Tag Archives: Hinduism

Why I Am Not a Panentheist

Michael Sudduth, a philosopher of religion at San Francisco State University, has caused quite a stir by announcing his departure from orthodox Christianity and conversion to Gaudiya Vaishnavism (a form of Vaishnava Vedanta Hinduism). Having known Michael for over a decade, and having had many profitable philosophical discussions with him, I was extremely grieved to read this announcement, although it didn’t come completely out of the blue. Some mutual friends had informed me of his increasing interest in Eastern religion and his gradually distancing himself from biblical Christianity. We had an email exchange last year when I raised some concerns (my last email, it turns out, was sent several days before his “profoundly moving religious experience of Krishna”) but it quickly fizzled out because Michael wasn’t ready at that time to set out his views in detail.

I’m not going to comment on his conversion testimony or on the complex personal experiences and circumstances that led to it (only some of which are mentioned in that testimony). However, I do want to remark on one particular statement:

Consequently, I now accept a panentheistic metaphysics in which the universe and human souls are, to put it roughly, in the being of God.

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