Nikolaus Wandinger: The Doctrine on Sin as a Key to the Human Person. Impulses from K. Rahner and R. Schwager for a Heuristic of Theological Anthropology


Buchcover: Die Sündenlehre als Schlüssel zum Menschen





“We have to talk about sin so as to be able to do theology.”
„The concept ‘sin‘ probably cannot be salvaged at all,
because it only evokes misconceptions and false associations”
(E. Drewermann)


These propositions indicate the range of the tension within which my enquiry ensues. Looking into two theological “schools” of great importance – Karl Rahner’s “transcendental” theology and Raymund Schwager’s “dramatic” theology –, I ask what the meaning of the term sin is to be. The term reveals itself as really indispensable, indeed as a key for a deeper understanding of the human person – who remains hidden from him/herself behind the masks of everyday life. In the course of the enquiry I try to show how the two schools of theology are compatible with or in need of completion from each other, to cast new light on various theological and philosophical problems and to offer some ideas for a theological concept of person.Abstract:The thesis is divided into three main parts. The first outlines K. Rahner’s transcendental theology of sin, the second R. Schwager’s dramatic theology of sin. The third part attempts to establish a dialogue between the two theologies that tries to counter-balance some one-sided aspects of either and to answer some questions previously left open. It also argues that the Christian theology of sin is an important basic concept for theological anthropology and that a more thorough analysis of that concept provides the theologian with a heuristics for further advancement of that anthropology.The strong points of K. Rahner’s theology of sin are his analyses of human freedom, of the relationship of nature and grace and the importance he ascribes to the experience of grace. R. Schwager’s theology analyzes the dynamics of human entanglement in sin, the uncovering of collective mechanisms and the universal dimension of freedom and salvation for all humankind very thoroughly. Both theologies add their own distinct contribution to the methodology of theological thinking by invoking their respective methods.By bringing them into dialogue the thesis aims to provide a clearer understanding of the connection between human relationships and the relationship between humans and God, to sketch a theological conception of human freedom (going beyond a merely philosophical), also dealing with the problem of the “unconscious” and the universal dimension of freedom; furthermore it tries to clarify the concept of “nature”, which is often used indiscriminately in current theology, to reconsider its relationship to the concept of “grace”, to suggest some aspects of a theological conception of personhood, and finally to situate the concept of “sin” within a systematic theology.
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