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

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Christian Process Theology

by R.E. Slater

Process Theology may include and inform all religions even as Process Philosophy may include and inform all extant philosophies. Christian-based Process Theology is typically an uplift to all previous Christian expressions of faith.

Process Theology will necessarily included several phases to its examination of any Christian creed, dogma, doctrine, liturgy, worship, or teaching. These phases would necessarily require an examination / actions of i) deconstruction of the elements of non-processual Christian faiths as well as the ii) reconstruction of that same faith towards processualism based upon Alfred North Whitehead.

Alfred North Whitehead OM FRS FBA (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947) was an English mathematician and philosopher. He is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as process philosophy, which today has found application to a wide variety of disciplines, including ecology, theology, education, physics, biology, economics, and psychology, among other areas.

In his early career Whitehead wrote primarily on mathematics, logic, and physics. His most notable work in these fields is the three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910–1913), which he wrote with former student Bertrand Russell. Principia Mathematica is considered one of the twentieth century's most important works in mathematical logic, and placed 23rd in a list of the top 100 English-language nonfiction books of the twentieth century by Modern Library.

Beginning in the late 1910s and early 1920s, Whitehead gradually turned his attention from mathematics to philosophy of science, and finally to metaphysics. He developed a comprehensive metaphysical system which radically departed from most of Western philosophy. Whitehead argued that reality consists of processes rather than material objects, and that processes are best defined by their relations with other processes, thus rejecting the theory that reality is fundamentally constructed by bits of matter that exist independently of one another. Today Whitehead's philosophical works – particularly Process and Reality – are regarded as the foundational texts of process philosophy.

Whitehead's process philosophy argues that "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 consequences for the world around us." For this reason, one of the most promising applications of Whitehead's thought in recent years has been in the area of ecological civilization and environmental ethics pioneered by John B. Cobb.

Whitehead was an informed Victorian Christian (as characterising the 18th and 19th century English era affecting religious beliefs at the time) who was a scholarly mathematician. He, and his student Bertrand Russell, published a set-theory book entitled "Principia Mathematica" which functioned as a "philosophy of mathematics" at the time.

Whitehead was also very conversant with Einstein's relativity physics and the later development of quantum theory. He was also very conversant with modern day philosophies and was particularly influenced by Hegal's metaphysics of cosmology (as referring to the inner metrics of creation's functionings and relating to the how-and-why questions of life in general) which was quickly overcome by the dialectic dualism philosophies of Kant et al which would go on to impact Christian theologies.

Hence, Whitehead picked-up not only Hegel, but other "processual philosophical traditions" found in the ancients to then begin modernizing it as a response to scientific mechanism and reductionism. He stressed an organic wholeness to science and mathematics emphasizing deeply embedded relational connectedness of parts to whole and whole to parts. He stressed that the whole became greater than the parts when looking at creation and the subject of God.

That all of creation was panrelational, panexperiential, and panpsychic (example, the biological combine of complexity formed a type of panpsychic "consciousness" which is also found throughout creation in it's varying forms and degrees according to its compositions). That creation was a living, "breathing", dynamic complex which sensed or felt its wholeness across it's "living being"....

Language fails when trying to describe what science deems as a living "material" creation as versus a living "immaterial" creation drawn together to form a  kind of "sentience" or "panpsychic" cosmological signature of sorts. Thus Whitehead's implication when employing the phrase "philosophy of organism" which, by implication, referred to both the material, as well as the immaterial, elements of a complex composition experiencing and relating to other complex compositions whether living or nonliving. It was more than an organic construction but a living , breathing, interacting "organism" with all that would imply short of becoming a deity in-and-of itself. - re slater

Thus, Process necessarily includes a panentheistic (NOT pantheistic) relationship between God and Universe as a living organism (or, perhaps, more correctly, as a Living Organism). That is, God is creation's Author-Creator, Father-Redeemer, who is Other than the universe but yet, is it's very immaterial DNA by which it operates:

Darwin might describe this living multiverse as an evolving -verse divinely infilled with creativity, novelty, and perseverance of struggle against all which strove against its inherently evolving DNA, design, and yearning to become more than it is (e.g., it's teleological design). Thus Whitehead's phrase "being which is becoming"... referring to "a beingness of a composition which is always evolving, becoming, groping for more than what it presently is - even when inversely acted upon and devolved from its original intentionality."

Whitehead's vision for how a quantum universe of forces and particles might be viewed as a tightly entwined organic entity as it reacted to itself upon both parts and whole to produce something greater than itself. It stood as a choice between the other spectral end of scientific philosophy viewing the metaphysics of the cosmos as a mere interplay between it's substances without purpose or goal (teleology).

Whitehead saw the cosmos as a living organism which is continually evolving against the entropic forces present whereas enlightenment philosophies saw the cosmos disconnected to itself and without divine purpose except to its own isolated and observed scientific principles (laws). Hence, Whitehead was saying to the then scientific world there is more there than what we are comprehending in our astounding discoveries. Let's look together but from the vantage point of a processual - as versus a non-processual - evolutionary metaphysic of forces and particles. Forces that when taken together give reason for the observed chaos, randomness, and grouped symmetries being observed by science.

Whitehead then, was effectually "re-composing" the isolating reductionary practices of science towards that of a metaphysic discipline describing a "conscientious" cosmos by applying the process-elements of Hegel's earlier trajectories to Darwinian evolutionary cosmology. To a Christian adopting processual evolution into their theological lexicon this meant perceiving the Divine Reflection or Image or DNA within all parts of the material universe forming a consequential whole-ness (holism) where before there was none from a merely material scientific philosophy.

More recently, due to observed ecological concerns of climate crisis evolutionary ecologists are learning to look at Earth's planetary ecology as a whole brought forth from its part and by addition, are learning to see Earth in terms of its own cosmic interplay within the universe. That is, rather than simply applying the term ecology to the Earth cosmic metaphysicians (planetary cosmologists) are broadly describing an "ecological" cosmology. Simply, the Earth is affected by the Universe as it is also affecting the Universe itself.

This is Whiteheadian processual thought as applied to environmental science that all prehended events will concrese by a factor of one to becoming an actual event from a range of prehensive possibilities to a form a more limited range of projected possibilities delimited by any present forms subsisting within a current environmental convex wherein any organic composition moves from its present state towards a subtending future state (Whitehead's "Being which is Becoming").


In summary, Whitehead at first described his philosophy as a Philosophy of Organism which in more recent decades is being described as "Process Philosophy." And, as earlier stated, process philosophy can be found in its earlier antecedents in the processual expressions of ancient religions and philosophers. Due to Hegel's short-lived, but substantial influence, Whitehead then recomposed what he saw in science and philosophy to better explain and inform other contemporary philosophies and religions (including Christianity) of his time. Little did he know that it would become what it is becoming today (which is the essence of his philosophical observations).

Moreover, Process Philosophy and Theology may be thought of as an Integral Philosophy and Theology to all current and previous forms of philosophies and the theologies of religions with their subsequential cultural adaptations into the sciences, disciplines, and outlooks. That as an Integral Philosophy - and consequentially, as an Integral Philosophy of Theology - processual forms can be found in all non-processual philosophies and theologies as they attempt to describe God (or no God), creation, humanity, society, nature, or the cosmic world within their own non-processual disciplinary derivatives speaking to the metaphysics and ontologies of things, epistemologies, and ethics.

  • As example, the fields of psychology and sociology take on new forms of processual enlightenment when connected holistically together rather than as determined in isolating behaviors (Jungian Archetypes most exemplify Whiteheadian processes).
  • Or, that of Christian theologies based in non-processual forms of thinking about God, man, world, sin, and redemption. Our Westernization of Greek Hellenism has pre-formed our judgments of biblical interpretations when denying (or neglecting) the intimate connectedness of the Divine to what was presumed as the secular world of man. When seen again in Whiteheadian terms, ALL is divinely imaged and worthy of divinely inherent value-and-worth (as opposed to Calvinistic Westernized interpretations of creation as sin and sinfully devolved).
  • Thinking pulpiteers and collegial educationalists will necessarily need to re-envision a processual world of the divine when re-evaluating their contextual psychologies and theologies when previously based upon the non-processual philosophical outlooks of previous cultures.

Process Philosophy then is the lowest foundational level upon which to study, apprehend, perceive, and explore creation. All other structures emanate from its own basis and are but elemental constructions of a creation which works processually.

  • A creation which is "birthed" in the Image of God by a God who is, in His own Being and Essence, an indwelling, processually-evolving, Being who (not what) is becoming - in response to creation's own becoming - without straying from God's own Self-Being. Such a God cannot then be indifferent, uncaring, nor abandoning the very creation God ever sustains, indwells, or intimately cares for. The mythic Greek idea of God being far from us, playing with the world stage in a malignant fashion, is wholly unGod-like and facetious in theological tone and tenor.
  • Rather, in perception; in novelty; in imagination; in immortality; and in everlasting presence and influence; God is, and is becoming, in relationship to a processual creation itself likewise becoming in fellowship to itself and to its Loving Author, Creator, Redeemer. Restated, this universe we inhabit is a living, breathing, connected, relational cosmology divinely impregnated with beauty, joy, peace, value, and generative beingness which is ever in a state of processual becomingness.

This is what Process Philosophy means and what Christian Process Theology is attempting to rewrite from its earlier inherited non-processual church creeds, dogmas, doctrines, teachings, ethics, moralities, and visions of the future of God, creation, and mankind.

R.E. Slater
May 6, 2023
edited May 20, 2023

Note: Process Theology is the theology of any constructed religious theology, including that of Christianity. For the purposes of this article here I am using the broader definition from Wikipedia to help the Christian Church reflect upon its own faith structures in some helpful, perhaps more expansive, way than can be done with current faith thinking and traditions.
- re slater


Process theology

Process theology is a type of theology developed from Alfred North Whitehead's (1861–1947) process philosophy, but most notably by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000), John B. Cobb (b. 1925), and Eugene H. Peters (1929-1983). Process theology and process philosophy are collectively referred to as "process thought".

For both Whitehead and Hartshorne, it is an essential attribute of God to affect and be affected by temporal processes, contrary to the forms of theism that hold God to be in all respects non-temporal (eternal), unchanging (immutable), and unaffected by the world (impassible). Process theology does not deny that God is in some respects eternal (will never die), immutable (in the sense that God is unchangingly good), and impassible (in the sense that God's eternal aspect is unaffected by actuality), but it contradicts the classical view by insisting that God is in some respects temporal, mutable, and passible.[1]

According to Cobb, "process theology may refer to all forms of theology that emphasize event, occurrence, or becoming over substance. In this sense theology influenced by G. W. F. Hegel is process theology just as much as that influenced by Whitehead. This use of the term calls attention to affinities between these otherwise quite different traditions."[2][3] Also Pierre Teilhard de Chardin can be included among process theologians,[4] even if they are generally understood as referring to the Whiteheadian/Hartshornean school, where there continue to be ongoing debates within the field on the nature of God, the relationship of God and the world, and immortality.


Various theological and philosophical aspects have been expanded and developed by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000), John B. CobbEugene H. Peters, and David Ray Griffin.[5] A characteristic of process theology each of these thinkers shared was a rejection of metaphysics that privilege "being" over "becoming", particularly those of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.[6] Hartshorne was deeply influenced by French philosopher Jules Lequier and by Swiss philosopher Charles Secrétan who were probably the first ones to claim that in God liberty of becoming is above his substantiality.

Process theology soon influenced a number of Jewish theologians including Rabbis Max KadushinMilton Steinberg,Levi A. Olan, Harry Slominsky, and, to a lesser degree, Abraham Joshua Heschel. Contemporary Jewish theologians who advocate some form of process theology include Bradley Shavit Artson,[7] Lawrence A. Englander, William E. KaufmanHarold Kushner, Anson Laytner, Michael Lerner, Gilbert S. Rosenthal, Lawrence Troster, Donald B. Rossoff, Burton Mindick, and Nahum Ward.[citation needed]

Alan Anderson and Deb Whitehouse have applied process theology to the New Thought variant of Christianity.[8]

Richard Stadelmann has worked to preserve the uniqueness of Jesus in process theology.[citation needed]

God and the World relationship

Whitehead's classical statement is a set of antithetical statements that attempt to avoid self-contradiction by shifting them from a set of oppositions into a contrast:

  • It is as true to say that God is permanent and the World fluent, as that the World is permanent and God is fluent.
  • It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.
  • It is as true to say that, in comparison with the World, God is actual eminently, as that, in comparison with God, the World is actual eminently.
  • It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.
  • It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God.
  • It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God.[9]


  • God is not omnipotent in the sense of being coercive. The divine has a power of persuasion rather than coercion. Process theologians interpret the classical doctrine of omnipotence as involving force, and suggest instead a forbearance in divine power. "Persuasion" in the causal sense means that God does not exert unilateral control.[10]
  • Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. These events have both a physical and mental aspect. All experience (male, female, atomic, and botanical) is important and contributes to the ongoing and interrelated process of reality.
  • The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free willSelf-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot totally control any series of events or any individual, but God influences the creaturely exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. To say it another way, God has a will in everything, but not everything that occurs is God's will.[11]
  • God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism, not pantheism or pandeism). Some also call this "theocosmocentrism" to emphasize that God has always been related to some world or another.
  • Because God interacts with the changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodnesswisdom, etc.) remain eternally solid.
  • Charles Hartshorne believes that people do not experience subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have objective immortality because their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was. Other process theologians believe that people do have subjective experience after bodily death.[12]
  • Dipolar theism is the idea that God has both a changing aspect (God's existence as a Living God) and an unchanging aspect (God's eternal essence).[13]

Relationship to liberation theology

Henry Young combines Black theology and Process theology in his book Hope in Process. Young seeks a model for American society that goes beyond the alternatives of integration of Blacks into white society and Black separateness. He finds useful the process model of the many becoming one. Here the one is a new reality that emerges from the discrete contributions of the many, not the assimilation of the many to an already established one.[14]

Monica Coleman has combined Womanist theology and Process theology in her book Making a Way Out of No Way. In it, she argues that 'making a way out of no way' and 'creative transformation' are complementary insights from the respective theological traditions. She is one of many theologians who identify both as a process theologian and feminist/womanist/ecofeminist theologian, which includes persons such as Sallie McFagueRosemary Radford Ruether, and Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki.[15][16]

C. Robert Mesle, in his book Process Theology, outlines three aspects of a process theology of liberation:[17]

  1. There is a relational character to the divine which allows God to experience both the joy and suffering of humanity. God suffers just as those who experience oppression and God seeks to actualize all positive and beautiful potentials. God must, therefore, be in solidarity with the oppressed and must also work for their liberation.
  2. God is not omnipotent in the classical sense and so God does not provide support for the status quo, but rather seeks the actualization of greater good.
  3. God exercises relational power and not unilateral control. In this way God cannot instantly end evil and oppression in the world. God works in relational ways to help guide persons to liberation.

Relationship to pluralism

Process theology affirms that God is working in all persons to actualize potentialities. In that sense each religious manifestation is the Divine working in a unique way to bring out the beautiful and the good. Additionally, scripture and religion represent human interpretations of the divine. In this sense pluralism is the expression of the diversity of cultural backgrounds and assumptions that people use to approach the Divine.[18]

Relationship to the doctrine of the incarnation

Contrary to Christian orthodoxy, the Christ of mainstream process theology is not the mystical and historically unique union of divine and human natures in one hypostasis, the eternal Logos of God incarnated and identifiable as the man Jesus. Rather God is incarnate in the lives of all people when they act according to a call from God. Jesus fully and in every way responded to God's call, thus the person of Jesus is theologically understood as "the divine Word in human form."[citation needed] Jesus is not singularly or essentially God, but he was perfectly synchronized to God at all moments of life.[19] Cobb expressed the Incarnation in process terms that link it to his understanding of actualization of human potential: "'Christ' refers to the Logos as incarnate hence as the process of creative transformation in and of the world".[20]

Debate about process theology's conception of God’s power

A criticism of process theology is that it offers a too severely diminished conception of God’s power. Process theologians argue that God does not have unilateral, coercive control over everything in the universe. In process theology, God cannot override a person’s freedom, nor perform miracles that violate the laws of nature, nor perform physical actions such as causing or halting a flood or an avalanche. Critics argue that this conception diminishes divine power to such a degree that God is no longer worshipful.[5][21][22][23][24]

The process theology response to this criticism is that the traditional Christian conception of God is actually not worshipful as it stands, and that the traditional notion of God’s omnipotence fails to make sense.[25]

First, power is a relational concept. It is not exerted in a vacuum, but always by some entity A over some other entity B.[26] As such, power requires analysis of both the being exerting power, and the being that power is being exerted upon. To suppose that an entity A (in this case, God), can always successfully control any other entity B is to say, in effect, that B does not exist as a free and individual being in any meaningful sense, since there is no possibility of its resisting A if A should decide to press the issue.[27]

Mindful of this, process theology makes several important distinctions between different kinds of power. The first distinction is between "coercive" power and "persuasive" power.[28] Coercive power is the kind that is exerted by one physical body over another, such as one billiard ball hitting another, or one arm twisting another. Lifeless bodies (such as the billiard balls) cannot resist such applications of physical force at all, and even living bodies (like arms) can only resist so far, and can be coercively overpowered. While finite, physical creatures can exert coercive power over one another in this way, God—lacking a physical body—cannot (not merely will not) exert coercive control over the world.[29]

But process theologians argue that coercive power is actually a secondary or derivative form of power, while persuasion is the primary form.[28] Even the act of self-motion (of an arm, for instance) is an instance of persuasive power. The arm may not perform in the way a person wishes it to—it may be broken, or asleep, or otherwise unable to perform the desired action. It is only after the persuasive act of self-motion is successful that an entity can even begin to exercise coercive control over other finite physical bodies. But no amount of coercive control can alter the free decisions of other entities; only persuasion can do so.[30]

For example, a child is told by his parent that he must go to bed. The child, as a self-conscious, decision-making individual, can always make the decision to not go to bed. The parent may then respond by picking up the child bodily and carrying him to his room, but nothing can force the child to alter his decision to resist the parent's directive. It is only the body of the child that can be coercively controlled by the body of the physically stronger parent; the child's free will remains intact. While process theologians argue that God does not have coercive power, they also argue that God has supreme persuasive power, that God is always influencing/persuading us to choose the good.

One classic exchange over the issue of divine power is between philosophers Frederick Sontag and John K. Roth and process theologian David Ray Griffin.[31] Sontag and Roth argued that the process God’s inability to, for instance, stop the genocide at Auschwitz meant that God was not worthy of worship, since there is no point in worshipping a God that cannot save us from such atrocities. Griffin's response was as follows:

One of the stronger complaints from Sontag and Roth is that, given the enormity of evil in the world, a deity that is [merely] doing its best is not worthy of worship. The implication is that a deity that is not doing its best is worthy of worship. For example, in reference to Auschwitz, Roth mocks my God with the statement that “the best that God could possibly do was to permit 10,000 Jews a day to go up in smoke.” Roth prefers a God who had the power to prevent this Holocaust but did not do it! This illustrates how much people can differ in what they consider worthy of worship. For Roth, it is clearly brute power that evokes worship. The question is: is this what should evoke worship? To refer back to the point about revelation: is this kind of power worship consistent with the Christian claim that divinity is decisively revealed in Jesus? Roth finds my God too small to evoke worship; I find his too gross.[31]

The process argument, then, is that those who cling to the idea of God's coercive omnipotence are defending power for power's sake, which would seem to be inconsistent with the life of Jesus, who Christians believe died for humanity's sins rather than overthrow the Roman empire. Griffin argues that it is actually the God whose omnipotence is defined in the "traditional" way that is not worshipful.[31]

One other distinction process theologians make is between the idea of "unilateral" power versus "relational" power.[32] Unilateral power is the power of a king (or more accurately, a tyrant) who wishes to exert control over his subjects without being affected by them.[33] However, most people would agree that a ruler who is not changed or affected by the joys and sorrows of his subjects is actually a despicable ruler and a psychopath.[34] Process theologians thus stress that God’s power is relational; rather than being unaffected and unchanged by the world, God is the being most affected by every other being in the universe.[35] As process theologian C. Robert Mesle puts it:

Relational power takes great strength. In stark contrast to unilateral power, the radical manifestations of relational power are found in people like Martin Luther King Jr.Mahatma Gandhi, and Jesus. It requires the willingness to endure tremendous suffering while refusing to hate. It demands that we keep our hearts open to those who wish to slam them shut. It means offering to open up a relationship with people who hate us, despise us, and wish to destroy us.[32]

In summation, then, process theologians argue that their conception of God’s power does not diminish God, but just the opposite. Rather than see God as one who unilaterally coerces other beings, judges and punishes them, and is completely unaffected by the joys and sorrows of others, process theologians see God as the one who persuades the universe to love and peace, is supremely affected by even the tiniest of joys and the smallest of sorrows, and is able to love all beings despite the most heinous acts they may commit. God is, as Whitehead says, "the fellow sufferer who understands."[36]

See also


  1. ^ Viney, Donald Wayne (January 28, 2014). "Process Theism"Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  2. ^ Cobb, John B. Jr. (1982). Process Theology as Political TheologyManchester University Press. p. 19ISBN 978-0-664-24417-0.
  3. ^ O'Regan, Cyril (1994). The Heterodox HegelAlbany, New YorkSUNY Press. p. 448: "Any relation between Process Theology and Hegelian ontotheology needs to be argued. Such argument has become more conspicuous in recent years". ISBN 978-0-791-42005-8.
  4. ^ Bonting, Sjoerd Lieuwe (2005). Creation and Double Chaos. Science and Theology in DiscussionMinneapolis, MinnesotaFortress Press. p. 88ISBN 978-1-451-41838-5.
  5. Jump up to:a b John W. Cooper, Panentheism: The Other God of the Philosophers (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 342.
  6. ^ Seibt, Johanna (October 26, 2017). "Process Philosophy"Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  7. ^ Artson, Bradley Shavit (2010). "Ba-derekh: On the Way—A Presentation of Process Theology"Conservative Judaism62 (1–2): 3–35. doi:10.1353/coj.2010.0040ISSN 1947-4717.
  8. ^ Amao, Albert (2014-05-02). Healing Without Medicine: From Pioneers to Modern Practice. Quest Books. ISBN 978-0-8356-3132-7.
  9. ^ Whitehead, Process and Reality, Corrected Ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1978), 348.
  10. ^ Charles HartshorneOmnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany: State University of New York, 1984), 20—26.
  11. ^ John Cobb and David Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 14—16, chapter 1.
  12. ^ Hartshorne, 32−36.
  13. ^ Viney, Donald Wayne (August 24, 2004). "Charles Hartshorne: Dipolar Theism". Harvard Square Library. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  14. ^ Cobb Jr., John B. (1978). "Process Theology". Religion Online. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  15. ^ Center for Process Studies, "CPS Co-directors," retrieved September 6, 2014.
  16. ^ "The Body of God - An Ecological Theology," retrieved September 6, 2014.
  17. ^ C. Robert MesleProcess Theology: A Basic Introduction (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1993), 65—68, 75−80.
  18. ^ Mesle (1993). p. 101.
  19. ^ Mesle (1993). p. 106.
  20. ^ Cobb, John B. (1999-01-18). Christ in a Pluralistic Age. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-57910-300-2.
  21. ^ Feinberg, John S. (2006). No one like Him: the doctrine of God (Rev. ed.). Wheaton. Ill.: Crossway Books. p. 178. ISBN 978-1581348118.
  22. ^ Roger E. Olson, “Why I am Not a Process Theologian,” last modified December 4, 2013, Patheos.org, accessed May 7, 2014.
  23. ^ David BasingerDivine Power in Process Theism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 14.
  24. ^ Al Truesdale, God Reconsidered (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2010), 21.
  25. ^ David Ray GriffinGod, Power, and Evil: A Process Theodicy (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 268.
  26. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 265.
  27. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 267.
  28. Jump up to:a b David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 9.
  29. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 8.
  30. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 6.
  31. Jump up to:a b c David Ray Griffin, "Creation Out of Chaos and the Problem of Evil," in Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy, ed. Stephen Davis (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), 135.
  32. Jump up to:a b C. Robert Mesle, "Relational Power Archived 2017-08-24 at the Wayback Machine," JesusJazzBuddhism.org, accessed May 7, 2014.
  33. ^ Schubert M. OgdenThe Reality of God and Other Essays (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1992), 51.
  34. ^ Charles Hartshorne, "Kant's Traditionalism," in Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers: An Evaluation of Western Philosophy, ed. Charles Hartshorne (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983), 174.
  35. ^ Charles Hartshorne, The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 58.
  36. ^ Alfred North WhiteheadProcess and Reality (New York: The Free Press, 1978), 351.

Further reading

  • Bruce G. Epperly Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed (NY: T&T Clark, 2011, ISBN 978-0-567-59669-7) This is "perhaps the best in-depth introduction to process theology available for non-specialists."
  • Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki's God Christ Church: A Practical Guide to Process Theology, new rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad, 1989, ISBN 0-8245-0970-6) demonstrates the practical integration of process philosophy with Christianity.
  • C. Robert Mesle's Process Theology: A Basic Introduction (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8272-2945-3) is an introduction to process theology written for the layperson.
  • Jewish introductions to classical theismlimited theism and process theology can be found in A Question of Faith: An Atheist and a Rabbi Debate the Existence of God (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1994, ISBN 1-56821-089-2) and The Case for God (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 1991, ISBN 0-8272-0458-2), both written by Rabbi William E. Kaufman. Jewish variations of process theology are also presented in Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People (New York: Anchor Books, 2004, ISBN 1-4000-3472-8) and Sandra B. Lubarsky and David Ray Griffin, eds., Jewish Theology and Process Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995, ISBN 0-7914-2810-9).
  • Christian introductions may be found in Schubert M. Ogden's The Reality of God and Other Essays (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-87074-318-X); John B. Cobb, Doubting Thomas: Christology in Story Form (New York: Crossroad, 1990, ISBN 0-8245-1033-X); Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984, ISBN 0-87395-771-7); and Richard Rice, God's Foreknowledge & Man's Free Will (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Publishers, 1985; rev. ed. of the author's The Openness of God, cop. 1980; ISBN 0-87123-845-4). In French, the best introduction may be André Gounelle, Le Dynamisme Créateur de Dieu: Essai sur la Théologie du Process, édition revue, modifiée et augmentee (Paris: Van Dieren, 2000, ISBN 2-911087-26-7).
  • The most important work by Paul S. Fiddes is The Creative Suffering of God (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992); see also his short overview "Process Theology," in A. E. McGrath, ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Modern Christian Thought (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 472–76.
  • Norman Pittenger's thought is exemplified in his God in Process (London: SCM Press, 1967, LCC BT83.6 .P5), Process-Thought and Christian Faith (New York: Macmillan Company, 1968, LCC BR100 .P615 1968), and Becoming and Belonging (Wilton, CT: Morehouse Publications, 1989, ISBN 0-8192-1480-9).
  • Constance Wise's Hidden Circles in the Web: Feminist Wicca, Occult Knowledge, and Process Thought (Lanham, Md.: AltaMira Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-7591-1006-9) applies process theology to one variety of contemporary Paganism.
  • Michel Weber, « Shamanism and proto-consciousness », in René Lebrun, Julien De Vos et É. Van Quickelberghe (éds), Deus Unicus, Turnhout, Brepols, coll. Homo Religiosus série II, 14, 2015, pp. 247–260.
  • David Ray Griffin Reenchantment Without Supernaturalism: A Process Philosophy of Religion (Cornell University Press, 2001, ISBN 9780801437786), an exposition of the central theses of process theology.
  • Staub, Jacob (October 1992). "Kaplan and Process Theology". In Goldsmith, Emanuel; Scult, Mel; Seltzer, Robert (eds.). The American Judaism of Mordecai M. Kaplan. NYU Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-3257-1.
  • Kwall, Roberta R. (2011–2012). "The Lessons of Living Gardens and Jewish Process Theology for Authorship and Moral Rights". Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law14: 889–.
  • Bowman, Donna; McDaniel, Jay, eds. (January 2006). Handbook of Process Theology. Chalice Press. ISBN 978-0-8272-1467-5.
  • Loomer, Bernard M. (1987). "Process Theology: Origins, Strengths, Weaknesses". Process Studies16 (4): 245–254. doi:10.5840/process198716446S2CID 147092066.
  • Cobb, John B. (1980). "Process Theology and Environmental Issues". The Journal of Religion60 (4): 440–458. doi:10.1086/486819S2CID 144187859.
  • Faber, Roland (6 April 2017). The Becoming of God: Process Theology, Philosophy, and Multireligious Engagement. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60608-885-2.
  • Burrell, David B. (1982). "Does Process Theology Rest on a Mistake?". Theological Studies43 (1): 125–135. doi:10.1177/004056398204300105S2CID 171057603.
  • Pixley, George V. (1974). "Justice and Class Struggle: A Challenge for Process Theology". Process Studies4 (3): 159–175. doi:10.5840/process19744328S2CID 147450649.
  • Mesle, C. Robert (1988). "Does God Hide from Us?: John Hick and Process Theology on Faith, Freedom and Theodicy". International Journal for Philosophy of Religion24 (1/2): 93–111. doi:10.1007/BF00134167ISSN 0020-7047JSTOR 40024796S2CID 169572605.
  • Dean, William (1984). "Deconstruction and Process Theology". The Journal of Religion64 (1): 1–19. doi:10.1086/487073S2CID 170764846.
  • Dorrien, Gary (2008). "The Lure and Necessity of Process Theology". CrossCurrents58 (2): 316–336. doi:10.1111/j.1939-3881.2008.00026.xISSN 0011-1953JSTOR 24461426S2CID 170653256.
  • Stone, Bryan P.; Oord, Thomas Jay, eds. (2001). Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue. Kingswood Books. ISBN 978-0-687-05220-2.
  • Mueller, J. J. (1986). "Process Theology and the Catholic Theological Community". Theological Studies47 (3): 412–427. doi:10.1177/004056398604700303S2CID 147471058.
  • O'Connor, June (1980). "Process Theology and Liberation Theology: Theological and Ethical Reflections". Horizons7 (2): 231–248. doi:10.1017/S0360966900021265S2CID 171239767.
  • Trethowan, Illtyd (1983). "The Significance of Process Theology". Religious Studies19 (3): 311–322. doi:10.1017/S0034412500015262S2CID 170717776.
  • Hare, Peter H.; Ryder, John (1980). "Buchler's Ordinal Metaphysics and Process Theology". Process Studies10 (3/4): 120–129. doi:10.5840/process1980103/411JSTOR 44798127S2CID 170543829.
  • Hekman, Susan (2017). "Feminist New Materialism and Process Theology: Beginning the Dialogue". Feminist Theology25 (2): 198–207. doi:10.1177/0966735016678544S2CID 152230362.
  • Pittenger, Norman (1977). "Christology in Process Theology". Theology80 (675): 187–193. doi:10.1177/0040571X7708000306S2CID 171066693.
  • Pittenger, Norman (1974). "The Incarnation in Process Theology". Review & Expositor71 (1): 43–57. doi:10.1177/003463737407100105S2CID 170805965.
  • Inbody, Tyron (1975). "Paul Tillich and Process Theology". Theological Studies36 (3): 472–492. doi:10.1177/004056397503600304S2CID 170482044.
  • Griffin, David Ray (31 July 2003). "Reconstructive Theology". In Vanhoozer, Kevin J. (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-79395-7.

External links

Reference works