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

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Process Theology Says God Gives AND Receives Love Contra Anselm & Aquinas

Site references provided by R.E. Slater

The Theo-Logic of Love
(and why Aquinas and Anselm are wrong)

by Thomas J. Oord
September 12th, 2017

God’s love involves both giving and receiving. That’s part of the theo-logic of love. But some great theologians erroneously thought God’s love only gives and never receives.

In my previous blogs, I’ve argued that the Bible, Jesus, and our common experience tell us that God is relational/passible. And God’s love involves giving to and receiving from others.

We might call this overall argument “the theo-logic of love.” The love described in Scripture, in Jesus, and in our own best experiences indicates that expressions of love are partly shaped by responses to others.

An entirely unrelated, unresponsive, and isolated person – if such a being existed – could not love. Love requires relationships of giving-and-receiving influence.

God's Love Both Gives AND Receives

One of the biggest errors committed by Christian theologians of yesteryear was in thinking God’s love involves only outgoing benevolence with no receptive relationality. In other words, they wrongly thought God’s love only gives and never receives. Let me offer a few examples of this erroneous thinking.

The Error of Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas thought God acted benevolently toward creatures but was not affected by creaturely love. “A relation of God to creatures is not a reality in God,” he writes. God knows creatures as ideas without being causally affected by them.[1]

Influencing relations with creation “are not really in Him,” Aquinas says, and “are ascribed to him only in our understanding.”[2] In other words, we only imagine God gives and receives in loving relationship. But in reality, God does not.

If Aquinas is right, biblical statements about God’s compassion are fictional. Creatures cannot bless God. And God never responds to sin by offering forgiveness.

The Error of Anselm

Anselm made the same error. “How are you compassionate, and, at the same time, passionless?” Anselm asks rhetorically of God. “For if you are passionless, you do not feel sympathy; and if you do not feel sympathy, your heart is not wretched from sympathy for the wretched; but this it is to be compassionate.”

In response to his own question, Anselm offers the same answer we saw in Aquinas: “When you behold us in our wretchedness, we experience the effect of compassion, but you do not experience the feeling. Therefore, you are both compassionate, because you do save the wretched, and spare those who sin against you; and not compassionate, because you are affected by no sympathy for wretchedness.”[3]

In other words, according to Anselm we think God is compassionate when God is actually not.

God’s Giving-and-Receiving Love

In contrast to Aquinas and Anselm, I think God’s love involves more than outgoing benevolence. God’s love also involves incoming empathy, receiving, and sometimes suffering.

I stand with many other theologians who affirm divine passibility. I list some in this footnote.[4] According to us, God’s love requires both giving and receiving. And we think the Bible, the witness of Jesus, and commonsense stand with us on this issue. And they stand against Aquinas and Anselm.


[1] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I (Wesminster, Md: Christian Classics, 1981), q. 6, a.2, ad 1.

[2] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles II (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), 13-14.

[3] St. Anselm, Proslogium, tr. Sidney Norton Deane (La Salle, IL, 1951), pp. 13-14.

[4] Among the many theologians who argue that God is passible, see especially Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Macmillan, 1949), Gregory A. Boyd, Is God to Blame? Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Suffering (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), John B. Cobb, Jr., God and the World (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969), Isaak August Dorner, “The History of the Doctrine of the Immutability of God,” in Divine Immutability, trans. Robert R. Williams and Claude Welch (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994), 82–130. Paul Fiddes, The Creative Suffering of God (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), Paul L. Gavrilyuk, The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), Catherine Keller, From a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self (Boston: Beacon Press, 1986), Kazoh Kitamori, Theology of the Pain of God, 5th ed. (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1965), Jung Young Lee, God Suffers for Us (Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1974), Bruce McCormack, “Divine Impassibility or Simply Divine Constancy: Implications for Karl Barth’s Later Christology for Debates over Impassibility,” Divine Impassibility and the Mystery of Human Suffering, James F. Keating and Thomas Joseph White, eds. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009); Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God (1974, 2001), Thomas Jay Oord, The Nature of Love: A Theology (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2010), Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), Pinnock, et. al., The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understand of God (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1994), Jeff Pool, God’s Wounds: Hermeneutic of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering. Vol I Divine Vulnerability and Creation (Cambridge, UK: James Clarke and Co., 2009), John Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Academic, 2007); T.F. Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God (New York: Continuum, 1996), Daniel Day Williams, “Suffering and Being in Empirical Theology,” in B. L. Meland ed., The Future of Empirical Theology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 175-94, Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Suffering Love,” in Philosophy and the Christian Faith, Thomas V. Morris, ed. (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990).

A History of Philosophy - Hugh Timeline Charts!

A History of Philosophy

Philosophy has been around since the dawn of western civilization. The golden age of Greek philosophy took place in Athens in the 5th century BC. The works of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle informed thousands of years of thought, becoming central to thought in the Roman world, the Middle Ages, and then resurfacing in the renaissance and later.

Starting at the height of the Roman republic, Christian thought was central to philosophy at least until the enlightenment. In the 18th century, questions of how we come to know what we believe we know (epistemology), and new ethical schools began to form. By the late 1800’s, questions of language, logic, and meaning took center stage, and the 20th century played host to one of the largest bursts of philosophical work ever seen. Today philosophical thought is applied to almost every component of life, from science to warfare, politics to artificial intelligence.

A History of Western Philosophy Chart

This awesome chart from superscholar.org provides an abbreviated, easy to follow, and informative overview of the general flow of thought in Western Philosophy. Although missing several influential scholars, it does a great job at capturing the nuts-and-bolts of things and is very well thought-out. We hope you enjoy this visual as much as we do and find it helpful! Click on the link below to view!

analytic philosophy, ancient philosophy, aristotelianism, atomists, averroism, contemporary philosophy, continental philosophy, critical thinking, eclecticism, eleatics, empiricists, epicureanism, existentialism, german idealism, hellenistic, hellenistic philosophy, history, humanism, ionians, logic, modern philosophy, natural philosophy, neoplatonism, ordinarly language philosophy, phenomenology, philosophy, platonism, political philosophy, post-structuralists, postanalytic philosophy, pragmatism, presocratics, pythagoreanism, pythagorreans, rationalists, reason, roman philosophy, scholasticism, skepticism, sophists, stoicism, western philosophy.

A History of Eastern Philosophy

Eastern Philosophy is expansive, beginning as far back as 5,000 years ago. Eastern philosophies are also some of the most intricate and popular on the planet, with many adherents to religious philosophies thousands of years old.

Far from being isolated, many philosophies began in small sections of the Asia and spread for thousands of miles. As early as the Ancient Greeks, there was interplay between eastern and western thought, and Islamic thought–in particular– laid the foundation for the enlightenment in the west.

Though many of the schools of thought on our graphic are religious in some form, their philosophical importance can’t be underestimated, with many religious thinkers contributing substantially to the development of logic, metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology.

Abheda, Achintya-Bheda-Abheda, Ajivika, Asharism, Athari, averroism, Avicennism, Bahai, Bahusrutiya, Bhedabheda, Buddhism, Caitika, Carvaka, Chanakya, Confucianism, Daoism, Dharmaguptaka, Dvaita, Dvaitadvaita, east-asian philosophies, Illuminationism, Indian Philosophy, Iranian Philosophies, Islamic Philosophy, Jainism, Kasyapiya, Legalism, Lokottaravada, Mahasamghika, Mahisasaka, Manichaeism, Maoism, Maturidi, Mazdakism, Mimamsa, Mutazilah, naturalists, Neo-Vedanta, philosophy, Prajnaptivada, Samkhya, Sarvastivada, School of Naturalists, Shia, Shinto, Shuddadvaita, Sramana, Sthavira Nikaya, Sufism, Sunni, Theravada, Transcendent Theosophy, Vaisheshika, vedanta, Vedics, Vibhajyavada, Vishishtadvaita, yoga, Zoroastrianism, Zurvanism