Liberating Ourselves from Bad Theology: A Critique of Classical Theism from a Process Theology Perspective

Dr. Adis DuderijaDr Adis Duderija of Griffith University, writing in New Age Islam reflects on Let Us Cultivate A Willingness To Question, Learn, And Engage With Diverse Theological Perspectives, Allowing Our Spiritual Journeys To Evolve And Flourish As We Seek A Deeper Understanding Of The Divine And Our Place Within The Intricate Tapestry Of Existence. Theology, the study of religious beliefs and their implications, plays a significant role in shaping our understanding of the divine and the world around us.

Theology, the study of religious beliefs and their implications, plays a significant role in shaping our understanding of the divine and the world around us. However, not all theological perspectives are created equal. In this op-ed piece, we explore the idea of being addicted to bad theology, specifically examining the criticism of classical theism from the perspective of process theology. By critically analysing classical theism and embracing alternative theological frameworks, we can liberate ourselves from the constraints of outdated and limiting beliefs, fostering a more inclusive and vibrant spiritual landscape.

The Problem with Classical Theism

Classical theism, the dominant theological framework in many religious traditions, presents a vision of God as an all-powerful, all-knowing, and unchanging being. While this perspective has provided solace and guidance to countless individuals, it is not without its flaws. Process theology , a philosophical and theological framework developed by Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by scholars like Charles Hartshorne, offers a compelling critique of classical theism.

One of the central criticisms of classical theism is its portrayal of God as immutable and unchanging. Process theology argues that this view of God fails to capture the dynamic and evolving nature of the world. It suggests that if God is unchanging, it becomes difficult to reconcile the existence of suffering, evil, and the ongoing process of creation and transformation. Process theology posits that a more accurate understanding of God embraces the idea of a “process” or a “becoming” God, who interacts with the world and is influenced by its unfolding events.

Addiction to Bad Theology

Addiction to bad theology occurs when individuals cling to outdated and limited perspectives, despite mounting evidence or alternative theological frameworks that offer a more comprehensive understanding of the divine. Just as addiction hinders personal growth and well-being, addiction to bad theology stifles spiritual growth and inhibits our capacity for a deeper connection with the divine.

Classical theism, with its emphasis on an unchanging and distant God, can perpetuate harmful narratives and limit our understanding of the divine’s engagement with the world. This addiction to bad theology hampers our ability to grapple with complex theological questions, stifles critical thinking, and hinders the development of a more inclusive and vibrant religious discourse.

The Liberating Potential of Process Theology

Process theology offers a liberating alternative to the addiction of bad theology inherent in classical theism. By embracing the idea of a dynamic and evolving God, process theology provides a framework that allows for a more nuanced understanding of the divine’s relationship to the world.

Process theology suggests that God is not an all-controlling deity but rather a persuasive force that invites and encourages the world’s growth and development. This perspective allows for a more inclusive understanding of God’s presence in diverse religious traditions and the recognition of the divine’s ongoing engagement with the world’s processes.

Furthermore, process theology emphasises the interconnectedness of all things and the inherent value of every being. It promotes a vision of God as intimately involved in the world’s affairs, working in partnership with humanity to co-create a more just and compassionate reality. Process theology encourages us to view ourselves as active participants in the ongoing process of divine transformation, empowering us to engage with the world’s challenges and work towards positive change.

Embracing a Dialogue of Theological Perspectives

Liberating ourselves from the addiction to bad theology requires an openness to dialogue and the exploration of diverse theological perspectives. Engaging in conversations that bridge the gap between classical theism and process theology, for instance, can enrich our understanding of the divine and challenge the limitations of our theological frameworks.

Rather than dismissing alternative perspectives outright, we should approach theological discourse with curiosity, humility, and a willingness to re-evaluate our beliefs in light of new insights. By embracing a dialogue of theological perspectives, we foster an environment that encourages intellectual growth, empathy, and a deeper appreciation for the complexities of religious and spiritual experiences.

Breaking free from the addiction to bad theology is essential for our personal and collective spiritual growth. Critiquing classical theism from the vantage point of process theology offers valuable insights into the limitations of a static and unchanging perspective of the divine.

By embracing alternative theological frameworks, such as process theology, we can foster a more inclusive and vibrant spiritual landscape that encourages critical thinking, dialogue, and a deeper connection with the divine. Liberating ourselves from the constraints of bad theology opens up new avenues for exploration, personal growth, and the development of a more compassionate and just society.

Let us cultivate a willingness to question, learn, and engage with diverse theological perspectives, allowing our spiritual journeys to evolve and flourish as we seek a deeper understanding of the divine and our place within the intricate tapestry of existence.

A decades old patron of New Age Islam, Dr Adis Duderija is a Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and Society, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science; Senior Fellow Centre for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue, Griffith University | Nathan | Queensland | Australia. His forthcoming books are ( co-edited)- Shame, Modesty, and Honora in Islam and Interfaith Engagement Beyond the Divide (Springer). Dr Adis Duderija is an accredited observer of the Religions for Peace Australia national executive.

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