Rahner on Development of Doctrine

Philosophy and Theology 12 (1):111-130 (2000)
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Abstract

This paper explores the continuing relevance of Karl Rahner’s work on development of doctrine to a church within a world marked by an emerging postmodern consciousness. It focuses primarily on three elements of development as Rahner understands it, theological discussion, the influence of the Spirit and the role of church authority. The discussion of a possible definition of Mary as co-redemptrix and the controversy over the ordination of women are cited as concrete examples of issues of development facing the church today. Rahner’s increasing awareness of the context of irreducible plurality that marks the world-church of today and tomorrow led him to the increasing conviction in the later works that the Spirit is leading the church to a deepening understanding of the central mysteries of faith rather than to a further proliferation of defined dogmas. In the later works especially, he encouraged an attitude of open discussion that reflects the confidence that the Spirit is with the whole church as it struggles to express its faith in ever changing contexts. The paper concludes that Rahner’s understanding of the complex balance of elements involved in authentic doctrinal development continues to offer valuable insight to today’s discussions.

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