De/ Constructive Theology

The current situation is, indeed, a theological crisis because of the worship of an imperialistic distortion of God. The one, transcendent monad legitimizes a deeply patriarchal, moralistic, and arrogant mode of theology. Following Ann Case Winters’ analysis in God’s Power (1990), we can “trace [it]…back to…the ‘oldest and most fundamental dualism,’ the hierarchical differentiation between women and men” (GP 206). Catherine Keller’s Face of the Deep (2003) demonstrates how the non-monadic alternatives disappeared by violent repression of female self-creativity—however, inter/textually leaving the traces of their disappearance in early creation myth like the Enuma Elish, and even the doctrine of the creation ex nihilo.

Against this “one absolute, omnipotent, omniscient source of all beings” that “for his own existence” requires “no relations to anything beyond himself” (AI 169, italics added), Whitehead and process theology replaced the hierarchical dualism with a cyclic duality of “’action and reaction’ [as] belong[ing] to the essence of being” (AI 120). God, then, is no absolute, transcendent, and self-sufficient actus purus, but relational, receptive, rhythmic activity of becoming. This God does not coerce, but persuade, lure, seduce.

All of these de/constructive conceptions of God, inspired by Whitehead's anti-imperialistic approach, demonstrate a somehow rhizomatic manifoldness possible from Whitehead's theology. Although process theology may understand itself as systematic endeavor, it is, in fact, a whole body of creative multiplicity that corresponds to the profoundly rhizomatic character of Whitehead's “system” itself. In fact, Whitehead's Chaosmos was never conquered by any systematic unification; it rather is, and theologically evokes, “a process that at once affirms incompossibilities and passes through them” (F 81).

Whitehead’s anti-imperialism comes from his mystical awe for the “infinitude of the Universe”; and his correlating strategy is, in fact, de/construction; the de/construction of dogmatic finitude (cf. MT 172-3). With a slash between “de” and “construction,” I want to emphasize a polar circulation between the “de-” of “resolving” a monadic whole and the “con-” of “integrating” multiplicities anew into a (now) rhizomatic whole, in order “to gage dimly in the infinitude of things.”

- R. Faber, “In the Wake of False Unifications: Whitehead's Creative Resistance against Imperialist Theologies” (Claremont School of Theology, Los Angeles, March 2005)
[download complete article]