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Process Theology [Paperback]

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Item Number 154254  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.75"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1976
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
ISBN  0664247431  
EAN  9780664247430  

Availability  87 units.
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Item Description...
An inroductory exposition of the theological movement that has been strongly influenced by the philosophies of Alfres North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. Offers an interpretation of the basic concepts of process philosophy and outlines a "process theology" based on it that will be especially useful for students of theology, teachers of courses in contemporary philosophy and theology, ministers, and those interested in current theological and philosophical trends.

Publishers Description

"Process Theology" is an introductory exposition of the theological movement that has been strongly influenced by the philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. It offers an interpretation of the basic concepts of process philosophy and outlines a "process theology" that will be especially useful for students of theology, teachers of courses in contemporary philosophy, ministers, and those interested in current theological and philosophical trends.

Buy Process Theology by John B. Cobb from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780664247430 & 0664247431

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More About John B. Cobb

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John Cobb Jr. is Ingraham Professor of Theology, emeritus, at Claremont School of Theology. He is the author of more than twenty books, including The Process Perspective and Lay Theology, from Chalice Press.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
a surge of vitality and clarity and lucidity into our God-talk  Jun 12, 2007
Just as the seeds that germinated and bloomed
after being dormant in a desert in Chile for 500 years due to rainfall caused by El Nino,
so is A N Whitehead-initiated Process Theology in these parched time of ours:
a most welcome surge of vitality and clarity and lucidity into our God-talk.

Buy it and read it; then, don't let the slowness of the first couple of chapters stop you.
Next come chapters with some of the best theological writing ever:
God as Creative Responsive Love, A Theology of Nature,
Human Existence, Jesus Christ, Eschatology, and
The Church in Creative Transformation.
good book, not the best introduction  Nov 24, 2005
As an undergraduate, I had read a bunch of theology. Most of it was classical theology, which has been the dominant view of the church. It says that God is timeless, that God knows everything, and that God has all the power in the world. It also says that Jesus died for our sins to take God's wrath away.

As I learned more about the world, all this seemed pretty unbelievable. I lived in the 21st century, not the 1st. I just couldn't believe in this God anymore; there were too many problems, too many throns in classical theism's side. Still, I didn't want to be an atheist. What did I do? I kept reading. Then I discovered process theology.

Process theology is a relatively new view of God (it's roots go back to Plato). It's a view of God that its practitioners (Cobb, Griffin, and a suprising number of others) believe is a better alternative to classical theism. In process theology, God is in time, God's knowledge is growing with the world, and God's power is a persuasive power, not a coercive one; consequently, God literally can't stop evil. However, God is reaching out to the world, trying to make it look like the vision or dream that God has in God's mind. It's a beautiful theology with Jesus as its model: he embodies God's creative transformative power and is thus someone who can show us what our future can be like if only we'd pick up our cross and follow him. Process theology also solves a lot of problems that classical theology runs into (evil, the mind/body problem, environmental ethics, moral ambiguity, etc)

While Cobb and Griffin's book deals with a plausible view of God--one that's believable in the 21st century--the book's jargon is complex and the novice may get lost. It's best to read C. Robert Mesle's "Process Theism: A Basic Introduction" followed by Cobb's "A Process Perspective" and then read this book.

I have struggled with belief in God for many years, yet on the days when I'm able to believe again it's when I'm reading the process theologians. They are fine theologians, and they are doing fine work.

Also recommended: The Gospel of Arnie
Love in Process Thought  Aug 31, 2004
This book serves as the seminal introduction to process thought written by two of the most important contemporary figures in this tradition. Because so many have found process thought helpful, this text serves as a valuable resource for others wanting to become acquainted with the concepts that so many find valuable.

While there is much in the book that is helpful, this review will concentrate upon the third chapter, titled "God as Creative-Responsive Love." The authors note that Process Theology, as they employ it, operates from the perspective of Christian faith on one hand and a metaphysical context provided by Process Philosophy on the other. The authors explore what the Biblical phrase "God is Love" means, and they begin with an exposition of what it means for God to express sympathy. Cobb and Griffin note that in classical theology, divine sympathy was denied: "This denial of an element of sympathetic responsiveness to the divine love meant that it was entirely creative; that is, God loves us only in the sense that he does good things for us" (45).

The authors note that the traditional notion of love as solely creative was partly introduced to deny that God is dependent upon creatures in any way and that God's independence implies perfection. Process theology, by contrast, understands God's emotional state as dependent upon creaturely existence. "Upon this basis, Christian agape can come to have the element of sympathy, of compassion for the present situation of others, which it should have had all along" (48).

The creative activity of God is no less essential to understanding divine love than is the sympathetic aspect of divine love. For instance, a loss of belief in the creative side of God's love would tend to undermine liberation movements of various kinds. The creative love of God, however, is persuasive only. The Cobb and Griffin note that the idea that God can intervene coercively has led to a variety of problems, especially with regard to the understanding the problem of evil and the science-inhibiting notion of the "God of the gaps." By "persuasion" the authors mean to deny that God has the ability to exercise controlling, unilateral power. "Process theologies understanding of divine love as in harmony with the insight, which we can gain both from psychologists and from our own experience, that if we truly love others we do not seek to control them" (53).

Cobb and Griffin note several advantages that their understanding of God as Creative-Responsive love entails. One notion is that God is understood as promoting enjoyment instead of as the Cosmic Moralist. "In traditional Christianity, morality and enjoyment were often seen as in fundamental opposition. In Process Thought, morality stands in the service of enjoyment" (57). Another advantage of understanding God's love as creative/responsive is that divine love can be understood as adventurous. A God's creative activity that is exclusively persuasive corresponds with a love that takes risks. This means that deity is not the sanctioner of the status quo, but God is still the source of the order that emerges in the world. God is the source of order because God offers possibilities to creatures to respond in ways that increase enjoyment and design. A third advantage of understanding God as Creative-Responsive love is that this entails that God's life is also on an adventure. Finally, the God that Process Thought envisions possesses qualities typically considered feminine. For instance, God is passive, responsive, emotional, flexible, patient, and appreciative of beauty.

Thomas Jay Oord
In the process of becoming...  Jan 15, 2004
One of the hallmarks of process theology, and the process philosophy that underpins it, is that it views all of actual reality as being in process, either becoming or decaying (which is, in fact, becoming something else), but that there is no static 'thing', that actual entities are in fact always in flux -- this is in keeping with modern science, philosophy, and culture, but also makes a sort of timeless sense. There are, to be sure, unchanging principles, but to be actual, to be real, is to be in process.

The two primary philosophical leaders of process theology are Alfred North Whitehead (protege of Bertrand Russell) and Charles Hartshorne, whom the authors of this volume discuss in some detail from the beginning. Adding references to other theologians whose thought edged toward process (Bultmann, Teilhard de Chardin, Kant) they then proceed to systematically explore the depths of theology from this process perspective.

As things are in process, they are also in relationship with each other. There is an interdepence of all things, and things are relative to each other in creation -- here it is worth noting that Whitehead did extensive work with Einstein's theory of relativity. Creativity is of primary importance, and the issue of novelty and unique character is very important for process. God is involved in all things, at every stage, but not in a controlling manner, but rather as a persuasive element, pulling all of creation toward God's ends, but permitting continued freedom of action within the current framework of time and history.

It is probably beyond saying that process does not subscribe to any particular set of denominational doctrines or dogmas -- process ideas can inform and shape, and in turn be influenced by, the direct experiences and religious sentiments of people. An understanding of God in action must be gained through specific experiences, but none of these should cloud the initial aim of God, which is the enjoyment of all things (enjoyment here being different from a purely hedonist enjoyment) by all creation.

Process theology sees Jesus as the incarnation of God that expresses the creative love of God and the creative transformation that is possible for all of us. Jesus is not a mere symbol, nor some otherworldly figure simply to be worshipped or feared -- interestingly, while the majority of people who wear WWJD bracelets and the like might be suspicious of process theology, in fact they are tapping into one of the key components of process -- that Jesus serves as a model to help us create the future. This leads quickly to the eschatological idea that we help to create the realm of God, and as such we must have a care for the ecology, the politics, the economy and all else that concerns humanity and humankind's better existence in the world.

Process ecclesiology challenges the churches to explore both their history and their potential for being agents of transformation in the world. Cobb and Griffin describe the churches today as having suffered a loss of nerve, being unable to participate in the creative advance of society -- ironically, they describe the history of the church in medieval, Reformation and Counter-Reformation times as being more creative and willing to engage society and the critical thought of the day than they are at present. This must change, particularly in a world that still suffers from a precarious situation so far as survival is concerned.

Cobb and Griffin provide two appendices -- the first, a very brief look at the relationship of philosophy and theology, and the second, a literature survey of process thought, primarily dealing with Whitehead, but also extending beyond a bit.

John Cobb and David Ray Griffin both taught at Claremont, which has of late become the primary centre for process theology. Both are authors collaboratively and individually of other works on process theology; however, this book is perhaps the first, best primer on the subject to deal with all the classical categories of systematic theology. The writing is a bit academic at times; clearly this text is intended as a book for students at advanced undergraduate, early graduate or seminary levels.

It is a good overview of the subject, brief but comprehensive, engaging for the most part, and well worth investigation by anyone interested in the connections between theology and philosophy, theology and science, theology and culture, and general twentieth century theological thought.

Still a good book after 25 years  Dec 25, 2000
Cobb and Griffin wrote this book in the mid-70s to fill a growing need in American theological thought, namely, a clear exposition of the trend known as "process theology." Based on the work of Whitehead and Hartshorne, process thought takes seriously the ideas many have come to take for granted today, such as the interconnected nature of reality, the subjectivity of science, and a more holistic and biblical idea of a God that responds and reacts to creation with creativity. Process theology developed these themes, with varying degrees of success. It is still trying to develop these themes, three decades after this book.

It must be said that Cobb and Griffin both were indebted more to Hartshorne's development of Whitehead's philosophy than a more strictly Whiteheadian point of view. Because of this, the idea of God as a single "actual entity" gets turned into the idea that God is a "serially ordered sequence of occasions," not Whitehead's view at all, and only remotely monotheistic (or even di-theistic or panentheistic). The best chapter in the volume is the one on Christology. The worst is the one on eschatology. There are few things in theology more helpful than a process christology; there are few things less helpful than a process eschatology, at least as Cobb and Griffin outline it. See Ted Peter's God-the World's Future for an interesting use of process thought in the area of eschatology. All in all, a benchmark text in the field of process theology, and even where it is dated, it still speaks. God Christ Church is another good example of a popular introduction to process theology.

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