Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rahner on mystery

"[...] precisely the believer actively engaged in theology knows better than anyone else that every theological statement is only truly and authentically such at that point at which man [sic] willingly suffers it to extend beyond his [sic] comprehension into the silent mystery of God..."

- K. Rahner, 'Reflections on Metholodology in Theology',
Theological Investigations XI, 103.

Rahner goes to claim that the mystery of God remains - indeed, is perfected - in the eschaton. The beatific vision is not the cessation of mystery, but the point where we finally grasp the blessedness of it.
"Now we see as in mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.' (1 Corinthians 13.12)
What is the relationship between our present knowledge of God and our hoped for knowledge? Do we desire mystery to depart in vision? Is mystery a negative thing, an aspect of our present fallen imperfections, or does it relate to our very createdness? Even if the latter is also as true as the former (i.e. if both are true: that God is still experienced, at least in some sense, as hidden due to both our sin and our finitude), will this particular creaturely limitation be overcome? Do we want it to?


Dave Barrie said...

I have always assumed that we will continue learning more and more about God, as well as coming to know him deeper and deeper, for all eternity, without ever exhausting his mystery.

Is there room for this type of growth in Rahner's beatific vision or is our knowledge of God perfected in a way that makes it static?

byron smith said...

Great point Dave: Further up and further in!

As for Rahner making it, not that I'm aware of - the discussion in Theological Investigations XI does seem a little static in its final vision.

...And why aren't you studying for the church history exam this afternoon?

Dave Barrie said...

how does that saying go?

...something about a pot and a black kettle...

: )

While we're on the topic of the exam, I found these great quotes whilst watching Marry Poppins the other day which I'm hopping to work into my answer on Feminism:

It's grand to be an Englishman in 1910;
King Edward's on the throne - it's the age of men!

(Mr Banks)

Cast off the shackles of yesterday!
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!
Our daughters' daughters will adore us,
And they'll sign in grateful chorus,
Well done! Sister Suffragette!

(Mrs Banks)

byron smith said...

At least my procrastination consists of studying for tomorrow's exam on Rahner, while yours consists of watching MP...

Drew said...

If mystery is the counterpart to (and neccessitated by) the question, is there room for questions in the new creation?

Dave Barrie said...

I hope so! I have more than a few I would like answers to.

byron smith said...

Dave: Do you want questions or answers? Is it possible, if all mystery disappears, to have all the answers and so no longer need questions?

Dave Barrie said...

Personally I hope that the following two types of questions will still be valid in the new creation:

1. Questions which we will have to work hard to find the answer for; and
2. Questions which will always remain a mystery to us.

byron smith said...

Ah yes - work in the new creation: you mean it won't all be lazing around resting? :-)

I agree of course, that rest is not the opposite of work. If we are to be God's servants, then we will still be serving. I also assume that the 'work' of loving our neighbour will not cease. Toil will be gone, and futility, but not work.

Although at times like this, in the middle of exams, I do find the lazing around option mighty attractive for some reason...

byron smith said...

PS It's also not the time when I long for questions I can't answer...