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Grace in Freedom by Karl Rahner


Karl Rahner, S.J., studied theology under Martin Heidegger, then taught dogmatics in Catholic unversities in Munich and Innsbruck, Germany, between 1937 and 1984. He wrote more than a half-dozen books and was an observer at Vatican Council II in 1962-1965. Published in 1969 by Herder and Herder, New York. This book prepared for Religion Online by Paul Mobley.


Section 1: Responsibility in the Post Conciliar Church
Subjects include the Christians' responsibility after Vatican Council II, present tasks of the Catholic, personal faith, the necessity of ecclesiastical action, courage and self-confidence of preachers, educating mature Christians, and individual morality.

Section 2: Christian Faith: Deliverance of the World
Faith and religion are often judged today by their usefulness in our world of experience. Are not faith and religion much more than this? Rahner examines faith and culture, then the nature of Christian character in a secular world.

Section 3: Religious Patterns
Is Christianity an "Absolute Religion"? While the multiplicity of religions today threatens the individual Christian more than at any other time, still non-Christian religions can be channels of grace. Hence Christians must be tolerant and humble towards all non-Christian religions. Rahner also discussed medical ethics here.

Section 4: Ecumenical Perspectives
Catholics believe that confession of the solely justifying grace of God is a fundamental truth of the Christian faith, so they profess the sola gratia of the Protestant Reformers. Ecclesial unity of Christians is the inexorable demand of the Lord of the Church, but none of the Churches has as yet the will to unity which they all ought to have.

Section 5: Free Acceptance of Creatureliness and Cross
Much is said about our misery with a note of knowing not where we go. There is a difference in whether we mourn for ourselves or whether another mourns for us. So it is that Christ mourns for us, and we remember to commemorate His death.

Section 6: Commitment to the Church and Personal Freedom
There is no law against the man who truly has faith, hope and love and who genuinely loves his neighbor and can surrender himself. In this love the law and freedom merge into the freedom of God's grace. Rahner expounds a Catholic view about three subjects: prayer, democracy in the church, and the new relationship between theology and the church.

Section 7: The Little Word "God"
God is a mystery and also infinite. Consideration of Him is difficult yet meditation on and about Him is worthwhile.

Section 8: True Freedom
The essence of freedom is not to be understood as the mere possibility of choosing between a number of objects, one of which is God. It is seen as freedom from social, economic and political constraints, the opposite of slavery and serfdom. Rahner looks at various aspects of freedom: historical, paradoxical, the role of grace, self-realization, capacity for love, moral judgment and freedom in relation to Christ.

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