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The Idea of Christianity: A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Karl Rahner Kindle Edition
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The Idea of Christianity: A Brief Introduction to the Theology of Karl Rahner
by M. Edmund Hussey
This book by Hussey is a gem of an introduction to Karl Rahner's massive, and, what many call, his best book, Foundations of Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity. This shorter, and less intimidating tome, stems largely from the carefully honed efforts by Hussey to inform, challenge and inspire the minds and hearts of college students. From the outset, in his "Preface" Hussey provides a brief and very helpful biographical sketch of Rahner's storied theological career, a sketch which historically contextualizes Rahner's monumental contribution to theology (far beyond Roman Catholic circles) in the decades leading up to, during, and in the decades after, Vatican Council II (1962-65).
Then, in his "Introduction," Hussey presents a description of Rahner's work as primarily a theological anthropology, namely, an approach that always uses, as its starting point, common human experience, which leads inevitably to God as the Mystery. In Rahner's perspective, that Hussey clearly spells out, we humans find ourselves faced with our finiteness situated within an "infinite horizon" and we are drawn, in myriad ways, to reach beyond ourselves in order to transcend that finiteness. This transcendental experience is basic to Rahner's theology. It bespeaks our orientation to infinite Mystery.
Thirteen chapters follow, paralleling in the same sequential order and in simpler language, the content of the much denser text of Rahner, originally written in his native German. For example, God's Self-Communication, always and everywhere, addressed to all of humanity (believers and non-believers alike), is spelled out in down to earth and concrete expressions, and avoids characteristically-long Germanic sentences. Rahner's evolutionary perspective, presents Jesus as the guarantee that human transcendence can succeed for all, both those who do not formally believe in Jesus of Nazareth and those who never heard of him. All are called in various ways to the fullness of life, with Christian ecclesial faith and sacramental practice making explicit with is implicit for all.
In his "Afterword" Hussey expresses the hope that his shorter book will encourage and enable his readers first, to read, and then, more easily assimilate and appreciate Rahner's much longer classic text. From this reviewer's perspective Hussey has succeeded in an immensely inviting way.
‒Reviewed by Conrad T. Gromada, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology, Ursuline College, Pepper Pike, Ohio
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