The Inexhaustible God: Biblical Faith and the Challenge of Process Theism

Written by Royce Gordon Gruenler Reviewed By Tony Lane

This is a sustained critique of Process Theism from a New Testament scholar who has abandoned the Process camp in favour of evangelicalism. His two main aims are to show that Process Theism fails to live up to its claims to offer a rational alternative to classical Christianity and that it fails to do justice to the biblical revelation.

The work is divided into three main sections. Parts 1 and 2 tackle Process Theism in terms of philosophical theology while Part 3 examines the adequacy of Process Theism as a basis for biblical interpretation and theological reconstruction. The philisophical discussion is characterized (and, to my mind, marred) by a reliance on the jargon of the Process school of thought and by a tendency to ramble. Parts 1 and 2 are thus anything but light reading (a glossary of Process terminology would have been a valuable addition to the book).

In Part 1 Gruenler highlights three major difficulties with Process Theism: its difficulties over divine power, the implications of Process metaphysics for personality and the idea of God as a person, and the incompatibility of a temporal view of God with relativity theory. With reference to the problem of divine power Gruenler argues that the Process denial of omnipotence is based on a secular definition of freedom and leads to metaphysical dualism (it is thus incompatible with orthodox Christianity though not necessarily logically inconsistent). He devotes two chapters to the idea of God as a person (the latter chapter characterizing the work of Hartshorne and Cobb as neo-Buddhist in tendency). His discussion of the problems arising out of a Process view of the temporality of God in chapter 4 is very difficult going and this is not helped by the appearance of nonsensical statements like ‘Using our relative frame of reference we may speak of time flowing radially in eight directions: past to future, future to past, east to west, west to east, north to south, south to north, top to bottom, bottom to top …’ (p. 80). However he does succeed in showing that Process Theism’s claim to be compatible with contemporary science is false.

Tony Lane

London School of Theology