A theology of preaching based on Karl Rahner's theology of the word

Eileen A McKeown, Fordham University


This study is intended as a systematic reflection on the nature and function of preaching within the Roman Catholic Tradition. This dissertation explores Rahner's theology of the Word in order to develop a theology of preaching which is adequate to the contemporary situation of faith and is rooted in the tradition of the Catholic Church. It attempts to respond to such questions as, what is preaching?, why preach?, to whom are we preaching?, and what to preach? The study examines Rahner's understanding of the relationship between theology and preaching both of which are grounded in faith. It attempts a definition of preaching which will serve as a framework from which to develop a more adequate understanding of preaching. Then, it explores the philosophical and theological roots of preaching through an interpretive analysis of Rahner's theology of the Word. The anthropological, christological and ecclesiological foundations of preaching are developed in order to suggest the richness available to the contemporary preacher in light of the unique questions of today's hearers of the Word. Finally, Rahner's contributions to a theology of preaching are evaluated and a reflection on contemporary preaching is presented. Attention to Rahner's writings reveals the significance of the notion of Mystery in his understanding of one's relationship to God. For Rahner, preaching must focus on the fundamental experience which one has of oneself and of God, an experience of the personal realm of faith, hope and love and the silent response to God in and through one's life. Since human beings are listeners for a word from God, the manifold ways in which God communicates to people need to be expressed. Rahner's contribution to pastoral theology and to preaching, in particular, is his focus on the ordinary experiences of living which bear with them the possibility of initiating us into authentic Christian living. This dissertation argues that Rahner's theology of the Word is an important source for inquiring into a contemporary theology of preaching.

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Recommended Citation

McKeown, Eileen A, "A theology of preaching based on Karl Rahner's theology of the word" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8910759.