A Comparison of Rahnerian to Reformed Apologetics

Christ the Center discusses the theology of the influential Roman Catholic Karl Rahner. Rahner’s theology is a composite of Kantian, Hegelian and Heideggerian philosophies. The panel discusses these philosophic influences and compares Rahner’s approach to apologetics with a Reformed approach – particularly the system taught by Cornelius Van Til. This episode will prove useful not only for the philosophically-minded apologist, but also for anyone interested in seeing the influence of one’s theological system upon apologetic methodology. The discussion may also help listeners to realize that much of modern Roman Catholic theology is quite different from that which was taught during the Reformation.

This episode is brought to you in part by The Confessional Presbyterian, a journal for discussion of Presbyterian doctrine and practice.

This discussion follows the structure of Camden Bucey’s recent paper entitled A Reformed Critique of the Role of Natural Law in Rahnerian Apologetics which won the 2009 Greene Prize in Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary. Ten years ago, Jeff Waddington won the same award for his paper Worldviews Collide: The Unapologetic Apologetic of Abraham Kuyper.



Kilby, Karen. Rahner: Theology and Philosophy. London; New York: Routledge, 2004.

Livingston, James C., Francis Schussler Fiorenza, Sarah Coakley, and James H., Jr. Evans. Modern Christian Thought: The Twentieth Century. 2nd ed. Fortress Press, 2006.

Marmion, Declan., and Mary E. Hines. The Cambridge Companion to Karl Rahner. Cambridge companions to religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Rahner, Karl. Foundations of Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity. New York: Seabury Press, 1978.

———. Hearers of the Word. [New York: Herder and Herder, 1969.

———. Spirit in the World. [New York: Herder and Herder, 1968.

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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11 years ago

Sound very interesting!

Karl Rahner v. Cornelius Van Til « יהוה מלך

11 years ago

[…] Karl Rahner v. Cornelius Van Til 2009 June 20 tags: Apologetics, Cornelius Van Til, Karl Rahner by Richard Do check out the latest discussion at Reformed Form. […]


11 years ago

Being quite interested in contemporary Catholic theology and the works of Henri de Lubac, Joseph Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Yves Congar I am aware that much of modern Roman Catholic theology is quite different from that which was taught during the Reformation. I think it would be interesting if you could spend an episode working through; (1) what is the ressourcement movement? (2) how does it differ from the Catholicism the Reformers interracted with? (3) How can we deal with our Catholic neigbours? I am sure that introducing listeners to la nouvelle théologie and how Reformed Christians can interract with it would prove quite beneficial.

Tim H.

11 years ago

Y’all lost me on this one. It was interesting stuff, but the philosophy languages was intense!

Phil V

11 years ago

just an FYI:
Shai Linne’s newest CD “Storiez” is available in Christian Book/Music stores.

Jeff Waddington

11 years ago


Thanks for the reminder that we need to translate the technical philosophical language. That would, undoubtedly, make the program longer. But so be it. Technical jargon evolves as shorthand communication, and every area of life has it. Are there any particular terms you need translated? Some of the fog may be related to the fact that we were delving into continental philosophy. Here’s a suggestion: go back and listen to the episode while wearing a London Fog raincoat. It may help.

Seriously, we appreciate the feedback.


11 years ago

I have to confess that one of the reasons I love CTC is the jazzy piano theme. The content is quite good too! I’m especially indebted to you guys for kindling an interest in Geerhardus Vos.

Reformed Forum - Reformed Theology Podcasts, Videos, Blogs and More - » Blog Archive » Christ the Center 2010 March Madness

10 years ago

[…] Doug Kelly #ctc66 (51) Paul’s Two-Age Construction and Apologetics with Bill Dennison #ctc92 (19) A Comparison of Rahnerian to Reformed Apologetics with Camden Bucey #ctc74 (46) The Theology of Samuel Rutherford with Guy Richard #ctc83 (11) A […]



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