Originally posted by rwingett
The reason I ask is that I'm reading another book by Bishop Spong, Why Christianity Must Change Or Die, and he references Tillich and the 'ground of all being'. That's a nifty phrase and all, but how does one relate to it? You've used phrases like 'ground of being', 'power of being', 'being-itself', and 'manifestation of being', but how does one rela , then what exactly is this extra part that distinguishes it from pantheism?
I’m not really sure myself that the distinction between pantheism and panentheism is that significant. I’m not sure that it isn’t an attempt to get out of pantheism without going to dualistic theism; and if it is, I’m not sure it works. It seems to imply that some aspect of the ground remains unmanifest.
I prefer the more Buddhist term “non-dualism” to pantheism just because some people seem to use pantheism in a way that implies a universe of distinctly separable parts that just can be added up to make the whole (“the One” ). I take a more “gestaltic” view in which the figures/forms (existents) are manifestations of the whole. The whole (the gestalt) consists of the figures/forms/manifestations and the implicate ground without which we cannot perceive the forms. For me the “ground of all being” just designates that in which and of which we inseparably are. When we die, we just become elements of that
in its continual manifestation as the universe—the waterdrop falling again into the ocean is a typical metaphor.
From my study, folks who use the “G-word” for the ground of being (as opposed to, say, the Tao) seem generally to ascribe some kind of consciousness—or at least intentionality—to the GoB. Or, perhaps some of them have just evolved from older theistic traditions and subsequently redefined the term. In any event, there are some venerable traditions that use theistic language within a strictly non-dualist framework, and I see no need to critique them for it, as long as I understand them.
Tillich, I suspect, represents a panentheism in which the GoB is intentional and conscious (in some mysterious way perhaps), and in which some aspect of it remains unmanifest—and thus, in his language, “transcendant”. Maybe that’s just a thought that will help as you read about his views. It’s not a view that I hold, so I can’t defend it.
EDIT: I guess you aren't having much luck with "exactly" what Tillich means, as opposed to what I or someone else would mean. It's just been too long since I read Tillich. Sorry.