Master of Arts (MA)


W. David Beck

Primary Subject Area

Philosophy; Religion, Philosophy of; Theology


Schubert M. Ogden, Revelation, Lewis S. Ford, process theology


The viewpoint of Schubert M. Ogden and Lewis S. Ford set the boundaries for the way God acts towards His creatures through revelation in both a general and special way. First, a comparison of their viewpoints will be given to prove this claim. Both men followed separate lines of process philosophy (Whitehead and Hartshorne) in order to reach their theological concepts of revelation. The effects of Hartshorne on Ogden led him finally to conceive of God as an Immanent Individual who can act originally in an authentic revelation to man, who can receive and respond to such an act by representing it as a special act. On the other hand, Ford's loyalty to Whitehead's original contention that God is an actual entity leads him to depict God as one who acts generally towards all creatures, and acts specifically through a special contingent authentic revelation in continuity with the contingent response to humanity. Second, the process model as a whole will be examined and challenged to see if the biblical concept of special revelation can be interpreted adequately along process lines. Thus, we will see that process theology cannot adequately reconcile itself with the biblical concept of special revelation because its idea that every act of temporal self-creation is based on past efficient causes does not allow something new (special) in a system that requires all events to be related. We will argue that such disagreement with scripture stems from a failure to conceive the Resurrection of Jesus as an objective act of God in an open universe. Our conclusion is that both men (Ogden and Ford) may be in antithesis to one another, but they share the same dilemma with process theology as a whole: an inability to align themselves with the biblical view of special revelation as an objective event given propositionally and personally by God through scripture and Jesus to all men.