Exploring The Positions Of Theologians Tillich And Bonhoeffer Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Mythology - Religion Type: Essay Paper: #66907350 Related Topics: Nazi Germany, God, Connections, Sermon
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What is the connection between the theology of Paul Tillich and process theology?

First of all what is process theology? Authors Cobb (professor of theology) and Griffin (professor emeritus of theology and philosophy) explain that process theology offers a way of "…recovering the conviction that God acts creatively in the world," and this pattern by God is His way of expressing "divine love" for the planet (Cobb, 1976).

[There is a question as to who launched process theology as a movement. To wit, Cobb is considered the "chief builder, thinker, and leader of process theology," according to Dorrien (2008). But author Rob Haskell asserts that while "Process theology is a philosophical religion" that does not "claim special revelation," the closest thing process theology has "to a founder is Alfred North Whitehead" (Haskell, 2012).]

Meanwhile, notwithstanding who gets credit for its beginning, process theology implies a departure from the traditional theism viewpoint that God controls "every detail of the world process," Cobb explains (53). The implication for humans is that if humans truly love one another, they do not attempt to "control" each other, or pressure others with "threats involving extrinsic rewards and punishments" (Cobb, 54). There are denominations that tell participants if you don't do something a certain way, or if you are sinful in some way, you will go to hell. That is a simplistic way of explaining what Cobb means by "threats" -- and according to Cobb, process theology is about God's "creative love" and God is not in "complete control" and in fact his divine love "promotes enjoyment" rather than seeking to control and manipulate (Cobb 55).

Paul Tillich and process theology

Tillich agreed with much of what process theology puts forward, according to retired professor of theology Tyron Inbody, whose essay in Theological Studies makes the claim that Tillich criticized the "classical theism" and instead promoted the idea of a "more philosophically… adequate way" of approaching the subject of God (Inbody, 1975). For Tillich there was a need to be creative in approaching the mysterious subject of God, and hence Tillich rejected what Inbody calls "a hierarchy of levels" (Inbody, 473). Delving deeper into Tillich's approach to process theology, Inbody writes that Tillich rejected a "static hierarchy of being" and he also rejected "static absolutes" -- and instead he embraced the "structure of present experience" (Inbody, 474).


Either Tillich "misunderstood" some of the doctrines of process theology, or he "inadvertently misrepresented" some of the doctrines (Inbody, 474). Another aspect of Tillich's apparent misrepresentation of process theology, according to Inbody, is that Tillich believed process theology proposes "a finite God" and that "life and death are equal" (474). Moreover, Tillich attempted to make God "fragmentary" and Tillich was not actually trained in the philosophical language that permeates process theology, Inbody concludes on page 480.

While admitting that Tillich is "closer to the process viewpoint than he is to classical theism," Inbody goes on -- in esoteric language that is difficult for a lay person to come to terms with -- to basically criticize Tillich's position on "being" and "is" (Tillich is quoted saying: "Is' means 'is not not'…you can deny anything particular whatsoever, but not being, because even your negative judgments themselves are acts of being and are only possible through being. Being is the basic absolute.") (Inbody, 482). Inbody argues that Tillich's position "…ignores the primodial intuition [that which has existed from the beginning] of all being and knowing" (482).

Evaluate process theology and secular theology with regard to whether or not their views of the nature of God are valid.

In the lecture notes (3), the instructor explains that process theology and "neotheism" are closely related, and that God is not "sovereign" over humans' free choices; the neotheistic God does not "have the power to coerce" (HTH 469). Future events are not controlled by God or even known by God, according to process theology, and because God allows free will, He cannot destroy evil.

As for secular theology, the textbook explains that modern society does not have a need for God in the same way as before. Erickson writes that today's humans are perfectly capable of "dealing with [the world's] problems without…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Cobb, J.B., and Griffin, D.R. (1976). Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition.

Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

Dorrien, G. (2008). The Lure and Necessity of Process Theology. Cross Currents, 58(2),


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