A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I've decided to steal an idea from the blog Evangelical Outpost. This site has started to highlight famous evangelical leaders and thinkers. Given how little exposure mainline theologians receive, I thought I'd copy the idea for this site.

Gordon Kaufman

Denomination: Mennonite

Education: AB Bethel College, MA Northwestern University, BD Yale Divinity School, PhD Yale University, LHD Bethel College

Position: Mallinckrodt Professor of Divinity (Emeritus) at Harvard University where he has taught since 1963. Previously a professor at Pomona College and Vanderbilt. He is a past president of the American Academy of Religion and of the American Theological Society, as well as a member of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies.

Books: Kaufman is the author of over 10 books which have had a dramatic impact on how many in the mainline have considered the question of God language. Among these are An Essay on Theological Method, God The Problem, Theology for a Nuclear Age, and In the Face of Mystery.

That last work earned him the 1995 American Academy of Religion Award for excellence among constructive books in religion. It was this book which provided a way for me to see naturalism as a positive framework to think through religious questions. His newest book In the Beginning..Creativity I've just ordered and hope to post some thoughts on soon.

Project: To provide for an evolutionary and socio-historical account of human existence. From that place one can start to evaluate what factors and activities are at play which strengthen the possibilities of this world and human life. It is through such discernment that one can begin to orientate our activities in ways appropriate to such realities.

The problem has been the way traditional Christian language gives us a conceptual framework which does not make sense of this account of the world which has developed over the last few centuries. This is a problem because without the ability to discern correctly our relation to the world we're not likely to solve the deepest crises which plague human life.

Kaufman's task is to re-interpet and re-imagine Christian language, especially the central symbols of the faith such as God, Christ, and the Church in a manner which takes account of this newer picture of the world, thus providing a basis by which our religious faith can become a resource in tackling the problems which tear up our world.

One article which highlights his thought is his piece for Cross Currents titled Re-conceiving God and Humanity in Light of Today's Ecological Consciousness: A Brief Statement.


At 11:40 AM , Blogger Joe G. said...

Great idea! I hardly know any prominent liberal Christian theologians, so I look forward to future entries. Also - thanks for the link to one of Kaufman's articles. I've saved it for future reading.

At 5:44 PM , Blogger Joe Carter said...

I'm glad you thought it was an idea worth "stealing." ; )

This was a good entry and I'm looking forward to reading more in the future. I think we can all learn something by explaining who influences our respective sub-cultures and religious communities.

Do you have a list of names that you plan to profile int the future?

At 6:20 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

Thanks. If one asks a person on the street to name a famous Christian, I have my doubts that mainline folks would be included. So this project is a little contribution to getting some good names out there. I don't have a detailed list in mind and I am always interested in input from readers on what figures should be covered.

Though some initial names I'm thinking of focusing on are Carter Heyward, James Nelson, Sallie McFague, and John Cobb. There's a number of big name folks who have passed on over the years, but my goal in the beginning is to cover folks who are alive and working out their projects today.

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At 9:27 PM , Blogger Peter Schogol said...

Thanks for your blog! I too am a fan of Gordon Kaufman (and Wieman and Meland).

I look forward to your thoughts on IN THE BEGINNING... CREATIVITY. I'm a Jewish Religious Liberal and I find in Kaufman a theological perspective I can use in my life, my writing, and my teaching.

At 7:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

m.f. says: I agree Kaufman is one of the most thought-provoking thinkers today. However, his link of divinity to evolutionary creativity should recognize even the best creations are subject to the law of unintended consequences.

At 7:10 PM , Blogger Religion and Film. said...

Funny to hear one Cristian stealing for another ;D

I think Gordon Kaufman is 'ok'. His ideas on language, and the humanity of Christ are rather appealing, but as with all liberal theology I always find myself carrying the same complaint: The Elevation of the Self.

It's idolatry where the self replaces the God. It blurs the divinity of God and Christ in replace for the power behind human actions. Although it's a nice linear line of thought to lead to social justice, it does poor to truely attack that existance and forgiveness of sin, besides envoking people to act against it (and as humans, I'd be skeptical of this thing called 'human action').

The lack of spirit, and divinity of Christ places him in line with John Woolman, Mohandas Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., etc. He merely fades into the background of great humans, and through all this we miss that central message of the gospel: Forgiveness, and salvation.

He is still, however, one of America's great Theologians. Just don't tell me you're going to throw up Schliermaucher up here (sp?). lol

God Bless Brother!

At 7:12 PM , Blogger Religion and Film. said...

Oh yeah: Maybe you can include Emerson and Karl Barth. Christians never know those two.

At 7:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just come across this blog via Googling Gordon Kaufman. The blog's subject matter interests me and I wonder if it, the blog, is an ongoing forum. If so, how do I join/participate in the blog. I am not experienced in the way of facebook. etc. types of communications.

At 4:10 AM , Anonymous generic cialis 20mg said...

Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites


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