An Evangelical Analysis of Process Pneumatology -- By: Floyd S. Elmore

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 145:577 (Jan 1988)
Article: An Evangelical Analysis of Process Pneumatology
Author: Floyd S. Elmore


An Evangelical Analysis of Process Pneumatology

Floyd S. Elmore

Assistant Professor of Bible
Cedarville College, Cedarville, OH

The neglect of pneumatology has been lamented by many theologians in recent decades. Woodhouse, for instance, states, “Pneumatology is the theological area where fresh thinking and new presentation is most justified because, as Berdyaev remarked, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the most undeveloped part of Christian doctrine.”1

The situation, however, is changing. Taylor observes, “If the overriding preoccupation of the first Reformation was the person and work of Jesus Christ (and it was), the overriding preoccupation in the present renewal of the Church is the person and work of the Holy Spirit.”2 In the rediscovery of the Spirit evident today, some “process theologians” have arisen to fill the void within their school of thought regarding pneumatology. Woodhouse, a defender of process theology, recognizes the need: “In stressing the idea of relationship concerning God we find a link with pneumatology though there is an almost complete absence in theological thought of any connection between process thought

and pneumatology.”3 Pittenger has written the most complete description of process views on pneumatology in his book The Holy Spirit. In discussions of Trinitarianism, process theologians also articulate their understanding of the Holy Spirit.

Does process theology help explicate the person and work of the Holy Spirit? After briefly reviewing basic process theology notions, this article analyzes the process view of God and the Trinity as necessary preliminaries for understanding process pneumatology. Since Norman Pittenger has attempted to wrestle with the topic under study in greater depth than other process thinkers, his work will be the focus of more detailed investigation, followed by an evaluation of process pneumatology. While the concepts taught in process theology are not generally known among laypersons, so-called process theology has been influential in some theological and philosophical circles. Hence it is important to know what it teaches and to evaluate its weaknesses in the light of Scripture.

Basic Process Notions

Process theism and traditional or classical theism offer two distinct approaches for understanding God and describing His activity in the world. These approaches stem from different philosophical frameworks that mold the way any one notion is conceptualized. Pittenger summarizes the main emphases in ...

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