The transcendental Christology of Karl Rahner: A resource for Catholic social teaching?

Paulette Skiba, Marquette University


Rahner's christology, I propose, meets, supports and further challenges Catholic social teaching at several points. First, Catholic social teaching does not separate an understanding of the person from faith in Christ. For Rahner this relationship is developed in his understanding of christology as the beginning and end of anthropology. Second, Catholic social teaching makes a distinctly Christian claim about the ontological constitution of the dignity of all persons based on humanity's relationship with God and Jesus Christ. Rahner's christology clarifies the theological dimension of that claim. Third, Catholic social teaching reads "the signs of the times" in the light of the gospel and appeals through its symbols and doctrines but its effectiveness in a pluralistic world is based also in its ability to make a universal appeal. Rahner's "searching christology" places a priority on praxis and offers a universalistic understanding of what it means to "encounter Jesus" which gives clarity to the church's practice of addressing its appeal for justice and peace to "all those of good will." Part one of the dissertation addresses Johannes Baptist Metz's critique of Rahner's christology. Chapter one explains this critique. Chapter two responds with a presentation of Rahner's understanding of what it means to "follow Jesus" in the context of his appropriation of Ignatian spirituality. Part two explicates the social dimensions in Rahner's transcendental christology. Chapter three analyzes the anthropological component in his christology. Chapter four considers Rahner's understanding of Jesus as achieving self-realization in relationship to others. Chapter five examines Rahner's development of the human community's relationship to Jesus Christ. Part three develops Rahner's christology as a resource for Catholic social teaching. Chapter six considers Rahner's understanding of the integral and dynamic relationship which the church has in the world as a sacrament of God's salvation in Jesus Christ. Chapter seven suggests ways in which Rahner's christology supports and challenges the development of the christological principle found in Catholic social teaching since the Second Vatican Council. Here principles exposed in chapters two through six are correlated with Catholic social teaching especially as it is expressed in Gaudium et Spes.

Recommended Citation

Skiba, Paulette, "The transcendental Christology of Karl Rahner: A resource for Catholic social teaching?" (1997). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9811407.