Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

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

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - 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

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

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) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

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

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Friday, February 21, 2020

Celebrating the Life & Legacy of Process Theologian John B. Cobb, Jr.

God saves the world by transforming the world.
- John B Cobb

In honor of John B. Cobb, Jr. on his 95th birthday
February 11, 2020

Celebrating the Life & Legacy of John B. Cobb, Jr.
Claremont Institute for Process Studies. Held at Decker Hall on the
campus of Pilgrim Place in Claremont, CA, on February 11, 2020.

0:00 - Singing
14:00 - Process Philosopher & Theologian David Ray Griffin (JC's Assistant)
23:00 - DRG: Cobb
34:00 - Margaret Suchochi (JC's Student)
47:00 - Catherine Keller (JC's "Star" Pupil)
55:00 - Tribute by worship band
60:00 - Cobb Honorees for International Extensions of Cobb Institute
65:00 - John Cobb Legacy Film
70:00 - John Gingrich, Claremont Board Chair

The Presence and Power of God in Process Philosophy

April 8, 2011

Tony Jones said, “It seems to me contradiction to hold that God gets what God wants, and that human beings have near-absolute freedom to love or not love God. Except that process theology may be a way around that (Tripp?).” Well Tony here’s my attempt to summarize Whitehead in 800 words….the short answer is classical Process thought would agree with you and probably identify Rob Bell closer to Open Theism (the biblical based cousin to Process thought) since they preserve Creation Out of Nothing, see God’s power as ‘self-limited’ verses naturally interdependent with the world, and have no problem permitting divine power to ensure eschatological consummation. Hopefully this helps.

First a quote from Whitehead himself….

The sheer force of things lies in the intermediate physical process: this is the energy of physical production. God’s role is not the combat of productive force with productive force, of destructive force with destructive force; it lies in the patient operation of the overpowering rationality of his conceptual harmonization. He does not create the world, he saves it: or, more accurately, he is he poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness.1 – Alfred North Whitehead

For Whitehead nothing just exists, everything grows together. Everything grows out of datum and the datum themselves had their own process of becoming; so for Whitehead “it belongs to the nature of a ‘being’ that it is a potential for every becoming” (22). God plays an essential role in the world’s becoming by being the “actual entity imposing its own unchanged consistency of character on every phase” so that “a definite result is emergent” from the process.2 In Process and Reality he came to describe God as having two natures. The primordial nature, which orders the eternal objects (think Platonic forms) for the attainment of value in the temporal world, and the consequent nature, which receives the temporal world into God. God’s di-polarity enables God to feel, know, preserve, and save the world. As John Cobb puts it, God saves the world by transforming the world.3

In Process and Reality Whitehead recognized the necessity of God’s presence for becoming when he said, “apart from the intervention of God, there could be nothing new in the world, and no order in the world. The course of creation would be a dead level of ineffectiveness, with all balance and intensity progressively excluded by the cross currents of incompatibility” (247). As both the ordering ground for the becoming of the world and the freedom enabling ground for its creatures, God is a constitutive part of each actual occasion. So in addition to the experience of the past actual world, each becoming includes an experience of God. It is important to note that this experience of God is essential for a recognizable temporal existence, but it is not require a subjective awareness. Each moment of becoming is experiencing God, even if the occasion is not conscious of it.

The experience of God in the process of becoming has at least three elements that reveal the fabric of Whitehead’s alternative dynamic of power. The three are the gift of possibilities, the lure for feeling, and the love of the world. It is the past that is actual for Whitehead and yet the past alone is not capable of sustaining life or bringing about novelty. In God the possibilities relevant for the becoming of each new moment are experienced. These possibilities are a gift because they make freedom possible. God is not then uninvested in what possibility becomes actualized through the creature’s freedom, but in the confrontation with a range of possibilities God is advocating for the better possibilities. Whitehead calls God “the lure for feeling, the eternal urge of desire” which means God’s primordial nature participates in the initial phase of the subjective aim of each occasion (344). After an event has occurred it is experienced by God’s consequent nature in such a way that, “what is done in the world is transformed into a reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world” (351). At this point one can see that, for Whitehead, God’s power is not something separate from God’s love for the world. The ‘fellow-sufferer who understands’ is found reaching “toward the world both as it is and as it can be.”4

The brief description of the presence and power of God in Whitehead would not be complete if one facet was not made abundantly clear; for Whitehead the persuasive nature of God’s power is not chosen but natural. The nature of reality is such that God has never been nor could have been coercive. God did not chose to limit Godself prior to creation, but “God and the World stand over against each other, expressing the final metaphysical truth that appetitive vision and physical enjoyment have equal claim to priority in creation” (Process and Reality, 348). To say this does not make God less responsive and involved in the World and its history. On the contrary, “apart from him there could be no world, because there could be no adjustment of individuality” (Religion in the Making, 158). For Whitehead, the world is saved from banality and repetition because God is always investing Godself in the world and becoming vulnerable to the diminishment of value as well as the intensification of its expression.

1. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality corrected ed. by Griffin and Sherburne (New York: Free Press, 1978), 346.

2. Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making (New York: Fordham University Press, 1926), 94.

3. John Cobb, A Christian Natural Theology: Based on the thought of Alfred North Whitehead 2nd ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), 102.

4. Marjorie Suchocki, The End of Evil (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 152. (Here’s a free PDF of Marjorie intro-ing Process theology)

Philosophical Process Theologican
John B. Cobb, Jr.

Wikipedia - Biography

John Boswell Cobb Jr. (born February 9, 1925) is an American theologian, philosopher, and environmentalist. Cobb is often regarded as the preeminent scholar in the field of process philosophy and process theology, the school of thought associated with the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. Cobb is the author of more than fifty books. In 2014, Cobb was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cobb is well known for his transdisciplinary approach, integrating insights from many different areas of study and bringing different specialized disciplines into fruitful communication. Because of his broad-minded interest and approach, Cobb has been influential in a wide range of disciplines, including theology, ecology, economics, biology, and social ethics.A unifying theme of Cobb's work is his emphasis on ecological interdependence—the idea that every part of the ecosystem is reliant on all the other parts. Cobb has argued that humanity's most urgent task is to preserve the world on which it lives and depends, an idea which his primary influence, Whitehead, described as "world-loyalty".

In 1971, he wrote the first single-author book in environmental ethics, Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology, which argued for the relevance of religious thought in approaching the ecological crisis. In 1989, he co-authored the book For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, Environment, and a Sustainable Future, which critiqued current global economic practice and advocated for a sustainable, ecology-based economics. He has written extensively on religious pluralism and interfaith dialogue, particularly between Buddhism and Christianity, as well as the need to reconcile religion and science.

Cobb is the co-founder and current co-director of the Center for Process Studies in Claremont, California. The Center for Process Studies remains the leading Whitehead-related institute, and has witnessed the launch of more than thirty related centers at academic institutions throughout the world, including twenty-three centers in China.

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Claremont Institute for Process Studies

Our Mission

The Claremont Institute for Process Studies promotes a process-relational worldview to advance wisdom, harmony, and the common good, and cultivates local initiatives to bring about an ecological civilization. These aims will be accomplished by fostering creative transformation through educational development, community collaboration, sustainable practices, and spiritual integration.

Our History

The Claremont Institute for Process Studies was established in 2019 as a non-profit corporation in the State of California, for the purpose of continuing the mission and legacy of the Center for Process Studies (CPS)–a Faculty Center of Claremont School of Theology (CST), established by John Cobb and David Griffin in 1973)–anticipating the relocation of CST and CPS beginning Summer 2019. The Claremont Institute for Process Studies (CIPS) is part of a family or process-relational organizations affiliated with the Center for Process Studies and the International Process Network.

Our Programs

The Claremont Institute for Process Studies works primarily with local SoCal partners to organize events, courses, and publications across a wide-range of issues, including...

  • Spirituality & Religion
  • Ecological Civilization
  • Education & Learning
  • Philosophy & Worldviews
  • Natural Sciences

Board of Directors

  • John B. Cobb, Jr.
  • John Fahey
  • Meijun Fan
  • John Gingrich - Chair
  • Ronald Hines
  • Michael Witmer