Friday, October 26, 2007

An Intro to Process Theology

"Fundamentalism in all it's varieties--Christian (protestant or catholic), Islamic, Jewish-- all appears to be based on fear: fear of the universe, fear of science, fear of the lose of self, fear of nothingness and Aquinas observes that "all fear derives us from love."
--Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality, liberating gifts for the peoples of the earth.

Process theology is my new thing. i absolutely love it. i love it because it rejects fear! Fox states "to be a person of faith is to be a person of trust. No religion based on fear can lay claim to following Jesus." Process Theology is the complete opposite of what ppl think when they think of Christianity. It is not fearful, judgemental, nor is it duelistic. You do not have to leave your brain at the door when going to church. In fact, process requires SO much thinking that most people are too lazy to attempt it.

I'm learning about process theology in my theology class. I have read the Fox book as well as God, Christ, Church: A Practical Guid to Process Theology by Marjorie Suchocki and Proverbs of Ashes by Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker. From my basic understanding, this is what i've felt about the nature of reality all my life.

here are the basic tenets: Reality is Relational, Free, and Changing. Can you describe yourself without using a relationship? Process says no, you can't. Even by saying you have black hair means that you do not have brown or blonde hair. this is relational. Hense, there is no inner you! You are a microcosm of relationships, you are like an onion, all layers, no core. we are like Shrek when he insists he's an onion, and donkey says that he's a parfait. We are the conjunction, a network of people, places, and things.

In these relationships, we have the ability to focus on some over others so that these 'chosen relationships' have greater impact than others. for example, i was constantly told i was gothic and affected except for my gma and uncle scott who said i was funny and creative. one day i just decided to focus on the imput from my gma and uncle scott.. mainly cause the chicks dig happy, chicks don't dig moody (at least at TCC they didn't). Free will is very important and this is what grounds agency.

and because of this shifting focus on relationships, this means that everything changes. perminence is an illusion.

This is a post-modernist thought base. relationships are internal (they do not exist on their own outside from us). we are free in an contextual environment. we are more likely to choose the majority imput alhtough we have the freedom to choose less likely.

in this, ALL things have freedom. you the reader, your computer, your chair that you're sitting, the subatomic partical, your body's cells are all free. however there are degrees of freedom. your chair could dematerialize from underneith you.. however it has a history and all it's imputs are telling those particals to stay put. so the likelyhood of this is very slim. however this explains cancer and other malidies. some ppl ask "why has God done this to me!" well, God franky didn't have anything to do with it! It was the cells that choose their freedom to multiply, not God.

So God in this theology is also relational. God is not the all-powerful, sovereign judge of yore. If things are truly free, then God can't make anything do something it doesn't want to. God doesn't have the power over freedom. God suggest and coaxes and God's will is for harmony in diversity and complexity. So sin in this theology is ignoring God's will and choosing something counter to that. The good news here is that while God isn't all powerful, God has more power than anything else. There are no guarantees. If the world wanted to blow itself up (as it seems to be doing), God will ask it not to, but the world can ignore this and blow up. But process has a cautious optimism when it comes to the future, since God can influence things into harmony.

In the next post i'll tackle where process stands on creation, humanity, sin, and it's Christology. stay tuned won't you?


Anonymous said...

I feel at peace (not afraid) knowing that God (soveriegn ruler of yore) holds my life and the whole world in his hands. (I do believe God gave us free will.) What would make me afraid is the belief that God is not completely in control and that somehow my chair and computer have free will.

Luke said...

where your comfort would come from would be that God is also talking to the desk and chair saying "for the sake of harmony, keep on keeping on."

where the freedom in this for me would be realizing that God isn't in control. If God was, then I can't really explain why bad things happen to good people. i can't explain the holocaust or natural disasters or the fall of man without somehow making God guilty. this, in the process view, isn't actually free-will. we are puppets on strings in the classic view and a relationship with a puppet isn't all that fullfilling.

hope this clarifies. but you're allowed to believe whatever! i'm just saying this makes sense as for me and my post-modernist bent. this is how i believe the world works and because you have freewill too, you can disagree! isn't life grand?! :-)

Anonymous said...

there is fear involved in your feeling. i think that the fear of not having God having omnipotence. the very meaning means that God holds all the cards and we have little to no agency in this mindset.

Belief that God can do absolutely anything can be thought to yield certain logical paradoxes. A simple example goes as follows: Can God create a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it? If he can, then the rock is now unliftable, limiting God's power. But if he cannot, then he is still not omnipotent. This question cannot be answered using formal logic due to its self-referential nature.

process allows for more freedom and not so subject to paradoxes.