Process theology

Process theology is a type of theology developed from Alfred North Whitehead's (1861–1947) process philosophy, most notably by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000) and John B. Cobb (b. 1925). 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 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.

History

Various theological and philosophical aspects have been expanded and developed by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000), John B. Cobb, Jr., 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 Kadushin, Milton Steinberg and Levi A. Olan, Harry Slominsky and, to a lesser degree, Abraham Joshua Heschel. Today some rabbis who advocate some form of process theology include Bradley Shavit Artson, Lawrence A. Englander, William E. Kaufman, Harold Kushner, Anton Laytner, Michael Lerner, Gilbert S. Rosenthal, Lawrence Troster, Donald B. Rossoff, Burton Mindick, and Nahum Ward.

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

The work of Richard Stadelmann has been to preserve the uniqueness of Jesus in process theology.

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.[7]

Themes

  • 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.[8]
  • 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 will. Self-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.[9]
  • 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 (goodness, wisdom, 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.[10]
  • 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).[11]

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.[12]

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 McFague, Rosemary Radford Ruether, and Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki.[13][14]

C. Robert Mesle, in his book Process Theology, outlines three aspects of a process theology of liberation:[15]

  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.[16]

Relationship to the doctrine of the incarnation

Contrary to Christian orthodoxy, the Christ of mainstream process theology is not the mystical and historically exclusive union of divine and human natures in one hypostasis, the eternal Logos of God uniquely enfleshed in 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." Jesus is not singularly or essentially God, but he was perfectly synchronized to God at all moments of life.[17] 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".

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][18][19][20][21]

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.[22]

First, power is a relational concept. It is not exerted in a vacuum, but always by some entity A over some other entity B.[23] 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.[24]

Mindful of this, process theology makes several important distinctions between different kinds of power. The first distinction is between "coercive" power and "persuasive" power.[25] 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.[26]

But process theologians argue that coercive power is actually a secondary or derivative form of power, while persuasion is the primary form.[25] 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.[27]

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.[28] 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.[28]

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.[28]

One other distinction process theologians make is between the idea of "unilateral" power versus "relational" power.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[29]

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."[33]

Process theologians

See also

References

  1. ^ Viney, Donald Wayne (January 28, 2014). "Process Theism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  2. ^ Cobb Jr., John B. (1982). Process Theology as Political Theology. Manchester University Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-664-24417-0. ISBN 0-66424417-3.
  3. ^ O'Regan, Cyril (1994). The Heterodox Hegel. Albany, New York: SUNY 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. ISBN 0-79142005-1.
  4. ^ Bonting, Sjoerd Lieuwe (2005). Creation and Double Chaos. Science and Theology in Discussion. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-451-41838-5. ISBN 1-45141838-8.
  5. ^ 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. ^ Whitehead, Process and Reality, Corrected Ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1978), 348.
  8. ^ Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany: State University of New York, 1984), 20—26.
  9. ^ John Cobb and David Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 14—16, chapter 1.
  10. ^ Hartshorne, 32−36.
  11. ^ Viney, Donald Wayne (August 24, 2004). "Charles Hartshorne: Dipolar Theism". Harvard Square Library. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  12. ^ Cobb Jr., John B. (1978). "Process Theology". Religion Online. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Center for Process Studies, "CPS Co-directors," retrieved September 6, 2014.
  14. ^ "The Body of God - An Ecological Theology," retrieved September 6, 2014.
  15. ^ C. Robert Mesle, Process Theology: A Basic Introduction (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1993), 65—68, 75−80.
  16. ^ Mesle (1993). p. 101.
  17. ^ Mesle (1993). p. 106.
  18. ^ editor, John S. Feinberg ; John S. Feinberg, general (2006). No one like Him : the doctrine of God ([Rev. ed.]. ed.). Wheaton. Ill.: Crossway Books. p. 178. ISBN 978-1581348118.
  19. ^ Roger E. Olson, “Why I am Not a Process Theologian,” last modified December 4, 2013, Patheos.org, accessed May 7, 2014.
  20. ^ David Basinger, Divine Power in Process Theism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 14.
  21. ^ Al Truesdale, God Reconsidered (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2010), 21.
  22. ^ David Ray Griffin, God, Power, and Evil: A Process Theodicy (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 268.
  23. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 265.
  24. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 267.
  25. ^ a b David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 9.
  26. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 8.
  27. ^ David Ray Griffin (2004). p. 6.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ a b C. Robert Mesle, "Relational Power," JesusJazzBuddhism.org, accessed May 7, 2014.
  30. ^ Schubert M. Ogden, The Reality of God and Other Essays (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1992), 51.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ Charles Hartshorne, The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 58.
  33. ^ Alfred North Whitehead, Process 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 theism, limited 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).
  • For essays exploring the relation of process thought to Wesleyan theology, see Bryan P. Stone and Thomas Jay Oord, Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue (Nashville: Kingswood, 2001, ISBN 0-687-05220-3).
  • 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.

External links

Reference works
Agnostic existentialism

Agnostic existentialism is a type of existentialism which makes no claim to know whether there is a "greater picture"; rather, it simply asserts that the greatest truth is that which the individual chooses to act upon. It feels that to know the greater picture, whether there is one or not, is impossible, or impossible so far, or of little value. Like the Christian existentialist, the agnostic existentialist believes existence is subjective.

Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead (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.

Augustinian theodicy

The Augustinian theodicy, named for the 4th- and 5th-century theologian and philosopher Augustine of Hippo, is a type of Christian theodicy designed in response to the evidential problem of evil. As such, it attempts to explain the probability of an omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-good) God amid evidence of evil in the world. A number of variations of this kind of theodicy have been proposed throughout history; their similarities were first described by the 20th-century philosopher John Hick, who classified them as "Augustinian". They typically assert that God is perfectly (ideally) good; that he created the world out of nothing; and that evil is the result of humanity's original sin. The entry of evil into the world is generally explained as punishment for sin and its continued presence due to humans' misuse of free will. God's goodness and benevolence, according to the Augustinian theodicy, remain perfect and without responsibility for evil or suffering.

Augustine of Hippo was the first to develop the theodicy. He rejected the idea that evil exists in itself, instead regarding it as a corruption of goodness, caused by humanity's abuse of free will. Augustine believed in the existence of a physical Hell as a punishment for sin, but argued that those who choose to accept the salvation of Jesus Christ will go to Heaven. In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas – influenced by Augustine – proposed a similar theodicy based on the view that God is goodness and that there can be no evil in him. He believed that the existence of goodness allows evil to exist, through the fault of humans. Augustine also influenced John Calvin, who supported Augustine's view that evil is the result of free will and argued that sin corrupts humans, requiring God's grace to give moral guidance.

The theodicy was criticised by Augustine's contemporary Fortunatus, a Manichaean who contended that God must still be somehow implicated in evil, and 18th-century theologian Francesco Antonio Zaccaria criticised Augustine's concept of evil for not dealing with individual human suffering. Hick regards evil as necessary for the moral and spiritual development of humans, and process theologians have argued that God is not omnipotent and so cannot be responsible for any evil. The logic of Augustine's approach has been adapted by Alvin Plantinga, among others. Plantinga's adapted Augustinian theodicy, the free will defence – which he proposed in the 1980s – attempts to answer only the logical problem of evil. Such a defence (not a "theodicy" proper) does not demonstrate the existence of God, or the probable existence of God, but attempts to prove that the existence of God and the presence of evil (or privatio boni) in the world are not logically contradictory.

Becoming (philosophy)

In philosophy, becoming is the possibility of change in a thing that has being, that exists.

In the philosophical study of ontology, the concept of becoming originated in ancient Greece with the philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, who in the sixth century BC, said that nothing in this world is constant except change and becoming. This point was made by Heraclitus with the famous quote "No man ever steps in the same river twice." His theory stands in direct contrast to the philosophic idea of being, first argued by Parmenides, a Greek philosopher from the italic Magna Grecia, who believed that the change or "becoming" we perceive with our senses is deceptive, and that there is a pure perfect and eternal being behind nature, which is the ultimate truth of being. This point was made by Parmenides with the famous quote "what is-is". Becoming, along with its antithesis of being, are two of the foundation concepts in ontology. Scholars have generally believed that either Parmenides was responding to Heraclitus, or Heraclitus to Parmenides, though opinion on who was responding to whom changed over the course of the 20th century.

In philosophy, the word "becoming" concerns a specific ontological concept which should not be confused with process philosophy as a whole or with the related study of process theology.

C. Robert Mesle

C. Robert Mesle (born 1950) is a process theologian and was professor of philosophy and religion at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa until his retirement in 2016. After earning a B.A. in religion at Graceland University (1972), an M.A. in Christian theology at University of Chicago Divinity School (1975), Mesle received a Ph.D. in philosophy and religion from Northwestern University (1980).

Mesle is the author of Process Theology: A Basic Introduction. In this book he outlines three attributes of a process theology. There is a relational character to the divine such as:

God experiences both the joy and suffering of humanity.

God is not omnipotent in the classical sense

God exercises relational power and not unilateral control.In Chapter 17, he formulates a process naturalism. As a naturalist his religious view is one without a divine being. There is only the finite world. His process naturalism shares with process theism recognition of the ambiguity of Existence. It also has virtually every value and ethical standard in common with process theism and religious in this respect. Consequently, Mesle is a religious naturalist.

Catherine Keller (theologian)

Catherine Keller (born 1953) is a contemporary Christian theologian and Professor of Constructive Theology at Drew University's Graduate Division of Religion. As a constructive theologian, Keller's work is oriented around social and ecological justice, poststructuralist theory, and feminist readings of scripture and theology. Both her early and her late work brings relational thinking into theology, focusing on the relational nature of the concept of the divine, and the forms of ecological interdependence within the framework of relational theology. Her work in process theology draws on the relational ontology of Alfred North Whitehead, fielding it in a postmodern, deconstructive framework.

Causa sui

Causa sui (Latin pronunciation: [kawsa sʊi], meaning "cause of itself" in Latin) denotes something which is generated within itself. This concept was central to the works of Baruch Spinoza, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Ernest Becker, where it relates to the purpose that objects can assign to themselves. In Freud and Becker's case, the concept was often used as an immortality vessel, where something could create meaning or continue to create meaning beyond its own life.

Norman O. Brown, in his masterpiece, Life Against Death, argues Sigmund Freud's Oedipal complex is essentially the causa Sui (father-of-oneself) project where, after the traumatic recognition that we are separate from the mother; that we are 'other,' we seek for reunification with the mother.

In traditional Western theism, even though God cannot be created by any other force or being, he cannot be defined self-caused (causa sui), because this concept implies the Spinozian pantheistic idea of becoming, which contrasts with the belief of scholastic theology that God is incapable of changing. The Catholic concept of [...] God as absolutely independent and self-existent by nature, and, consequently, all-perfect without any possibility of change from all eternity, is altogether opposed to the pantheistic concept of absolute or pure being [that] evolves, determines, and realizes itself through all time. Changing implies development, and since God is to be considered the Absolute Perfection, there is no further need to change: he is the so-called actus purus or aseity. Instead, the recent process theology inserts this concept among the attributes of God in Christianity.

On the other hand, Baba Nanak defined God as self-existent in his bani Japji.

Charles Hartshorne

Charles Hartshorne (; June 5, 1897 – October 9, 2000) was an American philosopher who concentrated primarily on the philosophy of religion and metaphysics, but also contributed to ornithology. He developed the neoclassical idea of God and produced a modal proof of the existence of God that was a development of St. Anselm's ontological argument. Hartshorne is also noted for developing Alfred North Whitehead's process philosophy into process theology.

David Ray Griffin

David Ray Griffin (born August 8, 1939 in Wilbur, Washington) is a retired American professor of philosophy of religion and theology, and a political writer. Along with John B. Cobb, Jr., he founded the Center for Process Studies in 1973, a research center of Claremont School of Theology that seeks to promote the common good by means of the relational approach found in process thought. Griffin has published many books on the subject of the September 11 attacks, suggesting that there was a conspiracy involving some elements of the United States government.

Dipolar theism

In process theology dipolar theism is the position that in order to conceive a perfect God, one must conceive Him as embodying the "good" in sometimes-opposing characteristics, and therefore cannot be understood to embody only one set of characteristics.

For instance, here are some characteristics commonly associated with God:

One — Many

Transcendent — Immanent

Eternal — Temporal

Mutable — Immutable

Merciful — Just

Simple — ComplexDipolar theism holds that in each pair, both of the characteristics contain some element of good. In order to embody all perfections, therefore, God must embody the good in both characteristics, and cannot be limited to one, because a God limited to one would suffer the limits of the one, and lack the good in the other.

For instance, there is a "good" in being just, and also a good in being merciful. In being just, God determines that the good are rewarded and the evil are punished. In being merciful, God forgives those who sin. It follows, therefore, that a God that was only just or only merciful would be less than perfect. Dipolar theism holds that a perfect God must embody the good in both of those characteristics. Thus, a perfect God has the "good" characteristics of justice and the good characteristics of mercy.

Alternatively, there is good in having absolute power, and good in leading by persuasion. For a God to be perfect, he cannot rule solely by predestination, because then he would lack the good possessed by a God who led by persuasion. God must therefore embody the "good" in both power and persuasion. From this conclusion, some reject the existence of an omnipotent God.

Irenaean theodicy

The Irenaean theodicy is a Christian theodicy (a response to the problem of evil). It defends the probability of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent (all-powerful and perfectly loving) God in the face of evidence of evil in the world. Numerous variations of theodicy have been proposed which all maintain that, while evil exists, God is either not responsible for creating evil, or he is not guilty for creating evil. Typically, the Irenaean theodicy asserts that the world is the best of all possible worlds because it allows humans to fully develop. Most versions of the Irenaean theodicy propose that creation is incomplete, as humans are not yet fully developed, and experiencing evil and suffering is necessary for such development.

Second-century philosopher and theologian Irenaeus, after whom the theodicy is named, proposed a two-stage creation process in which humans require free will and the experience of evil to develop. Another early Christian theologian, Origen, presented a response to the problem of evil which cast the world as a schoolroom or hospital for the soul; theologian Mark Scott has argued that Origen, rather than Irenaeus, ought to be considered the father of this kind of theodicy. Friedrich Schleiermacher argued in the nineteenth century that God must necessarily create flawlessly, so this world must be the best possible world because it allows God's purposes to be naturally fulfilled. In 1966, philosopher John Hick discussed the similarities of the preceding theodicies, calling them all "Irenaean". He supported the view that creation is incomplete and argued that the world is best placed for the full moral development of humans, as it presents genuine moral choices. British philosopher Richard Swinburne proposed that, to make a free moral choice, humans must have experience of the consequences of their own actions and that natural evil must exist to provide such choices.

The development of process theology has challenged the Irenaean tradition by teaching that God's power is limited and that he cannot be responsible for evil. Twentieth-century philosopher Alvin Plantinga opposed the idea that this is the best possible world, arguing that there could always be at least one more good person, in every possible world. His free will defence was not a theodicy because he was trying to show the logical compatibility of evil and the existence of God, rather than the probability of God. D. Z. Phillips and Fyodor Dostoyevsky challenged the instrumental use of suffering, suggesting that love cannot be expressed through suffering. However, Dostoyevsky also states that the beauty of love is evident, in that love can continue to grow, withstand and overcome even the most evil acts. Michael Tooley argued that the magnitude of suffering is excessive and that, in some cases, cannot lead to moral development. French theologian Henri Blocher criticised Hick's universalism, arguing that such a view negates free will, which was similarly important to the theodicy.

Jeffery D. Long

Jeffery D. Long is Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Elizabethtown College, in Pennsylvania, USA. He is associated with the Vedanta Society, DĀNAM (the Dharma Academy of North America) and the Hindu American Foundation. A major theme of Long's work is religious pluralism, a topic he approaches from a perspective informed by the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and which he refers to as a "Hindu process theology."He has written books on Jainism and Hinduism.

Neoclassical

Neoclassical or neo-classical may refer to:

Neoclassicism or New Classicism, any of a number of movements in the fine arts, literature, theatre, music, language, and architecture beginning in the 17th century

Neoclassical architecture, an architectural style of the 18th and 19th centuries

Neoclassical sculpture, a sculptural style of the 18th and 19th centuries

New Classical architecture, an overarching movement of contemporary classical architecture in the 21st century

in linguistics, a word that is a recent construction from New Latin based on older, classical elements

Neoclassical ballet, a ballet style which uses traditional ballet vocabulary, but is generally more expansive than the classical structure allowed

The "Neo-classical period" of painter Pablo Picasso immediately following World War I

Neoclassical economics, a general approach in economics focusing on the determination of prices, outputs, and income distributions in markets through supply and demand

Neoclassical realism, theory in international relations

Neo-classical school (criminology), a school in criminology that continues the traditions of the Classical School within the framework of Right Realism

Neo-classical theology, another name for process theology, a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead

Neoclassical transport is an effect seen in magnetic fusion energy reactors

Nicholas Wolterstorff

Nicholas Wolterstorff (born January 21, 1932) is an American philosopher and a liturgical theologian. He is currently Noah Porter Professor Emeritus Philosophical Theology at Yale University. A prolific writer with wide-ranging philosophical and theological interests, he has written books on aesthetics, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and philosophy of education. In Faith and Rationality, Wolterstorff, Alvin Plantinga, and William Alston developed and expanded upon a view of religious epistemology that has come to be known as Reformed epistemology. He also helped to establish the journal Faith and Philosophy and the Society of Christian Philosophers.

Supernatural

The concept of the supernatural encompasses anything that is inexplicable by scientific understanding of the laws of nature but nevertheless argued by believers to exist. Examples include immaterial beings such as angels, gods and spirits, and claimed human abilities like magic, telekinesis and extrasensory perception.

Historically supernatural powers have been invoked to explain phenomena as diverse as lightning, seasons and the human senses. Naturalists maintain that nothing beyond the physical world exists, and point to a lack of reliable evidence for anything supernatural, and hence maintain skeptical attitudes towards supernatural concepts.The supernatural is featured in paranormal, occult and religious contexts, but can also feature as an explanation in more secular contexts.

The All

The All (also called The One, The Absolute, The Great One, The Creator, The Supreme Mind, The Supreme Good, The Father, and The All Mother) is the Hermetic, pantheistic, pandeistic or panentheistic (and thus also panpsychism/monopsychism/unus mundus/anima mundi) view of God, which is that everything that is, or at least that can be experienced, collectively makes up The All. One Hermetic maxim states, "While All is in The All, it is equally true that The All is in All." The All can also be seen to be androgynous, possessing both masculine and feminine qualities in equal part.

Theological noncognitivism

Theological noncognitivism is the position that religious language – specifically, words such as "God" – are not cognitively meaningful. It is sometimes considered synonymous with ignosticism.

Theopoetics

Theopoetics is an interdisciplinary field of study that combines elements of poetic analysis, process theology, narrative theology, and postmodern philosophy. Originally developed by Stanley Hopper and David Leroy Miller in the 1960s and furthered significantly by Amos Wilder with his 1976 text, Theopoetic: Theology and the Religious Imagination. In recent times there has been a revitalized interest with new work being done by L. Callid Keefe-Perry, Rubem Alves, Catherine Keller, John Caputo, Peter Rollins, Scott Holland, Melanie May, Matt Guynn, Roland Faber, and others.

William E. Kaufman

William E. Kaufman is an American Jewish rabbi of Conservative Judaism, as well as a philosopher, theologian and author. His 1991 book, The Case for God, was perhaps the first book written on Jewish process theology.

Concepts in religion
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