Monday, December 1, 2008

Process Theology

Last night we briefly discussed process theism at our Living the Questions group. Not to dominate the discussion, I said little about it. But let me tell you how I believe the concept works for me.

I believe process theology works for me because it has good ethics. For me it is a better way to think about what the idea of "God" means. Frankly, I find the ethics of the traditional God appallingly erratic and often even demonic. God has been described in the Bible and in other culture's scriptures as directly willing and causing great evils like war, slavery, plague, famine and even the hardness of people's hearts. At best, God has been described as standing by and allowing needless suffering that the traditional idea of God could have easily prevented. To defend these ideas about God, we are forced to turn our ideas of good and evil inside out to explain why it is really all right for God to allow such great suffering.

That's why process theology has taught me that there is simply no reason to let our old ideas about divine power force us into a corner where we must persuade ourselves that gross evil is really good. It gives me a concept of a God who is genuinely loving in a straightforward and intelligible sense. The God of process theology does everything within divine power to work for the good.

Because of our freedom, each individual creates itself out of all that has gone before. Our past decisions both provide and limit future possibilities. Within these limits, the future is open.

Our universe, thank goodness, really does not center around human beings. Dominion has proven to be a tragic theological model for understanding our ethical relationship to the world. Instead we should come to understand our place is as just one of God's creatures in a complex and fragile world.

God's power, is necessarily persuasive, not coercive. Because God loves the world, God suffers with the world, calling to us in each moment to share a vision of the good and beautiful....God's community on earth where humans can live together in peace with all other of God's creatures. But God awaits our free response and does not use force.

I believe God is omniscient and knows everything there is to know. But because the future is open, and has a range of possibilities, it is not fixed or settled. I believe we always have the right to choose. And I believe God struggles to reach us but it is up to us to be receptive to God's persuasive spirit.

In process theology, God is constantly, in every moment and in every place, doing everything within God's power to bring about the good. But God's power lies in patience and love...not force.

Ethically, God is worthy of our love because God is perfectly loving. God is with us in our moments of greatest guilt and despair, yet God's love for us never waivers. God calls us to redeem ourselves from these experiences by gleaning whatever good can come from them for the future and sometimes even to help others.

And most important to me, God works with all people who will respond to God's spirit...not just us Christians, to bring about the greatest good for all.

Just wanted you to understand my thinking a little better.


Sansego said...

Based on what you wrote, I guess you can definitely put me down in the "process theology" camp. It makes more sense to me than a man in a gray beard handing down judgements and punishments for every infraction of His ego.

I also believe that the idea of a future is not fixed and able to be changed. That's why it's scary to hear so many fundamentalists types claim that Armaggedon is inevitable and their desire to make it happen soon to "prove" Biblical prophecy "true." I believe its simply a warning of the worst case humans can know what to look out for and make wise choices to avoid it.

Revelations is like a doctor telling you to quit smoking and eating fatty foods.

Fundamentalists are like the people who will increase their smoking and diet of fatty foods just to prove the doctor's prediction true, even though it's not in their best interest.

Margie's Musings said...

I see your point, Nicholas.

ChuckFu said...

Ok Mom just because it's your birthday does not mean you can not give us Tuesdays news

Margie's Musings said...

O.K. Keith....I'll do it.