A process way of describing God

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From the blog "Aspiration Towards Inspiration" comes this description of what "God" means from a process theology perspective:

When I say God, I mean the panentheistic God of Process Theology… the God that is present in all forms of life yet extends beyond all forms. God is not the all-powerful, all-knowing God that most would define God as. The past is done, the future is not yet… God acts in the now. God has no hands but our hands. I would describe God as the form of ideal Humanity and morality that is present in all forms of Life. God is communicated through acts of compassion and cries for justice and God exists in multiple forms. I believe that God is a both/and God that feels the needs of all peoples and lives in inspiration toward compassionate efforts to alleviate the pains all forms of Life experience and strive toward the creation of a world characterized by compassionate mutual understanding.

6 comments:

JW said...

God is an entity apart from Humanity. He is Spirit and works in the heart of men to bring them to repentance to do His Will in the Earth.

If God's ways were our ways then God would be corruptable. But He isn't and showed us Jesus, being the way, the truth and the life and no man can come to God except through Jesus. He is the Way to God.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I need to read up on process theology because so often when it is presented to me God looks so watered down that I don't see any necessity in even calling him/it God.

Mystical Seeker said...

Mike, you might want to check out what I wrote about "watering down" in an earlier blog posting. That being said, the God of process theology plays an active role in the world, and one of the biggest problems that I see with people's understanding of it is that Whiteheadian terminology is often esoteric and difficult to get past. What I liked about the quote that I posted here is that it gets to what I think is the core of process thought without resorting to Whitehead's dense philsophical language.

CT said...

In order to be meaningful any definition of what God is must be understandable by the general public. The old definition was simplistic but perfectly understandable and it had consequences. It meant that we prayed to ask for things because God was a separate intervening entity. It meant that we were careful with our actions and thoughts as this God saw and knew everything. The definition may be flawed but it could be understood and we were compelled to respond.

The new definition above might avoid the flaws of the old definition, but it lacks clarity by including ambiguous language and therefore is not understandable. And ,therefore, it does not produce a response.

“Present in all forms of life” – OK, so God is in everything. That’s OK. “Yet extends beyond all forms.” – we now move into the ambiguous. Ten different readers could interpret this to mean 10 different things. At worst, it is meaningless. “God has no hands but our hands” – so we are the hands of God. If God is to act in this world it’s through us. This is OK, makes sense but does suggest God is a separate external entity of some sort (in contrast to God in everything concept).

Now it gets fuzzy – “God as the form of ideal Humanity and morality that is present in all forms of Life.” So God is simply an ideal that we strive towards. We could take God out of the picture and we would still have an ideal. It might look a lot like Jesus or Buddha or Mother Theresa or whatever but the God concept is unnecessary if God is just a word to encapsulate our ideal human. “God is communicated through acts of compassion and cries for justice” – so if anyone does anything any good for someone else we say ‘this is God’. “God exists in multiple forms” – here’s a bland statement that could mean anything.

And finally the wrap-up “God that feels the needs of all peoples and lives in inspiration toward compassionate efforts to alleviate the pains all forms of Life experience and strive toward the creation of a world characterized by compassionate mutual understanding”. So God ‘feels’ and ‘lives’ again implying a separate entity or being of some sort. And when I alleviate someone’s pain I have been inspired by ‘God’. ‘Compassionate mutual understanding’ – the more I read the more it sounds like a list of behavioral ideals. We all know that ‘mutual understanding’ is good so lets apply that tag to ‘God’. ‘Justice…compassion…the list goes on’. All good things. It even makes me wonder if the objective isn’t to create a definition that no-one can argue against. After all we all believe in compassion and mutual understanding.

The question remains – if this God was removed from the Universe what impact would there be? The definition implies that all good would cease as God inspires all good. Would I proceed to care for others if I wasn’t aware of this God? Yes.

Mystical Seeker said...

CT,

I don't see it as a matter of "old" and "new" definitions because the concept of God has always been diverse. Long before Whitehead came around we had different concepts of God coming from Plato, Spinoza, and the Deists, among others.

The point about God feeling and understanding all that we do is an expression of panentheism. Process theologians believe that God experiences all of our experiences, and that each new event becomes permanently incorporated into God's reality. This is defined as the concept of "subjective immortality."

Process theologians believe that God is real, not just an embodiment of ideals. God's role is not that of a deterministic interventionist, but rather of a creative lure who offers possibilities with each passing instant. Thus "process" plays a key role in God's activities, because God is active in each moment of process as a creative lure. If there were no God, according to this view, then it would make a difference because the creative possibilities of the unfolding of cosmic and biological history would have been limited. God is this sense a co-creator with the world.

Mystical Seeker said...

Correction to my comment. Instead of "subjective" immortality, what I meant to say was "objective" immortality, which is the notion in process theology that all our subjective experiences live on in eternity in the Divine memory, even if we ourselves don't experience life after death (I don't think that all process theologians are in agreement over the idea of an afterlife.)