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Process Theology

Shannon C. Ledbetter

Subject Religion » Christianity

Key-Topics theology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405135078.2009.00074.x


It is generally agreed that the inspiration behind process theology is the brilliant mathematician A. N. Whitehead. Whitehead was born in 1861; his father was a Church of England minister, which may explain Whitehead's sympathies with religion throughout his life. His process thought (or, more accurately, his speculative philosophy of organism) developed while he worked in America. He moved to Harvard in 1924, when he was 63. Charles Hartshorne was Whitehead's disciple and he explicated extremely clearly the implications of Whiteheadian thought for religion. Process theology as a movement developed primarily around the so-called Chicago School—people such as Daniel Day Williams and John Cobb. Process theology is not easy to summarize or understand. It is a distinctive metaphysics that contrasts markedly with traditional ways of understanding the world. A few preliminary comments are necessary. It is undoubtedly true that process thought is a positive engagement with the discovery of the evolutionary hypothesis of Charles Darwin. Pittenger notes, “The central conviction of American process-thought is that the evolutionary perspective must be taken with the utmost seriousness” ( Pittenger, 1967 , 98). In this respect there are similarities with the project (although not necessarily the conclusions) of Teilhard de Chardin. Charles Hartshorne claims, “I have never consciously not been ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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