Rahner and the Withering of God

A correlation: Rahner’s dominance in theology and the destruction of Catholic vitality.

A suggestion: Rahner’s theology premises and fosters the “withering of God”.

Argument: Recall previous lengthy posts on Rahner’s thought. If you haven’t read them and wish to think this argument over, first read them / listen to them. In light of those analyses, I make this further argument.

How, for Rahner, can one point out God? God is indicatable by way of man’s not being stuck in any particular, by his going beyond the particular. Rahner will thus call God man’ whither. This could be misleading. We might think of this whither as an indicatable item. For instance: Whither goest thou? The answer: To Greece. Greece is an indicatable place. So is sushi.

But for Rahner God cannot be such an indicatable item. If he were, he’d be finitized. But he is not finite. The hypothetical condition–if God were indicatable, he would be finite–is Rahner’s presupposition.

Hence, Rahner concludes, God is not “whither” as another object is whither. Rather, he is “whither” precisely as what corresponds to the progressive infinity of man’s reach. Man ever reaches beyond whatever particular upon which he happens to be thrown. That man goes beyond the particular indicates a whither dynamically and so-to-speak ontologically (not statically or ontically). To what, then, does man go? Not to a particular. Rather, to the progressive infinity of ens commune, qua potential.

Hence, God is not really an identifiable whither. He is not an indicatable whither. God is pointed out by our cognizing the character of man’s whithering. Man whithers his way towards God. Or, man’s whithering past this particular and that shows us … God. God is the correlate of man’s being an ever historically grounded, ever transcending being.

I therefore call Rahner’s presentation of God the “whithering of God.” 

The pun with withering is intended. Hence, I happily entitle the post the Withering of God.

The pun works. Why? Because on this analysis, no one can have a personal relationship with God. God dissipates into the mist of ens commune, but not even qua actual; rather, qua potential. This is disastrous. It is one of the foundational errors that wrecks havoc upon just about everything Rahner does.

Why does God so dissipate? Precisely because God is the correlate of man’s whithering. But by man’s whithering we can really only gather an awareness of ens commune, qua possible. Why? Man’s reaching is not actually infinite. Rather, man reaches beyond this particular and that precisely in targeting this particular and that. Man can surpass “this”.  This transcending capacity has as correlate a potential infinite. Ens commune is that potential infinite.

2 thoughts on “Rahner and the Withering of God

  1. So on this point Rahner is a kind of David of Dinant redivivus?

    “Sed tertius error fuit David de Dinando, qui stultissime posuit Deum esse materiam primam” (Ia q3 a8).

    1. No, not at all; unless something subtler is going on. I have no reason to think anything subtler is going on with him. It is a progressive potency Beyond the limitation of the particular. Hence, for Rahner, it exceeds the act of the particular. It is all so difficult, frankly. One point I am making is that the adequate account for the phenomenon of transcending the particular, which phenomenon Rahner studies and even examines transcendentally, is simply my orientation to ens commune. Ergo, on this basis he cannot conclude to God.

Comments are closed.