Karl Rahner and the Salvation of Atheists

Stephen Bullivant

in The Salvation of Atheists and Catholic Dogmatic Theology

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652563
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191740725 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs

Karl Rahner and the Salvation of Atheists

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Karl Rahner’s theory of ‘anonymous Christianity’ is undoubtedly the most famous Catholic attempt at explicating the salvation of non-Christians. Many of his writings on the subject, moreover, focus specifically on atheists. This chapter provides a detailed overview of the main points of his argument, with a special focus on his understanding of anonymous or implicit faith. Importantly – and contrary to popular belief – Rahner’s theology here is broadly representative of mainstream, post-conciliar Catholic theology. Choice of terminology aside (for the most part), his general approach has clear parallels in the writings of, among many others, Congar, de Lubac, Schillebeeckx, Balthasar, Küng, Kasper, and Ratzinger. However, as the detailed critique of Rahner developed in the rest of the chapter demonstrates, such appeals to a salvific, implicit faith on the part of justified unbelievers are ultimately untenable.

Keywords: Rahner; anonymous Christianity; implicit faith; anonymous faith; salvation of non-Christians; critique

Chapter.  15291 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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