Chapter 18: Schubert Ogden’s Christology and the Possibilities of Process Philosophy by David Griffin

Process Philosophy and Christian Thought
by Delwin Brown, Ralph James, Gene Reeves (eds.)

Chapter 18: Schubert Ogden’s Christology and the Possibilities of Process Philosophy by David Griffin

From The Christian Scholar, L, 3 (Fall 1967). Used by permission of the National Council of the Churches of Christ and David Griffin. David Griffin was educated at Claremont Graduate School. He is Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Dayton.

Schubert Ogden’s theology as a whole is best characterized as an attempt to correct the "one-sidedly existentialist character" of Bultmann’s theology1 by combining existentialist analysis with process philosophy in such a way that they mutually complement each other.2 This characterization applies likewise to Ogden’s treatment of Christology in particular. He believes there is some point to the criticisms that Bultmann dissolves Christology into soteriology,3 for he has been unable "to express in an adequate way the ‘objective’ reality of the revelatory event Jesus the Christ"4 even though he does "intend a divine act in the fully real and ‘objective’ sense."5 Ogden means to overcome this christological inadequacy by employing insights of process philosophy.

Little attention has been given to Ogden’s employment of process philosophy to this end. Almost all criticism has been devoted to his interpretation of Bultmann,6 and to the soteriological side of his Christology i.e. to the question of whether Jesus is necessary to the Christian mode of existence.7 Hence it seems appropriate to focus attention directly on Ogden’s Christology proper, that is, on its "objective" side, as opposed to its subjective, existential, or soteriological side. Therefore, although implications for the soteriological issue will be briefly mentioned, the task of this essay is to determine whether Ogden’s employment of process philosophy has enabled him adequately to explicate the objective intention of Christian faith in regard to Jesus, i.e., to explain how one can speak of Jesus as God’s decisive act.

The first part of the essay will give a brief analysis of Ogden’s Christology, centering on the question of how we are to understand the affirmation that Jesus is God’s decisive act. The second section will suggest in what way Ogden’s explanation of this affirmation is not adequate. The third section will indicate that process philosophy contains possibilities for more adequately accounting for this affirmation. The fourth section will suggest why Ogden has not availed himself of these possibilities, and will also mention other implications which the employment of these possibilities might entail.


Ogden holds that Jesus is God’s decisive act because he is the decisive revelation or re-presentation of a certain possibility for human existence on the one hand, and of God’s being and action on the other.8 Since this essay is concerned with the question of how Jesus is God’s act, the concentration will be upon affirmations based on that side of the revelation which is concerned directly with God and his action.9 God’s being is love,10 and his action can be summarized as creation and redemption.11 God’s activity as Creator does not refer to a particular time in the past, nor is his redemptive activity something which will take place only in the future. Rather, God’s constant, universal activity is creation and redemption.12

The constant, universal nature of God’s action as Creator and Redeemer is emphasized by Ogden’s view of the nature of theological language. Because of God’s transcendence it would be mythological to refer to God’s action in terms appropriate only to objects available, in principle at least, to ordinary sense perception.13 This especially means that one cannot speak of God in terms of the categories of time and space;14 i.e., whatever is predicated of God cannot apply only to some particular time and space, but must apply equally to all times and spaces.15 Thus the implication of Ogden’s criterion for non-mythological language about God corresponds to his statement of several years ago, that "there is not the slightest evidence that God has acted in Christ in any way different from the way in which he primordially acts in every other event."16 If God acts the same way in relation to the event of Jesus as he acts in relation to every other event, and if theology can only make statements about God which apply to his relation to every event, it would seem that Ogden had made it doubly impossible to assert that Jesus is the decisive act of God. For would this assertion not presuppose that God had acted somehow differently here? Would one not have to say something about God’s action which did not hold true anywhere else? The key to Ogden’s attempted solution to this apparent dilemma lies in the idea that Jesus is the decisive re-presentation of God’s being and action. By means of this idea he attempts to explain how we can say that Jesus is God’s decisive act without saying that God acted at all differently in this situation.

Ogden stated in Christ Without Myth (1961) that he intended to express the "objective" reality of the event Jesus Christ more adequately than Bultmann had succeeded in doing, but that this would have to come in a later work.17 His fullest treatment of the problem thus far appeared in 1963 in his essay, "What Sense Does it Make to Say, ‘God Acts in History’"?18 The second part of this essay is explicitly directed toward answering "the question of the sense, if any, in which one can still say with the historic Christian community that the event of Jesus Christ is the decisive act of God."19 The chief resource Ogden employs is Hartshorne’s idea that "God is to be conceived in strict analogy with the human self or person."20 God’s relation to the world is to be understood as analogous to the relation of the human self to its body. On the basis of this insight Ogden means to explain how all historical events are acts of God, how some of these can be called "special" acts of God, and how one of these can in turn be called God’s decisive act.

First one must understand two senses in which "human act" can be intended. On the one hand, it refers to the act of word or deed whereby the self expresses itself through the instrumentality of the body. On the other hand, it can refer to the act by which the self constitutes itself as a self; the public acts of word and deed are just ways of expressing this inner act which corresponds to the more primary meaning of "human act."21 Applying this distinction to God we can see that the primary meaning of an "act of God" would refer to "the act whereby, in each new present, he constitutes himself as God."22 In this act God responds to the previous stage of the world and, in constituting himself, thereby lays the ground for the next stage of the creative process. Just as the primary meaning of human action does not refer to a public, historical act, the primary meaning of God’s action does not refer to any act in history.23 However, since the relation of the world to God is analogous to that of the body to the self, then in the secondary sense of God’s action, every event is to an extent an act of God. Of course, every creature has its freedom, so it is not solely a result of God’s action, but its freedom has limits ultimately grounded in God’s creative action, and so it is partly an expression of God’s act in the primary sense.24

Having established how, although God’s action in its primary sense transcends history, we can still say that all historical events are acts of God, Ogden must now show how some events can be "special" acts of God. Although every action of our body is ours in one sense, there are certain actions which we say are "peculiarly ours in a way that the others are not."25 These are the acts of word and deed which give peculiarly apt expression to our inner beings and understandings. We call these our "characteristic" actions, since through them "the persons we are, are uniquely re-presented or revealed to others."26 Analogously, insofar as an historical event reveals or re-presents God’s characteristic action as Creator and Redeemer, this event is his act in a special sense.27 Any event has the possibility of becoming such an act, since every event expresses God’s being and action.28 However, those uniquely human events in which man expresses his understanding of existence are especially adapted to becoming special acts of God.29 If one expresses his understanding in such a way that God’s being and action are appropriately re-presented, then this event is a special act of God.

Finally, if the foregoing is granted, there is no problem as to a "decisive" act of God. This would be an event which not only represented God’s being and action appropriately, but also normatively.30 In this way Ogden believes one can assert that Jesus is the decisive act of God without implying that God acted in any way differently in relation to him. He acted, as always, as Creator and Redeemer, as transcendent love. Since, as Creator, he was the ultimate ground of every word and deed of Jesus, Jesus was to some extent an expression of God’s decisions, thus an act of God. Of course, this is true of every word and deed of every person. But Jesus is special in that his words and deeds (e.g. his preaching and acts of healing, his fellowship with sinners and his death31) represent God’s being and action in a decisive or normative fashion. Thus he is the normative or decisive act of God.


Now I propose to show in what way Ogden’s explanation of how Jesus can be called God’s decisive act is not adequate. But first some terms need to be discussed. The notion of one’s "inner being" will be central to the following argument. Ogden treats this notion in terms of two basic possibilities, which are his equivalents for authentic and inauthentic existence. A self "can open itself to its world and make its decisions by sensitively responding to all the influences that bear upon it, or it may close itself against its world and make its decisions on the basis of a much more restricted sensitivity than is actually possible for it."32 These two possibilities describe respectively a self who loves and one who hates. I assume that the word "character" (also a problematic term) might also point to what is intended by the expression "inner being," and that such words as unselfish and selfish, helpful and unhelpful, friendly and hostile, open and bigoted, would be more particularized variations of the more basic notions of loving and hating.

The term "special act" is synonymous with the notion of an act of a person which is "peculiarly his." The difference between Ogden’s and my use of this term is central to the following discussion and hopefully will become clear as the essay develops. However, I will here summarize the difference. For Ogden, a person’s special act is one which "reveals" or "represents" his inner being to another person. The emphasis tends to be placed on the reception of the act by the other person. In my usage the emphasis is on the causal relation between the inner being of the person and the nature of the outer act. Hence, rather than "reveal" or "represent," I prefer the term "express." This word, especially when its root is considered, places the emphasis on the fact that something is "pressed out" from the inner being of the person. Thus, while Ogden’s usage equates a special act and a revelatory one, mine implies a distinction. A special act would be only potentially revelatory; a revelatory act would be a special act which is in fact received in such a way that it does reveal the inner being of the person to the one receiving it. A revelatory act would have both an objective and a subjective aspect; the objective aspect of it would be the special act.33

What I feel to be the inadequacy of Ogden’s treatment is already suggested by the foregoing terminological remarks. According to his interpretation, one of my special acts would be a word or deed which represents to someone else the person I really am. This would mean that the action is, as all my actions are, an expression of my inner being, but not necessarily any more so than any other of my actions. However, it is interpreted by someone in such a way that this act does in fact represent my inner being, i.e., the interpretation of my inner being on the basis of this action corresponds to what I in fact am like. With this understanding of what makes an act peculiarly mine, the act becomes a special act of mine if someone interprets my inner being accurately on the basis of this act.

In view of the emphasis I am placing on this point, one passage which might seem to belie this interpretation of Ogden’s position should be examined. He says that certain acts are revelatory both because they do in fact express one’s being and because they are received as doing so.34 However, the first part of this needs refer only to the fact that every outer act of a person is to some extent an expression of his inner being. For Ogden, this seems to be enough to establish the "objective" side of a "revelatory" act. The point I am making is that for him the "specialness" of a special act is entirely a function of someone other than the person whose special act it is.

Everyone has, of course, the right to define his terms as he wishes. However, I believe that Ogden’s explanation of a special act does not do justice to the "objective intention" implied in saying that a certain action is peculiarly someone’s, in a sense that other of his actions are not. For, objectively speaking, according to his explanation a special act does not express the person’s inner being any more than his other actions do; it does reveal his inner being more than other actions do, but this is due to its being received in a certain way by others. I believe a more adequate understanding of a special act is needed, and can be given. When we say that a particular outer action is peculiarly ours we mean that the act is such that it in fact is an expression of our inner being, and thus we mean to imply something about the intentionality of the act. Some examples should make this clear.

Say that Jones is an unselfish person. When people infer from his selfless actions that are motivated by a real concern to help that he is unselfish, they are right. And they are right not only about his inner being, but they are also right in taking these particular actions as his "characteristic" actions, those which especially express the person he is. However, there are all sorts of things which he may do which might be interpreted by others as manifestations of his unselfishness which in fact are not. His motivation for some of his contributions to charities might be related to tax considerations rather than to his unselfishness; his allowing another motorist to have the last parking place might be due solely to the fact that his own engine had died. If someone had observed these acts and then said, "Jones is unselfish," he would still be right. But he would not be right insofar as he took these particular items to be manifestations of Jones’ unselfishness, and thus "peculiarly his." For an action to be ours in this special sense requires more than (a) that it be thought to be this by someone and (b) that the trait attributed to us on the basis of this interpretation actually describes us. Rather, the most essential point is that it really expresses our inner being more than most of our actions do. What this entails (the element of intentionality has already been mentioned) will be discussed in more detail in the next section. For the present purposes, the important factor is that the specialness of a special act is partially a function of the person whose special act it is.

Now we must see how this discussion relates to the question of special acts of God. For an event to be a special act of God, the special-ness of it would have to be partially a function of God35 However, according to Ogden’s explanation of what constitutes a special act, this is not the case. Of course, a special act of God is to some extent an expression of God, but so is every event; the thing that differentiates a special act of God from an ordinary one is not at all due to anything done by God.

That this is Ogden’s understanding can be readily seen. He says that any event can become a special act of God "insofar as it is received by someone as a symbol of God’s creative and redemptive action."36 And, even in the case of the types of events which are uniquely adapted to becoming special acts of God, i.e. human words and deeds, the specialness is still due only to human doing. Man is uniquely the creature of meaning, and thus is "able to grasp the logos of reality as such and to represent it through symbolic speech and action."37 Thus, whether the specialness of an event is due only to an interpreter of the event, or whether it is due to both a person who is speaking and acting and to someone receiving this as a special act, it is man who turns an ordinary act of God into a special one. There is no talk of God’s doing anything different in relation to his special acts.

This corresponds, of course, to Ogden’s requirement for nonmythological talk about God, as explained in the previous section. If it were implied that God did something different at one point in space and time, one would be involved in mythological talk. Thus, Ogden’s position is here completely self-consistent — only its adequacy is at issue. If my understanding as to what would constitute an act which is peculiarly someone’s is accepted, then Ogden’s explanation of a special act of God is not adequate. For one condition of an adequate explanation would be that it somehow attribute the specialness of a special act of God partially to God. It follows by the same reasoning that his explanation of Jesus as the "decisive" act of God is not adequate. An adequate account would have to make the "deciveness" of Jesus partially a function of God’s initiative. But in Ogden’s account the deciveness is solely a function of human doing, i.e. of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus was able to "grasp the logos of reality as such and to re-present it through symbolic speech and action," and this in a normative fashion. He became the decisive act of God in that he did this and has been received as having decisive revelatory power."38


My verdict in the previous section was that Ogden’s use of process philosophy in order to give an adequate account of Jesus as the decisive act of God has not been successful. However, I believe that there is a notion in process philosophy by which one could, using the same self-body analogy, more adequately explain what would constitute a "special" act of God, and thereby better explain how Jesus could be God’s decisive act. By using this notion Ogden could attribute the decisiveness of Jesus partly to God, and still say that in one sense God acted no differently here than he acts elsewhere.

This is Whitehead’s concept of the "ideal aim." According to this notion, every event has its origin in God’s specific purpose for it. Every creature or event is initially constituted by God’s ideal aim for it.39 The ideal aim is the goal or possibility which, if actualized by the creature, would be best, given all the relevant circumstances.40 This notion is implicit in Ogden’s theology, in that it lies behind his discussion of God as "Creator." For instance, the notion of the ideal aim entails that God "limits" the possibilities which are relevant to a particular occasion. Ogden mentions that the freedom of each creature "has definite limits ultimately grounded in God’s own free decisions."41 However, there are a couple of distinctions which can be made which Ogden does not employ, and which can be applied to the christological problem.42

The first distinction concerns the degree to which a creature actualizes the ideal aim given him by God. In terms of the self-body analogy, this would correspond to how well one’s body carries out what one in-tends it to do. We perhaps do not normally think of this factor since, in relation to the parts of our body over which we have conscious control, the degree of our control is quite high and rather constant. However, there would be a rather significant difference in this regard between a champion gymnast and a spastic person. So, in a different sense than we have employed the idea thus far, we would say that the athlete’s bodily actions were more fully his acts than is true for the spastic person, for they more adequately express his intentions. And there would be, in between these extremes, all degrees of control and agility. Also, even in regard to one and the same person there will be differences in this respect, especially when alcohol, drugs, fatigue, and old age are factors. Thus, we can see that, in one sense, the question of whether some actions of a person are more fully "his" than others is a matter of degree.

This distinction can be applied to the relation of God and the world in a way which indicates how some events can be "acts of God" to a higher degree than others are. In Whitehead’s view, the initial or ideal aim given by God includes alternatives;43 these are "graded" according to their relevance;44 the creature can modify his initial subjective aim, i.e. the ideal aim given by God.45 Thus, a creature could use his freedom in order to actualize the ideal aim given him, or he could modify this aim to such an extent as to choose the worst alternative open to him, or his actualization could fall anywhere in between. Ogden mentions that every creature is to some extent God’s act," and that each creature has a certain freedom;46 but he does not make use of this notion to point out that different creatures will be acts of God to different degrees depending upon how they actualize their freedom. That is, in terms of this first distinction a certain event would be an act of God only to the degree that the creature actualized God’s will for it.

A second distinction that can be made in regard to God’s creative activity, seen in terms of his supplying of the ideal aim for each creature, regards the "whatness" of the aim. Here again the human analogy can be used. Some of our outward acts are of a type which do not do much toward expressing our inner being no matter how well our body responds to our wishes for it. For example, say that you are a helpful person; your act of tying your shoelaces will generally not do much toward expressing this fact, no matter how nimbly your fingers respond to your intentions for them. Only certain types of actions have the potentiality for expressing helpfulness, such as stopping to help a stalled motorist. In a case like this, the situation is such that your helpfulness can be expressed (assuming that your intention is really to be helpful and not, say, to impress a companion). Thus, for your helpfulness to be expressed, the event must be of an appropriate nature, and your intention must be appropriate. (Also — to bring in the previous distinction — your body must also respond to your intentions to an adequate degree; e.g., if you intended to stop to help the motorist but ran over him instead, this would not do much toward expressing your helpfulness. This is why the specialness of a special act is partly a function of one’s inner being, and partly a function of the body.)

This analogy can be applied rather strictly to God. Whitehead clearly intends that God’s ideal aim for any particular occasion is relevant to the situation — it is the best possible aim given the conditions. Since God’s aim for a certain person at a certain time and place will be determined not only by God’s general purpose for the world, but also by the genetic and environmental past of the person, and also by the particular situation he faces, the "whatness" of God’s aims at different times and places will vary considerably. Thus, one would expect that many human events would not do much toward expressing God’s being, no matter to what degree his will is actualized by the person at that moment. God’s aim for some human events, on the other hand, will be such that, if his will is actualized to a high degree by the person, the event will effectively express God’s being. As in the human example, not only must the nature of the event be appropriate in order to have a special act of God, God’s intention must also have a sufficiently large influence in determining the nature of the action. As mentioned before, the specialness will be only partially a function of God’s doing; the creature must actualize God’s aim for it to a sufficient degree, so the specialness will also be partly a function of the creature’s free response.47

Whereas the previous distinction gave us a means for seeing how different events could differ in degree in regard to being an "act of God," this latter distinction provides a basis for making qualitative differentiations. Some events will be "peculiarly" acts of God not only because his will is realized to a high degree in the event, but also because his ideal aim for the event was such as to be especially expressive of his being. Thus, different events can be different "in kind" as well as in degree.

In terms of the twofold distinction discussed in this section we can now formally state what a "decisive" act of God would be. This would be an event (a) for which God’s aim was such that, if the aim were actualized, the event would optimally express God’s being, and (b) which did in fact actualize God’s aim or will for it to an optimal degree. With this understanding God has, formally speaking, acted in the same way he always acts, i.e., by supplying the ideal aim for the event. Yet the decisiveness of the act is partially a function of God’s activity, which is in one sense different here than in other places, for the particular ideal aim given here is such as to give particularly apt expression to his being. Thus, by making a formal-material distinction, one can combine a certain particularity and avoid the kind of conception of "decisive act" which Ogden would have to judge mythological.


If employing the suggested possibilities would actually help Ogden with his stated intention of being more adequate to the "objective" side of faith assertions about Jesus, and if these possibilities are inherent in the process philosophy which Ogden employs, the question raises itself as to why Ogden has not developed his position along the suggested lines. The reason is probably that the major influences on his thought are such as to militate against this. Heidegger’s presentation of the possibilities of human existence suggests that they are applicable to man as such, and not, say, only to modern European man. There is no suggestion that persons formed by different histories have different possibilities open to them. Bultmann has said that philosophical reflection alone can discover and describe the nature of authentic, i.e., Christian existence: "Philosophy all by itself already sees what the New Testament says."48 Hartshorne’s discussion of philosophy also has quite an ahistorical quality about it; one gains the impression that he believes that there is no necessary connection between his doctrine of God and the Christian tradition. Ogden himself has approved Hartshorne’s distinction "between a philosophical theology developed from ‘the standpoint of the minimal common faith or experience of men in general’ and a theology grounded in ‘revelation’ and thus developed from ‘the standpoint of the faith or religious experience of a person or group.’"49 Finally, there is the idea, derived mainly from the first two chapters of Romans, that all men are responsible for their sin, since the truth of God has been given them. Ogden seems to take this to mean that all are equally responsible for not actualizing authentic existence, since the primordial revelation of God already contained the content of the revelation in Jesus the Christ.50 This is, of course, the basis for Ogden’s well-known rejection of the distinction between Christian existence as a "possibility in principle" for all men but a "possibility in fact" only for some.51

All of these factors militate against accepting an idea which suggests that God, in his creative activity, presents different possibilities to different men, depending upon various circumstantial factors, paramount of which would be the historical situation. Such a notion would mean, for example, that an Australian aborigine would not be responsible for not having actualized the type of existence which has appeared in history through the Judeo-Christian tradition. Thus, if Ogden were to employ the suggested means for making his Christology more adequate, this would imply a change in his soteriology. Ogden has confronted the issue of the two types of possibility as it is presented by Bultmann. As William Walker has pointed out, Bultmann’s remarks suggest that the event of Jesus Christ is "somehow objectively different in principle as well as in fact from all other events and thus constitutes an invasion into the normal course of history."52 The way Bultmann has employed the distinction between an "ontological" and an "antic" possibility does suggest a type of supernaturalism which Ogden justifiably wishes to avoid.53 However, a misuse of a distinction does not necessarily invalidate it. One can very well agree that Christian existence has always been an ontological possibility for man, in the sense that it does not entail "changing human nature into a supernature,"54 and yet say that it is an antic possibility only for those in a certain historical situation. One could thus affirm the "necessity" of Jesus for Christian existence as a purely historical fact. This kind of "particularism" should give no offense.

A few of Ogden’s remarks suggest that he recognizes the validity of the distinction between the two types of possibilities. For example, in one place he himself gives an example of such a distinction, pointing out that the "possibility of man’s encircling the globe by air has always been a ‘possibility in principle,’ although only quite recently has it also become a ‘possibility in fact.’"55 Also, Ogden affirms that the possibility of authentic existence "has especially been given to the Jew."56 Would this not mean that the Jew was "especially" responsible, that possibilities and therefore responsibilities of different men are different? Furthermore, Ogden recognizes that there is a definite historical connection between the Christian tradition on the one hand, and existentialism and process philosophy on the other.57 Would one not have to say that both of these forms of philosophy became possibilities in fact only as a result of the emergence of Christian faith in history, and of the particular direction the theological tradition developed?58 I am suggesting that if the implications of this side of his thought were developed along with the aspect of process philosophy that he has not yet employed, Ogden would have a way of stating more adequately that Jesus was "objectively" the decisive act of God, without making this event different in principle from other acts of God. And this christological position would be correlative with a soteriological position which would insist on the necessity of Jesus for Christian existence, and yet not in any dogmatic or supernaturalistic sense.

Some other implications of the christological approach suggested here can only be touched upon. In regard to the nature of theological language, it would mean avoiding a position which limited meaningful or nonmythological theological statements to assertions about God’s activity which apply universally. That is, besides ontological statements about how God always is and acts, there will be room for antic or historical assertions about what God has in fact done. This would mean that not every theological assertion could be completely interpreted as a statement about man and his possibilities, for the antic statement that God’s love was especially revealed in a certain historical figure adds nothing, in terms of possibilities for self-understanding or ethical intention, to a statement about God’s love.59

Also, with the possibilities of process philosophy discussed in this essay one could develop a more "active" meaning to God’s love. In Ogden’s discussions God’s love is described in purely passive terms (partly justifiable as a reaction to a theological tradition which disallowed any element of passivity in God’s love). God is love in that he can perfectly sympathize with, participate in, the being of his creatures.60 The emphasis is totally on God’s receptivity, on his action as Redeemer. However, if one emphasized God’s providing of individualized ideal aims for each occasion, God’s love could be conceived in a creative sense, as his "active goodwill" toward each of his creatures. God would be seen as not only fully understanding and appreciative of what his creatures in fact are, but also as willing their good and influencing them toward it. . . .



1. Schubert M. Ogden, The Reality of God and Other Essays (New York: Harper & Row 1966), 170; cf. also Christ Without Myth: A Study Based on the Theology of Rudolf Bultmann )New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961], 151, and "Bultmann’s Demythologizing and Hartshorne’s Dipolar Theism," in William L. Reese and Eugene Freeman, eds., Process and Divinity: The Hartshorne Festschrift (LaSalle, Illinois: Open Court, 1964), 501.

2. The Reality of God, 172; Process and Divinity, 498f., 508f., 511f.: Christ Without Myth, 151.

3. Christ Without Myth, 159.

4. Ibid., 158.

5. Ibid., 91.

6. Cf. Thomas C. Oden. "The Alleged Structural Inconsistency in Bultmann," Journal of Religion, XLIV )1964), 193-200; John Young Fenton, "The Post-Liberal Theology of Christ Without Myth," Journal of Religion, XLIII (1963), 93-104.

7. Cf. Tames M. Robinson, Theology Today, XIX (1962), 439-444; William O. Walker, Jr., "Demythologizing and Christology," Religion in Life, XXXV (1965-1966), 67-80; Robert W. Funk, Language, Hermeneutic, and Word of God: The Problem of Language in the New Testament and Contemporary Theology (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 87-108; Daniel L. Deegan, Scottish Journal of Theology, (March 1964), 83-89; Harold H. Ditmanson, Dialogue, I (1962), 75-78; Rudolf Bultmann, Journal of Religion, XLII (1962), 225-227. The articles by Oden and Fenton also deal with this issue. The only treatment of Ogden’s Christology in reference to his use of process philosophy which I have seen is that by Eugene H. Peters, The Creative Advance: An introduction to Process Philosophy as a Context for Christina Faith (St. Louis: Bethany, 1966), 112-117. The present critique takes a completely different approach from that of Peters.

8. The point of saying re-present is Ogden’s doctrine that what is manifested of God in Jesus is no different than what is presented to man in God’s "original revelation." The content is the same as what is expressed everywhere in the events of nature and history. Cf. Christ Without Myth, 156.

9. The Reality of God, 178. Ogden also states that Christian faith could be explicated as a doctrine of God just as well as it could as a certain possibility of self-understanding, ibid., 170; Christ Without Myth, 148

10. The Reality of God, 177.

11. Ibid., 178f., and passim.

12. Ibid., 168.

13. Ibid., 76, 104.

14. Ibid., 76, 166f., 17Sf.

15. Ibid., 173. This is one basis for saying that Bultmann’s treatment of the decisiveness of Jesus Christ is mythological. Ogden says that to imply that God redeems men only in the history of Jesus Christ is mythological because it "subjects God’s action as the redeemer to the objectifying categories of time and space."

16. "Bultmann’s Project of Demythologization and the Problem of Theology and Philosophy," Journal of Religion, XXXVII (1957), 169.

17. Christ Without Myth, 159.

18. Journal of Religion, XLIII (1963), 1-19; reprinted in The Reality of God, 164-187.

19. The Reality of God, 174.

20. Ibid., 175.

21. Ibid., 176f.

22. Ibid., 177.

23. Ibid., 179.

24. Ibid., 180.

25. Ibid., 181.

26. Loc. cit.

27. Ibid., 182.

28. Ibid., 183.

29. Ibid., 182, 184.

30. Ibid., 184. When I say there is "no problem," I am not referring to the question as to how one would establish which special act was the normative one. I refer only to the formal description of what an event would have to be in order to be, in fact, God’s decisive act.

31. Ibid., 186.

32. Ibid., 177.

33. Cf. Ogden’s discussion of this subject, ibid., 185.

34. Ibid., 185.

35. "Partially" is added because the specialness is also partially a function of the creature, since the creature has a certain freedom in regard to actualizing God’s intention for it. The same is true in regard to the human analogue, since, when by "person" we mean the "self" as opposed to its body, the specialness of an act will be due partly to the person and partly to how well the body carries out the person’s intention for it. This should become clearer in the third part of the essay.

36. Ibid., 183.

37. Ibid., 37.

38. Ibid., 184f.

39. Process and Reality, An Essay in Cosmology 374. This side of Whitehead’s thought has been developed by John B. Cobb, Jr., A Christian Natural Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965), cf. esp. 96, 128f., 151-157, 182ff., 203-214.

40. Ibid., 373.

41. The Reality of God, 180. The notion of the ideal aim is nat often directly discussed by Hartshorne, upon whom Ogden is more immediately dependent than upon Whitehead. However it is discussed quite explicitly in at least one place. Hartshorne mentions that "God can set narrow limits to our freedom." He speaks of God’s presenting himself so as "to weight the possibilities of response in the desired respect." God presents at each new moment a "partly new ideal or order of preference." He inspires us with "novel ideals for novel occasions." Charles Hartshorne, The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948), 142.

42. These distinctions have already been made, and in connection with Christology, by John B. Cobb, Jr., in "The Finality of Christ in a Whiteheadian Perspective," The Finality of Christ, Dow Kirkpatrick, ed. (New York-Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1966), 144.

43. Process and Reality, An Essay in Cosmology 342.

44. Ibid., 248.

45. Ibid., 374f.

46. The Reality of God, 180.

47. These proposals of a constructive nature must here remain highly formal, and can be, at best, only vaguely suggestive. A fuller explication must await a later work. For example, in talking about an "act of God" I have discussed God’s intentionality, and the degree to which his intention is actualized by his creature. But to discuss this adequately, the problem of the intentionality of the person involved would have to he explored. Thus, the whole question of Jesus’ intentionality, his "self-understanding," would come into the issue. Ogden, not wanting to make any assertions about Jesus which are not historically demonstrable, believes one can remain neutral on this issue; cf. Christ Without Myth, 161: "How New is the ‘New Quest of the Historical Jesus’"? (with Van A. Harvey), The Historical Jesus and the Kerygmatic Christ, Carl E. Braaten and Roy A. Harrisville, eds. (New York: Abingdon. 1964), 230f., 232, n. 103. However, if one said, for example, that the question of Jesus’ own intentions were a matter of total indifference, so that he possibly was deliberately deceptive in everything he did and said, could one still say in any meaningful sense that he was the decisive act of God? In other words, can one really completely isolate the question of "what God did through the man Jesus in his vocation or office" (ibid., 232, n. 103, italics mine) from the issue of the "existentiell selfhood" of Jesus?

48. Kerygma und Mythos. I (Hamburg: Herbert Reich Evangelische Verlag, 1951), 33, translated by Ogden, Christ Without Myth, 69.

49. Journal of Religion. XLIV (1964], 15f., n. 18, quoting from Charles Hartshorne, Man’s Vision of God and the Logic of Theism (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1964), 73.

50. Christ Without Myth, 142, 154.

51. Cf., e.g., ibid., 117ff.

52. Walker, 73.

53. Cf. Journal of Religion, XLII (1962), 225-227.

54. John Fenton has emphasized this meaning of an ontological possibility, op. cit., 97.

55. Ogden, 118. But Ogden then rejects an application of this to the problem of the necessity of Jesus to authentic existence on the grounds that this would imply a "quasi-Gnostic conception in which man is understood as the helpless and irresponsible victim of fate" and would deny man’s freedom and responsibility, ibid., 119. But to equate dependence upon historical circumstance with being "at the mercy of powers whose agency is independent of [man’s] own responsible decisions and thus to call such talk mythological seems to stretch the meaning of myth beyond any justifiable limits.

56. Ibid., 154; cf., also 156, and The Reality of God, 203.

57. Christ Without Myth, 71.

58. The Reality of God. 69, 96. Ogden seems reluctant to put it this strongly for fear that this admission would weaken the claim for validity which one can make for these philosophies. For instance, while admitting with Bultmann that existential philosophy is historically connected to the New Testament, he still wants to say that "the claim of philosophy that the true nature of man can be discovered and known apart from the New Testament is not to be disputed."

59. See Walker, esp. 78f., for a criticism of Ogden which is based on the view of language that I am here opposing. It would be strange if, after all the recent discussion as to how much Christianity is a "historical faith," Christian theologians would adopt an understanding of theological language which ruled out all historical statements.

60. The reality of God, 178.