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Thread: Paul Tillich (the Existentialist Theologian guy)

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    Default Paul Tillich (the Existentialist Theologian guy)

    Paul Tillich Link on Wikipedia

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    Paul Tillich is one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century who said that God does not exist (essentially, A) God is infinite, B) to exist is to be finite, C) If A and B, then God must not exist), but rather that God was the "ground of All Being." He was also concerned not so much the historical content of the Bible, but the symbolic ones that people use to shape their theology and thought that God could only be understood through analogy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    (essentially, A) God is infinite, B) to exist is to be finite, C) If A and B, then God must not exist)
    Why B?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elro View Post
    Why B?
    Because existence does not entail an infinite nature.
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    I may be missing the point here, and I do not know anything about this man, but if I may ask you about this out of curiosity ? ..

    The debate is still out to say if the universe is infinite, or if this one isn't, it's possibly part of a multiverse which is infinite. So if there is infinity, is it not possible that something has (and of course does and will) exist infinitely? (ie the multiverse for instance?)
    Last edited by Cyclops; 02-13-2008 at 08:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    Because existence does not entail an infinite nature.
    But does it necessarily entail a finite nature? (And if so, why?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    I may be missing the point here, and I do not know anything about this man, but if I may ask you about this out of curiosity ? ..

    The debate is still out to say if the universe is infinite, or if this one isn't, it's possibly part of a multiverse which is infinite. So if there is infinity, is it not possible that something has (and of course does and will) exist infinitely? (ie the multiverse for instance?)
    Quote Originally Posted by Elro View Post
    But does it necessarily entail a finite nature? (And if so, why?)
    It is his distinction to make. Infinite and finite here mean more than merely an element of time or a length of duration, but also one of essence and materia. Tillich is wanting to say that God is not a being, but being itself. To do so, he equates existence to finitude and infinitude with non-existence and being beyond existence since the only thing capable of participating in all of existence is an infinite ground of being.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    It is his distinction to make.
    Okay dokay. Although on what grounds is it his distinction to make?

    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    Infinite and finite here mean more than merely an element of time or a length of duration, but also one of essence and materia.
    That makes sense to me. Infinity is not only in respect of time. It also has to include the distance and matter (materia?), which would therefore follow on to include essence. (I say this because our definition of time is a measure at the rate which of things change of course, so such aspects would exist to include time aspect)
    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    Tillich is wanting to say that God is not a being, but being itself. To do so, he equates existence to finitude and infinitude with non-existence and being beyond existence since the only thing capable of participating in all of existence is an infinite ground of being.
    That is an interesting perspective, and it's all together possible he's on to something with certainly some of those things. But my query is that it does still appear possible for something to exist infinitely. This does put somewhat a question mark over B, which of course would impact on C, do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Okay dokay. Although on what grounds is it his distinction to make?
    Ontological grounds.

    That makes sense to me. Infinity is not only in respect of time. It also has to include the distance and matter (materia?), which would therefore follow on to include essence. (I say this because our definition of time is a measure at the rate which of things change of course, so such aspects would exist to include time aspect)

    That is an interesting perspective, and it's all together possible he's on to something with certainly some of those things. But my query is that it does still appear possible for something to exist infinitely. This does put somewhat a question mark over B, which of course would impact on C, do you think?
    Again, finitude has an understanding here of existence, so while something may exist infinitely, it in itself may not be infinite but exists only finitely. And this is where Tillich wants to come in and take the typical theological claim that god is an infinite being that is ontologically transcendent and turn it on its head to claim that god is infinite being itself that is ontologically immanent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hkkmr View Post
    So god is fruit.
    No, god would be the being of the fruit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    Ontological grounds.

    Again, finitude has an understanding here of existence, so while something may exist infinitely, it in itself may not be infinite but exists only finitely. And this is where Tillich wants to come in and take the typical theological claim that god is an infinite being that is ontologically transcendent and turn it on its head to claim that god is infinite being itself that is ontologically immanent.
    Ok. So basically for the purposes of his writings he is working on B being finite, which I can kind of see where he's coming from, but it is still possible for something to exist infinitely (ie multiverse scenario) , so B could still be infinite.

    So a take on what he's saying is that one could summarise that the concept of finity would be difficult to comprehend for something infinite (hence to comprehend it could possibly make it finite) Kind of makes sense, cause i've heard arguments to say that being able to contemplate infinity is something beyond our mortal comprehension.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Ok. So basically for the purposes of his writings he is working on B being finite, which I can kind of see where he's coming from, but it is still possible for something to exist infinitely (ie multiverse scenario) , so B could still be infinite.
    He is an existentialist philosopher and not a theoretical physicist, so his understanding of the concepts will be different. But again, finite beings can exist infinitely while still being finite whereas Tillich is differentiating this with infinite being that non-exists infinitely. So while there may be an infinite multiverse, they still would exist as finite.

    So a take on what he's saying is that one could summarise that the concept of finity would be difficult to comprehend for something infinite (hence to comprehend it could possibly make it finite) Kind of makes sense, cause i've heard arguments to say that being able to contemplate infinity is something beyond our mortal comprehension.
    And that is where is concept of "analogy of being" comes into play for Tillich, and that involves the attempts of finite beings to try and understand the ontological predication of metaphysical concepts of god (the infinite source of being) through analogy and symbolism. And his other argument is that religion speaks in this symbolic and analogical language that seeks to understand the infinite ground of all being.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    He is an existentialist philosopher and not a theoretical physicist, so his understanding of the concepts will be different. But again, finite beings can exist infinitely while still being finite
    Not really. If something is finite, it may exist forever, but only from a focal point. The term finite still implies a beginning. To be infinite implies no beginning and no end. It does not follow on to say finite beings can exist infinitely while still being finite.
    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    whereas Tillich is differentiating this with infinite being that non-exists infinitely. So while there may be an infinite multiverse, they still would exist as finite.
    No. An infinite multiverse (for example) has no beginning and no end. He may wish to make a distinction 'infinite being that non-exists infinitely'. but it is not the only distinction, because something *can* also exist infinitely. hence point B can be called into question. So his assumption on that point is still questioniable.
    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    And that is where is concept of "analogy of being" comes into play for Tillich, and that involves the attempts of finite beings to try and understand the ontological predication of metaphysical concepts of god (the infinite source of being) through analogy and symbolism. And his other argument is that religion speaks in this symbolic and analogical language that seeks to understand the infinite ground of all being.
    Yes. Symbollic language could be one way to 'skirt round' so to speak, the inability we *all* seem to have to fully grasp the concept of infinity. He may try to understand the concept of infinity better by saying B is finite, but apparantly it still doesn't have to be.

    Point B still does not have to be finite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    He is an existentialist philosopher and not a theoretical physicist, so his understanding of the concepts will be different. But again, finite beings can exist infinitely while still being finite whereas Tillich is differentiating this with infinite being that non-exists infinitely. So while there may be an infinite multiverse, they still would exist as finite.
    What do you mean by 'an infinite being that non-exists'? Something either is or it isn't, whether it be solid, liquid, gas or some other form of matter we know nothing of - how can something non-exist??
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    God is infinite
    Stupid question perhaps, but how did he/you know that? Is this an assumption (assumptions be damned!), an empirical observation or what? And infinite in which sense? And in which sense does he/do you mean 'finite' when he talks about existence? And what is meant by "God does not exist"? Are we talking about metaphysical/ontological existence/existents, or are we talking in a more epistemological sense, e.g. like Sartre seems to do in Being and Nothingness?

    Now don't call me a wise guy, these are serious questions!
    Last edited by consentingadult; 02-14-2008 at 12:12 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chopin View Post
    What do you mean by 'an infinite being that non-exists'? Something either is or it isn't, whether it be solid, liquid, gas or some other form of matter we know nothing of - how can something non-exist??
    See the logical "proof" in my initial post. I am feeling incredibly repetitive here, but Tillich believes that god is the infinite ground of all being and as such does not exist as an ontologically transcendent being.

    Quote Originally Posted by consentingadult View Post
    Stupid question perhaps, but how did he/you know that? Is this an assumption (assumptions be damned!), an empirical observation or what? And infinite in which sense? And in which sense does he/do you mean 'finite' when he talks about existence? And what is meant by "God does not exist"? Are we talking about metaphysical/ontological existence/existents, or are we talking in a more epistemological sense, e.g. like Sartre seems to do in Being and Nothingness?

    Now don't call me a wise guy, these are serious questions!
    It is an assumption, one of the initial claims regarding the qualities of god, and is one of the typical claims that theologians wish to make as they do not wish to say that god is a finite entity, so they take the reverse claim that god must therefore be infinite (i.e. negative theology). God for Tillich does not exist, because he believes existence implies finitude, so he follows it that god does not exist as a being but is the infinite ground of all being.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Not really. If something is finite, it may exist forever, but only from a focal point. The term finite still implies a beginning. To be infinite implies no beginning and no end. It does not follow on to say finite beings can exist infinitely while still being finite.
    But even in cyclical systems (systems in which there is no initial starting point evident), things can have beginnings though the matter and sub-matter themselves may exist infinitely. Are you infinite being or entity? That is my point. From every conventional sense, existence implies some sense of finitude.

    No. An infinite multiverse (for example) has no beginning and no end. He may wish to make a distinction 'infinite being that non-exists infinitely'. but it is not the only distinction, because something *can* also exist infinitely. hence point B can be called into question. So his assumption on that point is still questioniable.

    Point B still does not have to be finite.
    In which case we are just arguing semantics here and you are understanding his initial point but just dragging it out into a context in which he did not intend.


    (Gripe: Why am I being put on trial for trying to explain his philosophical system? If you are all really that curious check it out for yourselves and read a book, as I do not have the time or infinite patience to repeating what I am saying.)

    ETA: Have at it: Tillich and the Ontological Argument.
    Last edited by Logos; 02-14-2008 at 03:40 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hkkmr View Post
    What kind of fruit? Eggplant's a fruit, it's got seeds...
    I like eggplant.
    I think he means it would be an infinite eggplant that doesn't exist but constitutes everything that does.

    Therefore we are eggplant.
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    FWIW Logos, all the people you've been bringing up lately are people I've had an intellectual interest in at one time or another. Not just in the sense that they're par for the course in terms of my college experience, but out of everyone I've had to study they were the ones that stuck out for me. I don't know if that necessarily means anything from a socionics perspective or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    See the logical "proof" in my initial post. I am feeling incredibly repetitive here, but Tillich believes that god is the infinite ground of all being and as such does not exist as an ontologically transcendent being.
    I didn't see any logical proof in your initial post. There were 3 statements made out to be fact which are only flimsy assumptions. It seems ridiculous to me to discuss a theory based on assumptions. If you're going to prove something, it's logical to start with the foundation - what the theory is built on - and prove or disprove that. I don't know why you're annoyed that we are questioning them - it's just the first logical step.

    By the way, re you wondering why you're being 'put on trial' by us - I may only speak for myself here, but I assumed that you posted Tillich's views because they were your own as well. Therefore I was wondering what your reasons were for believing them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chopin View Post
    By the way, re you wondering why you're being 'put on trial' by us - I may only speak for myself here, but I assumed that you posted Tillich's views because they were your own as well. Therefore I was wondering what your reasons were for believing them.
    Now there's an assumption. He posted it in asking for the man's type, then submitted the guy's beliefs for whatever information that might render. Plus, if you take the argument for what it is, it seems valid (if all premises are true, the conclusion is forced). Whether or not they are sound (the premises actually being true) is a separate issue. As for the substance of the premises themselves, well as Logos pointed out, there is a theological history behind the claims.

    I think Tillich was an NT, but I would have to do more research into him myself to venture any further than that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by munenori2 View Post
    Now there's an assumption. He posted it in asking for the man's type, then submitted the guy's beliefs for whatever information that might render.
    Oh - I didn't realise that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by munenori2 View Post
    Plus, if you take the argument for what it is, it seems valid (if all premises are true, the conclusion is forced). Whether or not they are sound (the premises actually being true) is a separate issue.
    It's funny - I can't see it from your point of view at all. I wouldn't put 'if all premises are true' and 'the premises actually being true' in brackets - I would put them in bold. I don't get how you can say that 'whether they are sound or not' is a separate issue - to me that's the only issue. But anyway, just different personalities I guess ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by chopin View Post
    It's funny - I can't see it from your point of view at all. I wouldn't put 'if all premises are true' and 'the premises actually being true' in brackets - I would put them in bold. I don't get how you can say that 'whether they are sound or not' is a separate issue - to me that's the only issue. But anyway, just different personalities I guess ...
    Oh, it's ok. I see where you're coming from. I'm pretty much the same way. It's just when you take logic courses (like symbolic logic, for example) distinctions like this are made. It's purely because you're learning the rules of logic. That such-and-such is valid (then you start asking yourself if each statement is, in fact, correct) and such-and-such is not (where everything they say could be true and the conclusion does not result). It's certainly a different flavor than I'm used to, but it's actually been very helpful in a lot of ways I didn't expect.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hkkmr View Post
    I lean more to INFj.. but I wouldn't bet on it.
    To be honest, I considered that possibility pretty keenly, given some of his motivations. I think most of the people Logos has brought up have been INxj. For some odd reason, they always seem to remind me of my brother or I, not that this is that informed of an analysis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by munenori2 View Post
    FWIW Logos, all the people you've been bringing up lately are people I've had an intellectual interest in at one time or another. Not just in the sense that they're par for the course in terms of my college experience, but out of everyone I've had to study they were the ones that stuck out for me. I don't know if that necessarily means anything from a socionics perspective or not.
    Quote Originally Posted by munenori2 View Post
    To be honest, I considered that possibility pretty keenly, given some of his motivations. I think most of the people Logos has brought up have been INxj. For some odd reason, they always seem to remind me of my brother or I, not that this is that informed of an analysis.
    Just wait until you see the link between them.

    Quote Originally Posted by chopin View Post
    I didn't see any logical proof in your initial post. There were 3 statements made out to be fact which are only flimsy assumptions. It seems ridiculous to me to discuss a theory based on assumptions. If you're going to prove something, it's logical to start with the foundation - what the theory is built on - and prove or disprove that. I don't know why you're annoyed that we are questioning them - it's just the first logical step.
    It is not an empirical "proof" of any variety but a natural logical progression built upon held assertions that person wishes to make about what people are inclined to believe about the nature of god (i.e. infinite nature) and existence. Obviously you cannot prove the existence or non-existence of god, and because of that, you can only make assumptions and assertions as to a hypothetical nature of god. Welcome to the world of theology.

    By the way, re you wondering why you're being 'put on trial' by us - I may only speak for myself here, but I assumed that you posted Tillich's views because they were your own as well. Therefore I was wondering what your reasons were for believing them.
    Not once did you ask if I did believe them, and I thought my reasons were self-evident: just to help others familiarize themselves with his system and ideas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by chopin View Post
    Oh - I didn't realise that.
    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Its true that Logos has posted this thread under whats my type..but he has not specified in his post, what it is he is looking to do. I'm not trying to be overly analytical here - it genuinely did occur to me that he could be looking to a ) type him b) discuss his philosophy c) both. So yes his griping somewhat suprised me also - it is somewhat assumptive of Logos to think you and I would realise what this post is for without an actual specification imo ..without making an assumption ourselves

    @Logos: What type do you think he is then? Ps FWIW Purely on VI - esp the younger picture - he oozes INFj to me
    Last edited by Cyclops; 02-15-2008 at 09:05 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Its true that Logos has posted this thread under whats my type..but he has not specified in his post, what it is he is looking to do. I'm not trying to be overly analytical here - it genuinely did occur to me that he could be looking to a ) type him b) discuss his philosophy c) both. So yes his griping somewhat suprised me also - it is somewhat assumptive of Logos to think you and I would realise what this post is for without an actual specification imo ..without making an assumption ourselves
    Assumptive my ass. You can't see it, but right now I'm throwing my hands up in the air in frustration with humanity. I did not really care to argue the merits of Stoicism in the Zeno thread, and yet everyone figured out that I was seeking to type him without having to make it explicit. I did not want to argue the cohesiveness of Taoism in in the Lao Tzu, and yet everyone figured out that I was seeking to type him without ever making it explicit. I did not want to defend the presentation of Spinoza's philosophy in the Baruch Spinoza thread, and yet everyone there too figured out that I was trying to reach a consensus on his type without once really making it explicit. So I cannot figure out for the life of me as to why you thought that I suddenly had a change of mind and wanted to debate over Tillich's system in a straightforward "What's My Type" thread.

    @Logos: What type do you think he is then? Ps FWIW Purely on VI - esp the younger picture - he oozes INFj to me
    I too am also leaning INFj though, but I have not entirely settled on that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    Assumptive my ass. You can't see it, but right now I'm throwing my hands up in the air in frustration with humanity. I did not really care to argue the merits of Stoicism in the Zeno thread, and yet everyone figured out that I was seeking to type him without having to make it explicit. I did not want to argue the cohesiveness of Taoism in in the Lao Tzu, and yet everyone figured out that I was seeking to type him without ever making it explicit. I did not want to defend the presentation of Spinoza's philosophy in the Baruch Spinoza thread, and yet everyone there too figured out that I was trying to reach a consensus on his type without once really making it explicit. So I cannot figure out for the life of me as to why you thought that I suddenly had a change of mind and wanted to debate over Tillich's system in a straightforward "What's My Type" thread.
    I can imagine you throwing your hands up in the air in the air at our denseness Chopin and I just joined in a space of a week ago so we are not up to speed on the direction of your previous threading. So when I saw the philosophy being initially questioned, well.. it seemed like a reasonable thing at the time to continue this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    I too am also leaning INFj though, but I have not entirely settled on that.
    Cool.
    Last edited by Cyclops; 02-15-2008 at 04:30 PM.

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    ~~rubicon~~ Rubicon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    Assumptive my ass. You can't see it, but right now I'm throwing my hands up in the air in frustration with humanity. I did not really care to argue the merits of Stoicism in the Zeno thread, and yet everyone figured out that I was seeking to type him without having to make it explicit. I did not want to argue the cohesiveness of Taoism in in the Lao Tzu, and yet everyone figured out that I was seeking to type him without ever making it explicit. I did not want to defend the presentation of Spinoza's philosophy in the Baruch Spinoza thread, and yet everyone there too figured out that I was trying to reach a consensus on his type without once really making it explicit. So I cannot figure out for the life of me as to why you thought that I suddenly had a change of mind and wanted to debate over Tillich's system in a straightforward "What's My Type" thread.
    It may surprise you to learn that I haven't read your other threads. I didn't think it necessary to go through all your previous posts before reading this one.
    "Language is the Rubicon that divides man from beast."

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    Quote Originally Posted by chopin View Post
    It may surprise you to learn that I haven't read your other threads. I didn't think it necessary to go through all your previous posts before reading this one.
    I did not think it was necessary either, nor did I think that it would be necessary to make it explicit that I was asking for a type in a What's My Type thread, but the point was that this is the first time that this has ever been the problem in one of the What's My Type threads that I have started.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    I did not think it was necessary either, nor did I think that it would be necessary to make it explicit that I was asking for a type in a What's My Type thread, but the point was that this is the first time that this has ever been the problem in one of the What's My Type threads that I have started.
    I wonder if you would perhaps care to give your reasons why you think he is INFj?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    I wonder if you would perhaps care to give your reasons why you think he is INFj?
    in the ego seems fairly obvious in his conceptual idealism and static models as to the nature of reality, but this appears to be in a creative position and the rational function seems to be the leading function. And while we have seen that the basic sort of logical model that he is presenting is not necessarily logically sound (for the most part they are if one were to to hold his premises, assumptions, or assertions to be within the realm of possibility) but this logical and existentialist model seems to be something of a role function. What seems to be clear is that he is XII. But what is not entirely clear is the role in which / and / play in his system, and that is what I have yet to truly look into more fully.

    Here is some more that I found to help summarize him and his philosophy:
    Though in many ways unorthodox and reformist, Tillich was undoubtedly a Christian theologian. His concern was to develop a satisfying Christian theology in the context of an acceptable philosophy. Heidegger’s influence can be seen in Tillich’s existential starting-point in his ontology of beings and being itself. He uses the existentialist motif of ‘nothingness’ in his characterisation of the experience of beings as confronting the nonbeing inherent in our finitude. He opposed himself to any understanding of God that might give the impression of deity as a being among others; God in Tillich’s view had to be understood as ‘the ground of being’ or, to use a not-unfamiliar expression, being itself. The manner in which he spoke of God, with such remarks as, ‘God does not exist. . . . He is being itself beyond essence and existence’, led to some accusations of atheism and pantheism.


    Tillich’s best-known work is his three-volume Systematic Theology (1951, 1957, and 1963), which was based on his Gifford Lectures. His work clearly has an apologetic approach. He characterised theology as ‘the methodical interpretation of the contents of the Christian faith’. That is, the Christian faith had to be interpreted and could only be interpreted by reason. Following Aquinas, Tillich sought to show how revelation could be reconciled with reason, since in the end there could be no insurmountable conflict between the two. His understanding of religion emphasised the importance of symbolism, and he held that reason played the role of interpreting revelation through ‘true’ symbols. ‘True’ symbols were for Tillich an expression of the infinite through the finite. The implications for his Christology were certainly unorthodox, significantly in his view that Christ could not be identified with God in any literal sense, but rather a symbolic revelation from God of what humanity ought to be. Tillich’s work also attracted interest and exerted influence beyond theological readership, most notably in his work on existentialism as expressed in The Courage to Be, published in 1952.
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