Theism & Nontheism

 

In many views today, there is less and less difference – if there every was any – between theism and nontheism. Existence as a whole, beyond and including all polarities, is seen as God. So is this theism or nontheism, both or neither?

One way of looking at it is through first, second and third person relationships with God.

In a third person relationship, we relate to God as an “it”. This is more of an analytical relationship, and can be found in both theistic and nontheistic approaches.

In the second person relationship, we relate to God as “you”. This creates the appearance of a more theistic approach.

And in the first person relationship, we discover our ground of being – and all of Existence – as God. If this is what is mainly or exclusively emphasized, it creates the impression of a nontheistic approach. It can also appear within the context of a mainly theistic tradition, as mysticism.

And of course, it is quite possible to move fluidly among these three: A third person view in talking about God. A second person relationship through prayer and certain forms of meditation. A first person view through inquiry, prayer and meditation.

In this way, the rigid distinction between theistic and nontheistic approaches falls away. Each one appears at different times and in different ways, more fluidly.

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