(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

In The Divine Relativity, Charles Hartshorne states that he aims to show that God can be conceived without logical absurdity and that the idea of God does not involve self-contradiction. Some theologians have spoken of the nature of God as paradoxical or mysterious because belief in the Deity implies faith in a being that is both absolute and unchanging and also part of the relativistic, shifting universe. Hartshorne maintains that allowing this kind of paradox contributes to atheism because it allows contradiction at the center of faith. He argues that analysis of the definition of God can solve the apparent problem of self-contradiction.

Hartshorne writes that God is relative in most aspects because God exists in relation to his creation. This is in the nature of God’s existence as a subject rather than as an object. The subject, which knows things, is relative to the object, which is known. Because God knows all things, God must be relative to all things. Hartshorne labels the supremely relative nature of God “surrelativism.” God is also relative as a social being because persons in a society are defined by their relations to other persons, and God is related to all persons.

The belief that the perfection of God is inconsistent with divine relativity is caused by mistaken thinking in the tradition of the absolute. In the intellectual tradition that has come down to Christianity from antiquity, unchangeability and a lack of relation to other things have been considered superior qualities, while dependence and contingency have been considered inferior qualities. Therefore, this tradition has portrayed God, the being superior to all things, as of necessity absolute and beyond relation and change....

(The entire section is 711 words.)