Friday, April 04, 2008

S.Tong Rejects Process Theology For What?

In one of his recorded sermon, Stephen Tong said that he rejects process theology because:
1) it is an anthropomorphizing attempt; it makes God to be too human
2) God does not participate the process in this world because he doesn't change

To me, these two reasons are not valid theologically, philosophically, and biblically.

Rowan Williams highlighted 3 dimensions of theology: (1) doxology; all theology must lead to praise & adoration of God, (2) meaning; all theology should be made apprehensible to everyone, (3) orthodoxy; all theology meant to correct falsehood.

Process theology concerns these 3 dimensions, thus it inevitably functions just like other theology. Since one of the function is to make God apprehensible, it is inevitable that we will try to conceptualize God as apprehensible as possible while being aware that that is an almost impossible task. And that is not to 'humanize' God, as alleged by Stephen Tong. Two are different.

"God does not partake the process in the world"? Probably Stephen Tong has been too busy preaching and stop catching up with other Reformed thinkers like Jurgen Moltmann? Since the 1970s, the perception of God actively participating in the world, particularly in history, has been discussed in the theological scene. Theologically, the fact that the divine Christ being a historical figure, participating humanity in the course of world history, is a strong point for suggesting that God experiences the process in our history.

Secondly, participating in the process of history does not make God ever-changing. A simple example is this: Any maturing person can always be faithful to his/her spouse. The maturing person goes through historical process and yet able to remain unchanging in his/her marriage vow.

Thus if Stephen Tong really mean that God does not participate in the historical process because he is immutable, then I think he is God in a box. The idea of faith is that God is trustworthy. Whether will he keeps his promises is not up for us to determine. He has assure us through revelation that he keep promises. We can only trust in such tension. The future is not yet realized, thus we cannot be certain. Stephen Tong should know better since he adheres to 'progress revelation'. If we say that God is immutable just to make ourselves feel more secured, then ultimately we are theologizing not for doxology, understanding, or apologetic, but just to feed our own whims.

Stephen Tong should also realize that the development of biblical theology in the past 40 years has again and again show the active relationship between YHWH with his people with the climax in the Christ event. God's dealings with his people is mutual and reciprocal.

All these even without involving the theological discourse on scientific data!

If he wants to criticize a certain theology on the pulpit, he should do so carefully without propagating false idea to the congregation. A pastor who is not theologically trained is inept those who are not pastorally dedicated. Stephen Tong is theologically trained but lack in progress (his theology resembles the 17th century puritan theology). He is pastorally trained but lack commitment to discipleship (his main focus is regional evangelism). Thus I think he is neither a good contemporary theologian nor pastor. Yes, he has good intention, but then again, who doesn't?


Anonymous said...

I agree with you and want to add my 2 cents: Tong just uses scripture to parrot 17th century calvinism (a single dogma; i.e., sovereignty of God); besided he is not evangelizing in the pure sense of taking the gospel to the non christians. His church consists mainly of those absorbed from other churches. I think he is not trained as theologian, but I could be wrong

Sze Zeng said...

Hi anonymous,

S. Tong does evangelize to non-Christians. From time to time, his ministry organize evangelistic events to reach out. Though I think his evangelism to university students are not as effective (esp. those from the science faculty), nonetheless his knowledge on philosophy and worldview are still attractive to those who are interested in such area.

I think he is a trained theologian but not a very constructive and apt one in this era. He might be more suited one or two century ago.

Anonymous said...
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Sze Zeng said...

I removed a previous comment because:

1) The person comment polemically without giving any reasons for doing so.

2) The person hide behind 'anonymous' when making such polemics. If you know me, come and discourse. If not, don't make such remarks on my blog while hiding.

So, next time anyone wish to make such remarks, pls do so without the above (or more) mistakes. Thank you.

Anonymous said...
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