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(2,996 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Sections A and В of this article will deal with the wider notion of conversion as amendment of life; section C with the problem of conversion in the narrower sense, that of a baptized person from a Christian community to the Catholic Church. A. Theology 1. Methodology. a) The content of the theologically important and indeed central concept of conversion will be presented here from the point of view of dogmatic theology, but that of biblical theology will also be taken into account. b) It is difficult to distinguish the concept precisely from related theological concepts: faith (as fides qua…

States of Man, Theological

(1,743 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. General concept. “State of man” is here understood in the theological sense — not in the biological sense of “natural state” or the like, nor in the ecclesiological sense of the lay, clerical or religious state, nor again in the social sense of class or calling. We are dealing with the fundamental inward and outward situations of man in the history of salvation which determine his relation to salvation and are constituted either by the free action of God or of man or of both. 2. The realities comprised under the term “states of man” — the state of man before the Fall; the stat…


(1,913 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. “Works” came into theology from St. Paul, who condemned the notion of justification through the “works” of the law and saw justification coming to man from the free, merciful grace of God, which is had in faith. Works (of the law) and faith are contrasted (Rom 3:20, 27f.; 4:2, 6; 9:12, 32; 11:6; Gal 2:16; 3:2, 10; Eph 2:9; 2 Tim 1:9; Tit 3:5), as mutually exclusive. There can be no doubt, of course, that in the NT the word “work” (ἔργον) does not necessarily have the meaning which was sometimes given it by St. Paul. It can mean the obedient fulfilment of the …

Parousia - Theological Doctrine

(1,379 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Parousia: 1. Exegetical Findings 2. Theological Doctrine 1. The parousia, as understood in theology, is the permanent blessed presence of Christ in the manifest finality of the history of the world and of salvation which is perfected and ended in the destiny of Jesus Christ. It is the fullness and the ending of the history of man and the world with the glorified humanity of Christ — now directly manifest in his glory — in God (Mt 24:36; 25:31 ff.; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:2ff.; Rev 20:11 ff.; 22:17…

Jesus Christ - History of Dogma and Theology

(13,293 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Jesus Christ: 1. Biblical 2. Quest of the Historical Jesus 3. Christology 4. History of Dogma and Theology A. Jesus Christ in Classical Fundamental Theology 1. Fundamental theology traditionally considered Jesus as legatus divinus, i.e., as one of many bearers of revelation who confirm their message by miracles and are therefore worthy of credence. The miracles of Jesus were invoked in the same way. Among these miracles added extraneously to the prophetic message, the miracle of his resurrection was certainly given partic…

Church and World

(8,617 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. Introduction. The Church’s reflection and teaching on the mutual relation of world and Church have to some extent entered on a new stage with Vatican II. The Church has always of course been concerned with the theme. Scripture itself raises the question of the significance of secular authority and of the obligation and limit of Christians’ obedience to it. The patristic period, the Middle Ages and modern times, all dealt in theory and in actual practice which often involved bitter conflicts, w…

Order - End of Man

(4,032 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Order: 1. Concept of Order 2. Order of Creation 3. Supernatural Order 4. End of Man 1. Introductory: the notion of “end”. a) Man first learns what an “end” can be from his own immediate internal experience. He strives for a certain good (value) which he has before his mind and which he wills to attain. He chooses appropriate means — possibly by co-ordinating a number of parts into an instrument or machine; — and sets them in motion towards the end in view. He sets himself an “end”, consciously and deliberately chosen, and realizes it. b) He then recognizes in the course of reflection…


(6,018 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
A. History of the Doctrine The history of the doctrine concerning the magisterium is in the concrete almost identical with the history of the self-understanding of the Church itself, which cannot but understand itself essentially except as the bearer of the gospel message. To ask about the bearers of the message in the Church and their right to demand faith is always a question about the essence of the Church, and vice versa. Hence as regards the history of dogma and of theology in this connection, it will suffice to a great extent to refer to the articles Church II, III, Word of God, Bible I, Tradi…

Hell - Doctrine

(1,644 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Hell: 1. Doctrine 2. Descent of Christ into Hell 1. In the history of revelation the notion of hell as the place and state of those who are finally lost goes back to the ОТ notion of Sheol as the place and state of the dead — the “underworld”. In a long, slow process of theological reflection, the state in question came to be understood differently of the good and the bad, in keeping with their life on earth. The “sheol of damnation” (1 Q Hodayot [Qumran Thanksgiving Hymns], 3, 19) was the final lot of the wicked (Gehenna; cf. LTK, V, cols. 445 f., with bibliography). The notion of the f…

Angel - Doctrine of Angels

(2,846 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Angel: 1. Problem and History of Angelology 2. Doctrine of Angels A. Introduction The great danger at the present time is that affirmations about angels in the teaching of the Christian faith will be rejected as a mythology which is no longer credible, and so succumb to demythologization. In all particular statements about the angels it must, therefore, be kept clear that such assertions are meant as elements of a theological anthropology and Christology. In other words, it is the insertion of the ange…


(2,585 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. The word “mystery” is certainly one of the most important key-words of Christianity and its theology. Vatican I expressly declared (D 1816; cf. 1671- -3; 1795 f.) that there are mysteries properly so called which can only be known through actual revelation by God (against Gnosticism, Rationalism and Semi-Rationalism). It follows that revelation and faith cannot be superseded and abolished by philosophy and understanding. Vatican I also affirmed that, despite their abidingly mysterious charact…

Trinity in Theology

(4,217 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
A. Introduction to the State of the Question We are not enquiring here into the content of the doctrine of the Trinity and the problems which it raises, but the situation of the doctrine itself as such. Here the question arises both on principle and in terms of a given epoch. 1. On principle, one may ask where the treatise on the Trinity should fit into dogma. Its ordinary place, which it has occupied for a long time now, is in the dogmatic treatise De Deo (Uno et Trino), at the beginning of dogmatic theology, after the usual preambles. Here a further question arises. Should one fo…

Theology - Nature

(5,682 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Theology: 1. Nature 2. History A. Introductory Remarks 1. On the history of theology see Theology II. 2. The general principles of the theory of knowledge which are important for the understanding of theology can only be given in outline here. a) Man’s conscious and articulate knowl- edge of himself (scientific and pre-scientific) is not the whole of his self-understanding, but the interpretation of a self-understanding grasped directly and historically in the act of existence. (One may compare logic or ethics. Man does not act l…


(3,004 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
1. Introduction. It cannot be said that the theology of death usually receives in scholastic theology the attention which the theme deserves. People think they know from everyday experience what death is, and quickly turn to the question of what comes after death, as though the theology of death only began there. Yet death necessarily also contains within itself all the mysteries of man. As the Constitution Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II notes, it is the point where man in the most radical way becomes a question for himself, a question which God himself must answe…


(4,353 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
A. In Philosophy 1. Concept and incidence. Philosophically speaking atheism means denial of the existence of God or of any (and not merely of a rational) possibility of knowing God (theoretical atheism). In those who hold this theoretical atheism, it may be tolerant (and even deeply concerned), if it has no missionary aims; it is “militant” when it regards itself as a doctrine to be propagated for the happiness of mankind and combats every religion as a harmful aberration. We speak of the practical at…

Christianity - The Essence of Christianity

(8,862 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Christianity: 1. The Essence of Christianity 2. Absoluteness of Christianity A. Preliminary Observations on Method 1. The question what Christianity “really” is in “essence”, is not one which arises only when doubt is thrown on the unique character of Christianity, its absolute claim. Since the beginning of modern times the question has of course been raised in that way in ever more insistent and explicit terms. As a consequence, the question has been misconstrued. Contrary to the nature of a unique conc…

Philosophy and Theology

(3,537 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
A. Introductory It is hard today to define philosophy. Any answer to what philosophy is proves to be Itself one of the many philosophies which now exist. Naturally — because philosophy differs from “regional” thinking by including its own nature in its thought and hence neither can nor will exclude anything from its questioning a priori. (Hence it can on principle take in a self-understanding of man based on revelation, since philosophy finds it at least a datum of history.) Then again, in spite of its claim to absolute “universality” in its object …

Revelation - God’s Self-Communication

(1,651 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Revelation: 1. Concept of Revelation 2. God’s Self-Communication 3. Primitive Revelation 4. Private Revelation 1. In order to explain what is meant by this expression in terms of traditional scholastic theology, we shall start with the theological doctrine (though not defined in all its consequences) of the immediate vision of God as constituting the content of eternal life. According to Benedict XII, God in glory is seen directly, and no created reality serves as “object” “mediating” this knowledge. Th…

Dogma - Dogmatics

(2,746 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
Part of Dogma: 1. Theological Meaning of Dogma 2. Development of Dogma 3. History of Dogma 4. Dogmatics 1. General description. Dogmatics is the science of the Church’s dogma, i.e., systematic reflection undertaken on methodological principles appropriate to dogma and aiming at as comprehensive a grasp of it as possible. This involves reflection on everything necessary or helpful, in method or content, for the understanding of dogma. As in every branch of knowledge, reflection on its own history is an integral part…


(5,277 words)

Author(s): Karl Rahner
The question of indulgences offers dogmatic, psychological and pastoral difficulties. To have a sound basis for discussion, we begin with the teaching of the Church, always bearing in mind, however, that most of the declarations of the magisterium (all, in fact, except the Council of Trent, which is very reserved) are not irreformable decisions and that they are often the echo of a theology which is not in all respects of a strictly binding character. As regards the notion of temporal punishment…
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