‘Christianity and Ideology’ by Karl Rahner

I’ve just handed in a ‘Reading Reports’ assignment where I had to summarise and respond to various set texts in order to grasp something of the global trends in theology in the twentieth century.  It may be a bit clunky, but I’ve cut and paste the assignment here to give you a paragraph on some key theologians from the past 100 years.   Several of the chapters set in these reviews are from the fat brick of a book that is the subject’s text: David Ford’s The Modern Theologians.  Post #4 – Karl Rahner

 

Rahner, Karl, ‘Christianity and Ideology,’ In Concilium. (Vol 6; No 1; 1965, pp.23-32)

Karl Rahner represent those theologians optisimtic about appropriating the use of Modernist thought and culture which deLubac rejects. In ‘Christianity and Ideology’, Rahner explores the loaded term ‘ideology’: used extensively in Marxist thought. Ideology, as Rahner defines it, is “an erroneous system that must be rejected by a true interpretation of reality.” One cannot reject Christianity as an ideology on the basis of metaphysics, because “metaphysics, by its defintion, cannot under any circumstances be regarded as an ideology” (p.26). Metaphysical theories are by nature pluralistic, but that does not mean that any one theory can be proved wrong by another, because they defy rationalism. “If metaphysics is understood as a rational, or still better, as a spiritual induction into this attitude of openness to the absolute mystery, which always lives on the ground of our spiritual, free and responsible being … then metaphysics loses its appearance of ideological poetry even in confrontation with all the pluralism of world views of the world today” (p. 27). This transcendental experience of mystery is the locus of Christianity, not the doctrinal propositional statements of a Scholastic inspired religion. Not that Christianity is not historical – Rahner emphasises that it is – but “man’s [sic] historicity, understood as the mediation to his transcendental nature, elevated by grace, finds its culmination in Jesus Christ, the God-Man” (p.29). The groundedness of Christ in history leads the Christian to be serious about all history (p.30) which is a further reason why Christianity does not fall into mere interpretations of reality nor is threatened by other meaningful systems of belief. Hence, for Rahner, the task of theology is intimately engaged with both historical criticism and metaphysical experience.  

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