January 29, 2019
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v2.1 Reference

Freedom Made Manifest

Rahner's Fundamental Option and Theological Aesthetics

Karl Rahner's seemingly inscrutable theology of freedom can be summarized simply: human freedom makes manifest (or fails to make manifest) God's eternal decision to create, to save creation, and thereby to share Godself. Freedom is something real, a substantive freedom for: for saying "yes" to God's merciful self-giving. This freedom most often comes to light not in extraordinary triumphs of spirit, but amid small acts whereby common sinners and downtrodden people travel a pilgrim journey, gradually finding ways to form and to express a life that reflects –however dimly— God's refulgent light.

Freedom Made Manifest explicates Rahner's theology of freedom by elucidating its configuration and sources. Much of its inquiry centers on the fundamental option: each human person's eternal decision made, paradoxically, in time, as a definitive answer to God's personally-tailored call to salvation. This idea stems from three principal sources: Catholic conversations with transcendental-idealist philosophy, penitential theology and practice, and Ignatian spirituality. Rahner's unique redeployment of these sources inflects the fundamental option with theologies of concupiscence, mercy and forgiveness (especially as ecclesially mediated), and devotion to Jesus Christ. Awareness of these inflections can show how Rahner's theology of freedom may assist in theological reflection on freedom's susceptibility to injury and trauma.

To these clarifications the author adds a major emendation, arguing that Rahner's theology of freedom is most adequately interpreted as a theological aesthetic of freedom, attentive to freedom's depth dimension in the heart of each person, through which and out of which God's free decision to self-reveal is expressed or concealed. Following upon Karl Rahner's Theological Aesthetics (CUA Press, 2014), which introduced Rahner's "Catholic sublime," and anticipating a volume on "world," this volume contributes to theological-aesthetic thinking not at the stratospheric level of being's transcendentals, but within the sensed (aesthetic) friction of everyday existence.

About the Author

Peter Joseph Fritz is associate professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross and author of Karl Rahner's Theological Aesthetics (CUA Press).


"There is a striking freshness in Peter Fritz's reading of Rahner which reflects his close engagement with numerous texts of Rahner that are often passed over in silence by both commentators and critics of Rahner. This volume sustains and deepens Fritz's contribution to Rahner scholarship."—Richard Lennan, Boston College

"Freedom Made Manifest is both meticulously researched and genuinely creative. Fritz offers an illuminating account of Rahner's fundamental option within a larger vision of human, ecclesial, and divine freedom. This book marks an important inflection point in Rahner scholarship. It should be read by every theologian who draws upon Rahner as a resource and—perhaps more importantly—by every theologian who has decided Rahner is no longer a useful resource upon which to draw."—Shannon Craigo-Snell, author of Silence, Love, and Death: Saying "Yes" to God in the Theology of Karl Rahner

"In this transformational volume on freedom in the work of Karl Rahner, Peter Fritz consolidates his position as one of the most original and significant interpreters of Rahner today. At a time when some would dismiss Rahner's theology as time-bound, Fritz opens up hidden dimensions of Rahner's thought by putting it into conversation with Ignatian sources but also with more recent thinkers such as Jean-Luc Marion, demonstrating Rahner's enduring importance for contemporary theological conversation. The result is a far richer understanding of Rahnerian freedom, especially in its aesthetic dimensions, than has up to now appeared in Rahner scholarship. And it comes at a time when the church needs a fresh appropriation of the genius of Rahner's theology. This beautifully written and inspiring work is a must-read for anyone who is searching for profound new ways of approaching the thought of this seminal theologian."—Paul G. Crowley, SJ, Santa Clara Jesuit Community Professor, Editor, Theological Studies

"Peter J. Fritz's book on Rahner's theology of freedom combines three thematic areas: the Rahnerian use of transcendental philosophy, the theology of penance, and Ignatian spirituality, in order to outline the background of Rahner's theology of freedom. Fritz's knowledge of the original sources is admirable—from Rahner's Schelling studies with Heidegger to Hans Urs von Balthasar's early review of his philosophical works, Rahner's scholarly lectures, the specific works on the subject of freedom unto the late essays, for example, on art and theology. The depiction clarifies the Rahnerian concept of a fundamental option that manifests itself in everyday life with its inconspicuousness, its distortions and dangers. Even without apologetic intentions, the criticism of Rahner by J. B. Metz and others is taken seriously. The centerpiece of the trilogy on the theological 'aesthetics' of Rahner—as a theory of perception and expression of the self-revelation of the triune God—is an original, inspirational book and all in all a great piece of work."—Albert Raffelt, University of Freiburg

"This excellent book outlines the richness and complexity of Rahner's theology of freedom. Peter Fritz's articulation of this thinking as a theological aesthetic of freedom is an approach that bridges aesthetics and ethics, inviting theology to engage with the fragility and vulnerability in which human freedom is operative."—Ethna Regan, Dublin City University

9780813231198 : freedom-made-manifest-fritz
304 Pages
$65.00 USD

Other Titles by Peter Joseph Fritz

Karl Rahner's Theological Aesthetics

Peter Joseph Fritz
Apr 2014 - The Catholic University of America Press
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