An evaluation of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s critique of Karl Rahner’s theology of the cross
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This work offers examines the theology of the cross found in Karl Rahner’s writings, with particular regard to Hans Urs von Balthasar’s critique of this area of Rahner’s work . This work maintains that Karl Rahner does have a coherent theology of the cross, albeit that it differs from that of Balthasar’s. This work draws in particular from scholars in the English language. Chapter 1 outlines what is meant by a “theology of the cross”. This is achieved by briefly exploring the approaches to the cross offered by five major theologians. Following on from this, certain key criteria are outlined to determine in the context of the debate between Balthasar and Rahner, what can be deemed necessary to constitute a theology of the cross. Chapter 2 investigates the context of the criticism aimed at Rahner regarding his theology of the cross and serves to evaluate the critique offered by Balthasar. The next two chapters are an examination of where the cross is situated in Rahner’s theology. A central contention of this work is that Rahner’s theology of the cross is both explicitly expressed and implicitly implied in his work, and are both influenced by Ignatian spirituality. Chapter 3 presents the explicit, more thematic theology of the cross found in Rahner’s work, with particular emphasis on Rahner’s text; Spiritual Exercises. Chapter 4 offers the implicit but significant role the cross plays in Rahner’s theology; particularly in his theology of death, theology of Eucharist and mediations on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Finally, Chapter 5 applies the criteria outlined in the first chapter to evaluate our findings from Chapters 3 and 4. It is demonstrated that Rahner is not lacking a theology of the cross as Balthasar would claim.
KeywordsHans Urs von Balthasar
Theology of the cross