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Alfred North Whitehead by Norman Pittenger

Dr. Pittenger, philosopher and theologian, was a senior member of King’s College, Cambridge for many years, then Professor of Christian Apologetics at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, before retiring in 1966. Published by John Knox Press, Richmond, Virginia, 1996. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


This series seeks to introduce the interested reader to 'Makers of Contemporary Theology' -- the men whose writing, whether or not intentionally theological or even Christian, has been valuable to modern Christian thinkers in their formulating of the Christian faith. Certainly among philosophers of this century Alfred North Whitehead has been a seminal thinker for one increasingly influential group in the theological world. In the United States and Canada, there is a large number of Christian theologians who look back to Whitehead with reverence and find his writings an enormous help to them. Recently some of these men have organized a society which meets annually to discuss 'process-thought'. Not all of its members are theologians, and some of them would be hesitant in claiming the name Christian. But all have learned from this Anglo-American thinker, and, although they would disavow the title 'Whiteheadians', they regard him as their intellectual master. In Great Britain, too, interest in 'process-philosophy' has been growing. Not only in Cambridge. where Whitehead himself lived and taught for many years, but elsewhere, theologians are turning to him for help in framing a conceptuality available for Christian use. As one who is an avowed disciple of this school of thought, I am indebted to the editors and publishers of this series for the opportunity to write a brief exposition for the general reader. This book makes no claim, of course, to being an exhaustive account. It is intended to be suggestive, to provide some background and to give an outline of main emphases (obviously, my own understanding of those emphases) in Whitehead's thought and in that of his followers in 'process-thinking', for those who wish to continue their study. I would dedicate this small book to my research-students and others in this University, whose interest in 'process-theology' has been for me both a joy and an inspiration. Only they can understand how much I have learned from discussions with them; this book is a token of gratitude and affection. Norman Pittenger. King's College, Cambridge.

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