God is commonly imagined as a supreme Being, acting from afar to influence events in the world. For many people today, this image of God has become unbelievable. Tom Gates presents process theology as another way of understanding God that is more congruent with a scientific worldview, as well as with the biblical witness and with the understanding of early Friends. He invites readers to “reclaim the Transcendent” through a vision of God that is less like a king and more like an energy field, constantly but imperceptibly nudging us toward True North, less like a puppeteer and more like an inner yearning toward future possibilities of beauty and harmony. In this way of understanding, God is less a noun and more a verb; “an activity that is going on everywhere rather than a being who exists somewhere.” The author finds this understanding of “God in process” to be deeply congruent with Quaker spirituality. Discussion questions included.
Tom is a member of Lancaster (PA) Monthly Meeting, where he has served for many years on the Committee for Worship and Ministry. He also served for ten years on Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Working Group on Deepening and Strengthening Our Meetings. He is a graduate of two programs of the School of the Spirit’s — Spiritual Nurturer (2002-2003) and The Way of Ministry (2008-2009).
About the Author(s)
A Graduate of Williams College and Harvard Medical School, Tom Gates spent the first eight years of his medical career in rural New Hampshire. In 1991-1994, he and his wife Elizabeth and their sons Matthew and Nathan lived and worked at Friends Lugulu Hospital in Kenya (see Pendle Hill Pamphlets #319, Stories from Kenya, and #341, Sickness, Suffering, and Healing). Upon their return, he spent a year studying at Earlham School of Religion. Since 1995, he has ben a member of the faculty of the Family Medicine Residency at Lancaster General Hospital. Tom gratefully acknowledges the assistance of several Friends who read and commented on earlier drafts of this essay: Nancy Bieber, Margery Post Abbott, Bruce Birchard, Joe Moore, Shirley Dodson, and Elizabeth Gates. Discussion questions are included.
Pendle Hill Pamphlet #422