20th century theology

Process & 20th century Theology

Question: 
I've found a lot of synergy between process theology and the works of some neo-orthodox thinkers, particularly Bonhoeffer. Of course, it seems to me any 'theologians of the cross' are going to have a lot of common ground with Whitehead's 'co-sufferer who understands' but when I read Bonhoeffers' 'this-world Christianity' and his God who condescends and allows us the opportunity to get down and suffer with him rather than acts as some divine puppet master or deus ex machina (which he constantly rails against) I am constantly reminded of the whole process movement. I also think in connection with this the Teilhardian John Haught who contends that 'that which is most ultimate is that which is self-emptying', who finds connections between the revelation of God in Christ Jesus and the Tao of philosophical Taoism. Is this Bonhoeferrian and Niebuhrian synergy just my own projection. I know Niebuhr quoted Whitehead positively once, but he was also critical of him in The Nature and Destiny of Man,(but that was probably because Niebuhr was suspicious of any and all metaphysical 'systems', he was a Kierkegaard fan after all). Bonhoeffer didn't know anything about Whitehead, but he WAS a fan of William James, and studied him in the States, and so there may have been more kinship than one would first suspect. Am I just projecting here? Has anyone else written about or thought about Bonhoeffer's 'religionless Christianity' or his emphasis on the God that condescends over the Deus Ex Machina in connection with the conception of God found in process theology?
Publication Month: 
February 2008
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

This is a complex question, but it provides an occasion for locating process theology in the context of the major stream of mid to late twentieth-century theology. It was often viewed as an outsider to the central theological discussion. The truth and error of this view are worth sorting out.

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