Lewis S. Ford is Emeritus Professor at Old Dominion University, and founding editor of Process Studies Periodical (1971 – 1995).
Published by Fortress Press, 1978. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
(ENTIRE BOOK) The author examines several aspects of process theism: christology, resurrection, the cross, trinitarianism, and immortality.
The author introduces the reader to Whitehead’s thought by way of an intellectual biography tracing the development of his theism. The book addresses the general reader, explaining the Whiteheadian categories as they are needed.
- Chapter 1: Whitehead’s Pilgrimage to Process Theism
The understanding of God that Whitehead came to is sharply critical of many of our inherited notions, particularly concerning divine omniscience, omnipotence, and immutability. Classically, God’s power is seen in terms of omnipotence, and God is creator as the sole primary efficient cause of the world. In process theism God is primarily persuasive, creating more indirectly by providing the lure for each occasion whereby it can create itself.
- Chapter 2: Divine Persuasion in the Old Testament
Whitehead had little affinity with the Old Testament’s barbaric conception of God. Rather, he was at one with Plato’s conviction “that the divine element in the world is to be conceived as a persuasive agency and not as a coercive agency.” Whitehead thought this concept was “one of the greatest intellectual discoveries in the history of religion.”
- Chapter 4: Recent Process Christology
The autor disproved the suggestion that process principles seem to suggest no evidence of real christology. His own christological proposal follows the lead of the early church, and finds its basis also in the resurrection of Jesus.
- Chapter 3: Divine Sovereignty
The particular valued possibilities which shape our actions come from many sources, but ultimately they derive from the creative activity of God. God is the ultimate power of the future, rescuing the world from degeneration into chaos by the relentless provision of ever-new creative possibilities for the world to actualize.
- Chapter 5: The Resurrection as the Emergence of the Body of Christ
The resurrection of Jesus is hardly an optional belief, for it is at the very heart of Christology. However, there can be various interpretations and explanations of the resurrection. The author discusses such approaches as hallucinatory, visionary, spiritual, and other objective realities.
- Chapter 6: Reconciliation through the Cross
We need to consider how the resurrection was prepared for by the suffering and death of Jesus. It not only made the original event possible, but it continues to make our own incorporation within this body possible by the reconciling work of God effected in Christ.
- Chapter 7: A Process Trinitarianism
Ford cannot accept the traditional Latin interpretation of the time-honored formula, “one substance in three persons.” He insists on a stricter reading more in accordance with the Greek fathers, “one actuality having three distinct aspects.”
- Chapter 8: The Sources of Christian Hope
Three factors which impel man to look for life beyond the grave: (1) the preservation of values achieved, (2) the redemption from evil and suffering, (3) and the non-acceptance of the extinction of the self.
A summary of each chapter, with additional comments. There is a concreteness in the biblical witness to God’s interaction with Israel and with the church. Process theism recognizes both the necessary and the contingent aspects of God.