On Father Rahner and Other


On Father Rahner and Other Controversies

First, my thanks to those generous-spirited people who stopped by to help clear up some of the difficulties involved with Father Rahner. As with many theologians who are working largely beyond the concerns of most laymen, it can be very easy to misinterpret what he is saying. Without proper training in the use of terms and a fairly thorough understanding of the background of the matter being discussed, it would seem that one could easily misread such theologians. Fr. Balthasar, for example, has been accused of teaching universalism, when nothing I have read has made any suggestion of the sort. Others have been accused of various other modernists heresies. I sited the "Our Lady's Warrior Site" because they were one of the few that sited Fr. Rahner alone, without the entire panoply of every modern theologian.

One conclusion I have drawn from this is that the vast majority of Fr. Rahner's work is probably NOT appropriate for spiritual reading for the vast majority of those of us without degrees in theology. It is obvious that one could become confused, disoriented, and experience potentially serious disruptions in spiritual life. However, Fr. Jim has said that he may post some Eucharistic meditations. In addition, I have a book of prayers that I find good reading.

On Father DeMello--while I know that some of the later works are said to be syncretistic, I have not found this in my reading. I have found much of his writing extremely helpful, and I read the Vatican Notification as perhaps a bit over-cautious. However, given the tendency of people to go to extremes, it is probably salutary to warn those sould inclined to embrace things without reservation, that caution should be employed in approaching these works. I have read much of DeMello's early work myself, and have profited greatly from the insights provided--but I would be cautious about the ones I would suggest to others to read. I feel that to a certain extent I come with a kind of built-in protection. Having been a protestant for quite some time, I have "my antennae" up for things that do not sound orthodox. Some of these I'm inclined to dismiss as my overly suspicious mind, others are serious concerns. For example, Matthew Fox comes to mind as one who is immediately recognizable as a problem even in early works. Be that as it may, I think that many may benefit from reading Fr. DeMello so long as they bear in mind that certain tendencies might be present, particularly in later works, that could be misinterpreted. One of the difficulties with the notification on Fr. DeMello's work, if I recall, is that it was issued after he was dead, and thus not able to revise or explain what he intended by some of the "errors" noted in the notification. I have read some writings by close friends of Fr. DeMello that suggest that he may have been misinterpreted.

As in all things--caution and charity. St. Ignatius of Loyola advises us that if something can be interpreted as in-line with Church doctrine, we should do so. If it is obviously in error, then we should take care to correct the error, preferably privately, with the individual involved. Overall, a very charitable policy.

I do want to once again extend my thanks to all of those who so generously spent time and energy trying to help us understand some of the controversy surrounding Fr. Rahner. Ignorance may be worse than heresy, for at least with heresy, you have hold of part of the truth; in ignorance, you are completely blind.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 4, 2003 4:02 PM.

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