The utopian visions of 1960s America affected more than the devotees of Flower Power. The theological world became similarly captivated by revolutionary notions about God and his dealings with the world. Royce Gordon Gruenler remembers those turbulent days. He was an inquisitive young scholar teaching religion and philosophy at Hiram College in Ohio when a colleague introduced him to the writings of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. Both men had pioneered the liberal movement in theology known as process theism at a time when, according to biographer Alan Gragg in his book Charles Hartshorne, it stood "forth in the theological sunlight as one of the most creative and viable options on the American scene." Gruenler was hooked.
His detour into process theism began a spiritual pilgrimage that would lead him to near-despair. In time, he returned to his evangelical roots and gathered a small cadre of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship-types whom he discipled. In 1979 Gruenler left Hiram to become professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he remains today. He has written many articles and books, including The Inexhaustible God: Biblical Faith and the Challenge of Process Theism (Baker, 1983). Senior writer Wendy Murray Zoba recently visited her former professor in Massachusetts, where he weighed in on the current theological debate about the openness of God and its relationship to process theology.
What exactly is process theology?
Process thought is the idea that God is engaged in the time sequence. He doesn't know the future. He has ideals for the future, and he tries to lure us to actualize those ideals, but he does not control each individual or occasion ...1
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