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Abstracts (fall 2008)

Karl Rahner on the Soul
Rev. Terrance W. Klein, S.T.D.
Fordham University

Karl Rahner rejects the notion that when Christians speak of a soul they are citing a surreptitious citizen of a realm that lies beyond or above science. For Rahner, the purpose of calling the soul the supernatural element of the human person is not to establish two spheres within one human being, but rather to attest to the sheer gratuity of our orientation toward God in Christ. When we use the word "spirit," we philosophically reference our disposition over and against the world. When we use the word "soul," we theologically assert the ultimate orientation of this spirit towards God.


Karl Rahner and the Immortality of the Soul
Mark F. Fischer
St. John's Seminary, Camarillo, CA

Do the assertions of Karl Rahner (1) that the soul does not exist for its own sake but is a "principle" of being, and (2) that one must reject anthropological dualism in order to consider the body and soul a unity, endanger the traditional doctrines of the soul's independence and immortality? Rahner's Christology says no. As a principle of being, the soul "causes" the body to realize its potential for immortality. United with the body, the soul is the seat of human (distinct from animal) nature, capable of spiritual growth. Immortality and independence reflect the divine Word's entrance into human nature. 


The Immaterial Grounds of Transcendentality: A Thomistic Response to Terry Klein's "Spirit in the World"
Giuseppe Butera
Providence College

In response to Terry Klein's reflection on Rahner's views on the soul as articulated in the latter's "Natural Science and Reasonable Faith," I argue that although Rahner offers a number of brilliant observations about the soul, he fails to appreciate their metaphysical implications. Although he is right to make much of the transcendentality of the human person, Rahner stops short of asking the metaphysical question that this fact of human being begs to be asked: What are the necessary conditions for the possibility of human transcendentality? The answer, I suggest, must be something like Thomas's doctrine of the immaterial subsistent soul. 


Saint Anselm on the Kingdom of Heaven: A Model of Right Order
John R. Fortin, O.S.B.
Saint Anselm College

Although Saint Anselm never wrote a systematic treatise on heaven, the concept of heaven, as it is found in several of his writings, is robust; it is rich in meaning and content. All that is good and just, all that is blessing is included in the concept. Heaven is a sign of God's goodness and love for his angelic and human creatures. What stands out in Anselm's discussions of heaven is order: heaven is a model of right order. The paper will examine three kinds of order in the writings of Anselm that express his view of the order in heaven. First, there is the moral order in that sin and punishment are properly adjudicated by the work of the Son of God. Second, there is the salvific order in that heaven is the reward granted to those who persevere in the faith. Third, there is the mystical order in that heaven is to be inhabited by a perfect number of created beings. Thus when Anselm invokes heaven, as he does in many prayers and letters, he is invoking that which for him is a wonderful and powerful concept that reflects God's love. 


A Perfectly Simple God and Our Complicated Lives
Gregory B. Sadler
Fayetteville State University

One important divine attribute Saint Anselm examines and treats is that of simplicity. His treatment brings out some surprising features of simplicity itself which escape the frameworks of the logic of created being, providing us a fuller, albeit still very partial, understanding of the true nature of that attribute. A deep problem can then arise for the created human being in the course of such speculations and investigations: How can a complex, complicated, composite created being more closely approach a perfectly simple divine being? In both our thought and in our practice, it seems that our attempts to approach God simply introduce even more complexity into things. My paper addresses that problem. The first section of the paper presents five short Anselmian lessons about the divine attribute of simplicity. The second section then frames and explores the problem. The third and final section provides an Anselmian resolution to the problem.

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