A Rahnerian Theological Response to Charles Taylor's A Secular Age



In this article I argue that Rahner's notion of the Supernatural Existential serves to complement and more concretely illustrate Taylor's at-times tacit, if conflicted, advocacy for some sort of human characteristic that seeks, desires, or is otherwise oriented toward something ‘beyond human flourishing.' By engaging Rahner's theological anthropology with Taylor's thought in ‘A Secular Age,' I show how Taylor's immanent and transcendent divide presupposes an overly cognitive framework that relies extensively on human agency, thematic reflection, and the necessary intellectualization of human experience. As such, Taylor only ever engages in a secondary-level or a posteriori reflection on belief and unbelief, thereby (perhaps unwittingly) precluding the possibility of considering the a priori ‘condition' for his proposed ‘conditions for belief or unbelief,' otherwise known as ‘secularity 3.' In uncovering the secondary-level cognitive conditions for categorical belief and unbelief today, helps shed new light on the relevance and value of Rahner's project. Furthermore, I suggest that both Rahner and Taylor, although maybe not immediately recognizable, actually share similar concerns that initially launched their respective projects. Read together, Rahner and Taylor offer a fuller treatment of both the human condition and the social circumstances of this age.