Process Theology Essay |

Process theology is known to be a particular kind of theology, which has been evolved from the philosophy evolved by Alfred North Whitehead's (1861-1947). In fact, Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000) and John B. Cobb (1925) have most specifically elaborated process theology as such. Actually, process theology and process philosophy are collaboratively adverted as "process thought". However, the process theology is unconnected with the Process Church. In fact, it is thanks to the process thought that the people know that the God is not all-powerful in the traditional sense of a compulsive being. Moreover, the reality is not created of the material matters, which outlast with the time, but of serially disposed occurrences, which are known to be empirical in nature. Furthermore, the universe is featured by the actings and alterations performed by the envoys of free will. Self-regulation and identity formation feature absolutely everything in the universe and not only humanity. In fact, God, humanity, and other creatures are able to co-create. Therefore, it means that God is unable to compel anything to occur, but rather only impacts the implementation of this worldwide free will by proposing the variety of possibilities and aspects. Therefore, it is important to understand what the sources and origins of the thoughts provided by Alfred Whitehead are. Secondly, it is significant to known why the process of thinking is valuable for the theology as such in this era of radical thinking. Finally, it is critical to understand whether this combination of philosophy and theology provides a fundamental, reliable ground for comprehending and interpreting the Christian faith.

In fact, the origins of the process thought, similarly to the most of Western philosophy, can be followed back to the Greeks. The most antique and venerable of the particularly "process" speculators is, apparently, Heraclitus (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006). Unfortunately, the concepts and notion of Heraclitus and his coeval Parmenides are procurable to humanity only in a limited number of fragments, and these fragments provide people with solely an allusion and suggestion of their thoughts (Middleton, 2002). It is known that Heraclitus has noticed that a human being is unable to "step into the same river twice" (because by the time one steps into it the second time the water has already flown down adrift), and therefore, the foundation of the reality has been altered (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006, p. 165). As a matter of fact, the speculation stood in a complete antithesis with Parmenides, who believed and demonstrated in his poem concerning nature that, in fact, "being" was in the lead-up to "becoming", and that incumbent every alteration was some more principal reality that sustained. By a critical selection of history, Parmenides appeared to be the father of metaphysics and the foundations for later Greek philosophy, while Heraclitus was seriously overlooked (Middleton, 2002). Therefore, the impetus of Greek thought, and the majority of the Western thought subsequently, was steamed from the immutable ideas and concepts of "being", "matter", and "subsistence" rather than the more emergent and dynamical concepts and ideas of "becoming", "proceeding" and "progress", "development", and "evolution" (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006).

Actually, it is highly crucial to understand the major ideas and concepts of the process thought as such. The first concept states that God is not almighty in the meaning of being compulsory. In fact, the celestial and divine has a strength and capacity of conviction rather than compulsion. Thus, it is the process, which has been seen by as theologians as the classic dogma of all-might, while incorporating violence and primus (controversially crosswise). Moreover, the same theologians have declared it as something more limited than the classic dogma (Mesle & Cobb, 1993). The second concept demonstrates that the reality is not created from the material matters that sustain with the time, bit also from the systematically ordered occurrences and events, which are known to be experiential and empirical in their nature. The third concept demonstrates that the universe and macrocosm are featured with the help of the acting and alterations performed by the exponents of free will. In fact, self-identification features everything in the macrocosm, not only the humanity as such (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006). Therefore, God is not able to overpower or compel anything to occur, but rather just to affect the existence of this macrocosmic free will by proposing and suggesting various possibilities and aspects (Mesle & Cobb, 1993). The fourth idea states that God includes the macrocosm and universe but is not selfsame with the universe (the concept is also known as panentheism) (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006). The fifth notion demonstrates that even despite the fact that God includes an altering universe, it does not mean that God is inconstant and variable (meaning that God is influenced by the operations and actings, which appear in the whole universe) over the whole period of time. Nevertheless, the abstract constituents of God, including kindness, prudence, etc., abide immutably profound and fundamental (Mesle & Cobb, 1993). The final conception demonstrates that humanity does not undergo a private (or individual) eternity, however, it does not presuppose that people do not have an unprejudiced eternity in that their sophistication lives on for all eternity in God, who includes all of it (Middleton, 2002).

On the other hand, it is highly crucial to observe the ideas developed by Albert Whitehead himself. The classical assertion by Whitehead is a combination of antithetic denunciations, which try to elude self-divergence by hovering them from a combination of inverses into a contrast (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006).

The first concept by Albert Whitehead states that it is as true to say that God is constant and the universe flowing, the same as it is true to say that the universe is constant and God is changeable. The second notion demonstrates that it is as true to say that God is single and there are plenty of universes, the same as it is true to say that there is only one universe and plenty of Gods. The third idea demonstrates that it is as true to say that, in the contrast with the universe, God is genuine exceedingly, as that, in the contrast with God, the universe is genuine enormously (Mesle & Cobb, 1993). The fourth conception states that it is as true to believe that the universe is inherent in God, as that God is inherent in the universe. The fifth notion demonstrates that it is as true to say that God transgresses and excels the universe, as that the universe transgresses God. The final concept demonstrates that it is as true to say that God originates and creates the universe, as that the universe originates and creates God (Middleton, 2002).

All of these apprehensions lead to the dipolar theism, meaning the speculation concerning the fact that the apprehension of an ideal God cannot be restricted to a specific assortment of features, because perfection can be incarnated in the obnoxious features. For example, for God to be perfect, God is unable to have a complete superintendence over all beings, due to the fact that then God would not be as kind as a being the one who is stimulated by instigation, rather than ruthless strength (Middleton, 2002). Therefore, for God to be ideal, God has to be both vigorous and retain other beings limited strength to oppose God's inducement.

In fact, each philosophy or religion is severely criticized by the opponents. Since the current world is very aggressive, process thought receives a lot of critique. Therefore, it is highly important to understand the reasons of critique. Actually, it is known that process theology or process thought encounters efficiently with the issues of evil (meaning theodicy), and, thus, it is sometimes criticized for implementing this task too easily (Cobb & Griffin, 1976). It is believed that with the complete requirement of independent mediation, the probability of evil cannot be eliminated (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006). It is obvious that God might be considered eventually accountable; however, the only assortment stands for the possibility not to have a polysemic world. Thus, the permanent and inherent God, who feels each anguish, each contentment more precisely than human beings do themselves, will obviously fondle, modify, and preserve everything that God is able to do. The most common critique of the process thought from the Christian conservatives and evangelicals concerns the fact that the process apprehension of God mitigates God's strength too sternly (Middleton, 2002). Process theologians debate that God does not have one-linear, compulsory govern over everything in the world. In process thought, or process theology, God is neither able to neglect an individual's independency, nor carry out wonderments, which actually disregard the regulations of nature, nor carry out material operations such as provoking or stopping a deluge or a billow (Cobb & Griffin, 1976). Critics dispute that this apprehension alleviates sacred strength and vigor to such a level that God is no longer honorable and worshipful (Mesle & Cobb, 1993).

Nevertheless, the process thought repercussion to this critique demonstrates that the conventional Christian apprehension of God is intrinsically not worshipful and honorable as the present point of the time, and that the conventional concept of God's almightiness does not actually make sense (Mesle & Cobb, 1993). Firstly, strength and almightiness are relativistic concepts. To conjecture that some entity (in this case, God), is able to constantly effectually govern and manage any other entity is to conclude, in effect, that the other entity does not subsist as a independent and individual being in any notional and significant sense. It is possible because there is no probability of its resisting to the prior entity (meaning God) if it chooses to infuse the issue (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006).

Being thoughtful of this idea, process theologians make a number of crucial differentiations between various types of authority and vigor. The first differentiation lies between "compulsory" authority and "convincing" authority. Compulsory authority is the type, which is performed by one physical being over another, for instance, when a billiard ball hits another, or one arm twists another arm. Inanimate objects (including the billiard balls) are not able to counteract such a utilization of material authority at all, and even animate beings (including arms) are able to only counteract until then, and, thus, can be compulsory dominated (Mesle & Cobb, 1993). While being restricted, physical beings are able to detect compulsory authority over one another in the above-mentioned way, God due to the fact of lacking a physical body, is unable (not solely will not) to demonstrate compulsory authority over the universe (Middleton, 2002).

Nevertheless, process theologians debate that compulsory authority is practically a subordinate or derived type of authority, while conviction is the primary type. Even the process of self-movement (of an arm, for example) is considered an example of the conviction authority (Cobb & Griffin, 1976). This is explained by the fact that the arm might not operate in the way a person desires it to perform, as it may be fractured or differently incapable of performing the chosen operation. It is only after the convictive acting of self-movement is effective that a whole being is able to start to implement compulsory authority over other confined physical bodies or objects. However, no quantity of compulsory authority is able to change the independent determinations and choices of other beings (Bowman & McDaniel, 2006). Nevertheless, only convictive actions are able to do that. While process theologians debate concerning the fact that God does not have compulsory authority, they also debate concerning the fact that God has paramount convictive authority, and, thus, God is constantly impacting and convincing people to select the good.

To conclude, it is important to mention that the sources and origins of the ideas provided by Alfred Whitehead are old and fundamental. Since the current world is so cruel, people try to find the solutions of various aggressive behavior with the help of philosophy and religion. Process thought explained that despite the fact that there are two types of authority, meaning compulsory and convincing, God utilizes convincing authority, as this is a primary type. Thus, the process thought is valuable for the theology as such in this era of radical thinking, as it helps to interpret and comprehend the Christian faith.


  1. Bowman, D., & McDaniel, J. (Eds.). (2006). Handbook of process theology. Danvers, MA: Chalice Press.

  2. Cobb, J., & Griffin, D. (1976). Process theology: An introductory exposition. London: The Westminster Press.

  3. Mesle, R., & Cobb, J. (1993). Process theology. Danvers, MA: Chalice Press.

  4. Middleton, D. (Ed.). (2002). God, literature, and process thought. Farnham: Ashgate.