In this chapter I will consider a number of possible objections to the nonfoundationalist interpretation of Rahner's theology outlined in the previous chapter, and in so doing, fill out that interpretation. The criticisms to be considered here are not so much textual-whether Rahner's writings can bear the interpretation I am proposing-as substantive: if this is Rahner's theology, a critic might say, then he sounds both strange and unattractive. More particularly, I will consider three potential objections: the Rahner I present, it might be thought, seems more of a Protestant than a Catholic; he has been transformed into a relativist; and on my account he can have no room for an apologetic dimension to theology. Even if one has no loyalty to Rahner's philosophy, or to the consistency of his corpus, it might be argued, the proposed interpretation needs to be rejected as implausible and intellectually uncharitable, because of one or more of these problems. In what follows I shall develop and respond to these criticisms in succession.
To introduce into a discussion of Rahner the whole debate over foundationalism and nonfoundationalism, and to place him in the latter camp is, it might be argued, to force him into a procrustean bed. As already noted, Rahner neither used the language of foundationalism and nonfoundationalism, nor raised with different language the precise issues discussed here. To this it might be added that foundationalism and the critique of it have been considerably more a pre-occupation of Protestant than of Roman Catholic theology (though there have been some exceptions). While Protestant thinkers have often been suspicious of “natural theology, ” reason has never been so problematized in Roman Catholic thought. And the anxiety about foundationalism, it might be said, though dressed up in a new philosophical guise, fundamentally represents a recurrence of the Protestant worry over the pretensions of human reason to know God.
One can perhaps articulate this kind of concern most sharply in terms of