Process Theology & Religious Pluralism - header - 1300×500

Rethinking Process Theology and Religious Pluralism
Through the Lens of Divine Omnipresence

WHO:Marjorie Suchocki

WHAT: Five Sessions

WHEN:Mon, Jul 31 – Fri, Aug 4, 2023
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM Pacific
Note: The session on Tue, Aug 1, will
be held at 2:00 - 3:30 PM.
WHERE:Online via Zoom or
In person at Middle Tree in Claremont, CA

In this hybrid five-session course, we will explore the question of religious pluralism and consider what difference a process understanding of divine omnipresence and the centrality of compassion in all major religions can make to how one develops a Christian theology.

Attend the live class sessions in person or online

Course Description

Marjorie Suchocki wrote the first drafts of what became God Christ Church in 1979. But her teaching career actually began five years earlier, when she was hired by Wichita State University to teach introductory courses in eastern religions. There was no intentional overlap between what she learned through her studies in eastern, and eventually western, religions, including Judaism and Islam, and how she developed a process theology. But some important resonances emerged.

In 2001, she wrote Divinity and Diversity, which explored the implications for religious pluralism within various Christian doctrines. In this course, more than twenty years later, she tackles the issue again, this time working from and focusing on a process understanding of divine omnipresence. The central question of our study will thus be the following: What are the theological and practical implications of interpreting religions through the lens of divine omnipresence? The first and foremost suggestion is the near-universal importance of compassion as an essential element of religions.

‘Omnipresence” has fared poorly in the Christian triumvirate of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, usually interpreted as something like the authority of a ruler’s laws throughout the realm regardless of where the ruler actually is. But what if, as process thought suggests, God is necessarily present to each and every occasion of experience? Could we not expect to see some universal quality as a sort of “residue” of God in the various religions of the world? I am suggesting that the near universal value of compassion in all the world’s religions is a kind of “divine residue,” a sort of footprint of the presence of God.

But if compassion is considered a “footprint” of God’s presence, then shouldn’t all expressions of Christian doctrine reflect this attribute?  What happens to “Christology” if compassion is central?  “Salvation”?  “Ecclesiology”?  “Missiology"?  “Eschatology"?   For that matter, dare we explore what compassion implies for Christian notions of God as triune?

Yes, of course we dare. This course presents the process of doing so by looking for answers as we consider Christian doctrine through its historical development, its process formulation, and religious pluralism. We conclude each morning with the role of compassion in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, and Taoism.


“All faiths insist that compassion is the test of true spirituality and that it brings us into relation with the transcendence we call God, Brahman, Nirvana, or Dao. Each has formulated its own version of what is sometimes called the Golden Rule, ‘Do not treat others as you would not like them to treat you,’ or in its positive form, ‘Always treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.’ Further, they all insist that you cannot confine your benevolence to your own group; you must have concern for everybody — even your enemies.”
–Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

Course Outline

  • Session 1: Omnipresence in the History of Christianity; The Process Model of God; Compassion in Judaism
  • Session 2: Process Theology and Evil; Sin and Redemption; Compassion in Confucianism
  • Session 3: Christology; Redemption; Compassion in Buddhism
  • Session 4: Church; Sacrament; Mission; Compassion in Taoism
  • Session 5: Trinity; Eschatology; Compassion in Islam

About the Instructor

2023-05-23 - Marjorie Suchocki

Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, emerita faculty of Claremont School of Theology, has a long history in the field of process theology, first as a student of John B Cobb, Jr, then as a professor of theology at three different seminaries. She has published many books and articles on process theology, directed Process & Faith, and inaugurated an international film festival based upon Whiteheadiian values that promote the common good. She currently lives near her family in Grapevine, Texas.

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Suggested Price

  • Lifetime access to session recordings
  • Receive early notification of future courses
  • Watch live or follow your own schedule
  • Interact with class members via discussion forums
  • * Contribute whatever you feel the course is worth or whatever you can afford to help support this and other programs like it. No one is turned down for lack of funds.

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