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The Lure of Divine Love: Human Experience and Christian Faith in a Process Perspective by Norman Pittenger

Dr. Pittenger, philosopher and theologian, was a senior member of Kingís College, Cambridge for many years, then Professor of Christian Apologetics at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, before retiring in 1966. Published by The Pilgrim Press, New York City and T. & T. Clark Limited, Edinburgh, 1979. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.

This preface details the lectures and writings of Norma Pittenger which make up the background of this book.

Chapter 1: A New Perspective
Process thought makes sense of the kind of world that modern scientific inquiry has disclosed, while at the same time taking seriously the depths of human experience with which the humanities, the religious outlook and the aesthetic enterprise.

Chapter 2: The Humanities and the Arts
Despite lending itself to material, scientific and human understanding, process studies has room for the rich resources humanity finds in literature, music and art.

Chapter 3: The Scientific Enterprise
Process thought has filled the gap that mechanistic determinism could not fill. A unitary interpretation of existence, human and natural, can make sense of and give sense to all the fields of human inquiry and human enjoyment.

Chapter 4: Educational Principles
Dr. Pittenger addresses education from a process perspective and gives nine implications concerning its importance He concludes that education is to be considered as a matter of imaginative and aesthetic response to the human situation and to whatever is supremely worshipful in the cosmos -- that is, to what religion calls "God."

Chapter 5: Moral Implications
Dr. Pittenger believes that if there is an absolute, "that absolute is nothing other than love itself, with its corollary in the imperative that we should live in, grow in, express, and share love."

Chapter 6: Human Sexuality
There is a mysterious side to human sexuality and the author makes some suggestions about this from the side of Christian faith and Christian morality in terms of process thought.

Chapter 7: The Religious Understanding
Since countless masses of humankind have enjoyed some kind of contact with reality greater than humankind or nature, and since process generalizations about how things go in the world have developed, new ways of thinking about God are needed.

Chapter 8: Christian Faith in God
Christianity is a faith, not simply an ordered system of ideas, or a behavior that imitates the earthly life and teach of a historical figure, but a commitment of men and women to the supremely worshipful reality called God.

Chapter 9: The Self-Expressive Activity of God and the Meaning of Jesus Christ
What is revealed is not compulsion but persuasion, love not force, is at the heart of the creative process of the universe. This is what gives Jesus his central place and role, his continuing impact on successive generations of men and women.

Chapter 10: The Spirit and the Divine Triunity
Somehow in God the basic truth of personality is combined with the equally basic truth of sociality -- and this has implications for our view of human nature. The triunity of God can serve as a symbol, offering a hint or intimation into the mystery of God as God is active in the world; and our process conceptuality has made it clear that God is the divine activity.

Chapter 11: The Person in Society
Dr. Pittenger gives eight affirmations about human nature from a process perspective. Humans: 1. Are dependent upon God; 2. Have potentialities; 3. Are social; 4. Are compound organisms; 5. Are sexual; 6. Are unable to fulfill proper achievement; 7. Know their possibilities; 8. Find total fulfillment only in God.

Chapter 12: The Christian Church and the Sacramental Action of the Church
New Testament Christians were not Christians apart from the fellowship, the church. Dr. Pittengerís "process" approach to the church is more aesthetic than ethical. He defends its sacraments and its rituals.

Chapter 13: Destiny and Resurrection
God is the divine creative love epitomized in Jesus, and adding to this Godís reception of the good accomplished by the free decisions of humankind, we have a portrayal of human destiny and the understanding of the true significance of resurrection.

Chapter 14: Conclusion
Dr. Pittenger concludes with a plea that our new situation requires us to think again, to work through once more, the things that are both human and Christian.

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