Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Robert Masson

Second Advisor

Andrew Tallon

Third Advisor

Joseph T. Lienhard

Fourth Advisor

William J. Kelly

Fifth Advisor

Ronald J. Feenstra


Any thorough-going Trinitarian expression of the Christian faith must be as pneumatological as it is Christological. Karl Rahner's theology is decidedly Trinitarian and Christological. Is it, however, sufficiently pneumatological? This study provides an explication of the pneumatology latent in the theology of Karl Rahner in order to illustrate the extent of his pneumatological sensitivity. Chapter one presents an over-view of recent pneumatological literature and identifies four fundamental areas of concern: Trinitarian theology, Christology, the theology of grace, and ecumenism. This thematic survey is followed by a review of Yves Congar's pneumatological synthesis, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, insofar as it discusses the pneumatological implications of the above themes from the perspective of the Spirit's mission. Following that, three specific works that are both critical of Rahner and attentive to the import of pneumatology--William C. Shepherd's Man's Condition, David Coffey's "The Gift of the Holy Spirit," and William J. Hill's The Three-Personed God--are examined. Chapters two, three and four explicate the pneumatological implications of Rahner's Trinitarian theology, theology of grace, and Christology as these relate to Rahner's understanding of the Father's self-communication in the mutually conditioning missions of the Word and the Spirit. Rahner's reflections on each of these three central Christian mysteries consistently imply not only that there is a proper mission of the Holy Spirit in the gift of grace, but also that the Spirit functions as the condition of possibility for all unity-in-difference. The latter, that is, Rahner's implicit understanding of the Holy Spirit's ad extra function as "the condition of possibility for unity-in-difference," is discussed in chapter five. If--as Rahner so adamantly maintains--the ad extra missions reveal and communicate the ad intra processions, then the Holy Spirit must also be the condition of possibility for the inner Trinitarian unity of the Father and the Word. If that is true, however, then the Western theological understanding of the Trinity must be recast so that the procession of the Spirit a Patre Filioque can be complemented by the procession of the Word a Patre Spirituque.



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