I recently ran across a posting in an evangelical Christian blog that described process theology as believing that "God is neither omnipotent nor directly active in his creation. " This statement is only half right; while it is true that process theology rejects omnipotence, it certainly conceives of God as having a critically active role in creation. Many who do not understand process theology seem to confuse it with Deism, perhaps incorrectly equating a lack of omnipotence with being passive or indifferent. However, according to process theology, it is God who offers creative novelty to the evolving universe; without God, the universe would never have arrived at its present state.
An illustration of the importance of creativity to the God of process theology was brought to mind by Benjamin Myers' blog review of Neil MacDonald's book Metaphysics and the God of Israel. I have not read MacDonald's book and am otherwise unfamiliar with his theology, but as I understand it based on the review, his conception of God is one who made himself present in the universe but who otherwise made no difference in the creation or evolution of the world. According to this strange theology, God "determined himself" to be the world's creator without having actually created it. He just sort of went along with the ride and named himself creator anyway. The result is, according to MacDonald's theology, that
If God had not determined himself to be this world’s creator, the world would nevertheless be exactly the same, except that it would not be identified as God’s creature.This is starkly different from the God of process theology, in which God plays a crucial creative role in the evolution of the universe. According to process theology, without God, the universe would definitely not be the same as it actually turned out to be.
What MacDonald's theology may possibly share with process theology (and other forms of panentheism) is the value of God's presence in the universe. I don't know if MacDonald believes in God playing a sympathetic role as one who fully shares in our experiences; certainly, this is very important to process thought--the notion that God fully understands our pains and joys. It seems like, in MacDonald's theology, having taken away the creative role, there would otherwise not be a lot that God has left to offer us.
Ultimately, I think that a theology in which creativity plays an important role, both in the divine and in the world's relationship to the divine, is more interesting than a theology in which God takes credit for creating a world that he actually didn't create.