Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Ronald Grimes

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The first four chapters constitute a historical survey of Kaufman’s works. My thesis is that the development of Kaufman’s thought can best be understood as his attempt to take a consistently historicist position vis-à-vis the issues that present themselves to him. By “historicism” I mean that way of thinking that takes the categories presupposed in history (linear time, empirical space, human freedom and other derivative notions) as its primary ones as opposed to the classical terms of essence, nature, and substance. The survey involves a discussion of Kaufman’s Ph.D. thesis (ch. 1), his systematic theological efforts (ch. 2), his search for new foundations for theology (ch. 3), and a discussion of his recently formulated theological method (ch. 4). I argue here that theology has self-creation as its ultimate end when understood in a historicist context. Chapter 5 is a critique of Kaufman’s theological method and the historicism that frames it. This critique relies heavily on the critical reflections of George P. Grant and A. James Reimer, who argue that our belief in our essential freedom and autonomy has certain regrettable consequences. Using the analysis of consciousness provided by Paul Ricoeur, I propose a general alternative orientation for theology. Ricoeur points out that our historicity also implies dependence and thereby he limits our claim to autonomy. The possibility of retaining a view of theology as a search for depth and truth is briefly discussed. Kaufma’s pragmatic understanding of theological truth is here judged to be inadequate to his purposes. I suggest that Kaufman’s concentration on the constructive dimension of human beings obscures the receptivity that is a prerequisite for any genuine creativity. This one-sided emphasis, I suggest with James Reimer, only serves to reinforce a cultural ethos that has brought us to the brink of disaster. A reflection by the author of this thesis concludes the paper.

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