And my response? Basically I find the word definitionally problematic, and by way of demonstration I would draw your attention to wikipedia, where distinctions are drawn between pan-entheism and panen-theism.
For example, here:
In Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity, creation is not "part of" God, and the Godhead is still distinct from creation; however, God is "within" all creation, thus the parsing of the word in Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity is "pan-entheism" (God indwells in all things) and not "panen-theism" (All things are part of God but God is more than the sum of all things).
This Orthodox Christian panentheism is distinct from a fundamentalist panentheism in that it maintains an ontological gulf or distance between the created and the Uncreated. Creation is not "part of" God, and the Godhead is still distinct from creation; however, God is "within" all creation, thus the Orthodox parsing of the word is "pan-entheism" (God indwells in all things) and not "panen-theism" (All things are part of God but God is more than the sum of all things).
Panentheistic God-models are exceptionally common amongst professional theologians (exegetes, Christian ethicists, and religious philosophers). Process theology, Creation Spirituality and Panentheist Circle, three Christian views, contain panentheistic worldviews. Their models of panentheism are distinct from that of the Orthodox Churches.
Some argue that panentheism should also include the notion that God has always been related to some world or another, which denies the idea of creation out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). Thomas Jay Oord advocates panentheism, but he uses the word "theocosmocentrism" to highlight the notion that God and some world or another are the primary conceptual starting blocks for eminently fruitful theology. This form of panentheism helps in overcoming the problem of evil and in proposing that God's love for the world is essential to who God is.
Do you see what I am talking about?
- The theological models spoken of here are radically different to one another: one affirms the radical dependence of the creation on the Creator (see my post on monotheistic mysticism), the others variously affirm the non-omniscience of the Creator, the co-dependence between creation and Creator, and even uncreated materiality.
- The words used are identical apart from a hyphen.
- That all important hyphen is omitted everywhere else in this article.
- Few people are even alert to this distinction.
- It is thus all to easy for people to confuse and even conflate the models, to conclude Orthodox mystics and Process theologians are talking about the same thing.
- And I haven't even tried to engage with what non-Christians understand panentheism to mean yet!
So now, having surveyed that, hopefully I can begin to explain myself. Personally I accept the Orthodox view, I see the Spirit moving within creation and I find much biblical support for it, but I prefer not to use the word "pan-entheism" to describe my view as it is too easily confused with Process Theology, a view which I am highly critical of, in terms of both Biblical and Scientific support, or scarcity thereof, particularly since most people use the word indescriminantly, without a hyphen. I also prefer not to use the word as there have been plenty of other Christians who have acknowledged the omnipresence of God (such as Calvin) without feeling a need to invoke panentheistic language. So, just call me a monotheist who affirms the immanence and omnipresence of God.