Living without a Why: Mysticism, Pluralism, and the Way of Grace

By Paul O. Ingram

An exploration of the meaning of divine grace in a post-Christian world, drawing on Buddhist thought, process theology and the author’s Lutheran background.

ISBN: 9780227175262


Paul O. Ingram adds his voice to a long list of writers seeking to relate Christian tradition to the hard realities of this post-Christian age of religious and secular pluralism. As a Lutheran, Ingram thinks grace flows over this universe like a waterfall, so he brings Christian mystical theology into a discussion of the meaning of grace.

Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophical vision provides a language that serves as a hermeneutical bridge by which historians of religions can interpret the teachings and practices of religious ways other than their own without falsification, and by which theologians can appropriate research in the history of religions as a means of helping Christians to advance in their own journeys of faith.

The purpose of the journey of faith is what Whitehead called “creative transformation”. The contemporary theological tradition that has most systematically and coherently followed Whitehead’s lead in its reflection on non-Christian ways is process theology, which is perhaps the only liberal or progressive theological movement now active in the twenty-first century.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 136

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Paul O. Ingram is Professor Emeritus of History of Religions at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. He is the author of Buddhist-Christian Dialogue in an Age of Science (2008), The Process of Buddhist Christian Dialogue (James Clarke and Co Ltd, 2011), Theological Reflections at the Boundaries (2012), and Passing Over and Returning: A Pluralist Theology of Religions (2013).


Foreword by Marit Trelstad

1. Introduction
2. History of Religions: Methodology as Metaphor
3. The Difficult Path
4. What’s in a Name?
5. Butterfly in a Mirror
6. A Theological Reflection on Mystical Experience
7. The Jesus Way of Living without a Why
8. Living without a Why: The Way of Grace

Scripture Index
Index of Names


Endorsements and Reviews

Paul O. Ingram belongs to the tribe of those who see God’s grace everywhere in the world. So do I. And if you, too, belong to this tribe you will benefit from reading this book. It will help you in your quest to answer the follow-up question: if grace is everywhere, how do we teach people to access it? This is the religious question of the religiously plural twenty-first century.
Terry C. Muck, Executive Director, The Louisville Institute, Louisville, Kentucky

Paul O. Ingram writes as a Christian deeply sensitive to the mystery that surrounds us all and is wisely explored by many traditions. He locates his own faith in this large context and invites the reader to join in this fresh perspective. What emerges is a vivid sense of living by the grace of God.
John Cobb, Professor Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California