I like to occasionally post something really big-picture and positive…. hopefully uplifting and stimulating. After I wrote a reply on the fascinating blog, The Evangelical Liberal, I realized it might make sense as a short post of its own here. So, with slight modifications for context here it is:
…. I don’t recall what I may have said here before…. I may have mentioned the Process Theology approach. It is a sort of “middle ground” perspective between historic orthodoxy (Evangelicalism and broader) and classic liberalism.
That is mainly in its conception of the nature of God and the God-world interaction. Although I don’t know that the Anglican Church ([of the blog author] or Episcopal in my U.S. setting) is much “into” Process formally, it probably is as close to being in sync as about any denomination…. My own, the United Church of Christ, is also, but not nearly as large or world-wide as Anglican.
The Wikipedia article on Process theology can serve as a good summary I won’t try to repeat, even in short form here. Let me just focus on my own “process” (not Process) a moment:
While I’ve know about and been influenced by Process for over 20 years (I’m about to turn 66), I think it’s just been a year or less that I’ve really focused in on what I now think may be the single most important concept (it applies strongly to the Evangelical/Liberal divide): God, as perfect Love, is never and can never be coercive. “He” is not threatening nor punishing. As non-coercive, God does not even interrupt natural “laws” (e.g., with miracles, nor with “creation out of nothing”). His creation of “our world” was out of chaos (Gen. 1), the difference having major implications for the “problem of evil”, etc. (recommended: a great, short book by a top Process guy, David R. Griffin, titled Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith).
The effect of affirming God as only Love (thus non-avenging, non-violent) is to undercut much of “orthodoxy”, including ACTUAL separation from God, need for sacrifice (including Jesus’ as supposedly “substitutionary atonement” or “ransom”), or possibility of eternity in hell. (Jesus did not actually teach any of these, I’m convinced, despite a few Gospel passages that seem to suggest it.)
Process has a more nuanced view of revelation in Scripture and Jesus than does “liberalism”. Importantly, it also reconciles (at least the best I think it can be done to date) divine persuasive action (which can look like “miracles”, as can subtle natural processes science tends to ignore or deny) with natural processes (as seen in evolution).
In other words, God draws us to creative and/or loving actions that further God’s agenda of unity and peace, and God does NOT punish any failings or even willful resistance to that by us. Ahhhh… we can RELAX! (And deal with our own revenge problem when we see people who hurt others, or us, and seem to “get away with it”.) Now, I don’t buy into this just SO I can relax…. Relaxation/peace is the result of this more “real” picture of reality.
This ring any (hopefully beautiful) bells for anyone? (If so, please tell us.)