More on why I think Rowan Williams is seriously wrong.


In my previous posting, I responded to Rowan Williams's assertion that "we must get to grips with the idea that we don’t ‘contribute’ anything to God, that God would have been the same God if we had never been created."

I found an excellent quote from "Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition" that I think summarizes very well the fundamental problem with Rowan Williams's view. The quote takes place in the context of a discussion of whether God's love is solely creative, or if it is also responsive as well:

The traditional notion of love as solely creative was based upon the value judgment that independence or absoluteness is unqualifiedly good, and that dependence or relativity in any sense derogates from perfection. But...while perfection entails independence or absoluteness in some respects, it also entails dependence or relativity in other respects. It entails ethical independence, in the sense that one should not be deflected by one's passions from the basic commitment to seek the greatest good in all situations. But this ethical commitment, in order to be actualized in concrete situations, requires responsiveness to the actual needs and desires of others. Hence, to promote the greatest good, one needs to be informed by, and thus relativized by, the feelings of others. Furthermore, we do not admire someone whose enjoyment is not in part dependent upon the condition of those around them. Parents who remained in absolute bliss while their children were in agony would not be perfect--unless there are such things as perfect monsters!

In other words, while there is a type of independence that is admirable , there is also a type of dependence that is admirable. And, if there is a type of absoluteness that unqualifiedly admirable, that means that there is a divine absoluteness; and the same holds of relativity. Process thought affirms that both of these are true. While traditional theism speaks only of divine absoluteness, process theism speaks also of the "divine relativity." (pp. 46-67. Emphasis added.)
Rowan Williams's view of God thus confuses the absolute independence that is necessary in order for God to always make the right decisions with the concrete dependence that is necessary in order for God to respond appropriately to the individual situations as they occur. If God, to borrow a phrase from the ontological argument, is that than which nothing greater can be conceived, then it follows that the goodness of relativity and sympathetic responsiveness must also manifest itself in the most perfect way possible in God's nature. Thus God is affected by us, and God is not the same with us as he/she would have been without us. Otherwise, God could not be perfect.

Cobb and Griffin make an an analogy with human parents. What kind of parent is unaffected by their children? What kind of parent is indifferent to whether their children exist or not? What kind of heavenly Father (or Mother) would it be who was the same whether we existed or not?