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
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
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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Index - Process Philosophy & Theology

The Index here provided on Process Thought is not exhaustive. To date there are 60+ articles listed in it by category out of many, many more which could have been listed out of the website. To these articles other possible related subjects (found on the topical column on the right side of the website) which could be listed would be open and relational theology, sovereignty, providence, eschatology, sin, ecotheology, evolution, science, life applications, faith applications, and the list could go on and on as the subject is very deep. But this new index at least gives the novice and intermediate lay person familiarity with process thought, its reach and direction, and enough educational acumen to continue to explore on their own.

Not so long ago I found stagnancy in the classical expression of my post-Protestant Reformational (Baptist) faith as it began to clash with what I was taught as the "fundamentals of the faith and its doctrine". I had belatedly come to realize that those "fundamental ideas and teachings" needed to be "fundamentally" re-envisioned through the lenses of contemporary cultural and societal expression. In this endeavor I didn't think I would lose the gospel when re-approaching this very large area with intentional post-structuralistic ideas of God, the Bible, Jesus, salvation, sin or the future. But I certainly expected it to upend all of the old creeds of the church and doctrines I had learned with newer, more relevant language and concepts. After many recent years then of reconstituting my very fundamental and conservative evangelical faith heritage I am much more at ease with its substance and direction. Inasmuch as doubt and uncertainty have properly led my postmodern explorations of faith and the bible I believe those same tools - as they do in science - will continue to assist in leading forward towards more relevant and missional ideas of the love of God, His plan for our lives, and how Christ's atoning work is bringing all back together in a fundamental restructuring of mankind and creation. Enjoy. This has not been an easy task.

R.E. Slater
April 13, 2020

Index to Process Philosophy & Theology

R.E. Slater - Envisioning a Process Relational Theology

Robert Mesle's Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead

Course Outline: Whitehead's Process and Reality, by Jay McDaniel

Celebrating John Cobb's Global Spirit

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

John B. Cobb - Understanding Whitehead

John Cobb - Introduction to Whitehead's Process & Reality

Alfred North Whitehead's "Process & Reality" - Content Chapters

Alfred North Whitehead "Process and Reality," Corrected Edition, Complete Book Outline

John Cobb - Whitehead's Process & Reality, Part I

Whitehead - What Does He mean by "Feelings" (sic, Positive & Negative Prehensions)

Notes on Whitehead's Vacuous Actuality

Notes - Whitehead's Process Philosophy

A.N. Whitehead - A Conspectus of Whitehead's Metaphysics

John Cobb - Whitehead's Process & Reality, Part II

John Cobb - Whitehead's Process & Reality, Part II - Class Discussions

John Cobb - Whitehead's Process & Reality, Part III

John Cobb - Whitehead's Process & Reality, Part III - Class Discussions

IV Lecture

IV Class Notes

V Lecture

V Class Notes

VI Lecture

VI Class Notes

Critiques of Whitehead & Process Philosophy

What is process philosophy and Who is Alfred North Whitehead?

Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism

Process Theologian - Charles Hartshorne

Sunday, August 30, 2020
Process Theology - The Life and Philosophy Of Charles Hartshorne

Sunday, August 30, 2020
Process Theology - Review of Charles Hartshone

Sunday, August 30, 2020
Process Theology - SEP: Charles Hartshorne

Sunday, August 30, 2020
Process Theology - SEP:Process Theism

The Future of Process Philosophy

Catherine Keller - Process, Poetry & Post-Structuralism

Bruce Epperly - The Future of Process Theology

Is Process Theology Postmodern?

Seeking a Postmodern Re-definition of Classic Theism

What Is Process Theology? by Robert B. Mellert

Robert B. Mellert - What Is Process Theology: Preface, Chapters 1 & 2

Robert B. Mellert - What Is Process Theology: Preface, Chapters 3 & 4

Robert B. Mellert - What Is Process Theology: Preface, Chapters 5 & 6

Robert B. Mellert - What Is Process Theology: Preface, Chapters 7 & 8

Robert B. Mellert - What Is Process Theology: Preface, Chapters 9 & 10

Robert B. Mellert - What Is Process Theology: Preface, Chapters 11 & 12

Intersection Process Philosophy with Process Theology
*Related Topics: Open & Relational Theism; Sovereignty; Providence; Evolution

Catherine Keller - On Entanglement, Interconnectedness & Synchronicity

How Panentheism Differs from Other Theistic Systems of God + Creation

Describing Relational, Process-based, Panentheism

Thomas Jay Oord - Where Do Open and Process Theologies Blur?

Bruce Epperly - The Process Theologian's "Bonhoeffer"

Process Theology - "Divine Action, Indeterminacy, and Dipolarism"

Critiques of Process Theology

Roger Olson - Can Relational Theism Overcome the Ills of both Process Theology and Classical (Evangelic) Dogma? Part I of 2

Roger Olson - Can Relational Theism Overcome the Ills of both Process Theology and Classical (Evangelic) Dogma? Part 2 of 2

So what’s wrong with panentheism?

The Science Behind "Creatio Continua" versus "Creatio Ex Nihilo" (Process v. Classical Thought)

Philip Clayton's talks about Process Theology - "No One Gets to Capture the Flag Around Here"

Contemporary Process Theology & Social Justice

Process Theology & Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jay McDaniel - Why the God of Process Theology is Like Marian Anderson's Courageous Voice Crying in the Wilderness

Why Process Philosophy Might Present a Better Form of a Liberal Democracy or Socialism

Jay McDaniel - Process Pluralism as an Antidote to Hate

Contemporary Process Theology & EcoTheology

R.E. Slater - The Holy Trilogy: Process Theology, EcoTheology & TheoPoetics

​Ecotheology and Ecological Civilizations: An Overview of Ideas and Practices

Contemporary Process Theology for Contemporary Living

Process Theology: The Peace of Uncertainty


Process Science & Evolution

Processed-based Evolution: "Process Evolution"

Towards a Process Philosophy of Ecological Neuroscience


John B. Cobb - Understanding Whitehead

Whitehead’s Process & Reality

Probing Process & Reality – “Why Whitehead?”

by John B. Cobb

Claremont Institute for Process Studies
January 27, 2020

"Probing Process & Reality" is a six-week course by John B. Cobb, Jr. and Tripp Fuller. They provide an introduction to Alfred North Whitehead's masterpiece. This video may be found at the end of this post. In introductng the course, Dr. Cobb responds to the question of why Whitehead's work is worth exploring today.

Alfred North Whitehead (ANE) presented at the Gifford Lectures where he systematizes his ideas. Six hundred attended the first night. Six came back the next. His metaphysics is a very difficult subject to comprehend but well worth the effort if given a chance. So then, “Why Whitehead? And why process and reality?”

Question 1.

Philosophers each add to another philosopher’s perspective. Schools of philosophy conceive of different problems and topics from different perspectives.

ANE’s philosophy is one of cosmology. But why be interested in cosmology? It is seldom spoke of in most philosophy departments and has left a large hole in our education. Cosmology attempts to answer the nature of reality and the place of humanity in it; whether our lives are determined; what is freewill; how do we relate to the cosmos and the cosmos to us; how we might understand that natural world and fit within it; of the nature of reality; the human place in that reality; whether we have responsibility in that reality; what is the purpose of living; connectedness; interrelatedness; values; goals; and so forth. This use to be a very popular subject up to the 18th century.

The natural sciences have brought these questions all back to the fore because of their relevance to our questions about cosmology and the metaphysics/ontologies within it. Science and cosmology go together. To speak of one is to speak of the other. As example, the quantum physicist Steven Hawking in his book, “A Brief Period in Time,” brought this subject up when examining evolution and cosmology.

Hawking’s questions helped revive the discussions from ages past providing relevancy to the contemporary eras of today. To be a philosopher or theologian in the realm of cosmology must require a familiarity with science, math, and physics, without which the two streams of thought cannot intersect. Why? As each discipline will inform the other and consequently making each application of insight sharper.

Whitehead’s cosmological explorations between science and philosophy occurred when his very subject had faded from the mainstream of history. But lately it has come back into force with science’s many complex quantum discoveries of the universe linked around the fundamental questions of Darwinian evolution and its meaning for us today.

Question 2.

Why do we need a new cosmology? Its reflection is light of the many new discoveries that earlier ascetics did not have. The Greeks. The early church philosophers. The Enlightenment or even early modern prodigies. All these have left us with the Cartesian world of materialism without answering the question of consciousness nor that of the quantum world which had yet to be discovered.

A sensory, classical world does not understand today’s scientific idea of causality. The Greek’s thought of causes as fourfold:

  • An efficient cause
  • A material cause
  • A formal cause, and
  • A final cause (purpose).

The early modern world freed itself of final causes or purposeful causes. It concluded there was no teleology to a natural world of random, chaotic evolution. Yet perhaps a cosmologist will question these modern day reflections by looking into whether there is a teleology in process within creation. Whether science’s cosmological answers may be insufficient in this area which had dismissed final/purposeful causes to be antithetical to the real world and arbitrarily delimiting the area of scientific study and conjecture.

Many years ago the philosopher David Hume had concluded that purpose should be excluded empirically, and yet, the philosopher Immanuel Kant stated that in terms of metaphysics this cannot be done even in relationship to the known empirical data of that time. That the objective world was not on a par with the hidden the natural world. That what was understood as reality may be hiding a far deeper world of reality under philosophy’s pseudo-understanding.

As such, cosmology was given up only to be retaken by Whitehead in redefining it in newer, more relevant ways. Phenomology (e.g. the appearance of a phenomenon, aka Heidegger) describes human experience which was never noticed before. It’s sub-discipline, existentialism, is closely related to phenomenology. And yet, neither answer the question of what lies behind the reality of the appearance of phenomena? This is the greater question. To find, or see, the real world beyond its patches of color or sound. To refuse to exclude this hidden world of reality. This then is the realm of cosmology which has been left out of philosophical discussions for the past two centuries until science has revived its relativity.

Science then drives many newer questions of the natural world and what may lie behind it than what we had earlier understood in the nascent days of scientific research and discovery. Its strange anomalies have driven us to explore the evolutionary worlds of the very large and the very small beyond that which we had once assumed we knew and could explain. Of worlds which are deeply interconnected belying non-conscious chaotic motion and energy always surging forwards from inorganic to organic life and the many worlds of that life which have spawned in its ever widening wake.

Dualistic concepts of the world such as the ones religion espouses do not fit within these newer evolutionary categories. For example, neuroscience affirms non-binary sentient concepts from nonlinear complex inorganic to deeply interconnected organic lifeforms. The study of cosmology then revives the entire science of evolutionary beginnings and processes-with-unending-endings with perhaps the more relevant questions of whether there is a purposeful evolution - which the very name of evolution itself seems to hint at as it has been taken up since Darwin.

So then, “Why Whitehead?” Because process philosophy looks at the natural world and sees the many processes of evolutionary evolvement especially from the newer scientific perspective of the strange new quantum worlds of chaotic particles and dimensional structure. Beyond a bare cosmology, a theologian might therefore approach process philosophy from a more relevant theistic viewpoint created from the subdomain of process theology as it relates to evolutionary cosmology and philosophy. Much of the heavy lifting in this area has already been begun since Whitehead’s first questions. And yet, there will certainly be many more insights to come related to naturalistic consciousness, mechanism, and the quantum world of the unseen as approaches bring more relevant, open-ended discussions of life and world, God and teleology to light. Process and reality then is by far the best philosophical approach for science and theology to proceed.

John B. Cobb
Edited by R.E. Slater
March 1, 2020


March 16 - Session I:  xi-xv and pp. 3-17
o   Part I, Chapter 1 - Speculative Philosophy

March 23 - Session II:  18-36
o   Part I, Chapter 2 - The Categorical Scheme
o   Part I, Chapter 3 - Some Derivative Notions

March 30 - Session III  39-60
o   Part II, Chapter 1 - Fact & Form

April 7 - Session IV  61-82
o   Part II, Chapter 2 - The Extensive Continuum

April 14 - Session V  83-109
o   Part II, Chapter 3 – The Order of Nature

April 21 - Session VI
o   Session I-VI Wrap Up

Additional References

Saturday, August 12, 2017

In The Age of Trumpism Should We Retire the “Bebbington Quadrilateral?”

Should We Retire the
“Bebbington Quadrilateral?”

by JohnFea
January 4, 2018

Historian David Bebbington has suggested that evangelicals believe in conversion (being born-again), biblicism (the need to base one’s faith fundamentally on the Bible), the theological priority of the cross (Jesus died for sinners), and activism (the need to share one’s faith with others).

Gloege writes:

"When proposed thirty years ago, Bebbington’s definition was a valuable steppingstone. It pushed historians to ask new questions and research new groups. But the findings of that research also revealed the definition’s flaws. Its characteristics simply do not translate into identifiable patterns of belief and practice. (If they did, why isn’t evangelical Wheaton College’s statement of faith exactly four points?) It’s not a definition, but a prospectus for a theological agenda."

Consider the definition at work. To be evangelical, we are told, is to believe in “conversion.” But is conversion a uniquely evangelical idea? It’s not even uniquely Christian; Muslims convert too. Rather, they are appealing to a particular experience of conversion. And how is an evangelical conversion measured? That’s the rub. It’s been the cause of evangelical consternation for two centuries.

But conversion’s unmeasurable quality is what makes it useful for insiders. It allows them to state (or strongly infer) that only unconverted, ‘nominal,’ evangelicals supported Trump. Apparently, a vote for Trump is evidence enough? Meanwhile, evangelical Trump voters declare that by withholding support, never-Trump evangelicals have demonstrated their faithlessness. Liberal evangelicals also have a calculus of conversion that excludes their conservative rivals. “Conversion” acts as a theological weapon that muddies the definitional waters; it’s not an analytical category.

“Biblicism” functions similarly. Imagine a political scientist defining Republicans as “those who take the Constitution seriously.” Who would accept this transparently partisan statement? And yet many people today accept that evangelicals are “biblical,” while everyone else…isn’t? This is how former megachurch pastor Rob Bell and popular author Rachel Held Evans ceased to be evangelical: not because they quit the Bible, but because they came up with “wrong,” (thus “unbiblical”) answers about hell and being gay. “Biblicism” is evangelical gerrymandering.

Like using water to define Kool-Aid, Bebbington’s definition confuses common, ill-defined, features of Protestantism or Western Christianity for evangelical particularities. Evangelicals love it because they can do theology—make theological claims—under the guise of analysis.

Gloege adds:

"A definition should connect to a movement’s most salient features (what sets it apart), and help us understand how they developed. Does “the theological priority of the cross” capture something uniquely evangelical? (It doesn’t.) Does it explain why white evangelicals tend to harbor a deep suspicion of the federal government and embrace free-market capitalism? Why policing sex and sexuality is such a priority (except when it isn’t)? Does it connect the dots?"

The Bebbington Quadrilateral does none of these things; rather it offers theological slogans that make respectable evangelicals feel better about themselves. Rather than spur self-reflection, it lets evangelicals ignore hard questions, while the movement they helped conjure burns down the country.

I am probably one of those “respectable evangelicals” who want to “feel better about themselves,” so I guess I should keep thinking about this some more. Whatever the case, I appreciate Gloege’s attempts to historicize the term.

In my forthcoming book Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I assume the Bebbington Quadrilateral is the best way of defining evangelicals. On one level, Gloege is right. Conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism, when considered alone, are features that one can find in many religions and Christian traditions. But when you bring them all together it still seems like you do have something that is unique.

Moreover, people who believe in conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism have taken all kinds of positions on social issues. Gloege knows this. They have been abolitionists and slaveholders, socialists and capitalists, supporters of strong government and defenders of states rights, defenders and opponents of gay rights, revolutionaries and reactionaries. Is there room in American evangelicalism for Roy Moore and Jim Wallis (21st century politics)? William Wilberforce and Robert Dabney (slavery)? John Wesley and John Witherspoon (American Revolution)?

In the evangelical church I attended thirty years ago there was much diversity on social issues. The same thing is true about the evangelical church I attend today. But in both churches our differences were (are) aired under the umbrella of a shared understanding of a faith defined by something very close to Bebbington’s Quadrilateral. I know there are people in my evangelical church today who supported Donald Trump from the moment he came down the escalator in Trump Tower and announced his candidacy. I also know that there are people in my church who would have voted for Roy Moore if they lived in Alabama. All of these people believe in the tenets of the Quadrilateral and some of them lead lives of devotion to God that put me to shame. Some of my readers might wonder how this is possible. I do as well. But I have hope that because my fellow evangelicals believe in an inspired Bible, or a conversion (“born-again”) experience that results in holy living, or the command to share their faith with others, they can be persuaded that racism or nativism or Trumpism may NOT be the best way to be “evangelical” in this world. Perhaps they can be convinced, with the Holy Spirit’s help, that they have ignored large chunks of the Bible that don’t conform to their political views. Perhaps they can be convinced that personal holiness is something more than just casting the right vote. Perhaps they can be convinced that rabid support for Roy Moore or Donald Trump hurts their Christian witness.

This Sunday I begin a course at my church titled “Christian Politics?” It could get ugly. But I chose to teach the course, and I am hopeful it will be civil and productive, because most of us in the classroom will share a common approach to faith. Many of those who attend the class will trust me to lead them in a discussion of such a sensitive topic because, like them, I believe in the tenets of the Bebbington Quadrilateral. We will differ on a LOT of things, but most of us will have a common commitment to faith and practice because we can point to a conversion or born-again experience, we believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we affirm the Bible as the word of God, and we think it is important to live our faith in an active way in the world that includes not just social action but evangelism as well. This shared faith will provide a kind of subtext for my class. I call this subtext evangelical Christianity. It is not a subtext I can expect when I teach in mainline Protestant churches or Catholic churches or in secular arenas. It is not even a subtext that I can expect any more at the Christian College where I teach history. In those places, I need to understand my audience in a different way and argue in a fashion that makes appeals to universal ideas or a broader understanding of Christianity.

OK, I am rambling now. I may return to this later.

- JohnFea