Process Theology: James Said...

Regarding Process Theology, my friend James commented:

The problem that develops for me is that, if who God becomes is dependent on what humanity does, doesn't that make God kind of the unwitting evolutionary outcome of the whims of humanity? It takes the actions of humanity and elevates them to the role of creator. In the end this becomes not about a relational God but a God who exists to be formed by humanity.
Great thoughts, James. I agree that it's dangerous to allow God to be too-easily formed by our own whims, needs, opinions, etc... But doesn't that pre-suppose that we HAVEN'T already done that in the first place? In fact, every time we approach God, talk or think about God, aren’t we conforming God to our own expectations?

I'm not saying that because we do it already, we should just embrace the fact, without attempting to struggle beyond it. But I think it's overly idealistic (and maybe naive) to suggest we aren't doing that very thing already. I think Process Theology recognizes this and for better or worse, attempts to practically incorporate it into its framework and praxis.

James also said:

"The beauty of Process Theology is that it doesn't exist in isolation" - is that really possible? I think that most theological frameworks would strive to say that they do not exist in isolation but aren't frameworks in and of themselves isolating?

It's interesting you took that angle, because I've thought about that issue as well, but from the opposite angle: I would say, in fact, that it is isolation that is not possible. Everything we do exists in an interdependent matrix - everything we think and believe is borrowed and/or shared with other organisms - both individual and corporate.

I think to say that Process Theology's beauty is its lack of isolation is overly-congratulatory. No theology exists in isolation. I would restate it as: the beauty of Process theology is that it doesn't pretend to live in isolation.

I don't think frameworks are isolating. Idealistic elitism is isolating. Saying "everyone else is wrong, and we've got it" is isolating. And even then, such attitudes aren't effectively isolating. They're just ideologically so. Because frameworks cannot be built outside of the paradigms of other frameworks. That's why it's silly to attempt to posit postmodernism as "anti-modernism." Postmodernism is directly connected to modernism. Without modernity, "postmodernity" doesn't mean anything. Reminds me of all the "non-denominational" churches I grew up in. They always claimed to "read the Bible at face value" (which I don't believe is possible - we don't have such objectivity in this skin) and to have abandoned whatever "bad theology" they came from. But I continue to find that most "non-denominational" theology is directly informed by whatever that particular group came out of: Baptist, Pentecostal, Mennonite, whatever...


RickNiekLikeBikes said...

I've quite often heard the phrase, "A loving God Wouldn't...". How do we get to decide what a "loving" God would or wouldn't do? Is God "loving" because He seems to be doing what I thought He might?

Peter said...

Rick, this is a HUGE problem in the practical outworking of the Christian life. We claim to be "led by the Spirit," and if we genuinely BELIEVE in the active work of the Holy Spirit (I do) then we have to reconcile HOW and WHY so many Christians do so many different things, believe so many different ways, and reflect such disparate manifestations of faith.

There is a book by two Quaker pastors, Philip Gulley and James Mulholland called "If Grace is True: Why God will save every person."


The book uses a sort of intuitive theology based on Quaker philosophy and spirituality (Quakers have a theoretically "open Canon") to come to a Christian universalist conclusion about Christ's redemption and salvation.

A stretch based on Scripture alone, but if the Holy Spirit continues to progressively reveal the nature of God, perhaps it's a part of that process.

Or heresy. I can't be that judge, but as I would guess you'd say Rick, it IS a slippery slope ;)

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