Reference Material for a Study of
Paper 118: Supreme and Ultimate -- Time and Space
by David Kantor
Much of the difficulty in understanding Paper 118 relates to vocabulary. An understanding of certain words used in this paper will greatly assist comprehension. It is this writer's view that some of the purpose of Paper 118 is to clarify contemporary assumptions regarding the nature of God which are loosely descended from various pantheistic philosophies and theologies. Hence a short discussion of Pantheism is also included. This study aid is intended to be used as reference material when reading Paper 118.
Review of some words used in Paper 118
Compossibility: Possible along with or in coexistence with something else. Co-existent possibility; compatibility. The Oxford English Dictionary cites a usage in classical literature: "They should make the faith, wherewith they believe, an intelligible, compossible, consistent thing, and not define it by repugnances."
The prefix "omni" is from the Latin "omnis" meaning "all," and has been used in English to form a wide range of compound adjectives. Interestingly, the prefix "pan" has a similar usage but is descended from a Greek form which means, "all, wholly, entirely, altogether." All of these words listed below have a long history in the theological literature of the Western Judeo-Christian theological traditions. Their meanings today are largely derived from the contexts in which they have been historically used. Through new usage in contexts created within The Urantia Book, their meanings are strengthened, providing us with a more useful vocabulary for discussing the nature of God.
Omnificent: All that happens is the result of a personal, volitional act of God; God personally does everything that is done; doing everything; all-doing; all-creating. At [118:6.1] (1299, 4) we find, "God is truly omnipotent, but he is not omnificent -- he does not personally do all that is done."
Omnipotent: Infinite or unlimited in power; almighty. Having full or absolute power or authority; having unlimited force or influence; exceedingly strong or mighty. Gustaf Aulen (born 1879) used the word to mean, "The possession of the perfect form of power."
Thomas Aquinas (born 1225) insisted that God can do everything only if the "can" is understood to mean "that which is genuinely possible." Aquinas used the example of the impossibility of God being able to make opposites exist in the same subject at the same time.
Karl Barth (born 1886) insisted that it is not a matter of already knowing what omnipotence is and then of learning through revelation that the omnipotent one is our Father; rather, he emphasized that revelation teaches us what power and omnipotence really are in contrast to our preconceptions.
Paul Tillich (born 1886) interpreted omnipotence to mean "the power of being which resists non-being in all its expressions and which is manifest in the creative process in all its forms."
From The Urantia Book: [118:6.8](1300, 4) "To recognize Deity omnipotence is to enjoy security in your experience of cosmic citizenship, to possess assurance of safety in the long journey to Paradise. But to accept the fallacy of omnificence is to embrace the colossal error of Pantheism."
Omnipresent: Present at the same time in all places; everywhere present in all things and in all spaces. From V. A. Harvey's "A Handbook of Theological Terms":
"Omnipresence is that attribute of God whereby he is said to be everywhere present. Traditionally this has meant 1) that God is not localized in time or space, 2) that his creativity and power are at work in everything that is. Most theologians have insisted that the term is to be understood qualitatively and not quantitatively. That is, just as 'eternity' does not refer to an unlimited time, neither does "omnipresence" refer to an indefinitely extended space. One contemporary definition is, 'The ability of divine love to maintain itself everywhere unhindered by limitations of space.'"
This last definition helps us grasp The Urantia Book's connotations of transcendence which are attached to the use of this word.
Omniscient: Knowing all things; all-knowing; infinite in knowledge; universal in knowledge.
In classical theology this has been taken to mean that the divine knows the past, present, and future in one simple, timeless act of cognition.
This idea has been the source of great controversy. Does omniscience imply impassibility (not capable of being affected by experience or change)? The Greek view was that passibility involves potentiality, and potentiality, change. Change, in turn, was seen to be less perfect than the changeless. It followed then, that God, being perfect, is not affected by anything and is immutable (incapable of change).
Gustaf Aulen rendered the term to mean "love's sovereign and penetrating eye." Bart used it to mean "the wisdom of God, a perfection of the divine loving." Tillich used the term as a symbol meaning that nothing falls outside the centered unity of the divine life.
Some Protestant theologians have held that the term "knowledge" becomes insignificant when applied to God because having "knowledge" involves being affected by what one knows. The only solution, it is argued, is to reject the traditional notion of impassibility and to admit that the world does contribute to the richness of God's experience.
This later line of thinking was taken up by Alfred North Whitehead (born 1861, his work is thought by some to be the philosophic ground upon which the discussion of the Supreme in The Urantia Book is developed) and Charles Hartshorne (a known source of material contained in The Urantia Book, born 1897). To assert that God is omniscient, they argue, is to say that his knowledge is perfect, which is to say he knows all that is possible in principle to know -- what is actual as actual, probable as probable, possible as possible. Since the future is not actual, it is meaningless either to say that God knows the future or that his knowledge is imperfect because he doesn't know what it is impossible in principle to know. In their view, arguing that God's experience cannot be enriched because God cannot change merely presupposes a prejudice for changelessness.
Ubiquity: Everywhere influential; Often used in literature as synonymous with "omnipresent". In The Urantia Book it retrieves connotations of everywhere-active from earlier English usages. Thus in [118:2.3] (1296, 5) we find, "God the Supreme may not be a demonstration of the time-space omnipresence of Deity, but he is literally a manifestation of divine ubiquity." This parallels a usage in the classical literature cited in the Oxford English Dictionary: "...the coolness and courage he infused into his young troops by his ubiquitousness on the battlefield."
The Urantia Book further conditions the use of this word in [118:2.1] (1296, 2) with a statement about "the Ubiquity of Deity" -- "It is volitional with the Universal Father that the Supreme, the Ultimate, and the Absolute should compensate, co-ordinate, and unify his time-space ubiquity and his time-space-transcended omnipresence..." Here ubiquity carries connotations of action in the time-space conditioned universes and is contrasted with omnipresence which carries connotations of existential transcendence.
Predestination: The determination of events before they come to pass; pre-appointment by fate or destiny; foreordination; fixed, settled, or decided beforehand.
Some notes on Pantheism
Pantheism is the religious belief or philosophic theory that God and the universe are identical (implying a denial of the personality and transcendence of God). This is the doctrine that God is everything and that everything is God -- sometimes expressed as the material universe being the "body" of God. V. A. Harvey's "A Handbook of Theological Terms" has this to say:
"Pantheism is the doctrine that all things and beings are modes, attributes, or appearances of one single reality or being; hence nature and God are believed to be identical. Spinoza (born 1632) formulated what is perhaps the most impressive pantheistic system in Western philosophy. He insisted that there could be by definition only one unlimited substance possessing an infinitude of attributes; therefore God and nature are but two names for one identical reality.
"Pantheism literally means, "all is God." Metaphysically, pantheism affirms two things: 1) the unity of all reality, and 2) the divineness of that unity. Pantheism often teaches that logical opposites coalesce in the divine being. Conceptual pairs like good/evil, personal/impersonal, and even A/non-A cannot be separated in God. These function only at the level of logical thought. At the highest levels of reality, conceptual distinctions break down because they treat as divided what is actually undivided. Since language depends on logic, pantheists usually assert God to be ineffable or indescribable."
In "The New Dictionary of Theology" we find: "Pantheism has traditionally been rejected by orthodox Christian theologians because it is alleged to obliterate the distinction between the creator and creation, with all of the religious consequences implicit in this. Theism has generally held that pantheism destroys God's personality and goodness for it affirms that God is beyond such conceptual opposites as personality/impersonality, good/evil. They also criticize pantheism for implying that life in this world, including morality and ethics, has little importance.
"Pantheism appears in each of the world's five major religions. Most prominently, major religions which sprang from India, Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, presuppose the pantheism of the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Upanishads. Pantheists have also been found among the mystical traditions within the theistic religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam."
From The Urantia Book: [195:4.1] (2074, 7) "The church, being an adjunct to society and the ally of politics, was doomed to share in the intellectual and spiritual decline of the so-called European "dark ages." During this time, religion became more and more monasticized, asceticized, and legalized. In a spiritual sense, Christianity was hibernating. Throughout this period there existed, alongside this slumbering and secularized religion, a continuous stream of mysticism, a fantastic spiritual experience bordering on unreality and philosophically akin to pantheism."
Some additional comments from The Urantia Book related to pantheism:
[1:5.11] (29, 1)" Primitive religion had many personal gods, and they were fashioned in the image of man. Revelation affirms the validity of the personality concept of God which is merely possible in the scientific postulate of a First Cause and is only provisionally suggested in the philosophic idea of Universal Unity. Only by personality approach can any person begin to comprehend the unity of God. To deny the personality of the First Source and Center leaves one only the choice of two philosophic dilemmas: materialism or pantheism.
[1:5.12] (29, 2) "In the contemplation of Deity, the concept of personality must be divested of the idea of corporeality. A material body is not indispensable to personality in either man or God. The corporeality error is shown in both extremes of human philosophy. In materialism, since man loses his body at death, he ceases to exist as a personality; in pantheism, since God has no body, he is not, therefore, a person. The superhuman type of progressing personality functions in a union of mind and spirit."
[103:8.6] (1140, 6)" Philosophy, to be of the greatest service to both science and religion, should avoid the extremes of both materialism and pantheism. Only a philosophy which recognizes the reality of personality--permanence in the presence of change--can be of moral value to man, can serve as a liaison between the theories of material science and spiritual religion. Revelation is a compensation for the frailties of evolving philosophy."
[5:5.3] (68, 6) "The fact-seeking scientist conceives of God as the First Cause, a God of force. The emotional artist sees God as the ideal of beauty, a God of aesthetics. The reasoning philosopher is sometimes inclined to posit a God of universal unity, even a pantheistic Deity. The religionist of faith believes in a God who fosters survival, the Father in heaven, the God of love."
[91:2.5] (996, 3) "When religion is divested of a personal God, its prayers translate to the levels of theology and philosophy. When the highest God concept of a religion is that of an impersonal Deity, such as in pantheistic idealism, although affording the basis for certain forms of mystic communion, it proves fatal to the potency of true prayer, which always stands for man's communion with a personal and superior being."
[104:2.2] (1145, 3) "Trinitarianism grows out of the experiential protest against the impossibility of conceiving the oneness of a deanthropomorphized solitary Deity of unrelated universe significance. Given a sufficient time, philosophy tends to abstract the personal qualities from the Deity concept of pure monotheism, thus reducing this idea of an unrelated God to the status of a pantheistic Absolute. It has always been difficult to understand the personal nature of a God who has no personal relationships in equality with other and co-ordinate personal beings. Personality in Deity demands that such Deity exist in relation to other and equal personal Deity."
Ferguson, Sinclair B. And Wright, David F., "New Dictionary of Theology", Intervarsity Press, Downer's Grove, IL, 1988.
Harvey, Van A., "A Handbook of Theological Terms", Collier Books, New York, 1964.
_____ "The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary", Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1971.
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