A CHRISTIAN NATURALISM: DEVELOPING THE THINKING OF GORDON KAUFMAN

with Myriam Renaud, “Gordon Kaufman's Humanizing Concept of God”; Jerome P. Soneson, “The Legacy of Gordon Kaufman: Theological Method and Its Pragmatic Norms”; J. Patrick Woolley, “Kaufman's Debt to Kant: The Epistemological Importance of the ‘Structure of the World which Environs Us’”; Thomas A. James, “Gordon Kaufman, Flat Ontology, and Value: Toward an Ecological Theocentrism”; and Karl E. Peters, “A Christian Naturalism: Developing the Thinking of Gordon Kaufman.”

Authors

  • Karl E. Peters


Abstract

This essay develops a theological naturalism using Gordon Kaufman's nonpersonal idea of God as serendipitous creativity in contrast to the personal metaphorical theology of Sallie McFague. It then develops a Christian theological naturalism by using Kaufman's idea of historical trajectories, specifically Jesus trajectory1 and Jesus trajectory2. The first is the trajectory in the early Christian church assuming a personal God in the framework of Greek philosophy that results in the Trinity. The second is the naturalistic-humanistic trajectory of creativity (God) that evolves from nonpersonal interactions in the universe and life to creativity in persons and is manifested in Jesus as love. This is elaborated further with Dean Keith Simonton's Darwinian understanding of genius and Marcus Borg's analysis of Jesus as Jewish mystic, teacher of alternative wisdom, and nonviolent resister to the domination system of the Roman Empire. What makes Jesus a religious genius is his exemplifying unconditional, universal love—a new mode of creativity (God) that has evolved from nonhuman to a human form.

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