The Christian message in a postmodern world : a critical re-appropriation of Hendrik Kraemer's theology of religions
This thesis is a critical re-appropriation of Hendrik Kraemer's theology of religions. Part I introduces theology of religions through the now familiar threefold typology: Kari Earth represents 'exclusivism,' Kari Rahner, 'inclusivism,' and John Hick, 'pluralism' (Chapter 1). It then argues that the typology implicitly represents non-pluralist approaches as theologically deficient and ethically insensitive while masking problems in pluralist positions (Chapter 2). It thus releases Kraemer from the typology and from the more emotive charges directed against 'exclusivism.' Part II chronologically and thematically surveys Kraemer's theology of religions, describing his missiological and theological contexts (Chapter 3) and summarising his major works (Chapter 4). The crux of the argument comes in Part III. First, a survey of the contemporary philosophical climate is offered through a summary and critique of Jean-Frangois Lyotard's interpretation of the postmodern condition Subsequently, three theological responses are assessed with Mark C. Taylor's a/theology and John Milbank's theology presented as avoidable extremes while the work of Hans Frei and George Lindbeck is offered as a mediating position which is dubbed 'postmodern orthodoxy' (Chapter 5). Second, after reviewing key themes in Kraemer's position, theological and phenomenological criticisms are outlined and evaluated. Though they do not seriously threaten the position, these criticisms prohibit extreme interpretations of, and lead to slight modifications in, Kraemer's work (Chapter 6). Finally, when re-read through the lenses of postmodern orthodoxy, Kraemer's thought is shown to offer to contemporary theology of religions avenues of theological creativity which are nevertheless faithful to the Christian tradition (Chapter 7). The thesis concludes that Hendrik Kraemer's theology of religions is worthy of critical re- appropriation.