The ‘Experience of Grace’ in the Theologies of Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan
Petillo, L. Matthew. “The ‘Experience of Grace’ in the Theologies of Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan”, Boston College, 2009. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/2234.
The first chapter begins by delineating Lonergan’s philosophy of development. It then applies this philosophy to a range of literature on grace and discerns, in the historical data, a basic line of intellectual progress. For this reason, this chapter implements a genetic method. More specifically, the chapter proposes an explanatory framework for understanding the contemporary transposition of scholastic metaphysics. Special attention is placed on the notion of grace as experience in relation to the evolution of theology as a science. The first chapter implements a genetic method to chart the developments in the history of the theology of grace. The last section of that chapter sketches the basic contours of a development that enabled a transposition from the second to the third stage of meaning—a development that made possible a description of grace in terms of consciousness. The second chapter addresses the question of grace and consciousness in the context of Lonergan’s thought. In this chapter, I bring to light the complexities and challenges of identifying and describing grace as a datum of human experience. I also attempt to offer the Lonergan scholar some guidance by developing a set of normative criteria that will assist him in navigating these complexities and surmounting these challenges. The chapter is not an exercise in foundational theology but is written from a dialectical and methodological viewpoint. The dialectical and methodological work of the second chapter will prepare for the task of the third chapter. Chapter three compares Rahner’s and Lonergan’s theologies of grace; it focuses on a comparison of Lonergan’s notion of ‘being-in-love unrestrictedly’ and Rahner’s notion of the ‘supernatural existential’ in order to clarify their respective positions and to demonstrate an affinity in their writings on grace. Chapter four uses Rahner’s and Lonergan’s account of grace in terms of experience, developed in chapter three, to work out a theology of religion that responds to the challenges posed by post-modernism. My thesis in chapter four is that Rahner’s and Lonergan’s theologies of grace can ground the notion of a common consciousness of grace and take seriously the claim of a genuine variety of religious experiences.