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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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IV. Rahner and Khodr: “Theological Anthropology” and Common Theological Sources and Themes


1. Preliminary Remarks: “Theological Anthropology” Throughout this part I argue that through the anthropological aspect of Christian faith both Rahner and Khodr were able to make an innovative, creative use of their theological heritage and at the same time address the theological questions of their days. Theological anthropology considers the social, cultural aspects of human life as they result from rationality being successfully applied to all different facets of human existence; hence it enables a critical evaluation of one’s contemporary situation. The important mediating role that the human being has in relation to the whole cosmos, human dignity, freedom, divine self-communication through both grace and word, the words that are both divine and human through which a union of the knowing and loving subject and the known and loved object is accomplished - all together these elements bring the divine and the human realities into a close unity which does not allow for any kind of monopolization of the Truth based on the personal assessment of one group of people against another. In view of this, I argue here that there is deep correspondence between both Rahner’s and Khodr’s approaches concerning the ‘Other’. However, the purpose here is not simply one of comparison. It is not the case here that one has to compare one theologian’s thought or position concerning the ‘Other’ with another’s. Hence, no effort is made here to show the differences between the two theological systems, although there most probably are differences in many respects. The point...

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