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Re: Hey! I'm a process theologian!- Wendy zenhussy

Posted by Dinah on May 29, 2003, at 20:03:52

In reply to Re: Hey! I'm a process theologian! wendy b., posted by zenhussy on May 29, 2003, at 17:21:02

Chuckle. Well, I had never heard the term before Sunday. And I'm not sure it was applied in a positive way. :) But naturally I raced home to see what on earth it meant, and found that I do in fact subscribe to some variant of process theology.

I have been largely influenced in my ideas of God by Rabbi Harold Kushner, and I thought that his thought was typical Jewish thought since it fits in with what I've read by other Jewish authors as well. But apparently he is viewed as a process theologian as well.

A process theologian believes God created the world, but doesn't intervene in a physical way on a day to day basis. He allows man to exercise his free will, which means that horrible things sometimes happen. And since he doesn't intervene in the natural laws of nature, there is illness and death. And he grieves with us, supports us, strengthens us, hopes that we choose the right path, is happy when we do, and sad when we don't.

This type of theology partially answers the age old question of why bad things happen to good people, but some people believe that the God described by process theologians is a weak and ineffectual one. They don't like the idea that God is not omniscient and omnipotent (even if it was his own plan to limit the use of his powers), and urges rather than compels. So there is a lot of criticism of process theology on that point.

Since I'm new to the whole idea myself, I may not have explained it well. Here is an excerpt from:

A Theology of Joy: God in the Process
a service presented by Rev. Elizabeth L. Greene and Bernard Zaleha
Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
March 14, 1999

"God's role, now that God has gotten things rolling, is radically different from the omniscience, omnipotence and judgment with which many of us are familiar-in process theology, God is always interacting with creation. God's nature is relatedness with creation; God's nature is creative and responsive love. The Creator endowed each thing in the universe with the Creator's "initial aim," which is, in process theologian John Cobb's words "to actualize the best possibilities open to it, given its concrete situation." (51)

If we and other created beings do our very best to be in harmony with God, we will be most likely to be making a moral, just, beautiful universe. But, of course, we may live in such a way that we ignore our God-relatedness and do otherwise. Process theologians make it clear that we have the power of self-determination, and may choose to be one with the initial aim-or not. In our ongoing responsiveness to God and to others, we may choose either good or evil.

God responds to the created world-to our choices-in sympathy and compassion, for God is interdependent with the created world. And so, we affect the Divine Creative Force, just as it affects us in infusing us with its creative initial aim.

God is here and God is now, calling us to the highest. We are inescapably related to the Divine, and our choices affect it. Our lives profoundly affect other living and non-living beings. In this complex web of interdependent processes, we have the options of choosing death or choosing life."

Of course, all the standard disclaimers apply. I'm not saying that process theology is true. I'm certainly not saying that other views of God are incorrect. I'm just saying I was given a label to describe my beliefs, and I'm always excited at learning a new label for myself.




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