I don’t know much about process theology. My systematic theology professor disparaged it in one lecture, saying that it teaches that God doesn’t create out of nothing. Rather, “in the beginning” there was preexistent stuff alongside God, including evil, over which God has no ultimate control.
As Roger Olson points out in this concise summary of process theology, it appeals to some Christians because it lets God off the hook for evil in the world. Not only did God not cause evil (as orthodox theology has it), he isn’t powerful enough to do anything about it anyway.
Evil presents a problem for us Christians because we are monotheists. In the old days of polytheism, we could blame the bad gods for the bad stuff and hope the good gods ultimately prevail over them. If God is one, however, and creator of all, then God must ultimately be responsible for everything that happens in the world, including evil. If God is responsible for evil, then that takes some explaining. And this explanation is what’s called theodicy: How do we justify believing that God is good in a world full of evil?
To be clear, to say that God is responsible for evil isn’t to imply that God created evil. According to orthodox theology, evil isn’t a thing at all; rather, it’s the absence of a something—namely, the good that inheres in all of God’s creation. The Creation is good but it’s been corrupted by sin through free will and stands in need of redemption.
But to say that God didn’t create evil doesn’t let God off the hook for it. Why? Because God didn’t have to create our world in the first place. He chose to, knowing that one consequence for doing so would be sin and evil—and, yes, the cross of his Son Jesus. God obviously believed that creating the world with this trade-off was completely worth it. But not only is it worth it, it’s to God’s glory, as will become clear at the end of history.
From where I sit, how can I possibly disagree? Life seems incredibly good to me already, in spite of everything.
For those who disagree, however—who object to the Christian God on moral grounds—I would say, along with N.T. Wright, that the problem of good is a bigger problem for them than the problem of evil is for us Christians.
Besides, as Olson writes,
[P]rocess theology solves the theodicy issue at too high a cost. The God of process theology is hardly worshipful. In order to be worshipful God must be both great and good (but not one at the expense of the other). The God of process theology is not great enough to be worshipful. He/she/it is great enough to be admirable but not worshipful.