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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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I. Introduction and General Methodological Remarks


Various questions might come to mind when one reads the title of this work: “The ‘Other’ in Karl Rahner’s Transcendental Theology and in George Khodr’s Spiritual Theology within the Near Eastern Context”. Reading the title, one may ask: Who is the ‘Other’? What factors really make the ‘Other’? What about Rahner’s transcendental Theology and its relation to non- Christians? Is there anything left to say about Rahner’s ‘Anonymous Christian’ after all the discussions about it? What about Khodr’s spiritual theology and its relevance to the Near Eastern context? Why this topic today? Isn’t it possible for the Near East to concentrate on its own theology regardless of the ‘Other’? What benefit is there for the theology of the Near East, or what benefit is there for the ‘Other’, from relating the two together? I come from a context in which both Christians and Muslims live together (the Near East). As we reach the end of the first decade of the 21st century, having already almost fourteen centuries of Christian-Muslim relations behind us, there is still need to go into the question of the ‘Other’ in depth theologically, since for Near Eastern Christianity throughout these centuries Islam has remained the ‘Other’. Even though Christians and Muslims shared the common life experience in the Arab world, yet this could not move the doctrinal rigidity of either side. While in the West, where in the nineteenth century Eastern Studies appeared and developed, the traditional doctrinal approach concerning world religions remained nonetheless unmoved.1 The...

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