Powerlessness

This morning I nicked bits of this for the sermon, but what really caught my eye was the contrast between the powerful Roman presence, and the powerless preacher on a donkey.

When I was writing about Theodicy I touched on Process Theology as a possible resolution to the problem.  I have since done some reading on the subject, and my current understanding is that in many ways Process Theology is designed to overcome the problems of Theodicy!

Whilst there is a deep logic underlying Process Theology, which I haven’t yet grasped, the two main facets that I have grasped are:

  1. God cannot intervene physically
  2. God is not outside time – even though he does know everything that has happened to date.

Today I am going to focus on the first.

Process Theology states that God cannot intervene physically, but instead can only influence others to act in the way that God would prefer.

The underlying assumption is that each event is affected by previous events and in turn affects future events, but that this is not deterministic.  In each moment each event has choice in what it does, and God can intervene by influencing these choices – but it is only influence and not compulsion.  Also, an event can be at any level – so the choice of an electron is an event that God can influence; a human turning left or right is an event God can influence.  However, God’s influence is not sufficient to force His desired outcome.

This then allows some interesting by products as miracles can happen – it just requires an unlikely number of choices to go in the right direction, all at the same time – but as the infinite monkeys show, there are a lot of events!

The application of this is that if God only acts through us, then we are called to listen for God’s call, God’s influence, and take heed of it and do something!

Process Theology is fairly modern, stemming from the work of Alfred North Whitehead, but Teresa of Avila seems to have got at least part of the way there a few hundred years earlier!

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Alan

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