Gray skies and cold temperatures framed my Sunday morning on the University of Syracuse campus. Determined to go to church, I walked to Hendricks Chapel in time to catch the 11:00 a.m. service. The building reminded me of a Roman cathedral with its large columns, balconies and great curtains. However, structural grandeur gave way to disappointment when I realized the student choir more than doubled the size of the few attendees. Their beautiful voices could not silence my discordant gnawing.
Tomi, stood up in her white robe and tennis shoes and delivered a message loosely tied to Acts 9:36-43. When she lifelessly described Tabitha’s raising as an “environment of interdependent causal relationships” I realized why the place was empty. Later reading from Revelation 7:9-17, she questioned the intellect of John. How could he suggest robes could be made white by the blood of the Lamb or that a lamb could lead sheep? In her brightness the Word was made dim. Tomi offered suggestions of what we could glean in life from her lens of process theology. No wonder Hendricks was hollow.
Acts 9:40,41—Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive.
Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) is the father of process theology, a school of thought influenced by his metaphysical process philosophy. Essentially it teaches:
· God is not omnipotent in power, choosing rather to persuade than coerce.
· Reality is not comprised of time-enduring material substances but serially-ordered events, “which are experiential in nature.”
· Panentheism—God is not viewed as the sole Creator “but the eternal animating force behind the universe, with the universe as nothing more than the manifest part of God.” Essentially, everything past and present (not future) is in God.
· Free will by humans and creatures brings to the universe process and change. Self-determination defines everything in the universe, not just human beings.
· Humans do not experience personal immortality, but rather objective immortality. Their experiences survive forever in God.
· Jesus is not God, but rather fully identified with God. He is a created being.
· God co-creates with all other creatures, “including blooming flowers, singing whales, and insect architects . . . both God and finite beings draw on the same source of creative energy.” Nature as a whole is independent with its own autonomy. “There is no beginning to creation; God and the universe are co-eternally creative.” God incorporates all that happens into His own life.
· God does not know the future until it is actualized. He is not unchanging. He is dynamic absorbing new experience as the universe develops in creative transformation.
Whenever people remove their confidence from the Word of God and place it in the teachings of man—beware. Process theology denies that God is the omnipotent, sole Creator. It disallows the Trinity and Biblical teaching that man will stand one day before God for judgment. It strips the Lord of His attributes and renders Him dependent on the world. Process theologian Robert Mellert admits, “Process theologians, therefore, generally hold that God is in some sense dependent upon the world and that in that sense he is subject to the changes that take place in the world.”
Process theology neuters prayer because God is just a cooperative partner. Pray for those caught in this heresy for by making subjective claims about reality they render their pronouncements absurd in that they cannot be known by their own epistemology (The branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge. Epistemology asks the question “How do we know what we know?”).For example, how does a finite philosopher suppose to observe God as being inside everyone? How does he who is measured in time decide an eternal God cannot know the future?
If the ultimate authority in Process epistemology is man, and particularly the authority is man’s feelings, Process epistemology becomes problematic: Led by men’s feeling, there are many competing and conflicting opinions man has about God and theology. Not all of them could all be true in the same sense at the same time, since this would violate the Law of Non-Contradiction . . . how can the Bible have anything thing false or in error if the Bible is not propositional to begin with? . . . A categorical fallacy has been committed when they say that the Bible is false, because supposedly the Bible does not contain statements that are true or false.
I choose to believe God miraculously worked through Peter to bring a dead Tabitha back to life. He works His divine will today as true as yesterday and He knows what He will do tomorrow! Today my son, Bryan David, turned twenty-three. The one diagnosed with an inoperable brain-stem tumor at the age of three lives. We worshiped, we prayed, we wept and we experienced God as He came to us and healed Bryan. As surely as He saved Bryan once He can save us forever! I would rather believe the Bible is true, embrace hope in grace and live forever in His loving presence, than follow the dark logic that flowed from a Whitehead. Decide your source of wisdom, choose your process and live accordingly. Truth renders joy and is irrefutable while false renders hollow and flails.
If we let ourselves believe that man began with divine grace, that he forfeited this by sin, and that he can be redeemed only by divine grace through the crucified Christ, then we shall find peace of mind never granted to philosophers. He who cannot believe is cursed, for he reveals by his unbelief that God has not chosen to give him grace.—Blaise Pascal
©2010 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)
Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes(Albany: State University of New York, 1984), 32-36.
C. Robert Mesle, Process Theology: A Basic Introduction(St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1993), 106.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.