According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Bruce Epperly - The Future of Process Theology

The Future of Process Theology: Personal and Planetary Meditations

Bruce Epperly
July 2, 2019

The upcoming conference focusing on the “Future of Process Theology,” to be held July 24-26 in Fairbanks, Alaska, has inspired me to articulate my own future vision for process theology as it continues to interact with our postmodern, pluralistic, and increasingly interdependent world.

I have been a process theologian, amateur and professional, for nearly fifty years. I first encountered process theology as a student at San Jose State University in Richard Keady’s and Marie Fox’s classes in 1973. Looking back, I can assert that I might not be an active Christian, indeed, a theologian and pastor, apart from the impact of process theology on my understanding of God and the relationship of Christianity with other world religions. Process theology is more than an intellectual system to me; it is a way of life that shapes my ministry, teaching, politics, marriage and family life, citizenship and spirituality. The open-spirited, possibility-oriented vision of process theology has inspired me to adventure and given me courage to face adversity, trusting a way will be made when I see no way forward. For me, process theology addresses the totality of experience and provides a life-changing vision of God, the world, Christian faith, and spiritual experience.

Once upon a time, as every good story goes, I was a novice process theologian, studying with John Cobb, Bernard Loomer, and David Ray Griffin at Claremont Graduate School and Claremont School of Theology. Now, forty years after completing my doctoral dissertation, I have become a member of the older generation of process theologians, a mentor to present and future process theologians, lay, academic, and clergy. Though my process mentors remain John Cobb and David Griffin, I have claimed my vocation as a theological and spiritual artist, shaping the contours of process theology, spirituality, and ethics as a writer, pastor, professor, and mentor. I have discovered that one of my vocations over the past few decades has been to convey the wisdom of process theology ways that are understandable and convincing to laypersons and pastors, expanding the impact of process theology beyond the academic community.

In the wake of the sixteenth century Reformation, Protestant theologians proclaimed that the reformed church is always reforming. In a similar fashion, I believe that process theology is always in process, navigating its way through a changing world, innovating and adapting, and, as Alfred North Whitehead says, initiating novelty to match the novelty of the environment. I believe that the future of process theology is evolving and widening, with no and final sure destination. Faithfulness to the insights of Whitehead, Hartshorne, Loomer, Meland, Cobb, Griffin, Ogden, and others, inspires the continuing creation of theological novelties to match the shifting novelties of our time. Not novelty for novelty’s sake, but as a reflection of the call to creative transformation as a catalyst for changing the world.

As I look at the future of process theology, my perspective is that of a North American Christian process theologian, grounded in my theological-spiritual home and open to the wisdom of other paths of faith. While process theologians are always pilgrims, journeying to new lands and learning new things, my lens is that of the church, seminary, and interactions with seekers and persons of other wisdom traditions. Though rooted in the North American church, I seek to have a global vision. Christian process theologians seek the creative transformation of the church while recognizing the importance of sharing broadly articulated visions of process thought to seekers and questioners of our time.

My vision of the future of process theology can be described by the following affirmations:

• The future of process theology is global. God is the inner energy and wisdom of all creation, the principle of creative transformation giving life and growth to all things, the reality in whom we live and move and have our being. Revelation and inspiration are everywhere. God’s presence and witness is universal, thus liberating us from the parochialism of denomination, culture, and nation. Process theology invites us to articulate theologies of stature in dialogue with other wisdom traditions and the secular world. Process theology is always emerging – new every morning – learning and sharing, growing in wisdom and stature.

• The future of process theology is integrative. Holographic in nature process theology takes us beyond opposition to contrast and will continue to break down walls of separation and isolating siloes of faith and science, religion and medicine, intellect and emotion, conscious and unconscious, Christianity and other faiths.

• The future of process theology is multi-disciplinary, inviting us to find points of contact between the various academic and professional disciplines. Connection is everything, truth is relational, and what happens in the laboratory, library, archeological dig, and church are interconnected.

• The future of process theology is interspiritual. One can be profoundly Christian, rooted in the way of Jesus, and still be evolving as we embrace the gifts of other wisdom traditions, as well as atheistic and agnostic critics. Hybrid or fluid spirituality invites us to explore the spiritual practices of other faiths as well as their visions of reality, recognizing both differences as well as commonalities, and places of personal edification. The Christian faith of future must be spiritually fluid, centered on Christ, whose wisdom embraces truth in its many manifestations and pathways. Profoundly incarnational, process theology and spirituality live out John Cobb’s affirmation that Christ is the way that excludes no way.

• The future of process theology is holistic. Relational in spirit, process theology joins mind and body, cell and soul, promoting healing and wholeness at every level of life. The heavens declare the glory of God, right whales sing praises to their Creator, and the cells of our bodies vibrate with Divine Wisdom. The whole and part are connected, and this means that we need to expand the horizons of healing and spiritual experience to embrace the environment as well as global medicines, healing practices, and unexpected cures and healings.

• The future of process theology is political and liberating, challenging us to join national affirmation with global interdependence and moving us from individual and national self-interest to world loyalty. There is no “other” as we welcome the diversity of human culture and experience. Political policy, from a process perspective, promotes relationships, beauty of experience, and expanded circles of concern. Politics is about healing and wholeness embracing the interdependence humankind and the non-human world, and balances national integrity with world loyalty.

• The future of process theology is ecological, inspiring us to love the earth, reverence the non-human world, and claim our role as God’s companions in healing the earth. Process theology inspires ecological economics focusing on sustainability, relationships, and meaning. The world is an incarnation of Divine Wisdom, the body through which the Divine Spirit flows and grows, calling us to be partners and companions with all creation, seeking to heal our planet.

• The future of process theology is mystical. We are all mystics. The “sighs too deep for words” of God’s Spirit well up from with us, though we are often unaware of this ubiquitous inspiration. Awakening to the real presence of God in all creation and ourselves is at the heart of process spirituality. Process mysticism inspires us to discern God’s call in every moment and invites us to update our spiritual practices for our setting. Mysticism is holistic, and not siloed to the monastic life: mysticism inspires contemplative social transformation and prophetic healing, challenging injustice so that all can experience the fullness of God. Mysticism experiences divinity on a summer day, observing with Mary Oliver the intricate machinations of a grasshopper eating its lunch, and launches forth in appreciation and affirmation of the Holy Here and Holy Now, embedded in every moment of life.

Process theology has a future. But, with the diminishing impact of seminaries and the marginalization of process theology on many seminary faculties, we need to imagine the future in novelty ways and discover novel ways of communicating process thought in the larger society, to lay persons and professionals alike, to those within the church and to the church of the open spaces. Not bound by seminary walls or church sanctuaries, the future of process theology lies with intellectually-lively pastors, inspired laypersons, and insightful environmentalists, economists, health care providers, and innovative theology thinkers, willing to go beyond jargon and technical language to incarnate the wisdom of process theology in daily life and the intricacies of ecology, economics, and education.

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About the Author

Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over 50 books in the areas process theology, scripture, healing and wholeness, pastoral excellence and well-being, and spirituality.


  • “Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed”
  • “Praying with Process Theology: Spiritual Practices for Personal and Planetary Healing”


  • “Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God”
  • “Process Spirituality: Practicing Holy Adventure”
  • “Process and Ministry”
  • “Process and Pastoral Care”
  • “One World: The Lord’s Prayer from a Process Perspective”
  • “Process Theology and Celtic Wisdom”

He is featured on the weekly progressive-process theology podcast, “Faith on the Edge: Equipping Congregations to Face Our Century.” (https://faithontheedge.org/)