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The whole Rahner on the supernatural existential.

IN ORDER TO DESIGNATE the orientation of human beings to a supernatural end, that is, to salvation in the Christian sense, Karl Rahner (1904-1984), in his intervention in the nouvelle theologie debate in 1950, coined the expression "supernatural existential." (1) As with so many of his original technical terms, he evidently presumed that its meaning would be instantly clear to his readers. Even in a work as late as Foundations of Christian Faith (German original 1976) he was still manifesting this presumption. There his first words of explanation are that the supernatural existential "is present in all human beings," but "as an existential [Existential] of their concrete existence [Dasein]." (2)

Fortunately, the meaning of the expression as it occurs in this text can be gleaned from Rahner's explanation as it unfolds. Thus, the first part of the quoted statement requires no elaboration beyond pointing out that the existential is a consequence of God's universal saving will; the second assertion means that it is an element of the existence rather than of the essence (nature) of human beings. The first part of the statement, Rahner affirms, conflicts in no way with the truth of the second. Because it is not part of human nature, and because it has to do with salvation, the existential must be gratuitous, that is, must pertain in some way to grace. It is clear that the term "existential" is used here as a noun. Rahner goes on to say that as an existential of human beings "it is present prior to their freedom, their self-understanding and their experience." (3) If it were offered to their freedom, that is, after its constitution, it would be something about whose acceptance a decision would need to be made, and would be existentiell rather than existential. In this sense the term is clearly adjectival. The expression "supernatural existential," while remaining a substantive, combines the two references: it is an element of human existence rather than of the human essence, and its a priori character is asserted and stressed. Since the existential does not of itself bring about justification, "supernatural" cannot at this point indicate sanctifying grace itself, but rather a relationship to this grace, the exact nature of which remains to be clarified.

Whenever I refer in what follows to the "later" Rahner, I mean Rahner's statements on the supernatural existential after his contribution of 1950. Never again did he address the subject with the rigor and depth of this first treatment, but he did return to it on a number of occasions, some of which, because they are recognizable from the titles of the dictionary or encyclopedia articles to which they belong, are readily found. Other treatments by Rahner occur in unexpected places and are discovered by only the most industrious or serendipitous of researchers. The few who embark on this task usually receive a shock since Rahner appears, at least in some places and at first sight, to contradict what he said in his first and most important statement. His hard won advantage over the nouvelle theologic seems now to be lightly cast aside. For at times, he refers to the existential as an "offer" of grace (which certainly sounds existentiell rather than existential) and sometimes, in an apparently even more compromising way, he speaks of it as "grace" or "the self-communication of God" (which seems to identify it already with the grace of justification).

Whatever the ultimate verdict on this state of affairs, it is incontestable that Rahner's advantage was not as great as it might have been and perhaps should have been, for it contained weaknesses that allowed, even facilitated, the emergence of the later difficulties. One weakness that he frankly admitted at the time (though not as a weakness) was that "it would be necessary to examine more closely how the supernatural existential is related to grace itself, and in what sense it is distinct from it." (4) In other words, when he wrote this, Rahner had no clear idea of the nature of the relationship of the existential to grace. This admission on his part reveals a more fundamental weakness: he was unable to say what the supernatural existential was. He could say what it did (it oriented us to God) and what it was not (it was not a constituent of human nature). Simply to call it a la Heidegger an "existential" was to leave untouched the question of its proper identity. Henri de Lubac, Rahner's opponent in the debate (though an indirect one), was placed at a disadvantage by these weaknesses. First, he could not tell the difference between what he and what Rahner was saying; second, he did not accept that Rahner's use of Heideggerian terminology in an essentially Scholastic debate was "necessary or even opportune." (5) Had Rahner used Scholastic terminology, his influence on de Lubac might have been more positive and fruitful.

Having explained the relevant terminology and the nature of the problem raised by Rahner's later writings, I now state what I hope to accomplish in this present article and why I consider the exercise important. My object is to establish the thesis that, despite appearances, there is no contradiction between Rahner's late and early statements on the supernatural existential. What appear in the later writings as contradictions are in fact correct approximations of a truth whose entirety eluded him because it had not been fully thought through. It will be for the reader to judge how successfully I succeed in achieving the theory of the supernatural existential that Rahner could have produced himself. The exercise seems important because in the ordo doctrinae the supernatural existential is the foundation of Rahner's entire theology of grace, which is important in itself and widely appreciated ecumenically. More specifically, Rahner's theology of the existential, if it is correct, frees his Catholic theology of grace from any and all reasonable suspicion of semi-Pelagianism.

I begin with a summary of Rahner's position on the supernatural existential in his first published essay. I then continue with a presentation of his position in his later writings. An integration of these positions is then offered by a precise Scholastic theory of the existential and its relationship to grace. In my conclusion, I consider the contemporary relevance of the whole question.


Here I do not give a full account of Rahner's first essay on the supernatural existential. (6) Instead, I am content to extract what is relevant to my present study. In his first essay Rahner was responding to an article by "D," (7) an anonymous writer who defended de Lubac against the severe criticism he incurred over the theology of grace presented in his book Surnaturel. (8) To explain his position D had provided a systematic presentation of what he understood de Lubac's theology to be, for which Rahner was grateful since it made it easier for him as a systematician to come to grips with it. (9) The central point of this theology was that all human beings have by nature a spiritual orientation to the one true God revealed in Jesus Christ. The single element of this to which Rahner took exception was the phrase "by nature." That all human beings are oriented to the God of revelation, far from being in dispute, was affirmed by Rahner with a zeal equal to that of de Lubac and his confreres. All parties were united in their opposition to the duplex ordo characteristic of neo-Scholasticism of the day, according to which in human beings the natural and the supernatural orders coexisted as separate "layers" (with the supernatural imposed on the natural). That theology, designed to protect the transcendence of God, had produced the unintended effect of rendering the Christian religion and all that belonged to it, namely: divine revelation, grace, the Church, God, as irrelevant to human beings as they went about their lives in the world.

The stakes were high, not only between the duplex ordo theologians on the one hand and the nouvelle theologie supporters on the other, but between D/de Lubac and Rahner. In the first instance, the issue was the relevance of Christianity. In the second, the issue was the no less crucial question of the absolute gratuity of grace. The first issue was triumphantly decided in favor of de Lubac and colleagues (including Rahner) by the Second Vatican Council in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et spes. The second, in which Rahner took the opposite view to de Lubac (via D), remains controversial to this day. Pius XII thought he had settled the matter with his statement in the encyclical Humani generis that "others corrupt the 'gratuity' of the supernatural order, since they hold that God could not create beings endowed with intellect without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision." (10) But de Lubac denied that this rebuke was intended for him, (11) and so the dispute continued.

A suitable point of departure for presenting Rahner's case against D is found in the following words from his first article on the supernatural existential: "If God gives creation and above all man a supernatural end and this end is first in intentione, then the world and man is by that very fact always and everywhere inwardly other in structure than he would be if he did not have this end, and hence other as well before he has reached this end partially (the grace which justifies) or wholly (the beatific vision)." (12) First, we may disregard what Rahner says here about the world, not that it lacks importance, but because it is not strictly relevant to the present inquiry. In any case, the structure of this sentence of Rahner reveals that for him too it is of secondary importance in this context. (13) Secondly, Rahner here affirms the common ground between himself and D, namely that all human beings have as their concrete end the true God revealed in Jesus Christ. This God is expressed not in objective terms as I have just done, but in subjective terms, where the "subject" is the human person ordered to God by sanctifying grace (hereafter referred to simply as "grace"). This ordination is already a partial possession of the end and the beginning of the process culminating in its total possession, the beatific vision. (14) I continue to express this concept of God in objective terms. A theologically satisfactory way of doing this is to say "God as God is in himself," which for the sake of brevity and inclusive language, I abbreviate to "God in self." Also, pertaining to the common ground, is the Scholastic principle that the end is first in intentione, meaning that the end determines everything else about the being under consideration. Thirdly, Rahner goes on to say that human beings with this end are other than they would be if they did not have this end. One needs to go beyond the sentence just quoted to discover the reason for this. But we should notice that Rahner abstains from speculation about the "natural" end that the human person has or would have if the supernatural end were not bestowed. Perhaps the reason for this is that he did not want to get caught up in the seemingly needless and controversial question of what the natural end of human beings is or would be. Here it suffices for him simply to affirm that such an end exists. This too is a subject to which we must return. At this point, fourthly, it suffices to note that Rahner assumes the perduring identity of the human person in both these scenarios. In fact, "I" have a supernatural end, but if God had not given "me" this end, "I" would still exist, hut then with a purely natural end. Rahner's point about perduring identity had been denied by de Lubac, who had written: "In another universe another being than I, possessing a nature analogous to mine, would have had this more humble destiny [namely, a natural end]." (15) But Rahner's point here is important because perduring identity is essential for the gratuity of the beatific vision (and grace). The beatific vision is for me gratuitous only if I could have not had it as my end.

The "otherness" that Rahner asserts of human persons with a supernatural end would not be so radical as to precipitate a total change of identity if they were deprived of it. Nevertheless, fifthly, it is an otherness "in structure." This makes it sound ontological, and indeed Rahner has already said as much a few lines earlier, where he calls the supernatural existential "an interior ontological constituent of [the human person's] concrete quiddity terminative." (16) So the existential is ontological, but not a substance. Does this mean that it is an accident? Leopold Malevez certainly thought so. (17) But then we are led to ask what sort of accident it might be--not an easy question to answer. That constitutes another matter to which we must return. Faithful to Rahner's intention, the translator has used the word "quiddity" (Wesen) in conjunction with "concrete" to designate the actual human person with a supernatural end. This is to indicate a distinction from "nature" (Natur) which would designate the same person without the supernatural end but with a purely natural end, in other words, a concrete instance of "pure nature." The word terminative is Latin, an adverb meaning "terminatively." In other words, in Rahner's understanding the existential is a definitive determinant of a concrete human nature.

To this point we have been able to summarize a large part of Rahner's first article on the supernatural existential by "unpacking" a single sentence from it. But to complete the task we now need to range beyond it. Three points remain to be made. Firstly, for Rahner the bestowal of the existential takes place at the initial moment of the human person's existence, in other words at the moment of his or her creation. This follows from the fact that God never had any other intention for human beings than their destination to divine friendship. Hence Rahner states with emphasis that the human person must have this destination "always." (18) It is not as though pure nature existed first in its own right and was then determined. Rather, creation and determination take place together, though creation belongs to the level of nature, and determination in some way to the level of grace. Nor is the existential simply added to nature; it transforms nature in its coming into being. And the transformation will remain forever, unaltered by anything the person may or may not do subsequently.

Secondly, it would be a misinterpretation of Rahner to read him as positing "nature" (as defined above) as merely hypothetical. For him it is an actually existing reality, though it exists never by itself but always as taken up into the "quiddity" (again as defined above). This explains why for him "nature" is a "remainder," (19) or a "remainder concept" (Restbegriff), (20) in other words, that which remains when everything pertaining to the supernatural is subtracted.

Thirdly, the necessity of the theology of the existential flows from the gratuity of grace. To put this another way, without a theology of the existential, grace would lose its essential quality of gratuity. This is how Rahner expressed it:

In this more recent view [of the nouvelle theologie], this ordination to the beatific vision on the one hand was considered an inner, inamissible constituent of human nature, and on the other hand was so conceived that the withholding of the goal of this ordination was considered incompatible with the wisdom and goodness of God. And in this sense [the ordination] was declared unconditional [unbedingt] (provided the creature did not fail to reach its goal through its own fault). In our view, with these presuppositions grace and the beatific vision can no longer be called unowed [gratuitous]. (21)

To clarify this quotation one needs to explain what "unconditional" means in this context. With the nouvelle theologie, Rahner shared the conviction that every human being has "an unconditional desire for God." Two things need to be explained about this expression. First, this desire is essentially an unconscious yearning which becomes conscious only upon the preaching of the gospel. And secondly, it is unconditional (or absolute) in the sense that God in self has already constituted himself the end of every human being. There are no conditions remaining to be met--by God--before human beings actually have God in self as their ultimate end. Hence their desire for God is "unconditional." If God had not yet so given himself, then any desire a human might have for God in self would be only "conditional," and would remain such unless God fulfilled the outstanding condition by thus giving himself. (All agreed that the situation of a human with only a conditional desire had never occurred and never would.) The precise point of difference between Rahner and the nouvelle theologie was that while the latter regarded the unconditional desire as belonging to human nature as such, Rahner maintained that it was already a gift of grace and hence was supernatural. For him the unconditional desire was the immediate consequence of the supernatural existential and hence shared its supernatural character. As the quotation shows, the nouvelle theologie, by not unambiguously declaring the unconditional desire supernatural, had unwittingly compromised the gratuity of grace. For if God assigns an end to everyone he creates, and the "desire" of this end belongs to the nature of the person in question, God owes to that person the possibility of attaining the assigned end either from the unaided resources of his or her nature or, in the case of the beatific vision, with the help of grace, which would mean that both grace and the beatific vision would lose their essentially gratuitous character.

To conclude my first section of this article, I offer brief comments on two further elements of Rahner's article. The first is his scant mention of a "natural" end for human beings; the second is the tantalizing clue he provides to his later position on the supernatural existential when he says that possession of the existential entails exposure to "the permanent dynamism of grace." (22) I have already drawn attention to Rahner's reticence on the subject of a natural end for human beings. He refers to it only twice in the article, and then obliquely. The first reference is found in his brief account of the "average textbook" theology of grace, the duplex ordo theology then current. (23) In this theology, he says, "supernatural grace ... can only be the superstructure lying beyond the range of experience imposed upon a human 'nature' which even in the present economy turns in its own orbit (though with a relationship peculiar to itself to the God of creation)." (24) To say that human nature turns in its own orbit is another way of saying that underlying its supernatural end, which is God in self, it has and retains an as yet unspecified natural end. And the vague reference to the God of creation suggests that this natural end might be God thus conceived.

The distinction between God in self and the God of creation should not be dismissed out of hand. The suggestion being made was not that there were two gods, but that there were two different aspects under which the one true God might be encountered: a lower aspect under which he was known, whether by reason alone or through revelation, simply as creator of the world, and a higher aspect under which through revelation he became known in his inner being and life, the first giving access to his unity, the second to his Trinity. We need to bear in mind that Rahner's statements here occur in his account of a position he is criticizing. It is therefore not clear what he thought of the suggestion that the natural end of human beings might be the God of creation. I return to this idea in the third section of my article. What is clear is that he rejected the central idea of the duplex ordo theology, namely, that a twofold human end gives rise to two entirely separate though juxtaposed human orders, one natural and the other supernatural.

Rahner's second reference to a natural end occurs late in the article where he speaks of the "openness" of the human spirit for the supernatural existential. (25) This openness, he says, must be conceived as "not unconditional," that is, as conditional. Thus, "pure" human nature, that is, with the existential bracketed out (though in fact it is always present), can "confidently" (26) be identified as "the unlimited dynamism of the spirit" of which D had spoken, that is, the spirit's unlimited, and hence unconditional drive toward the totality of being, in a word, self-transcendence toward being as such. Here, then, the end of pure nature is implicitly asserted to be the totality of being. But this totality cannot include God in self, for the simple reason that for Rahner a natural human desire for God thus conceived could only be conditional. Concretely, then, what is this end? Once again Rahner passes up the opportunity of expressing an opinion on this matter.

Finally (and this is the second of the two comments which I earlier undertook to make), Rahner's claim that the existential entails that we are exposed to "the permanent dynamism of grace," (27) is surprising in that no reason is provided as to why this should be so. In section three I argue that Rahner's claim is de facto correct, and that the fact that he was able to make it here can mean only that, without being able to articulate it, he must have operated from the outset with some sort of intuition of an intrinsic connection between the existential and grace. It was not, therefore, something appearing for the first time in his later writings on the basis of a fundamental change of position.


In his later writings Rahner says nothing that directly contradicts the position of his first article on the supernatural existential. The question arises, therefore, whether he contradicts it indirectly, that is to say, whether he wrote anything incompatible with it. My present study contends that he did not. Corroboration of this thesis is found in the fact that in the later writings he repeats the findings of the first article, which would be inexplicable on any other hypothesis.

In his article "Nature and Grace" in volume 4 of the Schriften (German 1960, English 1964) (28) Rahner distinguishes the "formal object of the natural spirit" and "the formal object of the supernaturally elevated spirit." (29) First he defines the term "formal object" as "the a priori horizon given in consciousness, under which, in grasping the individual a posteriori object, everything is known that is grasped as an object strictly speaking." (30) The natural formal object of the spirit is then declared to be "transcendence towards being in general, the natural openness for being as a whole," (31) while its supernatural counterpart is "supernatural transcendence of the spirit, opened and borne by grace." (32) In the German it is clear that "opened and borne by grace" qualifies "transcendence," not "spirit." (33) Rahner then asserts that precisely this transcendence "is always present in every human being who has reached the age of moral reason." (34) This means that it is not only the grace of justification that he is concerned with here, but the supernatural existential. In that case, then, what does Rahner mean by saying that supernatural transcendence is "opened and borne by grace"? The answer must lie in his personalistic understanding of grace and the priority he awards such grace over all forms of created grace: "Grace is God himself, the communication in which he gives himself to humans as the divinizing factor which he is himself." (35) In other words, grace in this sense produces the existential as its first and inalienable effect, and later, on the basis of the human being's free assent of faith, justification as its second effect. Rahner also emphasizes the dynamic character of this grace, by calling it the "offer" of grace and declaring it to be continuous and permanent rather than "intermittent." (36) He goes on to say that the two formal objects are "not opposed to each other like two things that lie side by side, so that they must be either kept separate or confused." (37) This observation is helpful, but it calls for a positive statement about their relationship, a statement, however, that is not forthcoming.

In the same volume of the Schriften, in his article "Questions of Controversial Theology on Justification," Rahner speaks twice of the supernatural existential (English 200, 215-18; German 249-50, 267-71). The first statement is a repetition of material already seen. The second is an attempt to clarify the relation between the existential and grace properly so called. (38) Its essential point is that if grace as such is the self-communication of God (inclusive of the created grace of justification), then the existential is a partial realization of grace. Rahner says this in three ways. First, the existential is a lower "degree" (Stufe, "level") of grace. Second, since the existential is "entitatively" natural (in that it is a modification of created human being as such), it is only "modally" supernatural, whereas grace itself (being the self-communication of God), is "entitatively" supernatural. And third, the existential is the "deficient mode" of grace. These are important statements.

In his entry on "Existential, Supernatural" in the Kleines Theologisches Worterbuch from 1961 (English 1965), Rahner restates much of what is contained in his original article. (39) He then speaks of the existential as "added [sic] indeed to [the human being's] nature by grace." (40) In this case as in some others, the German original avoids confrontation through its careful choice of words, speaking of the existential as added to nature, not by "grace" (Gnade) but "graciously" (gnadenhaft). The distinction intimated here became explicit in Max Seckler's characterization of the existential as "gnadenhaft, ohne 'die' Gnade zu sein," (41) which we may translate as "gracious, without actually being grace," but Seckler frankly acknowledged that it was difficult "to characterize this existential more precisely." (42)

In the paragraph numbered (3) of his entry on "Grace" in the same work, (43) Rahner is concerned with the reception of grace and hence with its recipient, the "addressee" of God's offer. The latter is declared to be "human nature" and not directly the human person as such, not, therefore, a concrete human nature already elevated by the existential as one might expect. Rahner is not being inconsistent here. He is thinking personalistically, but is coupling the existential with God in God's self-communication through grace rather than with the human being, recipient of grace. Though he is not saying so explicitly, he must be envisioning the existential as the beginning of the self-communication of God. Otherwise he would not have been able to call the addressee a "nature" in the sense of "pure nature" as he does here. (That this is the sense in which he uses the word is clear from the cross reference he gives, namely, to the entry on "nature and grace.") Once again Rahner is saying that "nature" in this sense, which is that of a Restbegriff, is an actual reality and not a merely hypothetical one. This, however, does not mean that he sees it as existing in its own right.

In "History of the World and Salvation History," in volume 5 of the Schriften (German 1962, English 1966), (44) Rahner has two pages (German

(1) Karl Rahner, "Eine Antwort," Orientierung 14 (1950) 141-45. This article was republished in slightly amended form as "Uber das Verhaltnis von Natur und Gnade," in Schriften zur Theologie 1 (Einsiedeln: Benziger, 1954) 323-45, and eventually in Cornelius Ernst's English translation, "Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace," in Theological Investigations 1 (Baltimore: Helicon, 1961) 297-317. See my amendments to the Ernst translation in Document 3 of my article: "Some Resources for Students of la nouvelle theologie," Philosophy and Theology 11/2 (1999) 395-98. Throughout this article I often make adjustments to the published English translations of Theological Investigations and elsewhere.

(2) Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity, trans. William V. Dych (New York: Crossroad, 1978) 127, with a slight adjustment to Dych's translation ("men" becomes "human beings"). German original: Grundkurs des Glaubens: Einfuhrung in den Begriff des Christentums (Freiburg: Herder, 1976) 133.

(3) Ibid.

(4) Rahner, "Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace" 316.

(5) See Henri de Lubac, At the Service of the Church: Henri de Lubac Reflects on the Circumstances That Occasioned His Writings, trans. Anne Elizabeth Englund (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1993) 62 n. 5. French original: Memoire sur l'occasion de mes ecrits, 2nd ed. (Namur: Culture et Verite, 1992; original ed. 1989) 63 n. 5.

(6) For publication details see n. 1. For a summary of the article, see Daniel T. Pekarske, Abstracts of Karl Rahner's Theological Investigations 1-23 (Milwaukee: Marquette University, 2002) 27-28.

(7) D's article, "Ein Weg zur Bestimmung des Verhaltnisses von Natur und Gnade," was published in Orientierung 14 (1950) 138-41. See my translation, under the title "A Way toward the Determination of the Relation of Nation and Grace," in Document 2 of "Some Resources for Students of la nouvelle theologie," Philosophy and Theology 11/2 (1999) 381-94. See also my identification of D as the French Jesuit Emile Delaye in Document 4 of the same article (399-402).

(8) De Lubac, Surnaturel: Etudes historiques (Paris: Aubier, 1946). See also the revised edition published in Paris by Desclee de Brouwer, 1991, with a preface by Michel Sales.

(9) See Rahner, "Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace" 303 n. 2, and 304 n. 3. See also the opening paragraph of Document 4 of my "Some Resources for Students" 399.

(10) My translation. The Latin reads: "Alii autem 'gratuitatem' ordinis supernaturalis corrumpunt, cum autumnent Deum entia intellectu praedita condere non posse, quin eadem ad beatificam visionem ordinet et vocet" (DS 3891, and the original in AAS 42 [1950] 561-78, at 570).

(11) See de Lubac, The Mystery of the Supernatural, trans. Rosemary Sheed (New York: Crossroad, 1998) 50, 80. French original: Le mystere du surnaturel (Paris: Aubier, 1965).

(12) Rahner, "Uber das Verhaltnis von Natur und Gnade" 328-29 ("Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace" 302-3).

(13) I refer to the fact that immediately after speaking of "the world and man" he invokes the pronoun "he" rather than "they."

(14) It is not necessary that the process be concluded in the beatific vision, for it can be aborted by the human person through sin. It comes to its proper completion only if this person perseveres in a life of righteousness.

(15) De Lubac, "Le mystere du surnaturel," Recherches de science religieuse 36 (1949) 80-121, at 94. Stephen Duffy finds "ambiguity" in de Lubac's approach here, because later in the same article (104) de Lubac wrote: "After as before, we shall be able to continue to say that, had God so willed, he would have been able not to give us being, and that this being which he has given us, he would have been able not at all to call to see him" (Duffy, The Graced Horizon: Nature and Grace in Modern Catholic Thought [Collegeville: Liturgical, 1992] 80).

(16) Rahner, "Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace" 302.

(17) See Leopold Malevez, "La gratuite du surnaturel," Nouvelle revue theologique 75 (1953) 561-86, at 579, and 673-89, at 685.

(18) Rahner, "Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace" 312.

(19) Ibid. 302.

(20) Ibid. 313.

(21) Rahner, "Uber das Verhaltnis von Natur und Gnade" 330; "Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace" 304.

(22) Rahner, "Concerning the Relationship between Nature and Grace" 301.

(23) Ibid. 298-300. The expression "average textbook conception" occurs on 298.

(24) Ibid. 299.

(25) Ibid. 315.

(26) Perhaps a better way of translating Rahner's ruhig in this context than Ernst's word "unhesitatingly."

(27) See n. 22.

(28) Rahner, "Nature and Grace," in Theological Investigations 4.165-88. The original "Natur und Gnade," in Schriften zur Theologie 4.209-36.

(29) Rahner, "Nature and Grace" 178-79.

(30) Ibid. 178.

(31) Ibid.

(32) Ibid. Here I have amended Smyth's translation, "supernatural transcendence, the openness of the soul informed by grace."

(33) The German reads: "die ubernaturliche, von der Gnade eroffnete und getragene Transzendenz des Geistes."

(34) Rahner, "Nature and Grace" 180.

(35) Ibid. 177.

(36) Ibid. 180.

(37) Ibid. 183.

(38) Here the Smyth translation rather obfuscates matters. For example, in the German text (268), English (215), Rahner three times uses the word Gefalle (literally, a "drop" or a "decline"), and each time in the sense of a distinction between something "higher" and something "lower" in the same order (in this case that of grace). This choice of word corresponds exactly to his intentions. Smyth translates it by a different word each time, namely "discrepancy," "split," and "inclination." He translates Gnadenhaftigkeit as "gratuitousness of grace," whereas it means simply "graciousness" (German [268], English [216]), In this context he might just as well have translated it "grace."

(39) Karl Rahner and Herbert Vorgrimler, Kleines Theologisches Worterbuch (Freiburg: Herder, 1961) 107. English translation: Theological Dictionary, ed. Cornelius Ernst, trans. Richard Strachan (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965) 161.

(40) Rahner, Theological Dictionary 161.

(41) Max Seckler, Instinkt und Glaubenswille nach Thomas von Aquin (Mainz: Matthias-Grunewald, 1961) 213.

(42) Ibid. 214.

(43) See Rahner, Theological Dictionary 163.

(44) Rahner, "Weltgeschichte und Heilsgeschichte," in Schriften zur Theologie

DAVID COFFEY received his S.T.D. from the Catholic Institute of Sydney, Australia, in 1960. He currently holds the William J. Kelly, S.J., Chair of Systematic Theology at Marquette University. He has published widely on the theology of the Triune God and especially on the Holy Spirit. His recent publications include The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Liturgical, 2001) and "The 'Unities' of the Episcopal Office," in Unfailing Patience and Sound Teaching: Reflections on Episcopal Ministry in Honor of Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., ed. David A. Stosur (Liturgical, 2003). He is now re-editing a collection of his earlier articles on Pneumatology.
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Title Annotation:Karl Rahner
Author:Coffey, David
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Critical Essay
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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