Cur Verbum Homo? An Augustinian Rebuttal of Karl Rahner
5 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2015
Date Written: October 17, 2014
Prominent twentieth-century Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner rejects conventional accounts of Trinitarian theology as “mere ‘monotheis[m].’” Even in the absence of any doctrine of the Trinity, “God would still, as (the one) person, have become man, which is in fact about all the average Christian explicitly grasps when he confesses the incarnation.” A Trinitarian theology fails if it “never makes it very clearly exactly which divine hypostasis”—the Logos—“has assumed human nature.”
Rahner accuses Saint Augustine of being the first to set the Church down the path of such failed Trinitarianism: “[S]tarting from Augustine . . . it has been among theologians a more or less foregone conclusion that each of the divine persons . . . could have become man,” meaning that the fact of the incarnation indicates nothing particular about the Logos.
But Augustine does not offer the generic “God-man” as humanity’s incarnate savior. Though he certainly comments on the importance of Jesus Christ’s uniting the divine and human natures, Christ is able to do this on account of being the “Word of God, through which all things were made.” Christ can only be the harmonizing, salvific “interlock . . . of creation” because—as the Logos—“whatever has been made in this world was in him life.”
Keywords: St. Augustine, Karl Rahner, Trinity, theology, atonement, hypostasis, Logos
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