A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF KARL RAHNER'S ESCHATOLOGY (THEOLOPY, SOUL)

MARIE MURPHY, Fordham University

Abstract

Karl Rahner contended that the eschatological assertions of the church must be reformulated, under the careful guidance of the church magisterium, so that the truths contained within these assertions might be meaningful today. While Rahner maintained that the faith content of the teachings of the church concerning the eschata remains constant, he was particularly concerned with the hermeneutical implications of the church's eschatological assertions in the contemporary era with its new understanding of the relationship of the human subject and the material order.^ This study begins by examining three key periods in Western Christianity when man's understanding of himself underwent significant changes. This transformation in self-understanding resulted in not only changed attitudes toward the world but also a different understanding of death and the last things.^ In Rahner's understanding the human person can only achieve self-presence in his relationship to the material order. Furthermore, the material order has been ontologically changed since Christ has assumed a concrete, substantial union with the world through his Incarnation. Rahner called this the basic unity of the world, where the person enters into an all-cosmic relationship through death.^ This study examines Rahner's interpretation of the traditional images of death and the last things and his demand that these assertions be reformulated in the light of a transcendental understanding of man.^ This study contrasts his thought with that of Ladislaus Boros and Helmut Thielicke, to clarify his unique contribution. In contrast to Boros, Rahner understands eschatological assertions as revelatory of present human experience and not as statements or previews of future experience. In contrast to Thielicke, Rahner holds that in spite of the original sinfulness of humankind, humans still are ontologically transformed by a supernatural existential which drives them toward incomprehensible mystery.^ The final section examines the teaching of the church on death and the last things in light of Rahner's admonition that these assertions must be grasped anew by the people of each age. The faith content of these teachings is contrasted with Rahner's reformulations of the eschatological assertions in order to determine their hermeneutical implications for the contemporary Christian. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.) ^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

MURPHY, MARIE, "A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF KARL RAHNER'S ESCHATOLOGY (THEOLOPY, SOUL)" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8612861.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8612861

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