From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Divine presence, presence of God, or simply presence is a concept in religion, spirituality, and theology that deals with the omnipotent ability of a god and/or gods to be "present" with human beings. Most gods are commonly understood to be capable of interacting with the natural world, and more important, with human beings, such that they would be able to hold some influence with any human being.
According to some types of monotheism, God is omnipresent and telepathic— can read, see, interpret, evaluate, and understand all human thoughts and concepts, and can project his will in various ways. Such ways are commonly said to be quite subtle (cf. divine illumination), but religious texts typically deal with important occurrences wherein God deals directly with particular beings.
There are three distinct but related concepts of divine presence:
- God's presence in nature
- God's presence among all human beings
- God's presence in each human being
In theological terms, a god's presence in nature is irrelevant next to his or her presence among humanity. Such presence could be in the mind, but an unseen being that influences human perception would be perceived by human beings as an external, environmental, or natural entity.
The concept is shared by many religious traditions, is found in a number of independently-derived conceptualizations, and each of these has culturally distinct terminology. Some of the various relevant concepts and terms are:
- Aum - The Buddhist and Hindu (Indian religions) name that has evokes the concepts of the Oneness of God and the universal omnipresence of the creator deity.
- Brahman - Hinduism, the superpresent properties of the creator deity, Brahma, understood to manifest itself as "light" within the human being.
- Divine countenance or the face of God — a metaphor for a close encounter with God himself
- The Holy Spirit - (See also spirit, holiness) - Christianity
- Immanence - related term used in religious mysticism
- Inner light - term used in various religions to refer to the presence of God as a "light". The Religious Society of Friends regards this concept as a fundamental belief.
- Light (theology) - an aspect of divine presence with qualities of illumination: thought, intellect, knowledge, insight, wisdom, being, divine love
- Numen - Latin term for "presence", used historically to refer to a Roman religious concept
- Presence of God (Catholicism) Catholic Christianity
- Psychedelics can produce the feeling of the Presence of God
- Shekhinah - Judaism's term for a presence in a holy place (Tabernacle), and due to the symbolism of the tabernacle as representational of the human body or being, it likewise refers to the presence of God in the human being.
- Theophany - the overt appearance of God to a person
Other beings as a divine presence
- Angel - typically a transcendental being, but in some usage may refer to a manifestation of God under a pseudo-identity that has human personality, and can therefore interact with a person without revealing himself overtly
- Immanuel - "God [is] with us," is a Biblical concept that deals with the concept of divine presence, often used by Christians as a title for Jesus
- Elohim - various theorized meanings such as "the host of angels," or an indication of God as a being with many aspects and manifestations
- Angel of the Presence - name to refer to the angel of the Exodus
A related concept is the ability of Jesus to be present in human life—a Trinitarian concept that may be specifically indicated or described by various terms:
- Christ - A term meaning the "anointed one" meaning the messiah and saviour of humanity in the past, present and in time yet to come.
- Eucharist or Holy Communion - The re-presentation or remembrance in Christian liturgy of Christ's sacrifice symbolised through bread and wine
- Real presence - The concept of Christ being truly present in the sacraments
- Consubstantiation - Lutheran concept of Christ being "infused" within the species of communion with these aspects still substantially present
- Transubstantiation - Catholic and Orthodox (terminology differs) concept of Christ fully, truly and substantially present in the Eucharist with the physical species being substantially absent