Analysis and assessment of the concept of revelation in Karl Rahner's theology: Its application and relationship to African traditional religions

John B Kauta, Fordham University


The dissertation proposes a context and approach, based on Rahner's theology of revelation, for evangelization and pastoral work in Africa. Without prejudice to the message of the gospel, it nonetheless respects and utilizes the African religious and cultural heritage. The study analyzes and evaluates Rahner's theology of revelation, which asserts that God's universal salvific will is efficacious in the world and that God freely offers Himself to all of humanity. Through the supernatural existential, human transcendence, transcendental activity, and limit experiences, God is experienced subjectively and nonreflectively as the absolute and infinite being, the ground of all that is. God is experienced objectively and reflectively through categorial realities: creation and religion. Human history finds its fulfillment in Jesus, the perfect human being, the special and definitive categorical revelation. Through Jesus as the source of grace--God's self-communication--humanity is related to God either explicitly or implicitly (anonymously). This dissertation contends that as Africans respond to Christ explicitly through the missionary enterprise, they should be allowed to articulate and interpret His message within their cultural frame of reference. This entails the utilization of their own wisdom and traditional, cultural, and religious values, symbols, and philosophy of life. Presupposed in Rahner's theology is the belief that Africans have always been exposed to God--He has never forgotten or abandoned them. This premise is supported by the philosophy of religion held by the Nilotic and Nilo-Hamitic peoples of Eastern Africa. Inculturation of Christianity is no novelty. Jesus, Paul, Matteo Ricci, and Robert de Nobili exemplify how to incarnate Christianity through symbols and language familiar to their audiences. Unfortunately, some missionaries have not emulated this ideal. Failure to inculturate African Christianity may lead to disillusionment, syncretism, or the establishment of independent churches. A myriad of hurdles--theological, canonical, pastoral, and cultural--can be anticipated. Problems may arise because of incompatibility between Christianity and the African way of life or hesitancy in altering Christianity's institutionalized values and behavioral system. The dissertation, while noting encouraging achievements in inculturation, cautions that anticipate difficulties not be used as excuses to discourage implementation of inculturation, for these obstacles are not insurmountable.

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Recommended Citation

Kauta, John B, "Analysis and assessment of the concept of revelation in Karl Rahner's theology: Its application and relationship to African traditional religions" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9300240.