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What Is Process Theology? by Robert B. Mellert


Dr. Mellert is an assistant professor in the department of theological studies at the University of Dayton. Published by Paulist Press, New York, Paramus, Toronto, 1975. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Preface
Few libraries had any books on Whiteheadian thought in 1947 when he died. Today libraries of all sorts have shelves laden with books trying to explain, interpret and apply his thinking, but these authors are inclined to talk to each other. The author attempts to make process thought understandable to the rest of us.

Chapter 1: Why Something New?
The core of process thought: Rather than a "substance theology" based on static, spatial models, process thought "switches gears" to a concern with spatial-temporal models such as change in God, Christ becoming divine and the on-going process of revelation.

Chapter 2 Some Basic Concepts
Some basic Whiteheadian concepts: becoming, actual occasions, eternal objects, prehensions.

Chapter 3: Religion
The author contrasts Whitehead’s thought with traditional religions which start with proof of God. Whitehead inverts the process, starting with the experience of religion and grasping the truth that there is more at issue in the world than the world itself.

Chapter 4: God
God is constantly changing as he includes more and more reality in his consequent nature. What we do on earth makes a difference in the very reality of God.

Chapter 5: Creation, Grace, Glory and the Kingdom
Dr. Mellert discusses the relations both of God to the world and the world to God.

Chapter 6: Man
Process thought is being compatible with the presumptions of Christian faith and is friendly with Christian ideas regarding body and soul.

Chapter 7: Jesus
Jesus is unique because in his humanity he presents a more perfect model of ideal humanity than has ever existed, or will ever exist. He is divine because of the realization of that divinity within him.

Chapter 8: The Church
The Church is a process whereby individuals come to believe in Jesus and add the weight of their belief to the furtherance of the process that is the Church. The Church is not a stable, immutable institution that has existed since the time of Jesus.

Chapter 9: Sacraments
In the process perspective, each sacramental action is both created by the community and creative of the community. Concrete experiences of the past contribute positively to the present and are immanently incorporated in what the present is becoming.

Chapter 10: Morality
The new and the old morality are both inadequate. Process thought can make important contributions to the old and new because it is both metaphysical and flexible.

Chapter 11: Immortality
Process theology as a provider of a solid philosophical framework for a great diversity of human experience and belief. It therefore is helpful in synthesizing the diversity of interpretations of immortality.

Chapter 12: Theology and Relativity
The notion of relativity that process theology employs is discussed. All reality is inter-related in space and time, and no single real entity has a prior absoluteness that stands outside the process of reality as a whole.

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