success stories

A book for scholars schooled in Rahner. Not to be read, but studied slowly bit by bit.

Book: Reinterpreting Rahner: A Critical Study of His Major Themes
Author: Patrick Burke
Fordham University Press, New York, pp.322

Excerpt from Introduction:

Probably no theologian exercised so profound an influence on Catholic theology during the last half of the twentieth century as Karl Rahner. By his historical and theological research before the Second Vatican Council, he contributed mightily to the foundations of the so-called new theology that was finally to win acceptance from the Council Fathers. During the council, he actively participated as a peritus in the drafting of many conciliar decrees, and in the years subsequent he tirelessly interpreted the councilís intentions to the world in books, articles, and lectures translated into innumerable languages. He was undoubtedly one of the great synthetic thinkers of the twentieth century, and his theology was and remains an outstanding achievement.

. . . .Rahnerís theology is rightly recognized as a theological system because of the fundamental unity that runs throughout his writings. The key to this unity of approach lies in a foundational structure of thought that is revealed in the philosophical works with which he began his intellectual career and that is apparent throughout his theological development. His early philosophical works Geist in Welt and Hoerer des Wortes are therefore absolutely intrinsic to a correct understanding of this theology.

. . . . In this analysis of the principal elements of Rahnerís philosophical and theological synthesis, therefore, I examine the structure of dialectical analogy as it appears in each of the major themes of his theology, showing that it is an indispensable hermeneutical key to the correct interpretation of his thought. But I also expose a very real tension within the system, which needs to be addressed by Rahnerian scholars if the complex and profound balance of this theological vision is not to be endangered or even lost.

Excerpt from Book:

The Eucharist s ďwordĒ because here the incarnate Logos of God is himself present in his substance.

The Eucharist is not only the supreme case of those acts of self-realization of the church which are called sacraments; it is the real origin of all other sacraments ó which in their turn are so much the self-realization of the church that all other words and actions of the church have essentially the function of serving these acts of self-realization and are only really justified and intelligible in the light of the sacraments. And then we may say that the Eucharist is simply the word of God in the Church, which supports and conveys all other words, which forms the center whence all the reality of the church derives its meaning. The Eucharist is the word of the church absolutely. . . .

Authority in the Church

The whole question of the church (having authority) can be expressed in a simple question: Is man religious merely through his transcendental relationship, or does this indubitable and fundamental relation of God to man and man to God in what we call Spirit and grace have a tangible and concrete history? There are only two basic possibilities. Either history itself is of salvific significance, or salvation takes place only in a subjective and ultimately transcendental interiority.

If the first solution is the only really and genuinely human solution, then the church itself belongs to the salvation history of Godís grace not only as some useful religious organization, but rather as the categorical concreteness and the mediation of salvation and grace: only this makes the church really church.

Table of Contents:

1. Foundational Thought
2. Nature and Grace
3. The Trinity
4. Symbol and Becoming
5. History and Revelation
6. Christology
7. Ecclesiology
8. The Development of Dogma
9. Final Synthesis and Conclusions
10. Final Word