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The ‘Other’ in Karl Rahner’s Transcendental Theology and George Khodr’s Spiritual Theology

Within the Near Eastern Context


Sylvie Avakian

According to Karl Rahner’s transcendental theology, God is present in the inner reality of every being. Salvation is therefore possible for all. The author proposes a hermeneutical key to be applied on Rahner’s works, based on the assumption that there are two different theological motives or claims in Rahner’s theology. Furthermore the author presents George Khodr’s position concerning the non-Christian religions, particularly Judaism and Islam, within the contemporary Near-Eastern context. Khodr, based on the Patristic heritage of the Eastern Church, makes salvation possible for the ‘Other’ – Christ is the horizon of every human yearning for love and freedom. The ‘Other’ in this sense is the symbol for divine presence in one’s life. It is the very recognition of God, seeing God in the face of the ‘Other’.


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Abbreviations I. Introduction and General Methodological Remarks II. Karl Rahner’s Transcendental Theology and his “Anonymous Christian” 1. Introduction: Karl Rahner (1904-1984) 2. Philosophical-Theological Foundations 3. Rahner’s Transcendental Theology and the Bases for his Theology of Religions 3.1. The Anthropological Starting Point and the Divine Mystery 3.2. The ‘Supernatural Existential’ and ‘God’s Radical Self-Communication’ 3.3. Salvation History as Parallel to Ordinary History 3.4. The Soteriological Role of Jesus Christ 3.5. Creation, Incarnation and the ‘Hypostatic Union’ 3.6. The Possibility of ‘Anonymous Christians’ 4. Evaluation and the Problem of a Different Starting Point 5. The Problem Exemplified and the Suggestion of a Hermeneutical Key 6. The “Anonymous Christian” Revisited 6.1. The Theory from a Transcendental Starting Point 6.2. The Theory ‘From Above’ Starting Point 6.3. Meaning and Purpose of the ‘Anonymous Christian’ 7. The Reception of the ‘Anonymous Christian’ in the West 7.1. A Positive Reception of the ‘Anonymous Christian’: The Work of Heinz Robert Schlette 7.2. Critiques of the ‘Anonymous Christian’ 7.2.1. As Unfair to the Uniqueness of the Christian Faith 7.2.2. As Unfair to the World Religions: The Critique of John Hick 13 15 27 27 29 38 38 42 47 50 53 56 58 65 76 78 83 84 87 88 90 90 92 10 7.2.3. The Critique of Hans Küng 8. Final Critical Remarks and Conclusion III. George Khodr and the Contemporary Near Eastern Theology 1. Introduction: George Khodr (1923- ) 2. Theological Foundations 2. 1. God as Mystery 2.1.1. The Apophatic and the Cataphatic Theologies 2.1.2. Essence...

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