A Processing of Justice?

I’m new to Process Theology – not sure I like much of it, but maybe I like some of it. Pastor Bob shares an essay by Bruce Epperly dealing with Process Theology and moving towards justice with punishment. In part, I quote:

Process theology would oppose the identification of God’s will with natural disasters.  While we may limit the nature of God’s presence and the effectiveness of God’s actions in our lives by our actions and values, God still seeks the “best for that impasse.”  Our turning away from God has consequences in terms of personal and community life, and this may feel like divine punishment (or absence), but God’s intent is always wholeness and beauty at every level of life.   Here, punishment may be seen as “self-punishment.”  We have, in some way, brought unhappiness, disease, and even weather changes upon ourselves by our habitual actions.  However, even our self-punishment is limited; 1) God still seeks our well being and 2) our quality of experience is determined by many factors, not just the impact of our actions.

Process theology recognizes that there is a type of justice-making in a nature. This is the law of consequences.  Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans was not the result of divine wrath, but a variety of factors, including natural causes such as the severity of the hurricane.  Yet, the severity of hurricanes has been identified with changing weather patterns, partly the result of human actions. Further, the destruction of New Orleans is also related to our nation’s failure to maintain the infrastructure of levees.  We are partly responsible for this disaster in the chain of cause and effect. Neither God nor humankind intended Katrina as punishment but the hurricane’s devastation emerged from human as well as non-human causes.

Ponderings on a Faith Journey: Process and Punishment (Bruce Epperly).

Okay, so maybe I’ll give Process Theology a second look.

What sayeth ye?

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2 Replies to “A Processing of Justice?”

  1. Joel,

    First, thanks for the posting!

    Second, I should say that I’ve been ambivalent about Process Theology. In part that’s because while it can be helpful in sorting out certain issues — especially theodicy — it tends to be highly philosophical and can be inaccessible. Bruce has found a way of cutting through the theological jargon to make it clearer. Now we can wrestle with it in a different way.

    But I can’t say I’m a Process person, though I’m much more open to it now than before!

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