A divided theologian: Karl Rahner’s existential ontology and the problem of ecclesiology

Johnston, Lee (2017) A divided theologian: Karl Rahner’s existential ontology and the problem of ecclesiology. MTh(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3268991


This dissertation explores the connection, or rather, disconnection between Rahner's ecclesiology and his existential ontology, showing that his thought has the potential to be useful in the pluralistic conversation which Christianity finds itself in today if pushed in more radical directions. The dissertation is structured by first exploring the basics of Rahner's terminology and thought, particularly in contrast with Heidegger – a major influence on his writing – showing that transcendence and immanence are interdependent for him. Next, we will explore the wider issue of Rahner's place in post-modern conversations, establishing a hermeneutic which focuses on the 'Hearer' – one constituted by the speech of God and the Other in the everyday of life, rather than a stable modernist subject, as is often attributed to him. Next, taking this hermeneutic, I will show how it is worked out in existential terms, to the extent that Rahner's thought validates any and all philosophies and theologies which engender love for one's neighbour, hope for the future and authenticity in the face of death – our prime example being the philosophy of Hegel. Unfortunately, Rahner's ecclesiology fails to direct the impulse of his existential ontology towards universalism, instead favouring the privileged status of the visible Church in general and the Roman Catholic Church in particular. Therefore, I will conclude by reconstructing Rahner's ecclesiology in conversation with Hans Küng and Jean-Luc Marion, moving towards a universal idea of the Church which recognises that the gift of God is received freely by all Hearers in their diverse contexts, groups and possibilities of knowledge, without the need for a visible Church.

Item Type: Thesis (MTh(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Karl Rahner, Heidegger, Existentialism, ecclesiology, ontology.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Pattison, Prof. George
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Mr Lee Johnston
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8139
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 May 2017 09:49
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2017 11:55
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8139

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