The Jesuit and Patristic Spirituality in Karl Rahnerʼs Spiritual Theology

  • Jean Nedelea University of Bucharest


In the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner’s life and work, philosophy, spirituality and systematic theology are harmonized for the benefit of the increasingly desacralized and secularized man of the late modernity. Familiarization with the great world’s philosophers, from Plato to Aristotle up to Blondel and Heidegger, with Ignatian spirituality and with the Eastern and Western Fathers of the Church decisively helped Rahner in his endeavour to free the Catholic theology from the “captivity” of scholastic rationalism and objectivism and to redirect it “existentially”, by a genuine turn, from an abstract God, isolated in the transcendent and irrelevant for the Christian life, to the concrete man, “hearer of God’s word”. The spiritual experience of the most influential Catholic theologian of the 20th century was conveyed in an original way, by pastoral guidance, through lectures and his monumental work, on many generations of Catholic servants and believers.Setting out the Ignatian and Patristic sources of Karl Rahner’s spiritual theology, this article outlines, against its background, the odyssey of yesterday’s and today’s Christian experience, at the same time emphasizing the profound ecumenical dimension of patristic spirituality.

KeywordsKarl Rahner, Jesuit, Spiritual Exercises, Ignatian spirituality, Church Fathers, existential experience

Author Biography

Jean Nedelea, University of Bucharest

Assist. Prof. of Moral Theology

Faculty of Orthodox Theology “Patriarch Justinian”

St. Catherine Street, no. 2-4

040155 Bucharest, Romania

How to Cite
NEDELEA, Jean. The Jesuit and Patristic Spirituality in Karl Rahnerʼs Spiritual Theology. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai Theologia Orthodoxa, [S.l.], v. 63, n. 1, p. 111–128, june 2018. ISSN 2065-9474. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 07 mar. 2021. doi:
Systematic Theology