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

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

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Why Process Theology is Universal for All Secular and Religious Worldviews

Why Process Theology is Universal
for All Secular and Religious Worldviews

by R.E. Slater

The winter morning is still black outside and I've got my son's family here for the week of Christmas so today's post will not be especially long but hopefully profound.

I woke up thinking about a statement I read on Facebook in the Process Philosophy for Everyone group (I also belong to several Open theology groups) by someone hoping that Process Christianity (aka Process Theology) might become it's own Christian denomination. And though I sometimes wish this might be true I also realize the error of the statement: "I believe Process should have its own denomination."

Think about it... why should this not be something any Process Christian would want? One reply I read simply stated the obvious:

I think process having its own denomination would be a horrible idea because it would deprive all the other communions of the process influence. - CT

Here's my several thoughts:

1 - Process Theology is a base theology for all Christian groups, not just for one sect or denomination. It should be adapted and adopted (correctly, one hopes) into all systems of Christian theology and thinking and not simply found in one movement, denomination, church or fellowship. It would be like hiding one's gospel light under a bushel basket unused, unthought about, hidden from its many applications and influences.

2 - Process Theology, like it's sister idea, Process Christianity, is greater than any Christian movement... even it's own, should there ever come to be one. As example, the Emergent Church was a movement within Evangelicalism, itself a movement within earlier Fundamentalist congregations. Eventually the Christian emergent movement of the 1990s was absorbed into Evangelicalism's Progressive Christian movement which has been so strongly reactionary to the Trumpian dystopia of the errant conservative evangelical church. 

If Process Christianity is ever bottled it'll eventually play out, or worse, become removed from itself by some deviant social force or imagination. This result would be unwanted and harmful to the perception of process theology.

3 - I think of Process Theology as I would a basic truth of the Jesus Gospel but more so... it's a way of seeing the world through the lens of God's love and beauty. It brings out the reality of God and God's creation in a greater sense then I could find through Westernized Christian doctrinal statements, creeds or dogmas of God. Process Christianity is, in itself, a way of reading the bible without become its own hermeneutical interpretation of the bible. Essentially, a good philosophy permeates everything around it and can be identified in ways which leave it essential and open ended. 

4 - Though biblical interpretations have been helpful to the Christian church - that is, "ways of reading the bible to help sort out its teachings" - they can become both problemmatic and unhelpfully systematized. Process Theology should never be thought of as a interpretation of the bible, nor as a systematization of the bible. More generally it is an underlying feeling within creation and how it responds to its Creator and the world at large.

4a. Past interpretations - or, hermeneutics - of the bible might include a Dispensational reading of the bible through Reformed Christian traditions. Or, its polar opposite (and my own personal preference) a Covenantal reading of the bible through the same Reformed Christian traditions. Process theology is not this. It is not a "systematic interpretation of Scripture" but an underlying flow of life much like a philosophical reading of how humanity and creation are drawn into and out of the particulars of the bible.

4b. Current interpretations of the bible which aren't so much a hermeneutic to themselves but act more like Jungian Archetypes or better, biblical themes of Scripture, may help enlighten what a hermeneutic like Dispensational or Covenant Theology are attempting to portray in their Scriptural metanarratives. In my capstone senior thesis at a fundamental evangelical seminary for my M.Div. degree I wrote of eleven meta-themes in the bible. Here are a few: Christ as the Mid-Point of Salvific History (aka Oscar Cullman); the Discontinuity and Continuity of community practices and beliefs within the bible (aka John Feinberg); the Remnant of God in Community Transition through the four major Promise Covenants of the bible: Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New (aka, God's Design by Martens); and so on. Looking back, each of these themes could be re-cast through process theological senses... which means, anything Christian written in the past could also be recast in Process terminology. 
Thus, Process theology should never be systematized but is more like a thought, a smell or aroma, a taste (salt, sugar), a background sound (birdsong, praise hymns in our heads), or as a kind of sensory feeling or emotion. A Process Christian reading of Christianity is more like a feeling or impression as much as it is statements into, on top of, or overlays to, past creedal statements of God, Christ, the Church, Sin, Love, etc.

5 - Process theology, broadly, is not simply for the Christian faith. It is for all global faiths. All global religions. It is that big. And can at once be that nebulous... as it should be. Any theology of God, of mundane living, or philosophical sense of life, can be recast is process terms of theology and philosophy. Buddhism rejected Hinduism for its lack of cosmic connectedness and yet both reveal a process way of thinking in the Chinese and Indian cultures to a greater, or respectively lesser, extent. Process Christianity is simply another way of identifying with other world religions a language of commonality with one another. As Christianity and Islam have many good comparisons with each other as monotheistic (sic, non-polytheistic) faiths, so too does Christianity share foundational commonalities with other non-Christian religions via Process Theology and Philosophy. Process thought, if true, should be seen everywhere and not just in Westernized Christian thinking.

6 - Lastly, Process Christianity is more of a broad identifier - or a broader outlay - of the Christian God and Christian Creeds. As Progressive Christianity is a kind of social justice and environmental movement within the Christian church, so Process Theology might further enlighten and provide a depth of Christian foundation for this Progessive Christian movement within Evangelical Christianity (which necessarily includes Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox faiths and flavors of the Christian Church). Especially as Progressive Christians separate themselves from their alt-religious right elements of Americanized soft fascism working against an expanding democracy attempting to bring social justice to all members of one's nationalism. That is, all minority groups are to be lifted up onto a level CIVIL playing field and no longer kept within the confines of white Christian supremacy.

This we see in America's present internal divisions as the Jesus-following Christian church determines to no longer incorporate white Christian nationalism within its coffers. Hence, Process Theology will give Progressive Christians a better, more democratic (and theologic) basis to their movement, than can past inhumanitarian doctrines of the Christian church such as Franklin Graham's Christian Dominionism or the Charismatic idea of Kingdom Law over Grace taught by Kingdom ReConstructionists. Both theo-political groups wish to integrate Church with State so that America's constitutional laws reflect religious ideas about which groups are loved by God and which are not acceptable to God. Conversely, Process Theology argues for the basic freedoms of all people, not just some. How we understand God in God's love will always inform a Christian gospel of Christ's love over Westernized Christianity's presumption of God's wrath and hate.

At this point I must discontinue, with apologies. My three year old grandson has just arrived to play the piano and then I believe we have a date to punch balloons into the air and catch them on our noses. Perhaps a few here might offer additional criteria on Process Theology's need to stay helpfully philosophical without becoming unnecessarily weighted down by localization. As example, Ecological civilizations come to mind. They must be underlaid by process thinking but left to adopt forms of beneficial capitalism or socialism re community distillation and self-interest. Similary with process theology in its many forms and conventional humanitarian outcomes.

Merry Christmas to All,

R.E. Slater
December 19, 2021