This examination of process thought is characterized by jargon-free conciseness, clarity and precision. It probes the content of process Christologies, the doctrine of the Trinity and the nature of hope and escatology. Published by Fortress Press in 1978....
|Title||:||The Lure Of God: A Biblical Background For Process Theism|
|Format Type||:||Unknown Binding|
|Number of Pages||:||186 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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The Lure Of God: A Biblical Background For Process Theism Reviews
I’ve been reading a lot in process theology these days because I am struggling with the idea of human growth and potential. It seems that part of the eternal quality of life promised in the gospel (and foreshadowed in the Hebrew Bible) is tied to reaching our potential, yet I see so many people around me who are satisfied with the status quo. So, I was thinking about Karl Rahner’s idea about God as providing the longing for us to reach our full potential when I came across Lewis Ford’s The Lure of God and read a similar statement, “God is not the cosmic watchmaker, but the husbandman in the vineyard of the world, fostering and nurturing its continuous growth throughout the ages; he is the companion and friend who inspires us to achieve the very best that is within us.” (p. 21)Following on this, Ford diagnoses our obsession with God’s sovereignty over God’s involvement with humanity in general, as well as individuals in particular, by stating, “We seek to be sure of God’s actions, and not to rest content with his promises.” (p. 33) Along with his reminder of Whitehead’s insistence “…that God’s primordial ordering of the world’s possibilities (the eternal objects) is the ultimate source of novelty in an emergent universe…” (p. 47), Ford expresses in philosophical terms what I personally believe Jesus was indicating in John 5:17 when He said that He and the Father were still working. It also fits in with the understanding of God’s personal name as “I will be what I will be.” (p. 126)At this point, there is plenty attractive about this theology. However, we discover further that Christology has considerable problems once one applies Whitehead’s categories (particularly the “eternal objects”) because “persona” has to be identified with “substance” and hence, cannot be “subjective” in the Incarnation (p. 49). Getting away from the ornate philosophical jargon, it simply means that if all of God is present in Jesus then Jesus isn’t really human. Now, this problem has existed in theology from early in the church’s history in one sense or another, but it underscores the reality that, in process, a thorough-going philosophy doesn’t leave room for paradox.The second problem with Process Christology is that if God isn’t present in Jesus in a special way in the Incarnation, one has to wonder what the special significance of Jesus would be beyond “general” human experience of God (p. 51). Norman Pittenger seems to skirt the edges of this significance by insisting that Jesus’ “total obedience” is the key to understanding the significance of the Incarnation, but he doesn’t really address the uniqueness (I’m using that as a code word for “divinity”) that enables Jesus to offer this “total obedience” (this “sinless” state of being, if you will). David Ray Griffin tries to address this by observing God’s actualization of particular aims for Jesus through Jesus as an unveiling of God’s general aims for the entire creation (p. 53). Ford tries to restate the problem by asserting, “The divine Logos, as the primordial mind of God, contains an infinity of pure possibility, but only those possibilities are addressed to our situation by becoming incarnate in our living religious traditions, which clothe abstract divine aims with the symbolic imagery which speaks to our concrete needs.” (p. 66) In simple speech, Jesus translates God’s consciousness of infinite possibility into the feasible reality with which we can please God and reach our potential via the traditions and opportunities Jesus left us in the church. Frankly, I see the validity, but this isn’t enough for me. My problem is that the “person” gets lost in the abstraction and that doesn’t validate my personal subjective experience.I realize that some believers will immediately write off the insights of Process Theology due to the inadequate Christology. Yet, I cannot help but hold enough of my criticism to hear the way the “abstraction” I experience (or, at least, perceive) as “person” affects the life of believers.“God has purposes for us in every moment of our existence, some rather trivial, others quite profound. His underlying aim is always the same, for he seeks our welfare both for our sakes and as the condition for his own welfare.” (p. 75) Now, those who strictly perceive God as unaffected by His creation (those who refuse to see the evidence of self-limitation in the creation) won’t resonate with that or even with Ford’s espousal of the power of the Holy Spirit being found in the body of believers: “Within the body of Christ the early Christians experienced God’s Spirit, the presence of divine purposing in their lives to which they could respond.” (p. 77) Now, here’s the pay-off that I enjoyed (in spite of my reservations). Ford argues that being “born anew” (as in “born again” or “born from above” in John 3:16) brings eternal life into human existence on a regular basis. “In terms of the perishing occasions of our temporal life, we are being born anew and from above as we receive novel initial aims from God originating our subjectivity from moment to movement.” (p. 86) “Our acceptability before God is no longer simply dependent upon our individual roles as separate human beings, for we have become part of Christ, and concretely participate in his acceptability before God.” (p. 92)Thus, we come to Ford’s major thesis: The LOGOS is the totality of divine aims. The CREATIVE WORD aspect of the LOGOS “…which is specifically addressed to humankind is the Christ. Christians find this creative Word most fully actualized in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as they participate in that body whose living mind they discern to be the risen Christ.” (p. 100)One of my favorite observations in the book was where it was suggested that the world God created is “the infinite wealth of structured possibility which constitutes God’s primordial nature.” (p. 107) I also liked the observation: “Israel understood prophecy as the open-ended proclamation of divine intent, modifiable in terms of its response.” (p. 133)Frankly, even though I differ with process theologians on many issues that I personally consider vital, I never fail to gain a renewed appreciation for the idea of God being involved with creation in general and humanity in particular whenever I read their work. The Lure of God packs a lot of thought-provoking assertions in less than 150 pages, but it’s well worth the effort to consider them.
A book about Process Theology by one of the 20th century's experts on the subject.