Most people’s understanding of God’s omnipresence is a belief that God is everywhere. But I don’t think this does justice to the Christian theistic worldview as it implies that God’s ontological presence (his essence) is everywhere. What is the problem with this? Glad you asked.

When we talk about the essence of God, we are talking about a necessary existence that does not have a relationship to time, space, and matter. In other words, God created everything (time, space, and matter) out of nothing and does not share in its essence. He does not have an extension in space. Of course his relational presence manifests itself in many ways. Each member of the Trinity are engaged in time, space, and matter in a very real way. But we save our understanding of God’s essence for a “simple” existence which remains transcendent, necessarily beyond creation.

God is omnipresent. But his omnipresence does not have to do with his extension in space but space’s relationship to him. God is not everywhere if you are talking about his essence.

Here is what I believe to be a better definition of God’s omnipresence:

“God is Everywhere.”

“Everywhere is in God’s immediate presence.”

I write this because I see many Christians describing God in such a way that toys with pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that God is essentially (ontologically) present everywhere and in every thing. Often our definition of God’s omnipresence suggests that God is some extremely large being, taking up a vast amount of space, or that he is somehow evenly spread out across the entire universe. This is very close to pantheism. We are not pantheists. We believe in a God who stands in a transcendent relationship with all his creation, yet is actively and relationally engaged in it. This is a great mystery to be sure, but it is a mysterious necessity and should not yield to descriptions that do more harm than good.

There is no where that can flee from God’s immediate presence.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    40 replies to "God is Not Everywhere"

    • Wonders for Oyarsa

      What about the classical statement that he is “everywhere present and fillest all things”? Do you find that misleading?

    • C Michael Patton

      I would. If I were to use such, I would make sure that I qualify it. 🙂

    • Lisa Robinson

      Michael, a question on a slightly unrelated topic but along the same theme. I’ve heard general revelation as outlined in Romans 1:20 as “God revealed in everything”. Is this statement in danger of the same error of pantheism that you described?

    • C Michael Patton

      I am certian it could be as that statement could be used also by a pantheist. I think we just need to be very careful around this issue these days!

    • steve martin

      I do believe that God is everywhere.

      But I spent a few days in Cleveland once and I was pretty sure that God was not there. 😀

    • dac

      SM –

      I think I would say the same thing about Arkansas

    • Phil McCheddar

      Cheryl u wrote: “I think that is a very much needed clarification at this present time.”

      CMP wrote: “I think we just need to be very careful around this issue these days!”

      Since I seemto be living on a desert island, can someone please explain what is happening in the contemporary scene to make this matter so relevant now? Thanks.

    • Rey

      Dude, thanks for the reminder. Online, I usually automatically post the God is Everywhere thinking shorthandedly knowing that Everywhere is accessible to God yet totally forgetting the amount of plurality of meanings today. And this coming from a hispanic who used to live in NYC. Man it stinks that I can’t take certain terms and usage for granted anymore! heh

    • John C.T.

      C. Michael P., is it possible to add a list to your blog of the most recently commented topics? That is, the topics or lead posts that have most recently been posted to? Sometimes the discussion flies so fast on a number of topics that a topic will drop off the “recent discussion” list even though there have been posts to it that day. Just a suggestion, as it makes it easier to find those topics. I know I could check the box for “notify me”, but I prefer not having a zillion emails clutter my in box.


    • cheryl u


      In answer to # 8, I have seen in the hyper charismatic movement such concepts as “”God”–the Holy Sprit–being poured out of an inanimate object onto someone else. And you should of seen the effect it had!

      There are also other examples that certainly qualify too. That is one that comes to my mind this morning.

    • William S.

      Psalm 139:7-12

      7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
      Or where shall I flee from your presence?
      8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
      If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
      9 If I take the wings of the morning
      and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
      10 even there your hand shall lead me,
      and your right hand shall hold me.
      11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
      and the light about me be night,”
      12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
      the night is bright as the day,
      for darkness is as light with you.

      “omnipresent” is just a word trying to describe this aspect of God’s nature–never mind how foolish it is to think of God as having a “nature” [that can be pinned down and analyzed by Man.]..

    • cheryl u

      Hi CMP,

      I, like John C. T., would like to see recent topics and topics commented on listed if that is possible. It would be easier, I think, to stay up on current discussion that way.

    • C Michael Patton

      We already have recent comments are the right?

    • cheryl u


      I guess I wasn’t very clear in what I meant about posting recent comments. I think what I was trying to ask was if there could be a listing of the articles being commented on in the last day or two. If you are away from your computer for a bit and are trying to keep up on the discussion, certain topics can get overlooked altogether.

      For instance, at the moment all but one of the comments listed in the recent discussion bar here are on this article. There was a comment earlier on the disappearing pulpit article, but no one looking now for the first time today would know that is a topic still being discussed. And no one would know that wasn’t on here yesterday that a large percentage of yesterday’s discussion was on the abortion thread. Any way to remedy that situation that isn’t too complicated or time consuming to you guys?

      Thanks so much for considering this issue at all.

    • C Michael Patton

      I see. I don’t have a plugin that will do that. The best I can do is to show more recent comments as they are now. 🙁

    • cheryl u

      Thanks, CMP. Even listing more of the recent comments would help, I think. Obviously, there is only so much that can be done with any blogging medium–we’re certainly not asking the impossible!

    • mbaker


      I agree with the others. This is an excellent site overall in my opinion, but I would suggest for instance, that you make your categories more subject specific, so we can more readily access previous threads we were following.

      Let’s say for instance, a separate one for abortion, because other than going through all the general categories, I can’t even locate the thread we were discussing yesterday. I really don’t have a clue as to what it would be filed under.

      Thanks for your contribution to Christian blogging.

    • John C.T.

      Thank you, CMP for extending the list of recent discussion. That helps.

      Your search box is also quite quick, which I did use to follow up on the abortion discussion. However, I do think most of us prefer to look at recent discussion and just click to something.

      thanks again.

    • Dr. G.

      Elsewhere, in the Abortion discussion, you are a traducianist (SP?). Who believes that many things attributed to God (like the soul) are created through the intermediary or “secondary” agency of material things, like parents.

      Given your apparent embrace of the material world having a certain power of its own (God-delegated?) in that context, wouldn’t it be better to suggest here too – and more consistent – that God or Good inheres in the physical life, in “all things,” here too?

      Eventually – though I don’t have time to explain it here – I can see more advantages in that this position (modified immanentism?), than disasdvantages.

      The immediate advantages here however, are 1) consistency with other positions you hold, above.

      2) The other being you don’t get snide comments about your anti-biblicality. Here we simply agree that yes, God “fills all things” in “heaven and earth.” The “kingdom of heaven is within you.” We can “do all things in Christ.” Etc.?

      3) Especially – where I would like to go with this eventually? To suggest that … indeed, the workings of, the scientific study of, the material world, is also the study of God. So we can unite common sense, word and world, spirit and flesh, again.

      4) While indeed, one day God, the kingdom, are supposed to come down from heaven, to merge with/be part of this material earth again.

      How about starting now?

      5) Pantheism to be sure, we might indeed want to avoid.

      6) See my incomplete remarks in your section on Abortion?

    • CMP,

      Very nicely expressed. I hadn’t really thought of it in those terms before, but I think you got it exactly right.


    • rayner markley

      Michael, thanks for this good discussion topic and your statement of omnipresence. Would this be an accurate paraphrase of your statement: God’s presence is everywhere.? In that case, can you distinguish ‘God’ from ‘God’s presence’?

      I’ve also heard the opinion that God maintains his creation by direct action based on Col 1:17 ‘And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.’ In other words, He is actively involved in all things.

    • Dr. G.

      Why insist God is in some way, almost entirely different from, detached from, his creation? As an “essence” that is say spiritual … and not really tied even intimately to his master creation … in being in every aspect of it, all the time.

      Even essentially?

    • Dr. G.

      Even say, the natural universe is the Body of God?

    • Dr. G.

      God in the universe, creating it/himself? Big Bang and God merge?

    • steve martin

      We could argue if God is in every molecule, or spiritually detached…or not…

      but for me, where the rubber really hits the road, is that God is actually present in His Word, and in the bowl of water and piece of bread and sip of wine.

      That is the only presence that really hits home for the sinner.

      And, for me anyway, that is enough.

    • cheryl u

      Dr. G,

      Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”.

      Doesn’t sound to me like God created Himself and that He and the universe are one and the same.

    • cheryl u

      You know what Dr. G, from my understanding, what you are saying is the very definition of pantheism which is what CMP wrote this article to warn against. A dictionary definition of pantheism is: “A doctrine identifying the Deity with the universe and its phenomena.”

    • Carol Jean

      How can we understand these verses other than by their literal meaning? They do not teach pantheism but they do teach the immanent presence of God everywhere. Could God express himself any clearer?

      Just as fish swim in the water, we live surrounded by air, so is the Spirit of God to His creation.

      Acts 17:27-28 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

      1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded? (Solomon)

      Jeremiah 23:23-24 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

      Isaiah 66:1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

      Psalm 90:1, Job 9:11, Proverbs 15:3, Psalm 22:10, Acts 7:49, Psalm 139:1-12

    • ScottL

      Good stuff, Michael.

      It is weird to consider the omnipresence of God in that He spacially takes up existence across every molecule, or something like that.

      I’ve always felt God’s omnipresence is directly related to His omniscience. God knows all things, of course, and even before they ever happen. So, God is present in all things of His creation because He is aware and intricately knows all things that go on. At least that is something to consider.

      Still, I remember by professor on the doctrine of God encouraging us to keep our descriptions about God within Biblical language rather than Greek concepts. Omnipresence is not found in the Bible, in the Greek philosophical concept. But we find such beautiful passages as Psalm 139:7-10 that tell us about the nature of God:

      7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
      Or where shall I flee from your presence?
      8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
      If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
      9 If I take the wings of the morning
      and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
      10 even there your hand shall lead me,
      and your right hand shall hold me.

    • Dr. G.

      The second part of the definition of pantheism: “2: the worship of all gods” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate, 10th ed.).

      Strictly speaking, as long as we say we want to find our “God” – capital “G” to signify the Biblical God of the Old Testament etc. – in all of nature, then we are not falling into the trap of pantheism.

    • Badda Being

      If God is not everywhere, then he is other than himself, other than what he is. Otherwise, if God is what he is, then he cannot suffer a discrepancy between what he is and what he could be, between what he is and what he isn’t (yet) — between being here and not there. In other words, if God exists, he either is his creation as self-existent or he is contingent upon his own negation to create himself. Just my two cents.

    • Badda Being

      Anyway, I’m not sure it’s very useful to Christianity to point to some belief — pantheism or whatever — and say to Christians they must steer clear of that. If faith is instead unleashed as a positive undertaking, you may very well discover convergences with other beliefs you otherwise would have discarded wholesale. But that is why faith is risky. It may lead you to germs of truth in places you did not expect to visit. Better to follow your faith than to grope at mere inversions of your sense of wrong, which tends to paint the world with broad strokes anyway. Even Nazis yielded benefits to medicine which you continue to reap despite the horrific means by which they were achieved. Just because you use Aspirin doesn’t make you a Nazi.

    • […] God is Not Everywhere […]

    • Wonders for Oyarsa

      I have two sort of quibbling thoughts on this.

      It seems to me that Calvinism ought to be a little more friendly to pantheism – that there is a natural affinity (though not identity) there. If everything is a direct extension of God’s active agency, then it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to say that everything is in some sense an expression of God. Evil exists to give expression to God’s rejection of evil, and the combined package is an expression of God. CMP, could you, from a Calvinist perspective, communicate what you think the danger of pantheism is? From where I stand, Calvinism looks awfully pantheistic – no determining creaturly agency, all things a single expression of will, every bit a piece of the whole, and all that.

      Another thought is that I wonder of pantheism can be a path for an atheist to at least understand a bit of what God is. When I talk to atheists, they hear “God” as something like Zeus – a big sky father who is, for all intents and purposes, like another human being. For him, I think it may be far nearer to the truth to consider us, when speaking of “God” as talking of “the universe”. It’s the closest thing he has to transcendence in his worldview.

    • Charlie

      It’s an important distinction, God’s being present “in everything” vs. everywhere being within his presence. There is a great temptation today to worship creation rather than God, in the mistaken thought that by worshiping creation we are honoring the unseen God. So the church does need to be clear about this sort of thing.

      When Paul talks about God’s invisible attributes being perceived clearly in nature (Rom 1:20), I think it’s helpful to think in terms of God the Craftsman marking creation with his personal hallmark, as silversmiths once did. But the silver goblet is not God; it merely communicates something of God’s nature and being, if we consider such things as who created the goblet and why, and marvel at his genius and the fine level of his art.

      Anyway, I think you’re right that there is a cultural temptation towards pantheism that the church needs to beware of. Thanks for the good thoughts.

    • Peter

      Sounds like the essence / energies distinction is coming in by stealth.

    • Dr. G.

      It’s really short-term profits, vs. long-term profits (/prophets).

      There are many material things you can get short term, by dishonest means, like theft; but over the longer term, those actions hurt the community and so forth.

      So that the church stresses not so much this “world,” but the “world to come”; and working for gains that are not readily apparent in the short run. T

      his equates to “spriituality” often: you might devote yourself say to education – developing one side of your spirit – in order to reap later, bigger gains, long-term.

      (Cf. of course, Weber, one the Spirit of Capitalism).

      So that a certain respect for matter, is necessary to be a good Christian. As well as to be sure, a willingness to defer temporary material gains; to develop your spirit.

      But to be sure note that in the end, the results are material: heaven comes down, to be a place here on this material earth (Rev. 20-22?).

    • Russ Dennis

      Interesting post Michael. It defintely gets one thinking. I would take a little different approach though. I believe that a better definition is that God is present everywhere. I go into more detail at my blog, Imago Christi, if you want to find out more.

    • Jai

      “one of the biggest misconceptions =
      ‘god is in everyone/where/thing’

      how ‘god’ is not in ‘everything’
      can be understood in many ways

      there is a scientific way,
      a psychological way
      & a consciousness way …”

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