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Tillich's Theology And Fundamentalism


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#1 Geoff

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 02:36 PM

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Paul_Tillich

In his metaphysical approach, Tillich was a staunch existentialist, focusing on the nature of being. Nothingness is a major motif of existentialist philosophy which Tillich employed as a means of reifying being itself. Tillich argued that anxiety of non-being (existential anguish) is inherent in the experience of being itself (In reference to Tillich's philosophy of art see The Scream by Edvard Munch). Put simply, people are afraid of their own death. Following a line similar to Søren Kierkegaard and almost identical to that of Sigmund Freud, Tillich says that in our most introspective moments we face the terror of our own nothingness. That is, we "realize our mortality", that we are finite beings. The question which naturally arises in the mind of one in this introspective mood is what causes us to "be" in the first place. Tillich concludes that radically finite beings (which are, at least potentially, infinite in variation) cannot be sustained or caused by another finite or existing being. What can sustain finite beings is being itself, or the "ground of being". This Tillich identifies as God. Much of Tillich's phenomenological language with regard to being can be traced back to Martin Heidegger, with whom Tillich was in contact prior to 1933. Tillich also utilized some of the basic framework of Heidegger's fundamental ontology in the discussion on Being and God in the Systematic Theology.

Another name for the ground of being is essence. Essence is thought of as the power of being, and is forever unassailable by the conscious mind. As such it remains beyond the realm of thought, preserving the need for revelation in the Christian tradition.

Contrasted to essence but dependent upon it is existence. Existence is that which is finite. Essence is the infinite. Since existence is being and essence is the ground of being, then essence is the ground or source of existence. But because the one is infinite and the other not, then existence (the finite) is fundamentally alienated from the essence. Man is alienated from God. This Tillich takes to be sin. To exist is to be alienated.

[...]

"God does not exist. He is being itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him."

This Tillich quotation summarizes his conception of God. He does not think of God as a being which exists in time and space, because that constrains God, and makes God finite. But all beings are finite, and if God is the Creator of all beings, God cannot logically be finite since a finite being cannot be the sustainer of an infinite variety of finite things. Thus God is considered beyond being, above finitude and limitation, the power or essence of being itself.

Tillich stated that since things in existence are corrupt and therefore ambiguous, no finite thing can be (by itself) infinite. All that is possible is for the finite to be a vehicle for revealing the infinite, but the two should never be confused. This leaves religion in the situation where it should not be taken too dogmatically, because of its conceptual and therefore finite and imperfect nature. True religion is that which correctly reveals the infinite, but no religion can ever do so in any way other than through metaphor and symbol. Thus the whole of the Bible should be understood symbolically, and all spiritual and theological knowledge cannot be other than symbol. This idea is used by theologians as an effective counterpoint to religious fundamentalism.


Tillich was the greatest philosophical theologian of recent history. I am interested to hear people's response to any of the above, but particularly the section I have highlighted in bold.

#2 chance

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 07:31 PM

Tillich was the greatest philosophical theologian of recent history. I am interested to hear people's response to any of the above, but particularly the section I have highlighted in bold. 


Never heard of him ;) can’t be that great then can he? :) must resist, must resist, must resist, …..oh can’t help it. [red dwarf]

Well, Geoff, we don't like existentialists around here, and we
certainly don't like Teutonic philosophers poncing around in their black
polo necks filling everyone's heads with their theories about the
bleakness of existence and absurdity of the cosmos, clear? [/red dwarf]

ahhhh now I’ve got that out of my system.


Tillich stated that since things in existence are corrupt and therefore ambiguous,


[scratches head] corrupt? In what way are things corrupt? E.g. does he mean that a bar of gold is only 99.99% gold (that sort of thing)? and why does that make it ambiguous?

“Things may not be what they seem”, do you think that is what is meant?


no finite thing can be (by itself) infinite.


rather obvious I would have thought.


All that is possible is for the finite to be a vehicle for revealing the infinite, but the two should never be confused.


I’m confused.

It is possible to travel to the moon, yes? Does that mean it is then possible to travel to the stars? No, only as a concept if one uses the same mechanism.

I think he is saying “ideas in the present can lead to ideas of the future”, I think.


This leaves religion in the situation where it should not be taken too dogmatically, because of its conceptual and therefore finite and imperfect nature.


Sorry I don’t get the connection. When and how was that connection made? I would seriously doubt a believer would consider religion to be conceptual!, (finite - yes, imperfect - possibly).

Dogmatism can be taken to far, one can adhere to certain aspects but that doesn’t mean they have checked their brain at the door (I don’t think one would expected to follow “any eye for an eye” philosophy just because it’s in the Bible). One might have to have to put up with a recurring mental schism however. If ones religion was “don’t worry, be happy” and placed in unfavourable circumstance, someone with a positive outlook might be judged to be favourably dogmatic.


True religion is that which correctly reveals the infinite, but no religion can ever do so in any way other than through metaphor and symbol.


says who? (other than Tillich) and how will you determine correctness? And what is ‘revealed infinite’?

Sort of agree with the metaphor bit.

Thus the whole of the Bible should be understood symbolically, and all spiritual and theological knowledge cannot be other than symbol. This idea is used by theologians as an effective counterpoint to religious fundamentalism.


I do not agree that you are justified in this conclusion, base on what you have posted. Admittedly because I don’t understand most of it (the language is bit highbrow for me), compounded by the lack of justification in the connections made.

Got “philosophy for dummies” version? Please.

P.s. this should be in the miscellaneous section.

#3 Guest_92g_*

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 09:37 PM

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Paul_Tillich
Tillich was the greatest philosophical theologian of recent history.  I am interested to hear people's response to any of the above, but particularly the section I have highlighted in bold.

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Its human viewpoint. If God exists, and he does, then he reveals himself as he desires. This type of philosophy is, in the end, idolotry because its man making a god in the image that he wants. Idols are not able to speak, and that seems to the kind of god Tillich likes.

Jesus Christ claimed to be God, and he demonstrated it by arising from the dead. What do you think about that?

Was he telling the truth when he claimed to be God? Was he being to dogmatic when you told you, and I mean you personally, to repent of your sins and false religion and turn to him for forgivness and a new life?

Terry

#4 Geoff

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Posted 29 June 2006 - 05:12 AM

OK, I give up. ;)

That people have never heard of Tillich does not make his influence within Christian theology any less. But when I come to a Christian board (as a non-Christian), post some of the most sublime Christian theology ever written, and get told that Tillich is idolatrous I know it is time to give up.

Your forum might benefit from less strictly enforced rules and by welcoming a wider cross-section of the human community.....as it stands it is the choir preaching to the choir.

Geoff




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