July 26, 2011 by

The Passing of a Great Theologian

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Everyone knows Amy Winehouse died, that the NFL lockout has ended, that a Christian terrorist slaughtered innocent children in Norway, that right-wing extremists are holding the US economy hostage in their attack on the Christian value of caring for the poor and vulnerable. But few will know that a great Christian thinker died last week. Even though I had been expecting it, even I didn’t know until I read the Harvard Divinity Dean’s “Year in Review.”

Gordon Kaufman was a Christian in the Anabaptist tradition, and shared that tradition’s commitment to non-violence. But he was also a thoroughly post-modern theologian. His “Essay on Theological Method” established the program for constructive theology. His “In Face of Mystery” was the closest thing to a summa that can exist in the discipline. His last two works, “In the beginning… creativity” and “Jesus and Creativity” gave evidence that he was still pondering the mysteries of God in his last years.

I was blessed to complete a one-on-one class with Professor Kaufman, and then to have him as my M.Div. paper adviser. It was under his tutelage that I became committed to the constructive task of building the new church. I would not have that commitment to the practical and lived experience of the people of God if not for the rigorous thinking Professor Kaufman taught me.

I pray for his family and for all he touched, and encourage those who have not studied his works to take this opportunity to do so.

Blessings,
Gary

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