Lonergan and Rahner on the Natural Desire to See God

Jeremy Blackwood
2010 Method Journal of Lonergan Studies  
1 This paper compares Karl Rahner's (1904Rahner's ( -1984 theology of the supernatural existential with Bernard Lonergan's articulation of obediential potency. There can be no doubt that Rahner made significant contributions to Catholic theology in the twentieth century, and on the nature/grace question, he did move in the direction of escaping the older duplex ordo way of thinking. 1 However, Lonergan had at his disposal an understanding of world order which allowed him to posit the very thing
more » ... osit the very thing that Rahner's position would not allow -a natural human desire for a supernatural end. ; College de L'Immacule Conception, Montreal, 1946), composed for a course on grace that Lonergan was teaching [hereafter abbreviated DES]. 2 what he called a 'vertical finality' directing concrete things toward an end beyond the proportions of their nature. This notion allowed Lonergan to speak of 'obediential potency' in a unique way that avoided the problems of the post-Reformation theologians who, in his estimation, had failed to understand Aquinas adequately and who had thus set up the problematic as it had been taken up by Rahner and the nouvelle théologie. 3 In his later work, even though he moved away from the earlier scholastic terminology of his earlier works, the notion of vertical finality can still be seen in Lonergan's explication of the levels of conscious intentionality and their interrelation with one another as found in Insight 4 and Method in Theology. 5 Work directly comparing Rahner's supernatural existential with Lonergan's notion of obediential potency has for the most part not been forthcoming. 6 Knowledge of Lonergan's early theology of grace is largely confined to what one might call dedicated Lonergan scholars and was essentially absent from the Rahner/nouvelle théologie
doi:10.5840/method2010127 fatcat:kt2x4agmfjf5ljjmhe47eszxy4