Karl Rahner Consultation 2024: “Social Salvation”

Social Salvation, the theme of the 78th Annual Convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel from June 13-16, 2024, will also be the theme of the Rahner Consultation.  Participants at the June 14 consultation will hear three speakers:

  • Daniel P. Horan, OFM (Saint Mary’s College, Indiana), “The Cosmic Significance of the Incarnation: Karl Rahner’s Supralapsarian Christology as Social Salvation.”
  • Michael Rubbelke (College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University, Minnesota), “Integrating Fragmented History: Social Salvation in Rahner’s Theology of Purgatory and Indulgences.”
  • Andrew Vink (Mount St. Mary’s University, Maryland), “Historical Soteriology as Social Salvation: A Synthesis of Rahnerian and Ellacurían Themes.”

Daniel P. Horan’s “The Cosmic Significance of the Incarnation” will focus on salvation.  Horan believes that Patristic and Eastern Christian sources, with their holistic sense of salvation history, influenced Rahner.  His distinctive supralapsarian approach grasped the Incarnation as a more than a remedy for sin.  It enabled him to understand not just individual salvation, but corporate or social salvation, including the whole of creation.  Drawing on the work of Denis Edwards and Elizabeth Johnson, Horan will highlight the cosmic significance of the incarnation and regard “social salvation” in a more cosmic and capacious sense.

Integrating Fragmented History” by Michael Rubbelke will focus on purgatory.  For Karl Rahner, according to Rubbelke, salvation involves reintegrating what sin has disintegrated. Purgatory heals and shapes a person’s whole identity to reflect their fundamental “yes” to God. This process involves the healed freedom of other people through ecclesially-recognized acts of intercession (indulgences).  Rubbelke’s paper will first explore Rahner’s pre-Vatican II position on purgatory and indulgences as involving postmortem integration of the person using “very little material.” Then his paper will show that, by framing Rahner’s material in social and relational terms — especially with a view to the victims of sin — social salvation and integration today are illuminated today.

Andrew Vink’s paper on “Historical Soteriology” will trace Ignacio Ellacuría’s contribution to soteriological thought in relation to social suffering.  Ellacuría, a student of Rahner at Innsbruck from 1958-1962, was intellectually formed  in the lead up to Vatican II. The impact of Rahner can be seen in the development of Ellacuría’s historical soteriology, the term he uses to speak of social salvation.  The books “The Crucified People” and “Utopia and Propheticism in Latin America” both reflect Rahnerian thought.  Ellacuría was influenced by Rahner’s essays “Reflections on the Unity of Love of God and the Love of Neighbor,” “Marxist Utopia and the Christian Future of Man,” and “The Historicity of Theology.”  Vink will argue that Rahner’s theological ideas can be interpreted as foundational to Ellacuría’s soteriological project.  Ellacuría develops Rahner’s ideas by placing them within the concrete reality of the suffering of Latin America.

To read titles of previously published “Rahner Papers” click here.

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