Spirit-centered Process #1 Does Theology Matter?

All theological reflection should be willing to face the question, “So what?” Are our ideas merely abstractions with no value below the neck, or to they help us navigate the rough and tumble world of living and dying, loving and fighting, healing and curing? Do they give us guidance for our political and economic as well as personal lives and relationships?

I believe everyone deep down is a theologian. A theologian is simply a person who asks questions about meaning, life, death, sickness, health, values, and vocation. A theologian explores these questions in the context of our ultimate personal and environment. Sometimes the word “God” is invoked; other times we try to explain why bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

Postmodernism has discouraged many people from engaging in serious theological discussion. After all, the postmodernists insists, there is no room in today’s pluralistic age for universal visions or philosophical systems; all stories must be local and relative. As a process theologian, I agree with this critique, but I believe we still can tell “big enough” and “good enough” stories about the universe – stories as big as our science and biology, and as creative as our medicine and spirituality. Process theology sees postmodernism in terms of promise rather than problem. Even if we can’t tell universal stories, we can share important things about our understanding of the universe, embrace our spiritual and theological location and see this as an invitation to learn from other stories from other faiths and cultures, and explore our experience of the holy while listening to others share where they’ve experienced meaning and healing.

Over the next several weeks, we will reflect together on what it means to live out of a process vision of reality. Our text will focus on the “so what” issues as we try to make process theology come alive for you – we will try to experience process theology first hand.

As our first step in living process theology, I invite you simply to think about your most important theological questions. What keeps you up at night? Where have you experienced holiness in your life? What is your vision of the divine or ultimate reality?

For more on process theology, see Bruce Epperly, Process Theology: A Guide to the Perplexed.

Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, healing companion, retreat leader and lecturer, and author of nineteen books, including Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living; God’s Touch: Faith, Wholeness, and the Healing Miracles of Jesus; and Tending to the Holy: The Practice of the Presence of God in Ministry. He has taught at Georgetown University, Wesley Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is currently theologian in residence at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His most recent book is Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed. He can be reached for lectures, seminars, and retreats at bruceepperly@gmail.com

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About Bruce Epperly

Rev. Bruce Epperly, Ph.D., serves as Pastor at South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Centerville, MA. Prior to coming to Cape Cod in 2013, he served on the faculties and often in administrative and chaplaincy roles at Georgetown University, Claremont School of Theology, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Bruce is currently a professor in spirituality, ministry, and theology in the doctoral program at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. He has served as pastor or interim pastor of congregations in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He is the author or co-author of over 35 books in the areas of theology, spirituality, ministerial excellence and spiritual formation, scripture, and healing and wholeness, including Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God; Finding God in Suffering: A Journey with Job; From Here to Eternity: Preparing for the Next Adventure; and A Center in the Cyclone: Clergy Self-care in the 21st Century.


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