Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
MTJ 5 (Spring/Fall 1994) p. 152
Logic, God and Metaphysics. By James Franklin Harris, (Ed.), Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992. 149 pp.
The latter half of the twentieth has seen a. vigorous discussion on the classical concept of God. This is what most people consider to be the “normal” concept of God, wherein God is considered to be omniscient, omnipotent, transcendent, etc. But alongside this discussion, there has been another. This has been about the concept of God in process thought, sometimes known as neo-classical theism, wherein God is not considered to be omniscient, omnipotent, or transcendent. Indeed, this latter concept has been so influential, that even many of those who have held to the classical conception have modified their views in the direction of the process view of God. But the influence has sometimes flowed in the other direction, as some process thinkers have modified their view of God in a more classical manner.
This volume is mainly about the process view of God. There have been two main neo-classical thinkers, upon whom much of the work by others in the f ield depends. They are Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. But though they both defined God quite differently than had been done by the traditional school of classical theism, there were still large differences between them. Whitehead was closer to classical theism than Hartshorne is. This work is mainly about the theories of Whitehead regarding god. Specifically, it is a series of essays in honor of Bowman Clarke, a philosopher who has done much valuable work in explicating the nature of God according to Whitehead.
The first essay is, however, by Hartshorne, who explores the Aesthetic dimensions of religious experience. What is mainly interesting here is the process view of God as the supreme creativity, who operates as the supreme artist, partly regulating the free decision making of every creature. Rather startlingly, he also defends the notion that for life, including human life, to be aesthetic, it must have an ending. Therefore, Hartshorne rejects personal immortality. This concept, widely held in process
MTJ 5 (Spring/Fall 1994) p. 153
theism, by itself shows how the philosophy is unorthodox.
Lewis Ford and Rem Edwards both criticize the interpretation of Whitehead given by Clarke; Ford arguing that his interpretation goes to far in the direction of classical theism, something that Ford finds “horrendous.” Edwards argues, against what he thinks Clarke is saying, that God must be held to be in time, rather than out of it. Given that there is in evangelicalism something of a drift towards a process concept of God, I find it rather ironic that some of the neo-classical thinkers fear a drift in their own ranks...
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