Process theology

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Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.

The beliefs of process theology include:

  • God is not omnipotent.
  • The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Free will characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God can not force anything to happen, but rather only influence the exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities.
  • God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism)
  • Because God contains a changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time.
  • People do not experience a subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have an objective immortality in that their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was.

The original ideas of process theology were developed by Charles Hartshorne, and were later expounded upon by John Cobb and David Ray Griffin. While process theology first was adopted by some liberal Protestant Christians, it soon influenced a number of Jewish theologians, including British philosopher Samuel Alexander (1859-1938), and Rabbis Max Kaddushin, Milton Steinberg and Levi A. Olan, Harry Slominsky and to a lesser degree, Abraham Joshua Heschel. Today some rabbis who advocate process theology or a related theology include Rabbis William E. Kaufman, Harold Kushner, Anton Laytner, Nahum Ward, Donald B. Rossoff and Gilbert S. Rosenthal.

For more information see Kushner's "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" and "Jewish Theology and Process Thought", eds. Sandra B. Lubarsky and David Ray Griffin. Excellent introductions to classical theism, limited theism and process theology can be found in "A Question of Faith: An Atheist and a Rabbi Debate the Existence of God" and "The Case for God", both written by Rabbi William E. Kaufman.

Link: Process theology and Judaism

Link: Book - Jewish Theology and Process Thought]

Link: One Reform rabbi's perspective on Process theology