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

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
December 19, 2021
Updated December 9, 2022

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 one of my Facebook groups known as Process Philosophy for Everyone (I also belong to several Open theology groups). This was written 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 thinking in the statement: "I believe Process should have its own denomination."

Now let's think about it... Why should this not be something any Process Christian would want? Why?

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

So here's my several thoughts of the subject... which I think is a very good question to ask:

1 - Process Theology is a base theology for all Christian groups - whether process based or not. However, Process Theology is not intended for just one sect or denomination. It is at its best in influence when adapted and adopted (correctly, one hopes) into all systems of denominational or sectarian 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, and hidden from its many applications and influences which it can have....

Process theology works best when embraced by all kinds of Christian faiths... including all non-Christian religions. You see, process theology is but a reflection of the larger metaphysic of process philosophy. A philosophy by its nature reflects how a cultural era thinks about itself and others. Process is how the world works. Similar to past philosophies like Platonic thought, Process Philosophy is an integral theory of all previous philosophies, sciences, disciplines, outlooks, perspectives, and cultural world views. You can find it in ancient cultures and in the bible. The trick is to look for it to find it. Though not expressed as exactly then as now still, you will the nature of the cosmos as one which works in relational processualism to itself as a living, organic organism.

2 - Process Theology, like it's sister idea, Process Christianity, is greater than any one Christian movement... even it's own, should there ever come to be one. That is to say, if one looks backwards into time you will always find a processual idea within a cultural religion. Why? Because life, like nature around us, moves processually. But again, unless you look for it you will not find it. It took an English philosopher, AN Whitehead, to complete the earlier German philosopher Hegel's idea of process. Where it stopped Whitehead moved it forward as a contemporary of - and fellow British Academy member of the Royal Academy of the Sciences - of Einstein's and other scholars.

As example of processual cause-and-effect consider the Emergent Church of the 1990s -2010s, It was a movement spawned from within conservative (non-progressive) Evangelicalism (1950s forward)... even as Evangelicalism itself was an outgrowth from within an earlier 1900s cultural era known as Fundamentalism which was composed of Billy-Sunday-like Fundamentalist congregations. Eventually the Emergent Christian movement (Dallas Willard, Brian McLaren, etc) was absorbed into Evangelicalism's Progressive Christian movement (1960s and forward) which has been so strongly reactionary to the Trumpian dystopia of the errant Conservative Evangelical church of the 2000s.

That said, if Process Christianity is ever bottled up into a movement or a denomination it'll eventually play out against itself - or worse - become removed from itself altogether by some deviant social-religious force or imagination. This result would be unwanted and harmful to the very nature of process theology as a metaphysic of fact rather than a metaphysical philosophy of the moment. Further, true to its nature, as we as humans come to understand the quantum sciences and how our eco-cosmology works, process philosophy itself will grown processually in its nuances and perspectives. Why? Because this is how the world works. It doesn't stand still. Nor do we. Our grasp of its operative organic elements will always move forward in our responses to our understanding. The nature of a process universe moves with itself according to its nature. It's processual essence won't change but its processual outcomings will.

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 a processual God's love and beauty. It brings out the processual reality of God and God's creation in a greater sense then I could find through the Westernized Christian doctrinal statements, creeds or dogmas of God. Process Christianity is, in itself, a way of reading the bible without becoming its own hermeneutical interpretation to the bible. Essentially, a good philosophy permeates everything around it and can be identified in ways which leave it essential and open ended. 

As example, a Westernized reading of the bible portrays God and the bible's message through neo-Platonic Hellenization of human and spiritual categories. If reginned to reflect a process view instead of all eclectic philosophized Western views over the past two millenia the essentials of the today's evangelical dogmas will change dramatically. For myself, I am simply taking my evangelical reformed understanding of God and the bible and applying a process viewpoint over it. When doing so some theology must be removed; some adapted; and some wholly rewritten. More than likely, my view might be that of a process-based progressive post-evangelicalism. But their are other Christian Process theologians who come from Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, or post-Christian experiences who will write of God in a different sense than I do. Through all of these perspectives a consensus of opinion will develop as to what the core of a Process Christianity might look like and become. Hence, when taking up a process-view of supernatural (God) and natural theology (the sciences) there will be a variety of opinion hopefully expanding upwards and centered in God's Love, Unity, Beauty, and Transformative Healing. This is what I would expect from a positive influence of process theology upon the Christian faith.

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 also become both problemmatic and unhelpfully polarized and systematized. Process Theology should never be thought of as any one interpretation of the bible, nor even as a re-systematization of the bible hermeneutically. Rather, process theology, like process philosophy itself, is an underlying feeling within creation and how it responds to its Creator and the world at large. Remember, the world at large is a processual relational organism. Not a thing but more like a dynamic "Being" in its entirety. We are not addressing an idea so much as attempting to understand who we are in our individual and corporate structure to one another.

If anything, we should develop a processual hermeneutic admitting to this fact when reading the bible, but then process will infill-words with expansive meaning. Thus, divine inspiration is not a one-and-done experience by some people in the bible of the best but an ever-expanding and deepening reality of how God continually communicates his love and loving presence to us. If there can be any hermeneutical reading of the bible it should be through the lens of love and how the ancients, as we do today in the church, fail to love and look to solutions of harming legalism, violence, and war. The bible simply shows to us how we and the Israelites back then failed to love. And more saddeningly... how we, as divine emissaries then wrote and worshipped a God of our own sinful making... of a God of wrath and judgement and doom. God is not this. God was never this. God is a God of Love. But our message of God, beginning in the bible, showed how quickly we like our rules and rites and do's and don'ts. My friends, God is love and though process theology might be used to state otherwise, the direction in which I find the most hope and redemptive healing in preaching and writing of a God of Love, Hope, Beauty, and positive transformative Redemption. So then, we today, pick up where the people of the bible left off. The Spirit of God places words and actions into our hearts and it is from these words and actions which we must respond.

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) of 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 the 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 within their cultural eras.

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
Updated December 9, 2022