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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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II. Karl Rahner’s Transcendental Theology and his “Anonymous Christian”


“I see thousands upon thousands around me – I see whole cultures, whole epochs of history around me, before and after me – who are not explicitly Christian. I see the approach of times in which Christianity will no longer be a matter of course in Europe and in the whole world. I know all that, but ultimately it can not really trouble me. Why not? Because I see everywhere a nameless Christianity, and because I do not see my own explicit Christianity as one opinion among others which contradict it. I see nothing other in my Christianity than the explicit recognition and home-coming of everything in the way of truth and love which exists or could exist anywhere else.”9 1. Introduction: Karl Rahner (1904-1984) Karl Rahner was born into a catholic family in Freiburg, Germany. In 1922 he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Austria, following the example of his older brother Hugo. During his studies he was asked to teach Latin at Feldkirch, Austria. In 1929 Rahner began his theological studies in the Netherlands. At this time he was introduced to Patristic theology in detail, and read the works of the Church Fathers. This Patristic influence appears in Rahner’s works, mainly in his early articles from 1932-1933, where he deals with several themes related to divine grace, spirituality and mysticism.10 In this period he also worked jointly with his brother, a scholar in Patristics, on issues concerning Ignatian spirituality. This solidified a mystical tendency in Rahner’s...

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