Pathways to God: Theology, Imagination and the Arts

“HAS THEOLOGY become more perfect because theologians have become more prosaic?” Karl Rahner once asked with some urgency. “What has become of the times when the great theologians also wrote hymns?”

Rahner asserted that theology can only be regarded as complete if it includes all the arts as an integral part in its discipline. In- deed, the arts ought to be nothing less than an intrinsic moment of theology. This integration he considered essential since art can be a deep, authentic expression of the human person and because theol- ogy and the arts both refer to the transcendental nature of the hu- man being. Significantly, in relation to the visual arts he concluded: ‘If theology is simply and arbitrarily defined as being identical with verbal theology… we would have to ask whether such a reduction of theology to verbal theology does justice to the value and unique- ness of these arts, and whether it does not unjustifiably limit the capacity of these arts to be used by God in his revelation.’