Eye on the UUniverse

Rev. Jaco B. ten Hove

Questions Unfolding Still: Process Possibility?

At a Sunday service last spring, Revs. Barbara and Jaco spontaneously Jaco-Chalice-Drawinganswered a handful of anonymous inquiries generated by the congregation that morning in an occasional exercise called “A Question Box Sermon.” Numerous provocative topics were submitted that couldn’t be among the ones spoken to that morning, so the Revs have agreed to address some in periodic Beacon columns such as this…

INQUIRY: When I was a Methodist, process theology defined God as the creative choice in all moments, and to be aware of that possibility is our path to enlightenment about God. Is this idea parallel to the UU concept of possibility?

RESPONSE: The short answer would be Yes.

Many UUs appreciate Process Theology (me included) for its creative openness to the unfolding of the universe (especially in contrast with passive, unchanging dogma in other systems). “God” here is still an eminent and eternal power, but redefined way beyond older images, as a force much more interactively engaged with the world in an evolving relationship.

Choice and free will would be important pivot points in this line of thinking, which was developed largely by Charles Hartshorne (pronounced “harts-horn,” 1897-2000), a member of First UU Church of Austin, TX, based on pioneering work by Alfred North Whitehead. I do wish they had given it a better name, though. “Process” is accurate, I suppose, but just does not adequately (or creatively!) convey the possibilities inherent in this field of thought.

Our UU Principles emphasize “the democratic process” and “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” so we can find ourselves in comfortable league with many progressive Christians who are actively creating newer versions of theology such as this.