joseph A. Bracken
Thomas B. Imman
William J. Kelly
Since the time of the Enlightenment traditional theism has been threatened often by views which portray God as a little or no relevance to the world. Deism, atheism, and agnosticism, each in its own way, suggested that humans can get along without reliance on a God who intervenes in history, who interacts with humans, who does anything at all (or who even exists or can be known to exist).
There is much in traditional theism which also suggests that God is distant from human life inasmuch as God is the totally other, the incomprehensible, the absolute. Yet traditional theism has been part of a religious belief system which has counterbalanced the emphasis on God's transcendence with assertions of God's immovence in creation. Consequently traditional theism has quite often been in the position of defending God's real presence and action in the world against those who doubt or disdain such beliefs.
There have been in the past, however, criticisms of traditional theism which claim that it has also been guilty of putting God at too great a distance from the world.l The God of traditional theism is totally absolute, immutable, unable to be affected, unlimited being. Such diversity, therefore, is utterly unlike the natural world in which people live, of which they are a part; for that world .is relative, changeable, contingent, and limited. This also, the attackers claim, unnecessarily detaches God from the world. As an alternative there have been proposals made in the last one hundred years or so which overcome the division between God and the world by describing God as in some way also finite, changeable and changing, as is true of the world.