initial aim

Proper 21A

September 25, 2011
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Exodus 17:1-7
Reading 2: 
Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
Reading 3: 
Philippians 2:1-13
Reading 4: 
Matthew 21:23-32
By Paul S. Nancarrow

Exodus 17:1-7

There is a pun in the opening clause of the opening verse of this passage, which has no basis in the original Hebrew, but which seems irresistibly inviting in English: “From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed.” “Sin” here is of course a place name, related to Sinai, the area through which the people must travel to reach the mountain of theophany and covenant. It is mere accident that it sounds in English like the state of being alienated from God; yet the accident seems significant enough to comment on.

Initial Aim and "Call"

Question: 
Is an occasion’s deriving its initial subjective aim from God the same as a Christian who says they felt God "calling" them to ministry of some sort? (The "calling" being the initial subjective aim for the Christian [occasion].)
Publication Month: 
May 2005
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

This question asks how to relate Whitehead’s technical doctrine of the initial subjective aim to the biblical idea of God’s calling. This is important in itself and also as illustrative of the task of this kind of philosophical theology. I like the term “calling” and so use it often in describing how God deals with us. As far as I know, Whitehead did not use this word.

Creativity and Initial Aim

Question: 
If God offers the occasion an initial aim for its becoming, is any deviation from that initial aim merely a declension from the perfect lure of God? If so, what creativity can there be? —only success or failure to realize a goal presented from without. And that isn't genuine creativity.
Publication Month: 
December 2005
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

God, the Great Artist

Question: 
I wonder if Dr. Cobb would care to comment on God and the arts from a process perspective. It seems that God's Initial Aim is always toward the beautiful, the peaceful, the sustainable and the harmonious. I have heard God described as the Great Artist.
Publication Month: 
August 2010
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

The questioner is certainly on the right track. Recently Roland Faber, professor of process theology at the Claremont School of Theology, published a book entitled “God as Poet of the World,” picking up from Whitehead’s own language. Whitehead gives to beauty a special status among the values that God seeks to realize in the world.

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