Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rahnerian Inadequatism: Schlepping heresy into the Catholic Church

I recently read an article which does a good job of outlining the pros and cons with respect to forming a proper Catholic attitude toward the Medjugorje phenomenon. For those interested in that, I refer them to the article itself, which may be found here.

The article consists of an interview, with a German theologian, Fr. Manfred Hauke, professor of dogmatics and patristics at Lugano. What I found most refreshing in reading the interview was not something which the professor said pertaining to Medjugorje, but this:

According to one widespread theory, which goes back to Karl Rahner most prominently, all apparitions are "imaginative visions". According to that theory, the content of the "apparition" has a psychogenic origin, even if it can be made possible by a divine impulse. That is, God does not work in this world immediately, but only through created secondary causes (especially through the human psyche). In other words: whether someone experiences a vision of a "ship's goblin", or of his own stepmother, or of the Virgin Mary depends on the subjective psychological disposition, perhaps on unconscious mental processes, and not on objective circumstances that encounter the person from outside himself. In such a theory the question of authenticity or inauthenticity of Marian apparitions is no longer germane, in the last analysis. Against this, I would stress that to exclude the unmediated intervention of God in this world is intellectually not tenable, because then the original creation out of nothing, which goes back to God alone, would be impossible. Besides this, there are unequivocally witnessed phenomena, in which the content of what was seen comes from an extra-mental experience: for example, in the Marian apparitions at Knock in Ireland in 1879, 15 people saw Mary with other saints, and an altar, in pouring rain; the place where the saints stood remained dry despite the pouring rain. Such an event is not explicable by Rahner's subjectivistic proposal. We must always consider the subjective factor: even in genuine revelations errors can intrude, when human imagination adds something or when a statement is interpreted wrongly. And there is naturally the phenomenon of fantasies of a morbid origin, or the possibility of deception. If both are excluded, standing in the center of the interpretation of apparitions is the evaluation of its extra-mental origin: the intervention of God and heavenly personages, or instead evil forces.
 Finally, theologians are speaking sense again.

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