Five Honest Questions for Process Theology

This post should be properly titled, “Five Questions for Process Theologians,” because you cannot actually ask a question of a theology, only of a theologian. The problem, as Tripp and Bo explained in their recent and controversial podcast, is that a lot of people whom I consider process theologians aren’t. Or they deny that they are. Phil Clayton is influenced by process, as is Bo. Tripp hedges on whether he’s a process theologian, or whether he’s an open-and-relational-baptist-who-has-proclivities-toward-process. Maybe John Cobb is the only truly process theologian.

The back-and-forth over process started with a rather hamfisted post by Roger Olson, in which he asserted that true process theologians aren’t Christian and, conversely, true Christians aren’t truly process theologians. When the pushback came his way, he responded by saying, “Hey, I’m writing for evangelicals exclusively. The rest of you can listen in, but this isn’t about you.” (He also unfortunately aired some of his personal dirty laundry in the comment section of the initial post.)

Tripp and Bo rightly took up Olson’s post, pointing out that it was both wrong at points and ungenerous in others. But I grew increasingly frustrated as I listened to the podcast because I thought that Tripp and Bo were taking potshots at more classical forms of theism. They even criticized other open and relational theologies as their temperatures rose. And, in so doing, I think they missed some of the more salient points of Olson’s criticisms.

If I had my druthers, I’d go over to Tripp’s garage, open a homebrew, light up a cigar, and talk this out with him in front of a live mic. Since that’s not geographically possible, I offer these five questions and ask those guys and others to respond by whatever medium they see fit. I am definitely a full-fledged member of the “open and relational theologies” camp, and I’m a hypertheist, so I offer these questions as a friend and teammate.

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Philosophy and Theology Are Like an Old Married Couple, and They’re Not Getting Divorced [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

This week’s Question That Haunts Christianity came from Davidson, a 15-year-old high school student:

I’m not quite sure if this is how your readers present their questions to you, but if it is, I have one for you. I am a scholar at heart. I love to learn just about anything. I plan to study theology, English, and philosophy at Liberty University. The latter is, well, part of my question.

I have always thought that philosophers have been God-gifted men who have led nations with their brilliance, but one question keeps plaguing me: Can philosophy and Christianity mix?

My father always tells me whenever I ask him this question: “There’s nothing new under the sun.” In a nutshell, he’s telling me that theology is chief, and philosophy and psychology have nothing new or different, despite what they say. I call the three above subjects “The Trinity of Humanity”, if you will. Each is essential to life, and though theology is chief, philosophy and psychology are still essential nonetheless. Anyways, do you believe that one can be a Christian and shape their lives around both Christian and philosophical ideals?

Many of you took up his question in the comments, and there are some great ones!

Davidson, I’m glad you asked your question. As opposed to how I usually answer these questions, I’m going to address you directly. You’re only two years older than my oldest child, so I have some sense of what you’re thinking as you consider your future. And the first thing I want to say to you is this: Please consider going to a college other than Liberty University.

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Slavoj Žižek and the Illusion of Religion

Brilliant philosopher or crazy homeless man? You decide.

I’m getting audited, which I can tell you completely sucks. And I’m getting audited for three years of tax returns, which means triple the pain — it’s like getting an enema with thumb tacks. I’ll write about it more sometime.

But because of that, I need a couple more days to chew on and answer this week’s Question That Haunts — it’s a good one. In the meantime, here’s a fantastic guest post by Zane Schertz, following up on last week’s post about Slavoj Žižek. About himself, he says, “I am a death of God theologian. I am currently studying dialectical materialism, and Jacques Lacan’s stade du miroir. My main theological influences are Thomas Altizer, Slavoj Žižek, Soren Kierkegaard, George Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Drew Sumrall. You can find me on my blog and on Twitter.” Here’s Zane:

In the theological realm there has been much discussion over Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek. What makes this a bit of anomaly is that Zizek is a self described atheist. So the next logical question is, what can an atheist teach us about theology and the Christian walk? Well, first we must understand there are many varying forms of atheism. Just as there are many varying forms of Christianity, Judaism and so on. So before we dive in, understand that to lump Zizek in with the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens and so on, is to lump Tony in with Mark Driscoll. It’s irresponsible and we will ultimately miss what Zizek is saying.

Slavoj Zizek is a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and a professor of philosophy and psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School. Now Zizek is a character to say the least. His style is manic, ugly, and all over the map. Have you ever had so many thoughts going on in your brain that your mouth can’t keep up? I assume Zizek spends all of his waking moments in this state. He just talks and talks and talks and talks and talks [you get the point] and within that time he jumps from topic to topic to topic to topic. So needless to say, more times than not it’s difficult to keep up with his thoughts and antics. However, when he gets dialed in, there is no one person more brilliant, exciting, and passionate than Zizek.

I asked Tony if I could guest post here to discuss how this atheist madman can and should be implemented into modern theology and Christianity. My goal is to be as coherent as possible, but when discussing Zizek this sometimes becomes a bit difficult. So I am currently thinking maybe I bit of more than I can chew. Anyway, here is my best effort to explain Christian [atheism] as Zizek sees it:

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Who the Heck is Slavoj Žižek?

Brilliant philosopher or crazy homeless man? You decide.

Who is Slavoj Žižek, I ask?

  • Peter Rollins’s father?
  • A homeless man?
  • The most brilliant Continental philosopher of our day?

I don’t know the answer. I’ve not read more than a essay here and there by Žižek, and watched some videos of him. Surprisingly, watching him lecture and answer questions is even more confusing than reading his writing.

Thankfully, Christian Thorne has written three short essays about Žižek. Here are money quote excerpts:

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