Friday, November 4, 2011

Teilhard de Chardin on Divine Immanence

While reading Whitehead I am also reading some of the works of the French Jesuit theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  The two thinkers are very similar in many ways, emphasizing becoming over being, types of nondualism, evolutionary panentheism, panexperientialism, and (ecological) internal relatedness. Yet Teilhard conceives of God in more explicitly Christian terms, and thus has a very christocentric theology (a cosmic Christology) along with a more radical eschatology where the universe is moving towards a final Omega point (the 'Christification' of the cosmos).  God is understood, with theologians of hope like Moltmann and Pannenberg, as the 'power of the future.'  There are serious philosophical/theological/scientific questions about his eschatology, although it does provide a very powerful, distinctly Christian theological vision.  Here is a nice passage from his book "The Divine Milieu" about divine immanence: 

"God reveals himself everywhere, beneath our groping efforts, as a universal milieu, only because he is the ultimate point upon which all realities converge...It follows that all created things, every one of them, cannot be looked at, in their nature and actions, without the same reality being found in their innermost being - like sunlight in the fragments of a broken mirror - one beneath its multiplicity, unattainable beneath its proximity, and spiritual beneath its materiality.  No object can influence us by its essence without our being touched by the radiance of the focus of the universe.  Our minds are incapable of grasping a reality, our hearts and hands of seizing the essentially desirable in it, without our being compelled by the very structure of things to go back to the first source of perfections.  This focus, this source, is thus everywhere.  It is precisely because he is the center that he fills the whole sphere." -Teilhard de Chardin (Teilhard: Selected Writings, 72)


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