ACTION ITEM! Must read piece about how wrong Rahner was.

Over at Rorate there is something, dear readers, that I want all of you to read and know like your catechism, for this is part of the battle we are all fighting right now… and for many years.

At Rorate there is an anonymous piece (how I wish they would use names) which is a fine, concise exposition of a key problem with the thought of the late Jesuit Father Karl Rahner.  The piece doesn’t really move the question anywhere or explain why Rahner is wrong.  It isn’t an argument, but it is one of the best summaries I have seen.

This stuff crops up everywhere!

As an aside, you may recall that, I think, Benedict XVI’s famous 2005 address to the Roman Curia was, in large part, a refutation of Rahner and Rahnerians everywhere.  This is the speech in which Benedict spoke of hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture.

I think you, dear readers, should be familiar with this, so that when people use this line of thought your alarm bells will ring.  The writer did you a real service. Read it carefully.  Print it out if you need to.

Moreover, this piece sparked a thought for me. In most cases when we hear proposals about “inculturation”, aren’t we really hearing proposals about “accommodation” to the world and its ways?  I muse on this in light of the proposals made by Card. Kasper concerning Communion for the divorced and remarried and discussion of the same during the upcoming Synod.

Enough.  Go read.  They don’t have a combox, but I do.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. akp1 says:

    Great harm indeed.

  2. Iacobus M says:

    “[Rahner holds that] to be a Christian is to accept one’s existence in its unconditionality. Ultimately, therefore, it is but the explicit reflection of what it means to be human.”

    How about that, I guess that we didn’t need a divine savior after all. Thanks anyway, Lord!

  3. Reconverted Idiot says:

    Wow, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI really is a remarkable scholar. That Christmas Address to The Roman Curia 2005 is an incredible text. A few weeks ago one of my local priests mentioned in his sermon that Joseph Ratzinger was a ‘special’ person in a way that few of us can expect to match, and nor should we. It’s only of late that I’m coming to appreciate just how special, ‘special’ is.

  4. benedetta says:

    I’ve never heard of Rahner’s Third Epoch nor do I really care a whole lot. I always like reading what Pope Benedict has said though and appreciate him very much.

    Who knows what that was about w/Fr. Rosica the incident to which Rorate alludes however given press corps soundbytes being what they are I really doubt it was a covert message to dissenters everywhere that Rahner now will triumph.

    My sense from it without knowing the Third Epoch context that Rorate provided was that he was saying that the Church is universal, and, post Second V, which we indeed are, it’s a new moment.

    I for one am relieved that someone is acknowledging that it is a new moment after some forty years of rehashing junk not even related to Second V and passing it off as genuine.

  5. ConstantlyConverting says:

    These three radically different epochs, or any argument against the hermeneutic of continuity… How could any theologian or scholar convince himself of this line of thinking when the entirety of the Old Covenant is essentially obvious recapitulations of the same story and, for all practical purposes, the New Testament, as radically different than it is from the Old Testament/Covenant is yet another recapitulation (Eph 1:7-10) of the same story only with the full light (John 1:4-5) of Christ….?

    This seems more like some version of Catholic dispensationalism, which is just lunacy…

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Along time ago, when I was very young, a teacher said to me something like this, “Protestants accept people as they are to be as they are. Catholics accept people as God sees them. Catholics have a higher bar of reality and spirituality.”

    In other words, like von Balthasar, Rahner undermines the Incarnation and the Act of Redemption on the Cross of Christ. Rahner undermines the Truth of Scripture and Revelation as well. Regarding the grape juice reference, an insult to any ethnic group, btw, Rahner’s attitude is so what that Christ took wine and said, “This is My Body”. The entire Catholic Church is based on the Judaic-Romano traditions not on those of the Assyrians, or Abyssinians, or the Athabaskans. God created the Old Covenant with the Jews and set up rites, which were then taken into the New Covenant. I always felt that there was a latent antisemitism in the acceptance of most types of inculturation, as well as an anti-Romano, anti-Western attitudes. All cultures and all civilizations are not the same and God created the Hebrew people as His Own, to lead to the People of the New Covenant. Yes, the Church is universal, but she is also based in a historical context, which is the Incarnation.

    Yes, we have a higher bar, and it is called holiness.

    Part of this faulty point of view of Rahner is the heresy of progressivism, what I call the Star Trek heresy, which believes that man evolves into something higher and better naturally.

    Sigh, some of us had to work our ways out of these cobwebs forced on us in theology classes. Thank God for the Pope Emeritus, who clearly saw the dangers.

  7. MrTipsNZ says:

    If what is posted on Rorate is accurate, then Rahner clearly didn’t understand Paul in Ephesians 4, 21-25:

    [21] If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus: [22] To put off, according to former conversation, the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error. [23] And be renewed in the spirit of your mind: [24] And put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth. [25] Wherefore putting away lying, speak; ye the truth every man with his neighbour; for we are members one of another.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Generally I take everything that is posted at Rorate with a large grain of salt, [There are those who say the same about me. That’s how this works.] but since Fr Z recommends it, I will indeed print this article out for further study.

  9. James Joseph says:

    Being in my mid-30’s, I remember this three ages crap. It didn’t make sense to a 5 year then and it doesn’t make sense 30 years later. Garbaaage. Currently reading THIS which of course makes sense because it’s from 1906.

  10. Mike says:

    That the Christian is “man as he is” is, in fact, true in one case (outside that of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is true God and true man), and never will be true in more. That exception, of course, is the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was conceived without sin.

    Her uniquely sinless human nature and perfect obedience to the will of her Creator are why Our Lady is the matchless exemplar of human fidelity in the time of Christ, in the twenty-first century, and for all time to come. Neither a flip of the calendar page, nor some modernistic theory or other, nor all the devils in Hell can change that.

    Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

  11. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    His theology of the three epochs sounds like a bargain-basement version of the three covenants in Calvinist Theology and like a highbrow version of the dispensations in Dispensationalism — and sounds just as kooky.

  12. benedetta says:

    Well I just got back from a Mass that was near -whackified with encrusted whackification of the past forty years with new whackiness added in for good measure and driving home I realized how wrong I was my take above. Therefore I take it back and thank both Rorate and Fr. Z for bringing this out.

    It’s pretty clear that in the US and in much of the Western world, importing the secular ethos and the values of the dictatorship of relativism into the liturgy and the celebration of the sacraments has been a magnificent and total fail. Oldsters who wouldn’t dream of not going to Mass and who now tolerate all of it, listened to the clericalist lie that if they didn’t accept without question or doubt that they were behind the times and now are unable to resist or discern just about anything. Whether the total secular import into the liturgy and doctrine worked is obvious: no young people. Just about. The ones there are, out of it, forced, unengaged, certainly far from active participation. Total fail.

    I’m not saying that we can’t use secular analogies or secular knowledge to preach, or to challenge, or to talk back to or with the culture. I’m saying the importation of so much junk into the Mass has been a whopping and total failure.

    If there is a new moment in the Church right now it is this: young people, indeed it seems, all over the world, are craving orthodoxy and worthy liturgy, and the practice of the faith with their whole selves, mind, body, heart, and yearn for the adventure of holiness with God. And they will not be satisfied with the faux and gutted stuff of the post VII fail.

  13. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    How long has Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., been the top English spokesperson for the Vatican Press Office? Was he appointed under Pope Benedict? He thinks that the Rahnerian Third Epoch, so roundly refuted by the Pope Emeritus, is to be welcomed and that Pope Francis is its first pope. Is he representative of Pope Francis and does this explain the ambiguous criticisms we keep hearing from Pope Francis? For example, last week in Caserta he addressed some Evangelicals and spoke about how it is necessary for Christians to “keep walking.” Christians who “stand still” will become stagnant. [I would give you the link to the Holy See website but I can’t figure out how to make the tags work; here’s plain text:

    Who are the Christians who are standing still? Lovers of the EF? Who are the Christians who are still walking? Rahnerian Third Epochists? Is this some kind of code? The Pope tells us to “follow Jesus” but everyone from the strictest fundamentalist to the loosest Episcopalian says he is “following Jesus.”

    Fr. Rosica may well be right about the Third Epoch and Pope Francis. God help us.

  14. benedetta says:

    I love the EF and I find Pope Francis’ words encouraging. It’s rather preposterous to say that he would say that lovers of the EF are standing still. Whether we love the EF or not, we can all fall into the trap of standing still spiritually. I don’t discount the Holy Father’s wisdom as not applicable to myself just because I love the EF. But that’s quite a leap into a rabbit hole, isn’t it? I mean this thread is about this specific quote of Fr. Rosica’s, regarding a construct of Rahner, that Pope Emeritus Benedict addressed quite well.

    I respected him immensely, but I never felt that JPII’s spokesperson (who was also Pope Emeritus Benedict’s) knew his entire mind and intentions, all of the time. That’s not how press spokespersons work. I’m not saying that they are frequently way off, I guess that would all depend, but, that’s not the purpose of press. I kind of think that if Pope Francis would have something specialized to say to only one Rite preferring group of Catholics that he wouldn’t issue it through a press spokesman, cleric or lay.

  15. jacobi says:

    Rahner’s idea that Catholicism must be accommodated to different cultures is Secularist and contradicts the teaching that we all share human nature, that we are all descended from Adam and Eve.

    It also contradicts centuries of Catholic experience. Prior to Vat II the Church was growing and thriving worldwide. It included Asians, (Asia and N, C, and S Americans), Europeans, Arabs, Semites Africans, East Asians, Australian Aborigines, all of whom took easily to the idea of bread and grape wine, including my ancestors in this awful part of the world I live in where the weather ensures that no grapes grow, I can assure you!

    His idea of three epochs is just plucked out of the air, with no theological basis.

    What is more convincing the concept put forward by Bishop Athanasius Schneider that we are now in the fourth great crisis of the Church similar to the Arian Heresy in which only a percentage of the hierarchy held to the Truth. The bishop sees the real possibility of a schism coming in the Church which I think will be similar to the Protestant Reformation

  16. Mike says:

    A priest once told me this anecdote that neatly sums up a lot of this, especially Benedict’s position as opposed to Rahner’s:
    Fr. So-and-So was walking across St. Peter’s Square with a priest who was a convert from the Episcopal church. When they saw Cardinal Ratzinger walking towards them, my friend (who knew Ratzinger, waved hello. Introducing the other priest to Cardinal Ratzinger, my friend said, “Father is a convert to the Church, whereas I have been a Catholic since my birth.” To which the Prefect responded, with a twinkle in the eye, “Oh, I became a Catholic at my baptism.”

  17. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    Fr. Z:

    Thank you for this alert.

    To all Fr. Z and Rorate readers, I would say that Benedict XVI’s profound access to Catholic theology powerfully contradicts Rahner’s “innovations.”

    The thrust of the B16’s proof against Rahner’s “3rd Age” theory is probably found in several different Ratzinger/B16 texts. One of these texts is R/B16’s masterful book: “Introduction to Christianity.” In it, then Jos. Ratzinger confronts the error of Rahner’s “3rd age” theology by pointing to Christ as “The Omega Point” of all men. There is no end point for Man beyond Jesus Himself.

    And thus if the objective of The Church has always been clear, then the mission and nature of the Church has already been set, and Rahner’s vision – I believe it is called “The 3rd Age of The Spirit” – is counterfeit. It is a delusion, because it amounts to a project of “moving beyond Christ.” (And where have we heard that before, Laurie Brink?)

  18. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I notice that a lot of scientists seem to log massive, epochal, earthshaking, secular changes in the science that coincidentally date from the writer’s latest published research work. Rahner seems to have succumbed to this form of megalomania.

    Only a blinkered academic western theologian would start worrying about the absence of wine in Alaska and the polygamy of what he vaguely refers to as ‘African tribes’. And in consequence draw a preceptive lesson for the universal teaching of the Catholic Church.

    As if some Romano-British historian went to his desk in Aquae Sulis on the 14th February 412AD and wrote in his diary ‘What I’ve decided to call the ‘Dark Ages’ began today. Otherwise a normal Thursday. Strangely quiet, very few Romans around, no hot water, and my slave Liberus hasn’t turned up. Perhaps I should give him a holiday until he decides to come back to work. Anyway, who needs hot water. The Picts seem to manage jolly well without it!’

    Btw, googling ‘Karl Rahner Images’ gives us the man, at a glance. Very brilliant, no doubt. But not someone I’d like to have met.

  19. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    And I always got a bad feeling whenever I read anything written by or heard anything spoken by Fr. Rosica. With priests like Fr. Rosica in ascendancy, it is no wonder that the Church in Quebec has almost disappeared.

  20. jhayes says:

    Grateful to be Catholic writes How long has Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., been the top English spokesperson for the Vatican Press Office? Was he appointed under Pope Benedict?

    He’s been involved with the Vatican for quite a while:

    I’d been working with the Vatican through the whole World Youth Day adventure since 2000. So it wasn’t an unknown territory to me. In 2008, I was appointed the English language media attaché for the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. I was present for the whole synod, inside the synod, and dealt with the press through that whole month of October. Shortly after that, Pope Benedict appointed me as a consulter to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Then in 2012, I was asked to serve as the English-language attaché for the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. I was there in an official capacity, but the Vatican allowed Salt and Light to be inside the synod, and we documented the whole event in ways that had never been done before. Two of our young producers, Sebastian and Charles, were inside the synod and did interviews every day, producing 22 television programs in English and French. At the end of it, they produced a major documentary called “Inside the Synod.”

    After the 2012 synod, I thought that that was it until the morning of February 11, 2013, when Pope Benedict resigned. The following day, the Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi called me and said “come to Rome immediately.” Within 24 hours, I was the English-language person for the papal transition. I had to deal with the English-language press for six weeks in the Holy See Press Office. We had around 6,400 journalists, many of who were English-speaking. It was an incredible experience. Just before I left Rome after the conclave, and before Easter, Father Lombardi said to me: “You’ve developed a relationship with English-language media that we’ve never had before. I want you to continue that in a somewhat official capacity. You will be the English-language assistant to the Holy See Press Office.” He also formally established a Spanish-language assistant, a young priest from Chicago who is serving in that capacity now. I asked “what does that mean?” He said “just continue that relationship.” So what started off as a daily bulletin for several hundred people during the papal transition is now a bulletin with Vatican information and often commentaries on it that I send to about 750 English-language media people every morning. Specifically, it tells them how to understand this information from an English-language perspective, and it’s become a daily teaching and communications instrument. I’ll be the English-language “spokesman” at the Synod on the Family this coming October, working closely with a great Jesuit and mentor to me, Father Lombardi.


    Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., is a Canada-based Basilian priest and journalist. He is Chief Executive Officer of Salt and Light Television Network, consulter on the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications, English-language assistant to the Holy See Press Office, a member of the Social Communications Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and president of Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario.

  21. Grateful to be Catholic says:


    You are right: this thread is about the quotation from Fr. Rosica about Rahner’s Third Epoch and its refutation by Benedict XVI. But we would not care much what Fr. Rosica said except that he is a spokesperson for the Holy See. So I asked: how representative is he of the thinking of Pope Francis, who Fr. Rosica says has ushered in the Third Epoch?

    Rahner’s position would erase what most of us consider the distinctive elements of Catholicism (e.g., Sacraments, a universal Magisterium, clear morality based on natural law and revelation, Scripture and Tradition) because they are too tainted with Judeo-Greco-Roman culture and therefore not universally human. Does Pope Francis think he is the Pope of the Third Epoch? Does he agree with his spokesperson, Fr. Rosica, and his brother Jesuit, Fr. Rahner? Is that why he talks of diversity and vaguely criticizes Christians who he says are “standing still”? In what sense are they standing still? If he means that through laziness and inattention they have not matured in their love of God and neighbor and their understanding of their Faith, then indeed they are spiritually stagnant. But Pope Francis doesn’t say that. He says they should “keep walking,” but he doesn’t say where. He is speaking to Protestants; does he mean that they are “standing still” and need to reexamine their position with respect to the Catholic Church? We don’t know.

    It might be a bit extreme to think that loving the EF might be regarded as “standing still,” but my point is I do not know the limits of the possibilities of what is meant. Fr. Rosica has opened up a new range of possibilities that are not comforting to me.

  22. benedetta says:

    He’s a papal, not the papal, spokesperson. My guess is that he was looking to, impress his boss, and, find something eloquent to say. The fact that the huge majority of Catholics have no clue who Rahner was much less this construct known as the “Third Epoch” kind of in and of itself testifies as to whether this is something “with legs” or just a disconnected thought.

    Spokespeople, in business and in the political world, usually don’t know the mind of their bosses. Often they say things off the cuff that is not exactly commensurate. I don’t see in this quip an endorsement of Rahner’s every thought. Or even of the construct. He seems to be looking for an analogy, and, as analogies are concerned, it wasn’t the greatest maybe.

    As to Fr. Z’s point about the theology, I concur ultimately that as to the Church’s sellout to secularism in the West, it’s been a disaster. Whether one can pin all of that on Karl Rahner alone, I haven’t the expertise to say. I read what Pope Benedict wrote and to me it rings true to experience.

    I will say that it’s my sense that in theology one can say things that are foul balls ultimately, even with good intentions and an attempt to be orthodox. It’s not really my concern or business so much as a layperson, but I’m thankful that we have the Magisterium and people who do know to make the calls. There are holy people who have hit duds and in total humility, obedience, and penance have accepted the path of Holy Mother Church. Of course we don’t really witness anything like that with the crowd of loud American dissenters especially published in the Fishwrap and other places but that’s a fact. Off the top of my head I routinely ask one saint’s intercession who was disciplined severely by the Church and accepted it in all humility and silence and told others to accept it as well. A lot of people pray for this saint’s intercession and he was quite well known in his life time (fairly recent). Perhaps Fr. Rahner had some decent theology in the mix to go with that construct which Rorate derides? I wouldn’t know but I’m sure there are more learned folks out there who would.

  23. So basically Rahner is saying that these three alleged epochs are milestones in the Church’s evolution into a worldly institution. As if that would be a good thing.

    Now I think I understand the provenance of a remark I have heard a couple of priests make over the years: that the greatest benefit of being a priest is that it teaches you what it means to be really human. I never understood the point of that.

  24. The Cobbler says:

    Never mind theology, how about history? I seem to recall the only parts of Greco-Romanic culture that survived as the barbarians tore suicidal Rome’s corpse asunder were the parts the Church preserved — and this after Rome tried a few times to stamp the Church out and the Church pressed on in spite of such hostility. Rome didn’t change Christianity, Christianity changed Rome. Or, to paraphrase Chesterton’s comments on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (in “The Victorian Age in Literature” if anyone wants to look up the original — it’s apropos), Rome didn’t care for Christianity, Christianity cared for Rome.

  25. jhayes says:

    Grateful to be Catholic, Karl Rahner has been dead for thirty years so there is nothing new coming from him for Francis to agree with. Rahner didn’t propose the changes you mentioned. His basic point about the “Third Epoch” was that Vatican II was the first Council in which significant numbers of native born (rather than missionary) bishops from non-European-heritage countries participated. He saw in that a parallel to the Council of Jerusalem that decided that gentiles could become Christians without being circumcized and observing all of the Mosaic Law – which led to the evolution of a new theology incorporating Greek/Roman philosophy and which differed significantly from early Jewish Christianity.

    He suggested that if Vatican II represented the next move, from a Greek/Roman (i.e Western) Christianity to a world Christianity, the Third Epoch might involve equally fundamental changes.

  26. Elizabeth D says:

    Also germane because it seems to have everything to do with Rahner, is the theological theme of extraterrestrials. Pope Francis has said he would baptize aliens, and invited listeners picture little green men with antennae, from Mars. The rumor in various news reports and blogs (for instance The Eponymous Flower had something about it today) is that the theological inquiries on this topic are coming to a head and Pope Francis is going to make some kind of statement, perhaps composing an “Urbi et Orbi” speech which will comment on the matter. I submit that this has little to nothing to do with intelligent extraterrestrials, which I personally do not consider likely to exist. It does seem to have to do with Rahner. Some of Rahner’s devotees love this topic, presumably partly because they have the field to themselves due to more conservative theologians’ self-respect not permitting them to get involved. Poor extraterrestrials! Since they aren’t children of Adam and Eve we don’t know if they ever had a fall, but surely our good God would not leave them on a distant planet in utter hopelessness of becoming Christians… see, the anonymous Christian theory is proven as a moral necessity. And can the natural moral law as it applies to humans apply to an alien race with a Martian or Klingon nature rather than a human nature? I am a bit on edge at the idea of any type of magisterial statement relating to extraterrestrials. It could be excruciatingly embarrassing for one thing.

  27. benedetta says:

    Well to know that we are human is to also know that we are not God.

    I think also hindsight is 20 20. We are able to see now that the attempt to assimilate into the culture of death was a total fail. Rahner did not have the benefit of that when he wrote that. I will also say that whatever Rahner may have meant does not exactly line up with what dissenters are about in our times. Nor can we hang that on poor Fr. Rosica (who I don’t really comprehend the animus that some have for him truly).

    Of course the Church even well before Second Vatican has always been in conversation in whatever cultural milieu. How do we think St. Francis Xavier was able to baptize so many? To agree with the Ratzingerian sensibility is not to say that the Church should never engage a people in light of their human dignity wherever situated. Far from it.

  28. benedetta says:

    Elizabeth D have you been reading The Space Trilogy?

  29. benedetta says:

    The Jesuit who authored the interview has written some other good articles as well. I like the part just before the Third Epoch thing where he talks about how much Pope Francis has talked about the diabolical. And how the diabolical leans to the monologue.

  30. Elizabeth D says:

    Benedetta, CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy? I did read and enjoy that years ago! lol! Really like Perelandra. I was not actually thinking of that though.

  31. McCall1981 says:

    @ Elizabeth D,
    The thought of Francis commenting on the subject of extraterrestials is terrifying. [It may be that you are lending far too much importance to casual remarks that have nothing to do with his Magisterium.]

  32. Filipino Catholic says:

    …This reminds me of Joachim of Flora’s idea of the Three Ages: the third being the Age of the Holy Spirit.

  33. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Elizabeth D’s extrapolation reminds me to a certain extent of St. Augustine’s subject in Book 16, Chapter 8 of the City of God: if any races of creatures exist on earth and “if they are embraced in that definition of man as rational and mortal animals, unquestionably [they] trace their pedigree to that one first father of all.” At the end he writes (as translated at New Advent), “if they do exist, they are not human races; or if they are human, they are descended from Adam.” I do not know how far this leaves open the possibility of “rational and mortal animals” that are either non-human, or unfallen, or both (on or off the earth). In any case, if “rational and mortal” they are ‘fellow creatures’: they have the status of being both created and sustained – and presumably await perfecting, and, if also fallen, they need redeeming as well, and first. If being such fellow creatures apart from monogenesis would entail distinct means of redemption and perfection by He “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15), would remain to be seen and revealed as appropriate. The means of human redemption would remain unaffected.

  34. benedetta says:

    Sigh. Here’s another evening of my life herding intellectual cats that I will never get back…Father Z in short order will likely appear and say “My work here is done”…LOL

  35. OrthodoxChick says:

    Well, I’m glad that I read the summary because I had never heard of Rahner before coming to Fr. Z.’s blog a few years ago and seeing his name here and there over the years. I also haven’t gotten around to googling anything about him yet. I think that if you interviewed weekly church-going Catholics on their way out of Mass (a la Jesse Watters’ style) and asked them to name something written by Karl Rahner, you’d get a bunch of blank stares. And maybe that’s why Fr. Rosica is bringing it up now. The tide is turning back toward the orthodox among the Church’s youth. As the “Spirit of VII” crowd inches closer and closer toward closing the door in this life, the youth, who have only known Saint JPII and P.E. B16 as the Holy Fathers for most of their lives, have no attachment to Rahner, nor the nonsense coming from Rahner’s aging groupies all these years.

    Even if Pope Francis is secretly a Rhanerian, big deal. Every day, another young Catholic discovers the TLM and falls in love with it. The children and grandchildren who had to endure a childhood of too much selfishness and narcissism, both at home and in their parish, at the hands of these aging flower children are fed up. Shallow and vapid just doesn’t cut it anymore.

    If you’re all telling me that this Rahner guy is some brilliant theologian, OK. I’ll take your word for it. I just don’t think that the youth worldwide will swoon at the mention of the name ‘Rahner’ and download everything he’s ever written just because Salt + Light runs a show about him. Yawn. Me, I’d rather find a TLM or visit the local Adoration chapel instead.

    Still, I’m glad that Fr. Z. pointed out the article. It’s good to be aware of the flawed thinking of the past so that we aren’t doomed to rethink it.

  36. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    James Joseph,

    For any who wish to try before/without buying, the book you link is also available online (two different scans) in the Internet Archive.

  37. The Cobbler says:

    You know, the other day one of my several brothers was telling me that Louis de Wohl wrote a novel about Catholics, Protestants and space aliens. I wish I could remember the title.

  38. Elizabeth D says:

    Out of curiosity about the Louis de Wohl book The Cobbler heard about, I did some searching. I think I found it (The Second Conquest, from 1954, seems to be out of print):

    This is science-fiction with a religious content and should surprise those readers of The Restless Flame. The Golden Thread and Set All Afire who have found this author’s fictionized biographies of early church father worthwhile in scholarship and research. They will not however be surprised at his able arguing which here takes his earth people to Mars and eventually to avert, through spiritual concepts, a Martian invasion. Test pilot Chris Cary, who has a mystic feeling for the Catholic Church, is better able to absorb and understand the superiority of “”unfallen”” Martians and see the reality behind the myth than scientist Brandeis whose use of new fuel and a new design helicopter has taken them to their destination. But the new paradise has its serpent, Marmon, who is transported to Mars and whose perversion of fact and truth speed the Martians to conquer Earth, for his own satanic satisfaction. It is Chris’ faith, love and integrity that turn the Martians back home when the showdown cames. There’s a girl, too, and the earthmen-Martian adjustments are interesting while the double-conversion angle, to religion and science-fiction, has good points. It does help to take the comic book quality out of SF.

  39. benedetta says:

    Anyone else find it funny that Fr. Rosica said in virtually the same sentence “Epoch” and “epic”?

  40. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    @ jhayes et al.

    Why does Rahner have to be still alive and writing new things to be a problem? If his ideas aren’t still dangerous, why was Joseph Ratzinger, as both Cardinal and Pope, at pains to refute them? Why did Fr. Z send us to read this piece, to learn it like the Catechism, to recognize the same problem now and in the future?

    No one is saying that the Church cannot communicate with different cultures. She has always done that. Look at Our Lady of Guadalupe. But communicating in different languages doesn’t mean that we change the substance of what is communicated. A great deal of what dissenters want today falls exactly into Rahner’s construct of Christian=fully human. Look at it from the other direction: personal gratification=personal fulfillment=fully human=Christian. Christ no longer provides the formative model and source of life for man. Man in his various cultures instead usurps Christianity and continues to commit the fundamental, original sin of referring all things to himself instead of to God.

  41. robtbrown says:

    jhayes says:
    Grateful to be Catholic, Karl Rahner has been dead for thirty years so there is nothing new coming from him for Francis to agree with. Rahner didn’t propose the changes you mentioned. His basic point about the “Third Epoch” was that Vatican II was the first Council in which significant numbers of native born (rather than missionary) bishops from non-European-heritage countries participated. He saw in that a parallel to the Council of Jerusalem that decided that gentiles could become Christians without being circumcized and observing all of the Mosaic Law – which led to the evolution of a new theology incorporating Greek/Roman philosophy and which differed significantly from early Jewish Christianity.

    He suggested that if Vatican II represented the next move, from a Greek/Roman (i.e Western) Christianity to a world Christianity, the Third Epoch might involve equally fundamental changes.

    Your facts are mostly right, your conclusions mostly wrong.

    Rahner thought that the Church was culture bound–and it extended to everything, especially dogma. He seemed not to have any insight into the relationship between the doctrine of the Early Church and Judaism. And he was unaware, intentionally or not, of the relationship between Hellenism and the Judaism of the last centuries before Christ. Such an anti Hellenistic approach has long been found in Protestantism and of course in the Historical Critical Method (cf . Harnack).

    St Thomas begins De Ente et Essentia by noting a line of Aristotle: Quia parvus error in principio magnus in fine (A small error in the beginning is a big one in the end)–small errors lead to extensive confusion. Rahner’s small error is that he didn’t consider the Church a reality but rather an idea (cf Protestantism). That can be seen in the title of his book: Foundations of the Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity. In it the reader is treated to endless iterations of Rahner’s mantra: Man in the face of the absolute transcendent. My experience of the book can be described as Reader in the face of absolute boredom.

    For Rahner the Idea is obscured by cultural influences. Once those cultural influences have been scrubbed from Christianity, what remains? Why of course it’s German Existentialism. What a surprise!

    IMHO, Rahner’s thought seems Gnosticism dressed up with the language of German Existentialism.

    Rahner was an intelligent man whose head was positioned to be able to do his own colonoscopy.

  42. Bruce says:

    Whereas the best theologians have done their theology on their knees, you get the feeling that others have done their theology in front of a mirror.

  43. jhayes says:

    That’s Fr. Rosica’s documentary on Francis that he mentioned in the interview that started this conversation.

    The opening scene is Karl Rahner in a library writing and reading aloud a short statement on the three epochs.

    Worth watching.

  44. Gratias says:

    The person that wrote the article probably is knowledgable person. He was introduced last July by New Catholic in this way: we are very pleased to welcome Sacerdos Romanus, our newest contributor — and, quite gladly for us, another member of the Ministerial Priesthood of the New and Eternal Testament to grace our humble page. Welcome, Reverend Father! (Father is, of course, in regular communion with his local Ordinary.)

    I would like to thank Father Z for serving as a combox for Rorate Caeli even though they do not include a link to Father Z as was their previous practice. The closing of the combox at Rorate was a great loss, but they still publish profound articles so I do read both Father Z and Rorate. We are all in the same, small but growing team. [That’s the hope, because division is the plague of traditional Catholics. So long as we bicker, the left makes hay.]

    Pope Francis by saying whatever comes to his mind off-the-cuff opens the Church for all sort of Progressivist interpretations by changing the meaning of words. This is a tactic the left-wing has developed to perfection. I miss Saint JP2, who when asked what did he thinkq after seeing Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ responded “It is as it was”. Or when he coined the concept of “Culture of Death”. B16 spoke in complete paragraphs, the most remarkable ones being his response to Marxist Liberation Theology as Cardinal Ratzinger (will post them when I find the link). Pope Francis should communicate in writing, especially because his Italian is not perfect and does not speak English, French or Latin.

  45. Bea says:

    A MUST read is :
    The Second Vatican Council, an unwritten story” by Roberto de Mattei./Loreto Publications.
    Roberto de Mattei is a teacher of Church History at the European University of Rome and head of the Faculty of Historical Sciences, President of the Lepanto Foundation and many more titles.

    This book really clears up where these ideas come from since the 1800’s and the errors of Modernism, which it seems Karl Rahner has bought into and these ideas were condemned by various Popes: LeoXIII, PiusIX, PiusX and PiusXII, under the title of “immanence” which followed the idea of the “evolution of dogma” and other errors.

    Some of the originators of these ideas:
    Alfred Loisy wanted to transform Christianity to a “religion of humanity” He was ordained in 1881 and excommunicated in 1908. He was professor of biblical science for 4 years before his excommunication but his ideas lived on.
    George Tyrrell ordained 1891 (Jesuits) excommunicated 1907. taught that revelation came through “religious experience” He was studied by Karl Rahner.
    Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) was a professor of Notre Dame wrote “Correspondence with Teilhard de Chardin” and promoted a “religion of the heart” (maybe that’s where the “touchy-feely”/”church of nice” came from)

    Funny most of these (and others) were Jesuits.

    All this info I gleaned from the first 15 pages. I can’t put the book down but need to read it slowly to let it all sink in. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, like my opening sentence: “it’s a MUST read”

  46. Vecchio di Londra says:

    The really toxic aspect of Rahner’s relativist, modernist ‘theology’ is that it was enthusiastically adopted and passed on as the truth by seminary professors to generations of priests, many of whom are now bishops, some even cardinals…with the results we see today.
    Bishop Athanasius Schneider has said that his main practical preoccupation, once he realized that he had to become a priest, was to find an orthodox Catholic seminary.

  47. Alba says:

    TORONTO, 22 October, 2012 ( – Liberal Catholic press-people have recently touted a man some call Canada’s leading dissenter since the 1960s – former Catholic priest Gregory Baum – because of his role as an expert, or peritus, to the Canadian bishops at Vatican II. Baum, an advocate of homosexual ‘marriage’ and sex outside of marriage and contraception, was lauded by Fr. Thomas Rosica of Salt and Light TV, Michael Swan of the Catholic Register and also given free reign in the pages of the Scarboro Foreign Missions magazine.

  48. benedetta says:

    I wonder, is this where the notion of custom as to the diminution of the Real Presence in the liturgy in the West originated? What is ironic is that in Africa with extremely limited resources by comparison to say the USA, the Real Presence is profoundly appreciated and there is a much greater experience of reverence and joy in the sacraments as well as beauty and tradition. Whereas for instance in my part of the world there has been so much justified or dismissed as some “custom” when in fact it did not come from any groundswell of grassroots demand by the people, in the way that a custom is typically understood. Rather, it was dictated to people in a clericalist manner in a way that was result oriented, or, the ends justified the means, where a certain effect was desired so all the adjustments that tended to reduce or eliminate the Real Presence in practice and teaching and liturgy were a result of decisions made a the highest levels and then enforced. If in true “groundswell” manner there was any question or even objection this was attacked in a merciless and humiliating, and clericalist way.

  49. Matthew Gaul says:

    As usual, the lefties seem to forget large swaths of history.

    I haven’t read any first-source Rahner, but from that article, he does not appear to consider formations of cultural particularities and combinations that have already happened, and happen all the time. Such as the particularity that grew between the Latin and Greek cultures (legitimately, even before the schisms), and the Greco-Slavic and also the Latin-Germanic syntheses. Those are just off the top of my head.

    Also, the article shows Rahner to be very Western-Eurocentric himself in considering “Rome” to be one monolithic historical current. The Bishop of Rome yes absolutely … but the cultures of Rome, the liturgies of Rome, and even the laws and languages of Rome, decidedly no. These latter things have had their moods, seasons, and even revolutions – and they will continue to do so.

    If I understand then, Rahner internalized the reductive, Whiggish view of romanitas held by the folks he no doubt considered his opponents, his theory just appends his hope that romanitas was over.

  50. robtbrown says:


    The doctrine of the Church, incl that of the Eucharist, needs to be taught and defended constantly. IMHO, it was the mistake of many during the Council to think that people were exaggerating that necessity. They thought that Catholics would go on believing in Transubstantiation even with the adoption of ambiguous theological and liturgical language.

    Rahner’s error was to think that dogma and moral precepts consisted of culturally bound phrases that were little else than expressions of . . . Man in the Face of the Absolute Transcendent.

    As someone noted above, Karl Rahner has now been dead 30 years. I wonder what his reaction would be if someone would point out that his thought was also culture bound and is no longer relevant.

  51. robtbrown says:

    One other point: Someone above grouped Rahner and Von Balthasar. I’m well aware of the problems on many levels found in Von B’s Dare We Hope and other aspects of his theology that I disagree with, but it’s a mistake to think they have much in common.

  52. jhayes says:

    robtbrown wrote Rahner thought that the Church was culture bound

    Until Vatican II. As he wrote:

    [T}he actual concrete activity of the Church in relation to the world outside of Europe was in fact (if you will pardon the expression) the activity of an export firm which exported a European religion as a commodity it did not really want to change but sent throughout the world together with the rest of the culture and civilization it considered superior. In this light it does appear meaningful and justified to consider Vatican II as the first major official event in which the Church actualized itself precisely as a world Church.


  53. Brooklyn says:

    Rorate Caeli, Father Z and those commenting here all seem to be in disagreement with and actually disparaging of Karl Rahner’s ideas. However, there are more than a few well respected Catholics and Catholic theologians who find great merit in Fr. Rahner’s remarks. One such person is Avery Cardinal Dulles, who was very much supportive of Karl Rahner. This can be seen in a paper that Cardinal Dulles wrote (and taken from a speech that he made) from 1979 entitled, “The Emerging World Church: A Theological Reflection” which specifically addresses the “three epochs” theory of Karl Rahner.

    You can read his speech here, which I highly recommend:

    One statement from Cardinal Dulles:

    “The emergence of the world Church, as explained by these authors, marks the end of the period when Catholicism as a whole could be equated with its expression in the forms of Graeco-Roman, Mediterranean, or European culture. We are witnessing the birth of a new multicultural Catholicism in which all the regional churches may be expected to interact, mutually criticizing and enriching one another. ”


    “Vatican II took some cautious steps in the direction of deEuropeanization. It admitted the vernacular into the liturgy, provided for the establishment of the international Synod of Bishops, gave new status to regional and national bishops’ conferences, and endorsed the principle of missionary accommodation. Since the council the trend has been carried further by the virtual abolition of the Latin liturgy, the increased vitality of the Church in the Third World, and the global travels of Paul VI and John Paul II. The churches and hierarchies of the various continents are acquiring a new sense of their own distinctive identity. They do not simply learn from Europe. They now feel a responsibility to shape the future of the Church in their own parts of the world and to contribute insights based on their own experience. ”

    Cardinal Dulles ended his speech with the following:

    “The emergence of the world Church as depicted by Rahner need not be viewed as a blow to Catholic unity. Diversity is surely needed for Catholicism to become vitally implanted in the six continents, but such diversity cannot flourish except within a larger unity and on the solid basis of tradition. Various, though the ministries, rubrics, devotional practices, spiritualities, and theological interpretations may be, they will not displace the shared symbols and structures of unity and continuity. Within this framework the inner differences can be enriching. Just as a living body has greater unity by reason of the functional interrelationship of its different parts, so the world Church can be more intimately knit together if each of the local churches develops its own distinctive character. Deeply integrated into the life of its own people, each regional community can make its specific contribution to the life of the whole, while receiving input and correction from other communities. Like a choir with many parts and voices, the universal Church, fashioned “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Apoc 5:9-10), can reflect, in many shapes and colors, the incomparable splendors of its Lord.”

    We need to realize that European culture, whch has defined the church for most of her 2000 years, is not the core message of the Gospel. Our Lady of Guadalupe showed us that when she used the Aztec culture (as shown in Aztec symbols pictured in her garment on the tilma) to convert 9 million Aztecs and completely stop human sacrifice. It seems that one of the main messages of Vatican II is that we need to reach people where they are and not try to just make them carbon copies of ourselves.

  54. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    I second Bea’s recommendation of Roberto de Mattei’s “The Second Vatican Council, an unwritten story.” I am only 1/6 of the way into it and he has traced the development of Modernism, the infiltration of its proponents into the ecclesial institutes, pontifical universities, and scholarly journals, and its survival despite the best efforts of St. Pius X and his successors. Thus the progeny of the 19th C. Modernists were in place to serve as periti during the Council, advising the senior hierarchy from Europe who had themselves imbibed the poison since seminary days.

    Maybe if enough of us ask for it, there will be a Kindle edition.

  55. kiwiinamerica says:

    Rahner’s thesis is nothing new. It’s simply a modern version of the age old heresy that in certain places, times, circumstances and cultures, the gospel must change. His three “Great Epochs” of the Church are entirely arbitrary and auto-defined.

    The Gospel is always and everywhere the same and the essential point of our faith is that we don’t change the Gospel; it’s the Gospel that changes us. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. The Church doesn’t change; we change. We become a new person in Christ. Still sinners but always becoming ever more conformed to the Gospel. That’s the very heart of our faith and those who try to distort this essential point are undermining the faith.

  56. Imrahil says:

    Very generous, rev’d Father, to open your combox for this.

    Many, many things could be said about Fr Rahner. At first from all information available to me, I totally second the dear robtbrowns advice not to group him with Cardinal-des. von Balthasar into one group. In fact for large part they were antagonists (again according to my information). Am I assuming to much if I trace the reason for this error to an overemphasis on the questions unfortunately brought up by Fr Feeney, combined with a certain “pragmatism” (of the “decisive is what comes of it in the end”, as Chancellor Kohl put it, mentality) which would be rather foreign to Catholic theologizing? In that case, let’s set that aside.

    Alas alas alas, I find that I don’t disagree to either Fr Rahner or the Pope emeritus in one point of dispute mentioned prominently in the Rorate article. [Rahner holds that] to be a Christian is to accept one’s existence in its unconditionality. Ultimately, therefore, it is but the explicit reflection of what it means to be human. Whereas according to the Pope emeritus, The main point of the faith of both Testaments [is] that man is what he ought to be only by conversion, that is, when he ceases to be what he is.

    Neither nor.

    Grace is systematically the exception as opposed to mere nature. That’s quite clear, and therefore, man equipped with Grace and (even if in a rough-and-ready manner) living up to it is not simply what it means to be a man. (It could be defended to say, though, that he is man as he is meant to be – the state of pure nature is theoretically possible but was not meant by God to be put into actual existence.)

    On the other hand, alas alas, even the Pope emeritus (especially in his earlier works) suffers sometimes (though less than, for instance, Fr Rahner) from what I might call “nothing-butism”. Many theologian works can be rendered much more helpful and true if the reader quietly understands any “nothing but” (and identical phrases) he stumbles over in the sense of “also (and I’d like to highlight this here especially)”. But in normal language, “nothing but” means of course “nothing but”.

    This was a parenthesis but the topic is similar here. The main point of the faith of both testaments is certainly not ceasing to be what we are. Sin is an accident, not of nature. One of the main points of the Gospel is ceasing to sin, plain and simply (and I’d still hold that the actual Revelation of God, see e. g. the upcoming feast of the Transfiguration, is still something over and above the mere getting rid of sin and damnation). But that does not mean extinction of nature; practically speaking it means extinction of unnature; the usual sorts of sins are indeed against nature (not only the ones specifically called such), and to resist against Grace if it is given is against nature too. Which probably was where Fr Rahner got his ideas from in the first place.

    Following up on centuries of much harsher teaching on the subject in Protestant thought, C. S. Lewis, who was a Protestant, put the following words into our Lord’s mouth: “I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it.” St. Paul, on the other hand, says (Gal 2:20) “I live, but no longer do I live, but Christ liveth within me” (a verse usually quoted without its first three words, but they are present): this is the Catholic attitude on the subject.

    So much for that.

  57. William Tighe says:

    Concerning Roberto de Mattei’s “The Second Vatican Council, an unwritten story,” Fr. Hunwicke has begun a series of postings on this book, viz.:

  58. pjsandstrom says:

    This ‘three Epochs’ theory of K. Rahner’s tells more of his own Germano-European way of looking at Church History and the philosophical underpinnings of Western theology than of the Church’s own self-understanding. The ‘three Epochs theory’ is a down-right insult to the whole Eastern half of the Church and non-Roman rites — both Catholic and Orthodox — and a serious misreading of Church History.

    He falls into the colonists fault of ‘the right Rite is the Roman Rite’ in so far as he says the Church is concerned — a fault which was at its most egregious when Francis Xavier and the Portuguese got to India and found the Christians of Kerala and Tamal Nadu, who were there since the time of St. Thomas the Apostle, and then tried to impose the Roman Rite (Portuguese style) on them.– with generally results full of ‘unforeseen consequences’ for the Church.

    Another ‘malicious worm’ of his theology which managed to undercut the ‘missionary thrust’ of the Church was Karl Rahner’s notion of ‘anonymous Christian’.

  59. Imrahil says:

    As for Fr Rahner, I once for educational purpose read his “Introduction to the Concept of Christianity” (his publisher really did him no favor to publish that sort of book under the title “Grundkurs des Glaubens”, i. e., “Faith 101”). If I should give an impression, I’d say that to a less extent it’s true what is true about Kant also: He is not fun to read. Whereas St. Thomas is. (And Chesterton certainly is: I can only advertise for reading Chesterton’s St. Thomas Aquinas..)

    Someone above described him as a brilliant man you would not really want to meet. That sounds interesting too. (Note that I do not mean this as accusation of a failure against the double-commandment, but:) It is entirely impossible to him to have that affection, that feelable sympathy for small faithful minds, traditions, and the like. In the introduction to the work described above, he rather explicitly protested, in an aloof manner, that one scientific thought of his, ununderstandable to the masses, is worth much of usual Catholic preaching.

    And in over 1000 pages of “Faith 101”, he cannot even manage to bring the traditional proofs of the existence of God onto paper. Although I daresay this is what modern man is actually interested in.

    His comments on the liturgy reform really took the cake (the dictionary tells me this is an idiom). I don’t know if they are known to you, which is why I’ll quote them in full:

    “Estranged – not quite confused – were those layers of the ‘faithful people’ who primarily see liturgy as tradition, as folklore, and who find to be annoying the religious demand of a renewed liturgy.
    It is, thus, about those layers who, while the care of salvation by the Church has ever to be directed to them, must never be made the measure of ecclesial self-implementing, because […], from inbred laziness, they never do tribute to the self-implementing of ecclesial liturgy (other than as decoration for mass demonstrations.
    Resistance arises from so-called academic circles, whose members seek to camouflage their inability to communicate, their educational snobishness and their sterile relation to history behind the demand of special ecclesiasticalness by disguising their own resentments as measures of Catholicity.
    It was easier for the Council than it would have been for Episcopal Conferences and Bishops to do the right thing with these magniloquent and in parts influentual – but in humaneness failed – tragicomial fringe figures of the Church: which was, completely neglect them…“

    Even if you should be of his opinion, that’s no fun. – The same, I think, is true when he writes, as if he has to soothe us, “there is no need to believe that the first action of Man was anything else than original sin”. Maybe there is no need indeed, but – come on – which man would not wish that the stem-parents still did something in the state of Grace before they fell?

    On the other hand, Fr Rahner is capable to go for pages and pages about why we believe in the holiness of the Church against our intuition (of course, something fun-spoiling again), and then, in a footnote, write: “But according to Denzinger-Hünermann no. xxx the notae ecclesiae are something the Church is publicly known from; hence, the holiness of the Church cannot be restricted to being something believed against intuition.” He appears to really have been a Catholic theologian who, when he saw a contradiction to the Magisterium, would get himself in line. He seems to be a theologian that rids himself completely of tradition, of “school-theology” as he calls it (though he at least ostensibly respects school theology, only does not do it), and of the Bible (in the sense of proof-quoting Bible verses), but (to my knowledge) firmly obeys actual orders by the Magisterium. The case, as a case, is interesting. But it does not seem to be aimed at general edification.

    He also quotes apparently from Hegel some nonsense to the effect that “amor fati, the love to the necessary, is in the last resort what Freedom means”. Nope. Freedom means to be physically, legally and morally able to do some thing you wish to do. Insight into necessity may be (part of) wisdom, but it is not freedom, Hegel was abusing vocabulary here, and should not be copied. Sorry.

    And of course as for a Third Age of Christianity, that is plainly nonsense: the Apostle’s Council was not in essence a break, and what is true cannot somewhen else be false. Africans have to quit polygamy just as Germanic tribes had to quit widow-burning. How to treat a polygamist is a prudential question, but it never can be answered by declaring the forbiddenness of polygamy to be vanished even in principle.

    Note that I am of course not saying there is nothing of merit in Fr Rahner’s theology. That would certainly be rash. But I could imagine a general outline of a theology I’d like better(there are some pearls), and so gave some musings why.

  60. Imrahil says:

    Dear pjsandstrom,

    the “anonymous Christian” are indeed among the more defensible parts. The traditional expression would be “those baptized by desire (without knowing to be)”, but we must concede to Fr Rahner that his term has the more grip. In fact he was accused for that by the more radical progressists that according to him, the non-Christians are saved (if they are) as anonymous Christians only, and not by right of their own religion. In this Fr Rahner and the Tradition are of course quite right against this sort of progressists.

  61. acardnal says:

    Regarding Cardinal Dulles and Fr. Rahner’s views, I would note that the speech mentioned by a commentator above and given by Dulles was from 1979. As a number of us do, Dulles changed his views on some matters as he grew older, more knowledgeable and wiser. He changed his views on Rahner, too.

    I’d recommend reading a biography of the late Cdl. Dulles by Patrick Carey entitled “Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian, 1918-2008”. There are many passages discussing Rahner in the book, and I can’t quote them all here but let this one suffice:

    “… Dulles distinguished his own theology of faith from that of other contemporary theologians. He wanted to emphasize the harmony of the objective and the subjective dimensions of the faith, and in his attempt to do so, he distinguished his own theology of faith from, among others, that of Karl Rahner and the transcendental theologies that followed him. For much of Dulles’ earlier career he relied on Rahner’s theology and shared much of his post-Kantian transcendental turn to the subject, but gradually, as he developed his own voice in theology, he began to see some weaknesses in Rahner’s approach, and here and there in his articles Dulles noted where he was parting company with this giant of twentieth-century theology.”
    page 477 – 478

  62. Adam Michael says:

    “Well, I’m glad that I read the summary because I had never heard of Rahner before coming to Fr. Z.’s blog a few years ago and seeing his name here and there over the years. I also haven’t gotten around to googling anything about him yet. I think that if you interviewed weekly church-going Catholics on their way out of Mass (a la Jesse Watters’ style) and asked them to name something written by Karl Rahner, you’d get a bunch of blank stares.”

    And, therein, lies the fatal flaw of Modernism and its eventual disappearance. After decades of razing the bastions between the Church and the World, the inevitable conclusion of modernism is complete accommodation to the world. The Rahners, Schillebeeckxs, Currans, Hellwigs, Mahoneys, and Chittisters of the world were/are merely the water boys and water girls for complete secularism. Their legacy is not to be read, nor are their persons to be emulated, for at the end of the day, their Church and Faith is no Church or Faith at all, nor was their true calling ever to build up anything but the city of man. Their true testament and legacy is to be found in the person who chooses to miss Sunday Mass because he or she finds God equally in other places. Their landmark achievement is to be found in the completely uncatechized children of the barely catechized attendees of modern Catholic churches. In its fullest expression, modernism ensures that there will exist nobody to remember these figures and nor will there exist nobody to understand or fight for their ever so controversial views, because at the end, their only true disciples will be those who are thoroughly “post-Christian,” weak-willed individuals, and/or moral deviants who shame even their secular compatriots.

    And in the midst of this emptiness, the field will be clear for those who believe in and practice a militant Catholicism to seize the reins of power in a decimated church. And its conclusion, the Modernism that people like Rahner purveyed, leaves an ever so tangible emptiness that begs to be filled by people who believe in something permanent and for which they believe in fighting. Only an aging modernist and lukewarm gerontocracy, mis-placed and scrupulous fears of obedience, and a crumbling and compromised church structure that endures through only a lack of persecution, keeps this from becoming apparent. When one or two of these factors fall, so will Modernism.

  63. jhayes says:

    Pjsandstrom wrote Another ‘malicious worm’ of his theology which managed to undercut the ‘missionary thrust’ of the Church was Karl Rahner’s notion of ‘anonymous Christian”

    Rahner’s “anonymous Christian” is consistent with Lumen Gentium and “baptism of desire”. As Pope Francis has said recently, even atheists who act in accordance with their own conscience can attain salvation.

    The “anonymous Christian” in our sense of the term is the pagan after the beginning of the Christian mission, who lives in a state of Christ’s grace through faith, hope, and love, yet who has no explicit knowledge of the fact that his life is orientated in grace-given salvation to Jesus Christ… There must be a Christian theory to account for the fact that every individual who does not in any absolute or ultimate sense act against his own conscience can say and does say in faith, hope and love, Abba within his own spirit and is on these grounds in all truth a brother to Christians in God’s sight. (Theological Investigations, Vol. 14, Chp. 17.)

  64. jhayes says:

    pjsandstrom wrote Another ‘malicious worm’ of his theology which managed to undercut the ‘missionary thrust’ of the Church was Karl Rahner’s notion of ‘anonymous Christian”

    Rahner’s “anonymous Christian” is consistent with Lumen Gentium and “baptism of desire”. As Pope Francis has said recently, even atheists who act in accordance with their own conscience can attain salvation.

    The “anonymous Christian” in our sense of the term is the pagan after the beginning of the Christian mission, who lives in a state of Christ’s grace through faith, hope, and love, yet who has no explicit knowledge of the fact that his life is orientated in grace-given salvation to Jesus Christ… There must be a Christian theory to account for the fact that every individual who does not in any absolute or ultimate sense act against his own conscience can say and does say in faith, hope and love, Abba within his own spirit and is on these grounds in all truth a brother to Christians in God’s sight. (Theological Investigations, Vol. 14, Chp. 17.)

  65. benedetta says:

    Cardinal Dulles also distinguished how a credible theologian ought to go about lodging work which id dissenting, but who listened to that?

    The fact is that there is a world of difference between 1979, and then Father Dulles’ work in attempting to bring some polarity occupiers to the fold, and the elevation to Cardinal at the very end of his life, and now, and the benefit that he had, and we all have, of 20 20 hindsight which is to say that the attempt to accommodate sacraments and doctrine to secularism in the West has been a supreme disaster. Certainly Cardinal Dulles would concur.

    Further, as much as I respect Cardinal Dulles, ultimately on this particular matter of Rahner’s theology, Pope Emeritus Benedict is the sine qua non arbiter.

    I will also note that our times in the US are troubled, as far as theology, by the notion that diversity within the communion is not attainable on the basis of orthodoxy. That is, I’d say, based upon experience, and theology, as well as tradition, bordering on a destructive calumny.

    For anyone interested in reading something up to date (much farther than 79) on this and accessible to a lay person without a background in graduate level theology (and if anyone on this thread possesses that credential would you please preface your remarks by identifying that), I’d highly recommend discussions over the past five years ago at Word on Fire, the collective blog of Father Barron. Also to those who would attempt to drive a sword between orthodox Catholicism and traditional Catholicism, believing this to be some figment of Rorate and Father Z., I encourage you to check out Father Barron’s insights on the matter.

    This certainly is not just a matter of “preference” or water cooler put down, as some here seem to believe or wrongly estimate, as you will discover on looking at what Fr Barron and others on his site say, who by no means dismiss a lifetime of work by Rahner based on one or two quotations, but, very seriously weigh the whole of his product and quite charitably and thoughtfully, and reasonably discuss why ultimately it is not workable for the Church as a way forward.

    For those who feel sad for the late Father Rahner, we may thank him for his work and witness and say that in theology not everyone gets to reign or be right, and it does not mean we also believe that person to be a bad person or the like.

    I find it interesting the notion of trying to square dissent with unity. I tried for years (hey, Brooklyn!), and, it cannot be done. Dissent is simply outside of the communion, no matter how sad and painful it invariably is for all.

    Recently I have been reading a very interesting work which takes on someone very like Rahner in Church history (VII), and it brings out how all of the investment of this theologian in orthodoxy and tradition was scuttled by dissenters who held him up as their poster child for their agenda and rejected pretty much everything his theology was based upon. He too has been discussed nicely by Fr. Barron. Very sad, for all.

  66. benedetta says:

    Well said, Adam Michael. I agree. This matters.

    Do we have the luxury to smile and coddle the roots of rupture and let the wild path of destruction continue? Hey, maybe in 1979 we had that luxury.

    Folks the results are in. This way was tried, and, check it out. Do you think the Church in the West is doing well, booming? Do our young people know, live and practice their birthright as Christians? Do they know their dignity? Or, are they crashing and burning on the secular juggernaut, with the field hospital, such as it is, with, hardly any vocations, with that much more demands all the time, the only place to patch up the horrific wounds and attempt to send back out there? We don’t have the luxury to experiment endlessly with the Third Epoch and beautiful utopian ideas on yet another generation. The faith is trustworthy, and, the nations Rahner speculated about now live, not cultural assimilation or secularism, through the lens of faith, but, orthodoxy, and with joy. The dying West is no longer the model for the Church. If orthodoxy is lived joyfully by our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are we to say that we need some very special accoutrements in order to even make a meager attempt? The religious orders and dioceses which have taught the Rahner way and looked to the Third Epoch are crumbling and dying, and it’s not because their approach, praxis and pedagogy hasn’t been given a good long run. Let it go.

  67. benedetta says:

    Brooklyn, you seem pretty smart, you live in a Diocese with a solid Bishop, reverent and worthy celebration of the sacraments, reliable and trustworthy teaching, you even have an EF. Why would you want to invite in a line of theology, hijacked by dissent, that has brought about scorched earth in other places that were completely Catholic? Why would you wish that on your brothers and sisters in Christ in your place of the world? It won’t benefit them. Try living in a place where this has reigned supreme for many eons first and then let us know if you would still bother to dig up an olden speech of Cardinal Dulles to support the revival of the great Third Epoch? It’s not worth going out of your way to track down some old thought just to say you’re cool with the Rahner? The Faith is trustworthy. It’s ok. We won’t make you feel like a nerd in hipster disney land for saying that you actually like the Faith and that the Episcopalian thing is not the way for Holy Mother Church.

    Just imagine if, you walked down your block to your parish one day to discover that the Real Presence was no longer, that you all worshiped a symbol, some home baked wheat bread, and that effective immediately no Adoration in the diocese. Oh and all the confessionals removed. Local custom you see. And so then you cruise down to the next closest and the next and so on and…the same.

    So the unity in diversity you suggest, in practice, has, never happened in, as Fr. Z says, these USA. Give me, one example. Wherever the spirit of dissent reigns unchecked it monstrously drives out and persecutes orthodoxy and the Real Presence.

    Forgive me but you seem to have a little attitude, about Fr. Z., about Rorate, and all the rest. So do I. So does everyone here. No one is here just to harsh on poor little late Father Rahner. But this matters. And I don’t care how many people want to point and shriek “uncharitable”. I’m not letting up, for the sake of young Catholics who deserve a decent shot.

  68. benedetta says:

    I’m sure that Fr. Rosica was grasping for an image to use and he knows and likes that and went with it. He probably is not unmindful that some will appreciate it’s hearkening back to a certain heyday. He has done excellent things with Salt and Light. I’m sure trying to evangelize in Canada is no picnic either. I was visiting this past year and felt really weirded out how people looked at us blessing ourselves with holy water and genuflecting in the Cathedrals and historic churches. People seemed to regard us as “religious fanatics” LOL and doing unnecessary things…So, I’m sure it’s a yoeman’s work in that part of the world.

    But, no, I’m not going back there even for a papal spokesperson. The Lord brought us out of bondage. My freedom was earned at a great price. We’ll just have to let it go. The war’s over.

  69. acardnal says:

    “Rahner’s “anonymous Christian” is consistent with Lumen Gentium and “baptism of desire”. As Pope Francis has said recently, even atheists who act in accordance with their own conscience can attain salvation.”

    Atheists do not believe in God, or Jesus, the Son of God. Why would they have a “desire” to be baptized or go to heaven and be with God when they don’t believe in God or heaven? Moreover, Besides a wish to be baptized, in order to obtain the grace of the Sacrament, faith is also necessary. Atheists do not have faith.

    This is why we are a missionary Church! Our Lord said:

    “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
    Mk 16:16
    “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…” Mt 28:19

    If preaching the Kingdom of God and baptism weren’t necessary for salvation, there is no need for missionaries. They can stay home.

    There is misunderstanding in the modern Church of what “baptism of desire” means.

    The CCC mentions the possibility of salvation by means of the “baptism of desire” but it doesn’t describe what that means. The Council of Trent did:
    “As to the moment of the beginning of the
    baptismal obligation, the Council of Trent declared that AFTER the
    promulgation of the Gospel (post Evangelium promulgatum) there could be
    no justification without Baptism or the desire for the same. D 796.”

    Baptism of desire traditionally means that a catechumen knows what baptism is and desires to be baptized but hasn’t had a chance to receive it yet. Moreover, he has faith! He/she MUST as an adult or older child possess a minimal level of Christian faith to even validly receive a sacrament. What level of faith is an open question.

    The Council of Trent speaks to having a “desire for them” [i.e. the sacraments] as a means to salvation. It does not say a “baptism of desire.” There’s a difference. (Session 7, DZ 847) One must know what baptism is and means, and desire it (unless they are an infant in which case their parents and God parents represent them before God).”

    Support the missionary work of the Church!

    Numerous sources here are quoted:

  70. robtbrown says:

    Brooklyn says,

    We need to realize that European culture, whch has defined the church for most of her 2000 years, is not the core message of the Gospel. Our Lady of Guadalupe showed us that when she used the Aztec culture (as shown in Aztec symbols pictured in her garment on the tilma) to convert 9 million Aztecs and completely stop human sacrifice. It seems that one of the main messages of Vatican II is that we need to reach people where they are and not try to just make them carbon copies of ourselves.

    I’m stunned at the uncritical acceptance of Rahner, whose work is a theological and philosophical scam. It is an intellectual Ponzi Scheme

    1. Rahner was a Doctor Equivocus. His work is littered with phrases that some take as profound thought. In fact, they are ambiguities. For example, his famous description of the Eucharist as One Sacrifice, Many Masses (the title of a 1949 article). Adopting his usual subjective approach, he discards any concept of the Eucharist as Sacrifice–this forms the basis of his promotion of concelebration. In fact, he says that a certain number of priests concelebrating is actually better than the same number celebrating individual masses. Such an opinion is a direct contradiction of the Sacrificial nature of the mass.

    2. I could also mention his lack of acceptance of Council of Chalcedon, and his response that it’s not so bad being a Monophysite. And his theology of grace makes no sense. On the one hand, he thought there should be more of an emphasis on Uncreated Grace (no problem there), but his definition of grace as openness definitely does not fit Uncreated Grace.

    Von Balthasar said that adopting Rahner’s concept of grace, there is no difference between Christ and the BVM.

    3. He also has a famous essay called Virginitas in Partu, which is typically Rahner. In it he examines the history of what the Church has said on the Virgin Birth. Finally, he says that is all well and good, but the Church has never defined it. That is true.

    Well, what about what the Church has defined? Acc to the Doctor Equivocus, the language is culturally conditioned, which of course would release Catholics of the necessity of believing it.

    4. I have to agree with JRatzinger that Rahner’s Sacramental Theology is little else than that of Suarez but dressed up in the language of German Existentialism. IMHO, such an approach, which employs moral causality, barely meets the standards of ex opere operato, if at all.

    5. Finally, Rahner is a man who did not think there was Truth, and so he defines everything subjectively.

    6. Justifying his work by saying that it is oriented toward a non European Church is a joke. Rahner was pushing German Existentialism. The last time I looked Germany was in Europe. And to me his prime interest is to jettison Western Culture, not to preserve it.

  71. robtbrown says:

    jhayes says:

    pjsandstrom wrote Another ‘malicious worm’ of his theology which managed to undercut the ‘missionary thrust’ of the Church was Karl Rahner’s notion of ‘anonymous Christian”

    Rahner’s “anonymous Christian” is consistent with Lumen Gentium and “baptism of desire”. As Pope Francis has said recently, even atheists who act in accordance with their own conscience can attain salvation.

    Rahner’s “anonymous Christian” is autobiographical.

    Baptism of Desire refers to the explicit desire for Baptism of those don’t receive the Sacrament because of death.

    Of course, it is possible to receive the fruits of Baptism with only implicit desire for it (e.g., virtuous pagan). But I doubt such a concept was a motivation for the North American Jesuit martyrs.

  72. benedetta says:

    When Brooklyn says this

    We need to realize that European culture, whch has defined the church for most of her 2000 years, is not the core message of the Gospel. Our Lady of Guadalupe showed us that when she used the Aztec culture (as shown in Aztec symbols pictured in her garment on the tilma) to convert 9 million Aztecs and completely stop human sacrifice. It seems that one of the main messages of Vatican II is that we need to reach people where they are and not try to just make them carbon copies of ourselves.

    I see nothing in there inconsistent with orthodoxy, diversity in unity. It’s ridiculous to imply that if one questions the notion of the Third Epoch as Rahner states that one therefore believes that the Church should be confined to Europe! How bizarre and, frankly, uncharitable.

    But what the dissenters would utilize the Third Epoch for has nothing to do with Our Lady of Guadalupe, of course, and, there’s the rub. It’s a false dichotomy and division (and I wonder why Brooklyn is so invested in it, with a degree of animus) to attempt to place BXVI in some sort of artificial polarity somehow opposed to authentic diversity and evangelism. Again, totally absurd.

  73. benedetta says:

    Brooklyn, it’s not about the tilma…it’s about the human sacrifice…when we object to the dissenters’ playback of the Third Epoch it’s about Truth.

  74. jhayes says:

    robtbrown, “baptism of desire” doesn’t imply that the person had formed any intention of being baptized – he/she may not have “known its necessity”

    “1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”

  75. jhayes says:

    My original interest in this discussion was that Fr. Rosica (of S&L and the Vatican Press Office) said that he believed we are in the Third Epoch.

    “I really believe, with the coming of Pope Francis, that this is that third epoch that Karl Rahner talked about in “The Three Great Epochs of the Church.” In our recent Salt and Light documentary on Pope Francis, we start off the whole story with Rahner’s now-epic essay in which he speaks about the three great epochs of church history.”

    Someone above suggested that Fr. Rosica just wanted to find a way to use a film clip of Rahner that he had and liked. However, that scene was shot in Toronto with an actor playing Rahner and another actor speaking the three epochs text.

    So, it may be a clue to where Francis is heading. I guess we’ll have to wait to see.

  76. jm says:

    “Pope Emeritus Benedict is the sine qua non arbiter.”

    Did he every specifically correct Rahner? America Magazine died a cover tribute to him. It seemed 1oo percent positive.

  77. kurtmasur says:

    From the Rorate article: “He (Rahner) then argues that with Vatican II, a new age is begins….”
    “In this third age, the Church becomes truly a world Church. He thinks this change began as a kind of seed in Vatican II as an event bringing together bishops from all cultures, in its opening to vernacular liturgy (thus beginning to give up the attempt to impose Roman culture on non-European peoples), in its affirmation of positive elements in world religions etc.”

    This smacks of Freemasonry to me with their typical emphasis on a “New World Order”… Was Rahner a Freemason by any chance (along with Bugnini)?

  78. Imrahil says:

    We need to realize that European culture, whch has defined the church for most of her 2000 years, is not the core message of the Gospel.

    Or vice versa. I do not know how much a distinct “European” culture delved its way into Christianity (so to speak), but we wouldn’t be able to make that out. On the other hand, it seems quite clear that what we understand as “Europe” is quite distinctly marked by Christian dogma – even where it should be marked by apostasy from the same; for that too is rather different from the pre-Christian state.

    I think it should be quite obvious that a Japaneseman and a Filipino are quite different and, if truth be told, the latter is (a Semite in spirit, as are we, said Pius XI, and in addition) comparatively “European”. Why is that so? Because he is a Catholic Christian, or if an apostate, then the offshot of a culture of Catholic Christians.

    Even if Christianity has to be enriched by as yet other cultures, as it surely must (but remember the Pope emeritus’ wise remark that in the usual senses intended, i. e. w.r.t. Latin Americans, Africans, Indians and the like, to a large degree this has already taken place), we do not do that by throwing European identity overboard, but by accumulating said other cultures in addition.)

    Dear robtbrown,

    good points about Fr Rahner, especially this one:
    Von Balthasar said that adopting Rahner’s concept of grace, there is no difference between Christ and the BVM.

    However, as to this one:
    But I doubt such a concept was a motivation for the North American Jesuit martyrs.
    I’d very humbly imagine that whether a statement A is the truth and whether it serves as motivating heroic activity are quite different matters, and in fact the more important thing is the first.

    Dear kurtmasur,

    I have never heard any rumour about Fr Rahner being a Freemason. That said it is official that he was peritus to Cardinal König at the Council and that Cardinal König was active in Church-Freemasonry dialogue, and it’s quite well-known too that he favored a more liberal approach than the one Pope St. John Paul and the CDF eventually confirmed.

  79. benedetta says:

    This is Salt & Light/Fr. Rosica’s documentary of Pope Francis according to, Fr. Rosica. It seems that it was the approach he settled on in order to try to reach his Canadian target audience (which to a larger extent than the US has fallen away from the practice of the Faith). It’s his spin. If it helps Canadians come back to an authentic practice of the Faith, then maybe it doesn’t matter a whole lot as far as the particular aspects in which Rahner was way wrong, a little wrong, and ok about. It’s a rhetorical device in a documentary.

    On the other hand, a replay of it all by dissenters who continue to wreak havoc here and in other places with their loony and failed proposals would be epically destructive. Let’s hope the Third Epoch nostalgia stays with the documentary on Pope Francis.

  80. pjsandstrom says:

    Two small thoughts to perhaps continue the discussion: 1) when I spoke of the notion of ‘anonymous Christian’ as a ‘malicious worm’ proposed by the theology of Karl Rahner — I was comparing this notion to some ‘malware types of virus’ that infect computers — at first they seem not only plausible and worthwhile but then they insidiously destroy the whole contents of the ‘hard drive’ of that computer. I think the intervening years since Vatican II and Rahner’s suggestion have proved to work much harm to the missionary striving of the Church. And it can be also said that the ‘impulse’ of new evangelization which is lately been proposed is evidence of the need to correct ‘the virus in the works’. 2 ) I am quite surprised that no one in writing about the ‘Three Epochs’ theory has taken notice of not only its rather narrow ‘Germano-Western European’ point-of-view but also of the really profound ‘insult’ to the Eastern half (Catholic and Orthodox) of our one Church this quite un-historical, unbalanced (and incorrect) approach is. After all Christianity did not disappear from its Middle-Eastern origins and cultural base despite all the military (and other) incursions against it by Muslims and Europeans over the centuries since the earliest days of the Church. In our own days we are experiencing the most ‘rigid and rigorous’ uprooting of this ancient Christianity and also the arrival in North America and Western Europe large numbers of Christians from these groups in the Middle East and Egypt especially.’

  81. benedetta says:

    In moneyed and entitled North America and Europe, “inculturation” and “according to local custom” has really just worked as intellectual loaded language or buzz words to justify the favorite projects of a self appointed elite, who do not wish to bring Christ to others but themselves and their attachments. Isn’t it very weird that an already Christian nation would appeal to local custom to justify things which have nothing to do with customs or people? As that has been happening for half a century or so where I am, one would think that we would all now live and worship exactly as dear St. Kateri did at this point. And yet, instead, we emulate Episcopalians of 1970, and why, because they are that much more reasonable?

    I recall watching a papal Mass some time back from Austria. It was quite impressive, the music, all of a performance quality, people were dressed and coiffed to the nines, and a great number of people were coming and going and busying about. Yet, I remember thinking at the time, it was beautiful but devoid of any action of prayer whatsoever. It seemed like people were just going through quite complicated motions. And for the historic music, there was little reverence. There was “pomp” and ceremony. I remember wondering, but do they believe?

    Another time, going farther back, a quite politically astute and involved priest (who had kind of a harsh side pastorally) gave a Sunday homily that went along these lines: A recollection of his celebrating Mass once in a chapel where there was a contiguous bathroom to the side. With a twinkle in his eye he began to describe the sounds, during the Mass, of a person quite audibly using the latrine. The Sunday gentry, quite intellectually accomplished, dare I say the elite of the elite, moneyed and overqualified, and, very opinionated, who adored this priest, I guess, thought this hilarious and there were titters. I thought, I wonder where this is going. Indeed the punchline or our edu-tainment takeaway for that morning was how apt it was that one should be relieving one’s self in the toilet whilst Mass was going along practically in the same room. That was it.

    For my part, I felt rather that it was a boundary violation that one’s distress would be thrown up in humiliating fashion for a religious point. Further, I worried that the man hadn’t been ill and why wouldn’t someone had looked after him.

    But in a nutshell, that is what the run with the Rahner for the moneyed West want us to run with. Not that we should be compassionate towards our neighbor, as, the compassion is long gone, sacrificed, with the child sacrifice, on the almighty altar of justifying ten minutes of adult sexual pleasure or whatever it may be for all times, just because, the 60s. Writ large for all generations hence forth. Because we are as a society that great. It was never that Christ be brought to those who are in need. No, the inculturation is that we are God, just as we are, and, that we have no need for God, or for prayer to Him who created us, or to acknowledge that He alone is holy, and that His mercy endures forever.

  82. benedetta says:

    jm, With respect to this construct being discussed here “The Third Epoch”, you disagree with Pope Benedict?

    Regarding America’s tribute issue (what was the date on that) at Rahner’s death, it likely had more to do with his Christocentric theology than the more aberrant anthropological Third Epoch theory, yes? We can all agree that an orthodox theologian even with good intentions can hit a foul ball from time to time and be corrected by one’s intellectual and spiritual superior amicably and properly (cf Father Dulles on theology). Further, we can all agree that when dissenters latch upon some notion originally birthed in orthodoxy disconnected from its Christian origins in order to lurch toward a secular desire and one rooted in a very time-bound political era of some arbitrary choosing, we can’t blame the theologian for that and say his entire corpus is worthless. One can see in that as a matter of fact the profound intellectual dishonesty of dissenters who would, especially when the theologian has died and can no longer take part in the discussion on its terms or on his terms, take a piece or thread and attempt to say it stands for something they desire which has no Christian roots whatsoever.

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