The Ecclesiology of Karl Rahner

The Ecclesiology of Karl Rahner

The Ecclesiology of Karl Rahner

The Ecclesiology of Karl Rahner

Synopsis

In the years since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has struggled to renew its self-understanding and revise its relationship to the world. This book examines the contribution made by a key figure in those debates, Karl Rahner (1904-1984), one of the foremost Catholic theologians of this century. Lennan analyzes Rahner's ecclesiology in the context of his whole theology, charting both the development of his thought and, particularly, his vision of the Church's future.

Excerpt

Each of the cliffs framing Whitby harbour in north Yorkshire is home to a distinctive monument. On one of the brows stands a statue of Captain James Cook, the master navigator of the eighteenth century, who not only served his apprenticeship in Whitby, but also sailed the locally built Endeavour, an undistinguished converted collier, to terra australis incognita. By way of contrast, the opposite promontory is commanded by the ruins of Whitby Abbey, a site which evokes Hilda, Cuthbert, and Bede, and the Synod which adopted Roman Christianity as the norm for Britain. The physical separation between Cook's statue and the Abbey's ruins parallels the gap between the world-views they represent.

Cook, a worthy exemplar of the Enlightenment spirit which esteemed discovery and progress, is the classic explorer. His journeys without maps opened for Europeans the way to a world whose very existence had been disputed by his contemporaries. While his achievements attest to the harvest only the audacious can reap, Whitby Abbey, the embodiment of the richness of Catholic tradition, proclaims that conserving what has been inherited is both a fundamental aspect of being human and a very particular feature of Christian faith. For this reason, even the ruins of the Abbey, the relics of a millennium of faithful witness to the Gospel, are cherished. The two guardians of Whitby harbour provide, therefore, an icon of the tension between the conflicting claims of progress and preservation.

While this tension is not of recent origin, it has acquired an increasingly bitter ideological dimension in recent decades. This is so because 'change', perhaps as a result of the staggering advances in technology since the Industrial Revolution, has come to imply neither evolution nor development, but a disjunction between the old and the new. Indeed, it could be argued that the modern world seems allergic to permanence and continuity. Nor has this notion of change as revolution been limited solely to science and industry; social and economic policies too have been . . .

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