Am I Any Kind of Theist?

[This blog post is being relocated from a discontinued site. It was written originally several months ago.]

I’ve been thinking about the differences between naturalistic theisms. For some time, I’ve felt that Henry Wieman’s “creative good” finite theism worked to define my stance on theism. However, there is no simple term for this theism, though eutheism “good is divine” comes closest. Eutheism is not a widely understood term, so I don’t use it often. What is lost with eutheism is the identification of divinity with omnipotence.

Pantheism “all is divine” almost works for me, though theodicy rears its head. If the natural universe as a whole is divine, then what is the relation of “evil” to this divinity? Theism is more than an abstract belief in the divine, it is a tacit commitment to serve that which is divine. The entire natural universe may be too impersonal and inaccessible to command human service. The universe continues whether humans live or die, the real existential commitments of life are in the here and now, and only a divinity that somehow guides our lives can command our loyalty and willingness to change our life direction to embody a higher good.

Panentheism, of a naturalistic variety, might solve this since it proposes that divinity is immediately present within all events as a creative aim. That is, the universe is always in process and therefore our creative good actions contribute to the enrichment of the divine life and of all beings effected by those actions.

Running through this exercise leads me to think that perhaps I should stick with eutheism. Wieman’s theology was in part a pragmatic bracketing of metaphysical questions. I serve the creative good that I discern through a process of creative interchange with other beings. Whether the cosmos as a whole is divine or whether the evolving divinity transcends the cosmos while also immanently present, eutheism recommends a direct focus on creative good, as co-creators of that good, without asking metaphysical or cosmological questions.


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