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 18, 2024

Back to the Basics, Part 3 - Open Theism v Process Theology


Back to the Basics, Part 3:
Open Theism v Process Theology

by R.E. Slater

In this post I would like to explore the criticisms of process theology by open theists and perhaps the criticisms of process theists towards open thesim. Generally, "Open theism" is part-and-parcel of "process theology" but they come into the space from differing philosophical foundations. Open theism from Westernism's analytical and logical approach... and Process theism from Whitehead's process philosophy which is an integral theory of cosmological metaphysics unlike the "tools" of Western philosophy. Other examples of integral metaphysics would be Platonism, Aristotelianism, Scholasticism, and Modernism.

Of noted, I do not intend to cover the criticisms of open theism by classic evangelical Calvinists as that line of argument can be found everywhere on the Internet and is a very common criticism. But the lesser known subject is process theism which is the focus of this website and why it should be utilize in place of Western philosophies infilling and affecting the study of God, the bible, Jesus, the church, and Christian mission. By removing Western philosophies - such as Greek Hellenism - from interpreting the Christian faith and by utilizing process philosophy to do the same (ala Whitehead's process philosophy) we get a far different picture of Christian theology than we do from Classical / Classicized Christianity.

By appropriating outlooks more closely associating with how God's creation works, such as we find in process philosophy, the ancient Jewish and Semitic cultures, today's quantum sciences, Jungian Archetypes, some East Religions, etc., we can remove Greek and Roman influences upon the Christian faith, expanded and enhanced through the Medieval Ages, repurposed by Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation, and today's Modernistic faiths.

Hence, if process correctly (or more closely) describes how creation is, in it's "being", and how its works and affects all processes within and outside of itself (there is no "outside": this is a literary device to speak to the "metaphysic's of the cosmos, ontologies, ethics and value, identity and anthropological culture") than we may obtain better glimpses of God through God's creation. Lesser outlooks and foundational constructions cannot and will skew the same task towards themselves.

By agreement, one wishes to use the best theological tool in the toolbox which means we want to have the more accurate and affective philosophy to help guide us in our reading of the ancient cultures, the history and reasons why their religions and beliefs were the way that they were, and how our own modernistic religions and beliefs today are fashioning our outlooks on God and people, nature and ecosystems, business practices, war, strife, and civil government.

Another underlying subject to point out is that Christian theology is adaptive to the time, era, and culture absorbing it. Americanized theology differs from South American, African, European, and Asian Christian theology. Obviously the Christian faith is affected by the geographical culture applying it to their societies and civil structures. An Christian theological eclecticist would want to highlight the Christian positives discovered within that culture as well as the unhelpful Christian negatives. In a way, the "Study of Religion" is an academic discipline with colleges and universities use to help enhance their own civil societies, economies, and politics.

I mention the study of religion and culture to illustrate how the Christian faith has not only "flavors" to its theology but significant signifiers which will change its constructs and outcomes. Thus, to help in the task of worshipping God qua God and not God as we think God should be the bible and Christian faith must critique itself archaeologically, geographically, temporally, culturally, and philosophically. This is the task of the Christian philosopher cum theologian and is the task here by the newer discipline (Hegel cum Whitehead) of process philosophy and theology. It gets back to the idea of using the best tool in the toolbox on which to build a (Christian) faith on.

And it is with this tool of Process philosophy which gives as one of its derivatives Process theology, science, evolution, psychology, sociology, etc., that it is radicalizing all academic disciplines as they come into reflective experience with it. Which is also why classic Calvinism simply fall apart against process theology. Unlike Arminianism which is Calvinism' opposing theology built upon a Western basis, process being it's own basis, tells us that Calvinism's main arguments for and against the kind of Christian God we worship falls apart quite completely.

As example, a freewill cosmos of agency (Arminianism) will deny to Calvinism's determinative, all-controlling God of the cosmos... however, Process states that not only is agency true of the universe but that God's Image - or Spirit-DNA - infills, informs, and affects all creational agencies. But rather than saying Process is "both/and" to past 16th Century Reformed theological perspectives, it is saying why it is so because of why it is unlike Reformed theologies built upon other past philosophical structures and constructs. Thus, the "possibility for a freewill agency to act lovingly, beneficially, and in a manner which heals, redeems, and resurrects is ALWAYS present within it" but so is the potentiality to act otherwise to its inherent composition so that it's negentropy might give way to unloving, unbeneficial, unhealthy deaths spurning life and spawning dearth, ecological deserts, and toxic streams of generational darkness.

Another salient point to make between Open theists and Process theists is the fact that once an Open system of the future is embraced where all is potential, possible, and problemmatic, so also must "relational theology" be affixed to any "open theology of cosmological metaphysic." We, like nature, like the cosmos, do not operate / live by our own selves. Our bodies are formed of trillionis uopn trillions of bacterial and biological agents including quantum physical forces. We also operate / live with in dependency to our childhood parent's, friends of youth, to our teacher's and employers to come, and within the economic and social structures we grow up within. So too do all such influencer's and significant forces in our life depend upon the biotic environment which sustains it; with, or against, all political forces affecting our culture; and to the influence of the ecocosmological universe upon us (meteors, winds, deluges, pandemics, etc). 

We do not live alone... nor does the Triune Trinity of God to God's Self, to the created/reorganized cosmos, nor to all which is within this cosmos. And yes, pan-en-theism does not need an "ex nihilo" creation but can just as easily comport with a "creational void" of hot homogeneous plasmic matter of 1 D Space ("creatio continua" or however matter comes to be in a pre-Big Bang multiverse). Meaningfully, any open theology must recognize and admit to it's outlook of past, present and future to affecting "relationships" within its cosmological scope.

Hence, we do not say "Open theology" alone but "Open and Relational theology" together. And when speaking with Thomas Oord one day on this matter I reminded him that the more complete and accurate phrase descriptor is "Open and Relational PROCESS theology." Being a process theologian he readily assented to this completing description known, as I did, that Open theology resting on Westernized philosophies are incomplete metaphysical things with Whitehead's foundation of Process harkening back to Hegel, to ancient Semitic philosophies, etc.

And so, an Open theist is also an Open and Relational theist. Relationalism makes all futures possible; and non possible if things did not INTERACT with other things.... And to a process theologian, when things interact with other things we may then speak of the "experience" of those interactions between things. We may also speak to the "reaction" of those events. And thus, relationality will necessarily include experientiality with it. And to experientiality things like matter and forces, people and their relationships to other people, nature and the universe, may "feel" the experience of that interaction and reaction between relational things. Which then gives to process philosophy not only it's organic fluidity but also it's correspondent internal interactions experienced to external forces and energies. Whitehead thus speaks to the occuring "panpsychism" of the cosmos... a cosmos which "feels" its interactions and reactions within-and-without itself.

So where open theism stops a process theism goes on to complete the "relational theism" of its side of the (analytical and logic) equation by stating process to be an organic, fluid, open-ended relationality infecting and affecting experientialized events spawning counteractive "feelings, synergies, energies, and forces" internal and external to itself. Process is a theology which is not only open but metaphysical to its ontological selves with all the ethics, values, and identities so occurring as a result of its relational interaction within its (eco)cosmological self (with a little "s" and not a big "S," aka self v Self ).

There is One God and One creation of which we are a part of its infinite? and immortal? experience. This God is ever present with us and has infilled/affected/infected all creation to have worth and fulfillment when identifying with God's Self. A religious structure like Calvinism, it's opposing twin Arminianism, or Open theism are incomplete statements of creation reality and of God when neglecting to CONNECT ALL the parts of the cosmological metaphysic which they are attempting to describe.

Further, Calvinism, Arminianism, and Open theism errantly describe this same God, the bible, and God's creation when applying lesser philosophical metaphysics into its Christian philosophical theology when disconnecting it from God, creation, ourselves, nature (we "use" nature instead of causing it to "thrive"), to other communities, societies, technologies, cultures, and religions. Process philosophical theology is a CONNECTING metaphysic of all things to all things.

Process theology then is not an isolating eventful thing but a connecting eventful thing. One which is infused by God to heal, redeem, nurture, thrive, and birth renewing, resurrecting structures.... All of which Christian Reformed theology positively states in negative ways because within those "Reformed, evangelical" theologies is premise the centrality of sin over that of God's centering love. Yet process does not deny sin but rather subsumes sin into the freewill agency structures of its open and relational theology.

If God is to be God, then God's Love must be central not only to God's Person, God's Character, and God's Attributes but to God's creation... a creation which is ever new and ever-ly, or all-ways, recreating, rebirthing, and resyncing life to life, light to light against the negative qualities of darkness and death continually challenging life and light. In creation, we see this struggle of agency displayed in the Person and Ministry of Jesus as one of those creational outcomes even as this struggle is also displayed in the life of the church and our own lives as Christian faithful.


R.E. Slater
May 18, 2024

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