...If Jesus is the exemplary man, in whom the true figure of man, God’s intention for him, comes fully to light, then he cannot be destined to be merely an absolute exception, a curiosity, in which God demonstrates to us just what is possible. His existence concerns all mankind. The New Testament makes this perceptible by calling him an “Adam”; in the Bible this word expresses the unity of the whole creature “man”, so that one can speak of the biblical idea of a “corporate personality” [emphasis added]. So if Jesus is called “Adam” this implies that he is intended to gather the whole creature “Adam” in himself. But this means that the reality which Paul calls, in a way that is largely incomprehensible to us today, the “body of Christ” is an intrinsic postulate of this existence, which cannot remain an exception but must “draw to itself” the whole of mankind (cf John 12:32).(176)Then in July 2009, in an address in Aosta, Italy, Benedict again, as pope, cites Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and his pantheistic vision, far beyond what was said in “Introduction to Christianity” and claims that “the cosmos becomes a living host” (From this post.):
It must be regarded as an important service of Teilhard de Chardin’s that he re-thought these ideas from the angle of the modern view of the world and, in spite of a not entirely unobjectionable tendency towards the biological approach, nevertheless on the whole grasped them correctly and in any case made them accessible once again. Let us listen to his own words: the human monad [monad being Ratzinger’s word; Teilhard de Chardin’s words are in “quotes”] “can only be absolutely itself by ceasing to be alone”. In the background is the idea that in the cosmos, alongside the two orders or classes of the infinitely small and the infinitely big, there is a third order, which determines the real drift of evolution, namely the order of the infinitely complex. It is the real goal of the ascending powers of growth or becoming; it reaches a first peak in the genesis of living things and then continues to advance to those highly complex creations which give the cosmos a new centre: [emphasis added] “Imperceptible and accidental as the position which they hold may be in the history of the heavenly bodies, in the last analysis the planets are nothing less than the vital points of the universe. It is through them that the axis now runs, on them henceforth concentrated the main effort of an evolution aiming principally at the production of large molecules.”
The examination of the world by the dynamic criterion of complexity thus signifies “a complete inversion of values. A reversal of the perspective.”
But let us return to man. He is so far the maximum in complexity. But even he as a mere man-monad cannot represent an end; his growth itself demands a further advance in complexity: “At the same time as he represents an individual centred on himself (that is, a ‘person’), does not Man also represent an element in relation to some new and higher synthesis?” That is to say, man is indeed on the one hand already an end that can no longer be reversed, no longer be melted down again; yet in the juxtaposition of individual men he is not yet at the goal but shows himself to be an element, as it were, that longs for a whole which will embrace it without destroying it. Let us look at a further text, in order to see in what direction such ideas lead: “Contrary to the appearances still accepted by Physics, the Great Stability is not below – in the infra-elemental – but above – in the ultra-synthetic.”
So it must be discovered that “If things hold and hold together, it is only by virtue of ‘complexification’, from the top”. I think we are confronted here with a crucial statement; at this point the dynamic view of the world destroys the positivistic conception, so near to all of us, that stability is located only in the “mass”, in hard material. That the world is in the last resort put together and held together “from above” here becomes evident in a way that is particularly striking because we are so little accustomed to it.
“Let Your Church offer herself to You as a living and holy sacrifice”. This request, addressed to God, is made also to ourselves. It is a reference to two passages from the Letter to the Romans. We ourselves, with our whole being, must be adoration and sacrifice, and by transforming our world, give it back to God. The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host. And let us pray the Lord to help us become priests in this sense, to aid in the transformation of the world, in adoration of God, beginning with ourselves.Now, a brief selection from Michael Horton’s new Systematic Theology is online. He provides these definitions for both “Pantheism” and “Panentheism”:
A. Pantheism and Panentheism: Overcoming Estrangement
The first grand narrative erases (or tends to erase) the infinite-qualitative distinction between God and creatures. Narrated in myriad myths across many cultures, this is the story of the ascent of the soul — that divine part of us, which has somehow become trapped in matter and history. Although it originates in dualism — a stark (even violent) opposition between finite and infinite, matter and spirit, time and eternity, humanity and God, the goal is to reestablish the unity of all reality. In some versions, only that which is infinite, spiritual, eternal, and divine is real, so all else perishes or is somehow elevated into the upper world. Nevertheless, the goal is to lose all particularity and diversity in the One, which is Being itself….
Within the history of Western Christianity there have been tendencies among some mystics to move in a pantheistic direction. An extreme example is the fourteenth- century mystic Meister Eckhart, who wrote in a characteristic sermon, “To the inward-turned man all things have an inward divinity. . . . Nothing is so proper to the intellect, nor so present and near as God.” The connection between rationalism and mysticism is as old as Platonism itself. This outer-inner dualism has characterized much of radical mysticism in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, as well as in Sufi Islam and Jewish Kabbalism. This trajectory continued in radical Protestantism from the Anabaptists to the early Enlightenment. It is especially evident in the philosophy of Benedict Spinoza (1632-77), which was revived in German Romanticism and American Transcendentalism. Its influence is evident in the dominant forms of theological liberalism and especially today in New Age and neopagan spiritualities.…
Some have tried to blend pantheism (“all is divine”) with belief in a personal God (theism). Often identified as panentheism (“all-within-God”), this view holds that “God” or the divine principle transcends the world, although God and the world exist in mutual dependence. In varying degrees of explicit dependence, panentheism is the working ontology of process theology and the theologies of Teilhard de Chardin, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Jürgen Moltmann among many others, especially those working at the intersection of theology and the philosophy of science. Some panentheists envision the world as the body of God. (Michael Horton, “The Christian Faith,” Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, ©2011, pgs 36-39.)