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Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner book cover

Jeff Waddington, Glen Clary, and Lane Tipton speak with Camden Bucey about his book, Karl Rahner, and contemporary issues regarding Rahner, modern Roman Catholicism, and contemporary theology.

Arguably the most influential Catholic theologian of the twentieth century, Karl Rahner (1904–1984) developed a theology that has influenced much of post-Vatican II Catholicism and its modern inclusivist approach to missions. 

Despite his impact, little has been written on Rahner from a Reformed perspective. In this introduction and critique, Camden Bucey guides readers to an understanding of Rahner’s theology as a whole. Beginning with Rahner’s trinitarian theology, he moves through each of the traditional departments of theology to show how Rahner developed one basic idea from beginning to end.

Rahner set out to explain how God communicates himself to humanity, whom he created specifically for the purpose of fellowship with him. Once we trace this thread, we gain a deeper understanding of his thought and its reach today.

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Endorsements for the Book 

“If you want to understand present-day Roman Catholicism, you must come to terms with Vatican II (1962–65). Everything that Rome now teaches and does is filtered through it. But if you want to understand Vatican II itself, you need to know about Karl Rahner. . . . Part of the confused and naive attitude of contemporary evangelicals toward Rome depends on the lack of awareness of both Vatican II and Karl Rahner. This lucid book is a helpful introduction to this seminal Roman Catholic theologian whose language contains all the key Christian words (e.g., Trinity, Christ, humanity), but whose meaning is significantly different from that of straightforward biblical teaching. It is time that Reformed theologians do their homework in grasping what is at stake with contemporary Roman Catholicism.”

—Leonardo De Chirico, Pastor, Breccia di Roma; Lecturer, Historical Theology, IFED, Padova, Italy; Director, Reformanda Initiative 

“Roman Catholic apologists often boast about their church’s antiquity but seldom mention modern Roman Catholic theology, which often sounds as modern as liberal Protestantism. Karl Rahner, one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, whose prominence was evident at the Second Vatican Council, is one of the best examples of Roman Catholicism’s modernity. Camden Bucey’s fair-minded and careful assessment of Rahner’s theology is valuable in itself, but doubly so for anyone wanting an introduction to modern Roman Catholicism’s own contribution to liberal Christian theology.”

—D. G. Hart, Distinguished Associate Professor of History, Hillsdale College

“Though Karl Rahner is among the most significant Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, he is little known (and seldom read) by evangelical and Reformed theologians. Camden Bucey’s fine study offers an excellent summary of Rahner’s Trinitarian theology that promises to redress this problem. He not only provides a helpful explanation of Rahner’s well-known Trinitarian axiom (‘the “economic” Trinity is the “immanent” Trinity’), but also locates it within the broader context of Rahner’s anthropocentric theology. While Bucey critically engages Rahner’s theology from a Reformed perspective, he does so throughout in a careful, irenic, and constructive fashion.”

—Cornelis P. Venema, President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies, Mid-America Reformed Seminary


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The Law and the Spirit in Old and New Covenants

Glen Clary and Camden Bucey speak about their addresses at the recent theology conference. Glen covered the topic of ascending the mountain of the Lord and the role of the tabernacle and sacrificial system in the Sinai Covenant. Camden compared Galatians 2–4 with Romans 7–8 in order to address Paul’s phrase that “the law is Spiritual” in Romans 7:14.


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Cessationism

Glen Clary and Camden Bucey speak about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and cessationism. We discuss how the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is a unique event of redemptive-history just as unrepeatable as the death and resurrection of Christ. As individuals are effectually called and united to Christ by faith, they are incorporated into the Spirit-baptized body of Christ.


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All Israel Shall be Saved: Interpretations of Romans 11

Many different interpretations have been offered regarding the phrase “all Israel shall be saved” in Romans 11. In this episode, we speak about five different interpretations, focusing on the three that are represented in confessionally Reformed and Presbyterian Churches.

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Genesis 22 — Abraham’s Test and God’s Provision, Part Two

Adam York show us how God is presenting in the life of Isaac a type of the work of the future Messiah, who would come, be offered as a substitute for his people and be raised for them as well. What Abraham receives in type, the believer today has received in substance.


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Sabbath Rest in Genesis 2:1–3

The sabbath principle is established in Genesis 2:1–3, immediately upon the completion of God’s work of creation. This Sabbath rest principle is a function neither of redemption nor theocracy. It is part of God’s creation order. We trace this theme through Scripture with particular attention to worship. Glen Clary recently addressed this subject in a conference for the Amarillo Reformed Fellowship.


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