Andrew Fulford Nota Bene

Whose Theism? Which Platonism?

Thomas Weinandy writes in his magnificent work Does God Suffer? of David Griffin’s process theology:

We have obviously returned to the pagan religious and Greek ontological dualisms of the past. In his early works Griffin, as well as other process theologians such as Pittinger and Ogden, criticized the early church Fathers for being unfaithful to biblical revelation by allowing Platonism to disfigure it. In response to this accusation, I argued that it was process theology that was more faithful to Platonism both in its view of God and as to the cause and nature of evil (see Weinandy, Does God Change?, 140–53). It is fascinating that more recently Griffin criticizes, and I believe now rightly so from a process perspective, the early church for not being faithful to Platonism in that it espoused the concept of creatio ex nihilo, and so affirmed a “supernaturalistic version of theism.” If Christianity had been faithful to what Griffin now believes is its Platonic heritage, it would have realized that “God cannot create a universe such as ours instantaneously, unilaterally prevent evil events, infallibly reveal divine truth, or inerrantly inspire sacred scripture” (“A Naturalistic Trinity” in Trinity in Process, 23–24). While Griffin may still hold a dubious version of Christianity, he has at least got it right that process thought has more in common with Platonism than it has with traditional Christian doctrine. (156, n. 19)

If nothing else, Weinandy raises an important matter: who exactly the Platonists are in the battle between classical and neotheists, and in what sense Platonism is problematic, are far more complicated questions that many neotheists allege today.