The stock sermon goes someting like this:
- Humanity is full of great people
- I (the priest) met some realy great people the other day who would probably never go inside a church, but they're really great because of all the good work they do.
- Rahner would call these people Anonymous Christians
- They'll get to heaven, Rahner says so.
You can see the problem for the pew sitter is not so much Rahner but the interpretation of Rahner which has the world populated with really great people, much better than the ones sitting inside the church, doing much better things than the people sitting inside the church. Pew sitter really left wondering, why do I bother coming to church. It is punishment for not being some really great person? Wouldn't I be better if I just upped sticks, forgot about the Sacraments, and try to become a really great person out there in the real world?
This is dangerous stuff, very dangerous.
Now let us look at Rahner and his fascinating interpretation of Vatican II as expounded in the Catholic Times by him whose name we musn't mention. Actually, I congratulate him whose name we mustn't mention for bringing Rahner's ideas to my attention. I'd never heard of them before, and I trust the interpretation provided in the Catholic Times is a fair and accurate synopsis of Rahner's ideas.
Basically, according to you know who (no not Voldemort, you know who) Rahner bypasses the Hermeneutic of Rupture/Continuity interpretations of the Council to stress the continuity of the Church founded by Christ on Peter as moving through epochs. The Second Vatican Council representing the dawning of a new third epoch. The first epoch was centred in Jerusalem, the second in Rome, the third "will be centred on the world". This is strange; the first "epoch" lasted less than the time of Peter's active ministry, it was hardly an epoch. The "centre of gravity" of the early church was always Rome, both Peter and Paul were desperate to get there, get into the heart of the biggest empire the world had seen, and take on the world. AND they never intended it to move from Rome, the blood of the martyr popes has sanctified the place, nobody has ever suggeste that in future generations, due to the shifting power of empires, the Chruch should be centred in Ulan Bator or London, or Washington. Respectfully, Rahner, your "epoch" theory is no good.
Rahner sees this third epoch as a "self-actuation as a world-wide Church". I presume he is suggesting that at all levels, it will take into account all peoples and sort of self-organise itself to do what it is meant to do, a bit like a flock of starlings, I suppose with each starling being a "Eucharistic community". I'm realy not sure what "self-actuation" is, in a dictionary the synonym suggested was "self-stimulation", and that is just plain wrong.
Perhaps Rahner just gets lost in translation. But in the mean time, faced with a choice between hermeneutics of rupture and continuity, I'll pick continuity.