What Does It Mean to Say that God Is Omnipresent?

Article ID: JAO110 | By: Hank Hanegraaff

This article first appeared in the Ask Hank column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 29, number 4 (2006). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

The Bible clearly portrays God’s omnipresence, but what exactly does that mean? Is God dispersed throughout the universe? Or does omnipresence refer to God’s nearness to all of creation all of the time?

First, when Scripture speaks of God as omnipresent or present everywhere (Ps. 139), it is not communicating that He is physically distributed throughout the universe, but that He is simultaneously present (with all His fullness) to every part of creation. Thus, Scripture communicates God’s creative and sustaining relationship to the cosmos rather than His physical location in the cosmos.

Furthermore, to speak of God’s omnipresence in terms of His physical location in the world rather than His relationship to the world has more in common with the panentheism of heretical process theology (currently popular in liberal circles) than with classical Christian theism. Panentheism holds that God is intrinsically “in” the world (like a hand in a glove), while classical theism holds that God properly exists outside of time and space (Isa. 57:15).

Finally, the danger of speaking about God in locational terms is that it logically implies that He is by nature a material being. The apostle John clearly communicates that “God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24 NIV).2

— Hank Hanegraaff

NOTES

1. Adapted from Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answer Book (Nashville: J. Countryman, 2004).

2. For further study, see Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), S.V. “Attributes of God” (by Gordon R. Lewis), 492–99.

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