Brandon R. Peterson, Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in the Department of Philosophy and the Religious Studies Program, has published Being Salvation: Atonement and Soteriology in the Theology of Karl Rahner, with Fortress Press.
Being Salvation unfolds the place of Jesus within the thought of Karl Rahner, one of the most influential Catholic theologians of the last hundred years. Rahner’s account of how Jesus saves or redeems human beings has been criticized by other theologians as amounting to a mere notification to the world about God’s desire for reconciliation. Indeed, some have doubted whether Rahner’s Jesus can be said to cause salvation at all. Peterson responds by demonstrating that for Rahner, Jesus isn’t simply a do-er of salvation, a redemptive agent who accomplishes human salvation simply through a heroic act; rather, he reconciles human beings with God even more fundamentally through who he is – the one who, as fully God and fully human, represents and unites Creator and creature to one another. In Rahner’s mind, Jesus not only opens heaven’s gates, but he in fact creates heaven in himself with his own resurrection.
In uncovering this dimension within Rahner’s theology, Peterson relates it to other historical examples of representative soteriology (e.g. the ancient theory of recapitulation found in St. Irenaeus of Lyons and other early Christian writers), demonstrating Rahner’s intimate engagement with these historical figures. Perhaps the most important contribution of Being Salvation is uncovering this oft-ignored side of the Rahner, who is renowned for his engagement with twentieth-century philosophy but usually not associated with scholarship on early Christianity. To this end, Peterson gives special attention to Rahner’s intense work on the church fathers early in his career, including Rahner’s untranslated theology dissertation, E latere Christi (“From the Side of Christ”).
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