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The 'Last Things’ in a Process Perspective 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 London: Epworth Press, 1970, This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Chapter 4: Judgement


In speaking of the momentous significance of the fact of death, not only as the finis or clear terminus of earthly life for every man and for the whole race of men, but also as the event which qualifies and colors each life, we introduced in our conclusion the possibility and the necessity of love.

Man is made to become a lover, we said. In this mortal existence, known as such by reason of our dying, this ‘becoming’ is frustrated by factors which prevent its complete realization, but much more importantly for each of us the failure in loving is due to our own incompetence and our own impotence in accepting love, both as a giving and as a receiving of self in the mutuality which love is. For this we must somehow shoulder the responsibility, since we know deep within ourselves that we are indeed responsible. However difficult it may have been, however many obstacles circumstances set in its way, man senses that he could have loved more than he did. A mature man is prepared to accept the responsibility for his not having responded to the opportunities of loving which in various ways, some great and some small, were open to him. Death is there; and it makes it plain to each man that during his mortal span he has both the opportunity and the duty to love.

What on earth and sky can judgement, with which in this chapter we are concerned, have to do with love? Perhaps that is the first question which we may feel obliged to ask. My answer would be in the Pauline phrase, ‘much every way’.

One of the reasons, if not the only one, that this question can be asked is that we are the victims of a sentimentalized notion of love and its manner of working. I have commended popular songs for their stress on love and I have said that one thing about them that I find valuable is their association of love and sexual desire. This is commonly regarded as what is wrong about them; on the contrary, in my view, this is what is right about them. The thing that I believe is often wrong is not their use of sexual images and their talk about sexual desire, but the tendency (in some of the songs at least) to sentimentalize love. By this I mean to make it seem soft, cozy, sweet, comforting, and nothing else.

But it is not in such songs that we discover the worst manifestations of this tendency. It is in the devaluation of the very word itself, which for so many of our contemporaries, and even in many Christian circles, has come to suggest a kind of sloppiness, a simple and quite uncritical acquiescence in anything and everything. In that common misunderstanding of love we discover exactly the softness, the coziness, about which I have spoken. Thus love becomes niceness. It is taken to be sweet, which indeed it is, but it is not grasped as being ‘bitter sweet’, if I may use here the title of one of Noel Coward’s songs, found in a musical play of the same name. It has not seen the truth in the Spanish folk proverb, that ‘to make love is to declare one’s sorrows’; nor has it noticed that the deepest expressions of love are not only painful to the one who loves but can also make inexorable demands on the one who is loved -- demands which are not arbitrary and certainly not coercive in their manner of expression, but which are inexorable none the less, since they expect of the beloved the full and complete realization of all his possibilities as a lover.

The sort of love about which I was speaking in the last chapter is such love as was shown in Christ, who ‘having loved his own that were in the world, loved them unto the end’. . . the end of death on their behalf, which demanded (again, let us recall, in no arbitrary and coercive way) the response from them of a returning love which would show itself in their loving one another. The discourses put in Jesus’ mouth by the Fourth Evangelist and the remarkable summary found in the fourth chapter of the first Johannine epistle are very pointed here -- love is seen both in its wonder of identification and its mutuality in giving and receiving and also in its strange inexorability.

Love hurts, too. The identification to which I have just referred is no easy affair; it implies and it involves such a total sharing that the pain experienced by the one who is loved is also the pain of the one who loves. And even more profoundly, the anguish in such identification is the more terrible when the lover knows deeply and inescapably, as in all honesty he must, the failures of the one who is loved. These too he shares; and the anguish is compounded when, knowing these failures -- these defects and lacks, shall we say? -- he still loves. As St Paul tells us in the most famous of all the bits of his epistles, ‘there is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance’. And he adds (I am using in my quotation the New English Bible) that ‘love will never come to an end’ -- it never fails, as we more usually quote the Pauline passage. Or, in our own idiom, ‘love can and does take it’.

Once we have come to understand that love is like that, we shall never be guilty of sentimentalizing. We shall see that love is comfortable in the meaning of that word in Elizabethan times: it is strengthening and invigorating. It is thus comfortable precisely because it has ‘gone through many waters’ which have not defeated and cannot ‘drown it’; it is ‘terrible as an army with banners’, not because like such an army it uses force, but because it is in itself the only really strong thing in the whole world and in human experience. It is strong because it is patient, not strong in spite of its requiring patience.

Now all of what I have been saying ought to be perfectly obvious to anybody who professes and calls himself a Christian and who has learned what love is from contemplation of the figure of his Lord and Master. God is love like that -- indeed we ought to put it more forcefully and say that such human love as we see in Jesus is the very reflection of the reality of divine love on the stage of human affairs. That is the way the world goes; the grain of the universe is exactly like that, however the appearances of things may seem. I should say that the basic affirmation of Christian faith is just there: the commitment of self to a love like that as the disclosure of how things go, most profoundly, and the ‘life in scorn of consequence’ (in Kirsopp Lake’s grand words) which follows when such commitment is undertaken.

But if that is ‘the disclosure of God’s nature’, known through his ‘agency in the world’, as Whitehead would put it, then it is also true that each man is intended to actualize in his own existence that love. He is to ‘live in love’ because to live so is truly to live. The English recusant poet Robert Southwell wrote lines that I delight in quoting: ‘Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live.’ He spoke not for himself alone but for all men -- as all men, once they have been opened up to the understanding of themselves, may be brought to see. This is ‘the life which is life indeed’.

It is with this background in mind and in this context that we can see why judgement is related to love. Although the word ‘judgement’ is not a happy one, as we shall see, what it intends to say is utterly integral to love. The relationship is no incidental or accidental one; it is tied in with the very reality of loving in itself. Indeed we might put it briefly by saying that love always is judgement, in the meaning which I shall try to give to that not too satisfactory word which traditionally has been employed to denote what I am talking about.

But what am I talking about?

Simply, one could state it in these words: I am talking about the honest recognition or facing of things as actually they are, with the consequences they have had, exactly as those consequences have been. I am talking about a brave and fearless appraisal both of the situation and of those who are in the situation. So I shall use the word ‘appraisal’ in the remainder of this chapter, rather than the word ‘judgement’; the latter fails seriously, for us today at any rate, because it is so tied up with notions of law-courts, assizes, and the other paraphernalia of ‘justice’ in the legal sense. Such notions have little or nothing to do with love; they are a matter of human justice which may be a mode of love’s expression in certain situations but they are also very misleading because love is ultimately not concerned with ‘justice’ in the vulgar sense -- it is above justice, whose interest is either retributive or distributive, for the interest of love is with persons, persons in society with their fellows, and the fulfillment of selves in the giving-and-receiving which is mutuality or union.

Furthermore -- and this I wish to stress -- the rewards and punishments motif is not part of the kind of appraisal that I think love entails. The only reward that love can offer is more opportunity to love; its only punishment can be failure on the part of the lover to continue in loving. If we import into our thinking ideas about rewards and punishments, as these are commonly understood, we turn God into ‘the ruthless moralist’ who, as Whitehead once remarked, is one of the false ‘gods’ that men have worshipped to their own frightful hurt. I say this with full recognition of the fact that in the gospels we find something of the rewards and punishments motif. But if one looks at what is said there, interpreting it in the light of what Jesus Himself was, as the community of Christian faith remembered Him and His impact upon them, we shall see that the reward promised to those who love God or do His will is really the presence of God and the joy of ‘seeing him’; while the punishment is the alienation from His presence and that joy, the result of not loving which the victim has imposed upon himself. In any event, as we shall see when we discuss the meaning of the heavenly promise, as part of the scheme of the last things, it is not genuinely Christian to think that anybody can want God and something else. In having God, or better in being had by God, we have all that ‘we can desire’, as the collect puts it; it is not a matter of ‘God and a lollypop’, as I have heard it said. St Francis de Sales once commented that ‘he who seeks God in order to have something more, does not know what he is seeking’. To seek God is to seek all good; and to live ‘in God’, which is to live ‘in love’, is in itself the summum bonum.

As mortal life in its finality, death introduces into our mortal existence the fact of appraisal. This is a concept which many have sought to remove from our thinking about human life. The reason for this is not only that it seems to give a somewhat unpleasant note to the portrayal of that life. Rather, as I see it, the reason is two-fold. First, the pictures of ‘judgement’ have been drawn so often from law-courts and the like that they bear little relation to the Christian insistence on God as love. Hence when that insistence is taken with the utmost seriousness, the whole idea is dismissed as mistaken -- once again, to use the familiar aphorism, ‘the baby is thrown out with the bath-water’. But second, the understanding of love itself has been sentimentalized, as I have said, and hence it has been thought that love has nothing to do with appraisal, evaluation, and the honest recognition of things as they are and persons as they are, however much we may love them.

Whether people like it or not, appraisal is a genuine and persisting factor in human existence. Appraisal means that each man is responsible for his life and for the decisions which he has made in the course of it; and it means also that each man must be prepared to give what traditional thinking describes as ‘an account of his life’ -- in the face of whatever ultimately determines and assesses true values in the whole scheme of things. If that ‘ultimate’ is love, as Christians believe, the appraisal is all the more searching and it is all the more terrible to be aware that one must face it. ‘It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God’, we read in Hebrews. On which we may comment that it would indeed be ‘terrible’ to fall into the hands of one who is what Whitehead styled ‘the ruthless moralist’; but it is even more ‘terrible’, in the most profound sense of that word, when one must look at the love which we have pierced by our own lovelessness, the cosmic Lover (as I like to put it) whose readiness to give love and to receive love is so devastatingly complete. The Love ‘that moves the sun and the other stars’, in Dante’s final words in La Commedia Divina, cannot be faced with nonchalance or ease.

Appraisal, in the meaning I am giving to the word, is not necessarily ‘final’, if by this is suggested that it is not also present; indeed I would wish to say that it is essentially present, in this and in every moment. Every man, day by day, is appraised. The question which is being asked is insistent in all moments and in every moment of our existence: ‘How do I "stack up" against the way things really "go"?’ That question is asked, I have said. But by whom?

It is asked by each man of and for himself. That is the measure of our human responsibility and thus the determinant of our humanly moral earnestness, precisely as death is the measure of our humanity as mortal. And by ‘moral earnestness’ I do not mean the sort of moralism which centers itself in obedience to codes or laws or sets of commandments, whether they be ten or of any other number. These have their place, doubtless, in the living of human life; but it would be wrong, I think, to assume that ‘moral earnestness’ means only a meticulous ‘keeping of the commandments’ in as devoted a manner as possible. Christian, or even human, ‘obedience’ is not exhausted by anything like that. ‘One thing you lack’, Jesus is reported to have said to the ‘rich young ruler’ after that youth had said, doubtless in complete honesty and with entire accuracy, that he had kept the commandments all his life. What was lacking was genuine ‘obedience’, not to a set of moral requirements imposed from on high, but in a certain quality of spirit. And I think that the ‘Follow me’, in that pericope, is not simply a call to be a disciple in the obvious meaning of the word. It is a call to be like Jesus -- which is nothing other than to be a lover, to become what one is intended to become, and thus to find oneself fulfilled as a man.

Thus our self-appraisal is in terms of our love. The question comes down to this: in what ways, to what degree, have I or have I not opened myself to love, to give love and to receive love, to commit myself in utter faithfulness, to live in real mutuality, to look at others with ‘eager expectancy’ (as Baron von Hügel defined ‘hope’), and thus in the truest sense to have been a man? It is obvious that when this question is asked, by each of us for himself, the answer must be in terms of failure. Yet the direction which we have taken, the aim which has been ours, is the determinative factor. Is that the end which has been ours?

But none of us really knows himself completely. It is not to us that hearts are open, even our own; desires known, even our own; no secrets hid, even our own. Nor is it to our fellowmen, who also appraise. This is true, whether we are thinking of the contemporaries whom we know and who know us, of the wider society of which we are a part, or of history in its great sweep. By each of these we are evaluated; but none of these can know the complete truth about us. The appeal to the ‘judgement of society’, like the appeal to the ‘judgement of history’, is an appeal which is inescapable; whether we like it or not, that appeal is always being made. But because the society of our fellowmen, intimate or remote, is marked by the same mortality which is ours as persons, while the whole sweep of history as we experience and know it is also a mortal history -- under the sign of death -- any appraisal made in this way is also limited and partial.

The point is not that such appraisals are made ‘in time’ and not ‘in eternity’, as some would like to phrase it; I have already tried to make it clear that such a dualism will not serve us and that God himself is ‘temporal’ although in what we may style ‘an eminent manner’. The point is that the human capacity to understand, in the most profound sense of the word, is so slight that nobody ought to venture to make what he can never in fact make, ‘a final judgement’ about anybody else, or even about himself. ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’; no man, no society of men, and no long historical sequence of men in society, knows enough or knows fully enough to make any appraisal that can claim to be entirely accurate and that can suppose itself to have seen everything that should enter into the making of such an appraisal.

But God is ‘the fellow-sufferer who understands’, as White-head says. His understanding is the supreme wisdom which knows things as they are; and it is unto him ‘that all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid’. This is simply another way of phrasing the Christian faith itself -- the faith which declares that God is love and that we are assured of this because he acts lovingly, above all has acted lovingly in the total event of Jesus Christ. People often smile when it is said that only love can really see another person as he is; we are inclined to think that love is ‘blind’, failing to see defects and always ready to discover values and virtues. This is indeed the case with human love, which is mortal and under the conditions of that mortality cannot be ‘perfect’, while at the same time it is under the ‘condemnation’ of failure. But the divine love, God himself as cosmic Lover, is in a different situation -- or so a Christian must believe. That love knows; and knowing, that love understands.

I claim, therefore, that the only ‘just’ appraisal, the only ‘judgement’ which can take all the facts into account, is God’s. And only He can make a ‘final’ judgement. His appraisal will be accurate, while at the same time it will be merciful. In stating it in this way, I am trying to indicate what seems to me the insight in the traditional view that God is just, not in the human sense of meting out, distributively or retributively, the proper rewards or punishments according to some prior set of laws or regulations, but in the divine sense (if I may say it this way) of complete understanding. Further, I am trying to indicate, by the word ‘mercy’, that God’s appraisal is more than accurate, in terms of complete understanding; it is also characterized by God’s chesed, his ‘loving-kindness’, his never-failing mercy, which always makes the best out of every situation and finds the best in every person. In saying this about ‘the best’, I do not intend the idea that this is read into the Situation or the person. On the contrary, I suggest that precisely because God does know all desires, the secrets of human hearts, and the depths of each situation, He also knows there the ‘initial aim’ which in the first instance He gave, the entire condition of things which was there present, the possibilities which were offered, the efforts that were made, the failures that were experienced, and everything else. Knowing that, God’s appraisal is ‘charitable’ appraisal in the true sense of that word -- that is, it is really loving and thus can both see the best that is there and be prepared to use that best in the augmenting of good in the creative advance which is the cosmic process.

To speak in this way leads naturally to some further considerations in which (as I think) process philosophy can be of great assistance to us. In Whitehead’s works there are two words which I wish to mention: one is ‘decision’; the other is ‘prehension’, both negative and positive. I believe that these words, and the ideas that are associated with them, can be fruitfully used at this point of our discussion.

‘Decision’ means, of course, ‘cutting off’. It should not necessarily imply conscious activity of the sort that we know in our own experience, when our ‘decision’ is or may be made with awareness of what is being done. If, as Whitehead claims and as process thought in general would assert, the element of ‘decision’ is found everywhere in the creative process, this should not be taken to mean that a quantum of energy, say, knowingly ‘decides’ for this or that among the relevant possibilities that are ‘offered’ to it. Similarly, the view which I share that ‘subjective aim’ is not only present at the level of conscious human movement towards the actualization of potentialities, in a dynamic process, but is also found at every level and at every point in that process, does not imply that such an aim is consciously, knowingly, with full awareness such as we may assume is ours, ‘subjectively’ apprehended when the various occasions or occurrences or entities’ in the order of creation move towards their own appropriate mode and degree of actualization.

For these reasons I think that Professor Hartshorne’s use, at one time, of the word ‘panpsychism’ was misleading, although I agree completely with what Professor Hartshorne was really concerned to assert. ‘Panpsychism’ (pan all, psyche soul) suggests some kind of vitalistic view, in which ‘entelechies’ (i.e. souls as opposed to bodies) are operative at all points and on all levels, after the fashion of the vitalistic biology of Hans Driesch and others. What I should claim, however, is that in a manner appropriate to the particular level and in a fashion suitable for the particular occasion, however ‘large’ or ‘small’, there is such ‘decision’ as entails a ‘cutting off’ of this or that possibility for actualization and an ‘acceptance’ of this or that other possibility. It is in this way that the creative advance goes on. Thus I think that human decision, in the self- conscious sense in which commonly we use the term, is related to and part of a general movement in which ‘decision’ is always a determinative factor. In this sense it is one of the ‘metaphysical principles’ which we require for our understanding of how things go in the world, even if in exactly that phasing it is not part of a given categoreal scheme.

At the human level, with which we are concerned, such decision is made with some awareness of what is involved in it and certainly with a degree of self-consciousness in the making of it. This is part of what is intended when we speak of human responsibility. In any given situation, each human person brings with him from his past the totality of what has gone into making him what at that moment he is; this is his ‘memory’, in the most serious meaning of that word, including not only conscious and (as we might say) sub-conscious factors which might by the process of psychoanalysis be brought to the surface, but also the organic, physical, yes the physiological factors, which are ‘viscerally’ ‘remembered’; including also the whole series of past prehensions -- of graspings and being grasped -- which have had their part and contributed their share in making him what he is now. Each human person too is in his relationships, contemporary with him although there is some slight span of time between their origination and their reception by him. And each human person is towards his future, as he moves in the direction of realizing or making actual the ‘subjective aim’ which is his on the basis of that ‘initial aim’ which has been provided for him in his beginnings.

Human decision is the way in which choice is made, among all possibilities offered at a given instant, so that actualization may occur. This happens constantly, since every occasion or occurrence is involved by necessity in the process of ‘going on’. Most of the decisions may seem relatively insignificant or unimportant, but some of them are different -- these are the decisions which respond to this or that possibility that may be strikingly determinative of the future direction to be taken. As such, they are responses to certain lures or solicitations of a peculiarly intensive sort. Every decision is a response to a lure or solicitation; that is how God effectively ‘acts’ in a creative process from which he is nowhere absent, by permitting things to ‘make themselves’ as decisions are undertaken that ‘decide’ the degree and kind of actualization that will occur. But some decisions are peculiarly significant; they are the response made to what is proposed as important, to use another Whiteheadian word. For a Christian, the event of Christ is important, m that sense, as providing a clue to ‘the nature of God and his agency in the world’; the decision made for or against that clue is important, since it is determinative of whether or not life will be lived -- that is, man will move towards becoming himself -- in terms of the love which is there both manifested and released.

The decision may be negative or positive, because, in the process, prehensions, or graspings both of and by each occasion, may be either in terms of a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. A negative prehension means that the occasion rejects this or that which is offered to it, a rejection which may be made for a variety of reasons, the details of which we need not here investigate. A positive prehension means an accepting of what is offered, a receiving of it into the occasion which is presented with it as a possibility to be grasped, and this also may be made for a variety of reasons about which we shall not speak. But the fact of such rejections or choices is highly significant; and above all, to put it in a form of words, it is highly important that the important which is offered to each occasion as a possibility shall be decided for or against in an important way. Which is to say, in a decision that signifies commitment or determination against commitment.

What has been said in the last few pages may seem to some to be illicit metaphysical talk. But I would remind any who think this that it all depends on what one means by ‘metaphysics’. I do not believe that what I have been saying is anything like the erection of some grandiose scheme in which super-terrestrial realities are being set up and the whole apparatus of a quasi-Hegelian metaphysic is proposed. On the contrary, I should claim, what I have been saying is metaphysical in the second sense of the word which I proposed in an earlier chapter; it is the making of wide generalizations on the basis of experience, with a reference back to verify or ‘check’ the generalizations, a reference which includes not only the specific experience from which it started but also other experiences, both human and more general, by which its validity may be tested -- and the result is not some grand scheme which claims to encompass everything in its sweep, but a vision of reality which to the one who sees in this way appears a satisfactory, but by no means complete, picture of how things actually and concretely go in the world.

But to return to decision as an enduring factor in the world process. In men, that decision manifests itself in self-conscious choice. With choice goes the responsibility for what is chosen -- granted that there are qualifying and conditioning factors, that human freedom is limited in many respects, and that what we deeply desire is much more significant than what we may perhaps have been able effectually to accomplish in consequence of our decision. In the perspective of Christian faith, what is suggested here is that in the appraisal which is part of human mortal existence, we ourselves can be at best but partial judges. History, as well as the society of our contemporaries, is in the same case -- not enough is known of human ‘depths’, as the psychoanalysts put it, for any appraisal to be entirely accurate. But God, who is love, who is ‘the fellow-sufferer who understands’, and whose wisdom penetrates all that is actual and is aware of the relevant possibilities (but as possibilities, not in whatever may be made actual among them, for that is ‘open’ until it happens and God’s omniscience cannot mean that He knows, hence must determine, what will occur before it occurs), can make an appraisal that is both accurate and merciful -- that is ‘just’ and loving.

The appraisal that God makes is worked out in what He does -- or, in words that describe the creative advance as we know it, the appraisal is worked out in terms of what is taken into, and what is rejected from, the ‘consequent nature’ of God, God as He is affected by what occurs in the world; and then, in what use is made of what has been thus taken or received in the furthering of the project or purpose of God, the implementation of good ‘in widest commonalty shared’.

What did this particular life contribute to God’s experience, we might then ask, as God receives into Himself what that life has been on the way to becoming and what it has achieved as it has proceeded on that way? In a similar manner, we might ask the question, What has the total life of the human race contributed to this ongoing process of good? At every moment, such an appraisal is being made, in the most serious sense -- not as a juridical pronouncement, but as acceptance or non-acceptance. When death comes, appraisal must also be made in the same way, for the total pattern of a given human life, made up as it is of a particular ‘routing’ of occasions bound together in the fashion we indicated earlier, has also contributed, or failed to contribute, in its very totality, to the creative advance in good. Indeed the whole of the created order, as we style it, is also being appraised in the same way. Each man, each community, humanity as a whole, the range of historical development, the realm of nature . . . all are knit together in an organic totality; all have played, or failed to play, their part in the good which is being achieved by God. God, however, is not aloof from His creation; He is ‘in the world or nowhere at all’ and by virtue of this He is participant in, identified (but not identical) with, and enriched -- or, maybe, impoverished -- in His own life by what has gone on, does now go on, and will go on, yet remaining always unsurpassed by anything not Himself. He is the supremely worshipful because that is true of Him and of no other. He is also supremely worshipful because He is the love which is both the depth and the height in all occasions and the enticement or lure which leads those occasions, by their own free decision, to their satisfaction or fulfillment in the context of the wide social pattern which is the world.

God can and does ‘make even the wrath of man to serve him’. That means that in every way and in every place, God makes the best of everything, including human lovelessness and the failure which it entails. But the evil is still evil, the wrong is still wrong, the lovelessness is still lovelessness; this is no case of ‘partial evil, universal good’, in the cheery phrase of Alexander Pope’s. While evil is not radical, if by that is intended ‘at the root of things’ -- for it cannot be, if God is love and is Himself ‘at the root of things’ through His creativity at work in them -- it is most certainly not to be dismissed or minimized or talked away. Yet God in the creative advance can be trusted, says Christian faith, to use whatever is usable for His purpose of love; and some of us may be surprised to see how this is possible to do when the use is made of what may seem to us extremely unpromising material. But when we judge in that way, we are ourselves appraised for the unloving creatures we are.

Finally, the divine appraisal very likely has little to do with what we would think to be the ‘religious’ areas of experience. Those are necessary for us; so I should wish to insist, in opposition to the contemporary writers who regard all religion, in any sense, as necessarily bad. But God’s appraisal, because He is what He is, disclosed in what He actively does, and precisely because the world is what it is, in terms of what happens in it, is an appraisal of real worth, wherever it may be found and however it may be expressed. By this I mean that since God lures, entices, invites, and solicits His creation towards the actualization of its ‘initial aim’ which becomes its ‘subjective aim’, in each of its occurrences or occasions, so also He appraises -- takes into Himself and receives and uses, or must reject because it is un-usable -- whatever is done, including the doing which is man’s ‘becoming’, in a very great diversity of ways. Most of them, doubtless, are ‘secular’, not specifically ‘religious’.

The lure of God is known in every channel and area of existence, not just in those that have a ‘religious’ tinge. And in those ‘secular’ channels or areas, God is working ‘secularly’, as Whitehead put it long before ‘secular theologians’ appeared on the scene. When He works in such a way, His ‘incognito’ is to be respected, not denied. But none the less it is He who is ‘acting’ there -- and God always acts in love, to secure a freely given response from those who are made to be lovers too and the appraisal of whom is in terms of the degree of their contribution to love’s purpose in the creative advance of the cosmos.

St. John of the Cross, using the word ‘judgement’ where I prefer the word ‘appraisal’, put in one sentence what I have been trying to say: ‘In the evening of our days, we shall be judged by our loving.’

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