Against Rahnerian Transcendence

Against Rahnerian Transcendence August 25, 2017

On the notion of subjective unity of all reality:

Excerpt: Rahner’s transcendental anthopology 

Rhaner conceived and developed a transcendental anthropology; human beings are “spirits in the world.” As such, human and divine realities meet in the subjective reality of the individual spirit.

In other words, God becomes present to human experience as the transcendental horizon which makes possible all human knowing and willing.

Thus, God is always present in human experience “not as object {but} in the self-realization of the human spirit.” 

Do you see what’s going on? Rahner’s set up, which reduces God to that far away horizon that I can know through self-realization, offers a disconnect relationship between Creator and created. Culture loves this point of view. Even Christians talk about their journey or pathway to God as experienced through self-realization.

Excerpt: Contra von Balthasar

von Balthasar’s analogy of being works against Rahnerian transcendence, i.e., a privileged place (a horizon) from which one might contrast God and God’s creation. The analogy of being plants the human being firmly in creation and from there God must be found and known.

Thus, against Rahnerian transcendence, von Balthasar’s analogy of being demands the human creature contemplate the Creator from within the very stuff of creation rather than from some transcendent horizon.

As such, the analogy of being creates a “dynamic” analogy. Our very finitude becomes the means to contemplate the infinite only to realize the infinite breaking through any form, any concept, any symbol our finitude provides. 

Now think about von Balthasar’s proposal and the relational dynamics. We live here, in reality. And we experience the created world. We feel the “fullness,” as Charles Taylor puts it, in everyday encounters with nature on our journey to know and understand God.

But not just nature, we know and understand God through “every concept, form, or symbol irrupted in the very act of knowing and loving God.”

Now imagine how the Incarnation affects these two approaches to transcendental anthropology. We can know God through the Word made flesh, not just by self-realization (thank you, Oprah).

And this event of divine Incarnation introduces not only sight to theological aesthetics, but also hearing.

More later.

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