Paul Tillich’s Theology of Culture: A Summary and Analysis

*written on June 16th, 2019.

Introduction

It has been a great pleasure to closely read Paul Tillich’s Theology of Culture. Ever since I read Tillich’s The Courage to Be, I have been fascinated by his thought and its implications. Although one may disagree with Tillich’s unorthodox approach and his existential baptizing of Christianity, it is much more difficult to not respect his erudition and pastoral passion. From my limited reading, it seems as that very few Protestant theologians of the 20th century have had as much influence outside of Christianity as Tillich has. Although individuals like Karl Barth provided much stimulation within Protestantism, it seems that Tillich has been much more influential in spaces where Protestantism has historically been absent. One may be surprised to see on whose shelves’ copies of Tillich’s sermons are found.

One of the difficulties of reading Tillich is his unorthodox language. While some of his language is standard for a philosopher of religion (which has its own difficulties), he also prefers to use his own language that is not weighed down by theological or philosophical baggage. This is one of the reasons why this summary and review is much lengthier than I’d prefer it to be. On the other hand, I wanted to be somewhat thorough for educational purposes—for both my education and for the education of the few who will read this. It seemed a shame to not unfurl some of the finer points of this work. I found them too novel and thought-provoking to be skimmed over. Regardless, I’m grateful for Tillich and all those who are interested in taking seriously the questions and answers that he has proposed. And now, we must turn to the work itself.

Part I: Basic Considerations 

            Religion as Depth and Ultimate Concern

Part One of Paul Tillich’s Theology of Culture lays the groundwork for his thought on religion, philosophy, and culture. Once this has been accomplished, Tillich will bring these ideas into conversation with other disciplines (Part II) and specific cultural situations (Part III). He begins by offering the most common answers to the question of what religion is. For Tillich, religion is not a creative force of the human spirit nor is it one step in the evolutionary progress of man. He does not allow religion to be reduced to a mere psychological or sociological phenomenon, and he also asserts that religion is not merely divine revelation. Instead, Tillich argues that religion is the “dimension of depth” within man’s spiritual life, and this “depth” cannot be limited to one specific function of man (p. 6). It is the depth of all the functions of man. Religion is not only moral (Kant) or cognitive (Aquinas), nor is it based only on a subjective feeling (Schleiermacher). For Tillich, religion is the “aspect of depth in the totality of the human spirit [italics added]” (p. 7).

This concept of depth in Tillich’s thought is accessed through what he calls Ultimate Concern. Ultimate Concern is the criteria for what makes an individual religious. It is an “ultimate seriousness” that may be directed towards anything, even towards the nonexistence of God (p. 8). This is precisely the reason why Tillich often speaks favorably of atheism and sees some elements of it as being healthy and necessary for religion. Although this is located outside the scope of Theology of Culture, it should be noted that one’s Ultimate Concern can either be directed toward the conditioned or the Unconditioned. While both of these are possible options, Tillich argues that the only appropriate option would be to direct one’s Ultimate Concern to the Unconditioned (i.e., God, Being, Ground, etc.) and not the conditioned (e.g., symbols, rites, wealth, notoriety, etc.). One is true religion while the other is idolatry.

An implication of this identification of religion with being Ultimately Concerned is that religion should not only be an institution, nor should it only be a private matter. There is no secular sphere for Tillich since even secularism can exhibit an Ultimate Concern. It is this separation of religion from culture and society at large that has led to a “tragic estrangement of man’s spiritual life from its own ground and depth” (p. 8). This seems to be the impetus of much of Tillich’s work—to restore religion to its rightful place within man, culture, and society. When religion is relegated to a religious institution, it loses its place as the depth of man’s being and the ground and source of culture and society. More will be said later on this relationship between religion and culture in Tillich’s thought.

            Two Types of Philosophy of Religion

After addressing the concept of Ultimate Concern, Tillich proceeds to elaborate his philosophy of religion. For Tillich, there are two types of philosophy of religion. The first involves man overcoming his estrangement through religion. This is called the ontological approach and is often associated with the early church fathers. The second is what Tillich calls the “way of meeting a stranger” (p. 10). This refers to a more revelatory approach to religion where God is the “Other” and knowledge of him is often limited and controlled. Tillich calls this the cosmological approach. Instead of choosing one approach over the other, Tillich believes that a careful assimilation of the cosmological approach into the ontological approach will solve the problems that he hopes to resolve. These problems are the reconciliation of philosophy and religion and the reconciliation of religion and culture.

Tillich sees this reconciliation being made possible by relying chiefly on the ontological approach. While religion claims there is only one power (Dues or God) and philosophy claims only one principle (esse or Existence), Tillich sees these reaching a synthesis in the phrase Deus esse (God is). This synthesis combines the philosophical Ultimate (Existence or Being) with the religious or theological Ultimate (God). According to Tillich, Augustine and his followers were the chief proponents of this approach when they connected the idea of God with truth as being immediately knowable, either to the soul (Bonaventure) or the mind (Matthew). God is the “first truth” (Matthew) and is present, as truth, within the mind (p. 13). This makes experiencing and believing truth identical (Alexander of Hales) and entails that if someone doubts the existence of God, then this doubt is only psychological. The key aspect of this approach is that God is implicit within the fabric of reality and a human’s experience of it. Christian thinkers who follow this approach can look to the apostle Paul, “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NRSV), as well as John’s identification of Jesus as the Logos (John 1). According to Tillich, this connection between the philosophical Ultimate and the religious Ultimate was severed in Christian theology through the influence of Thomas Aquinas, who argued that knowledge of God can only be apprehended mediately as opposed to immediately. God was no longer a part of the fabric of reality and immediately accessible but became completely transcendent and only knowable via his effects. This made faith less of an interior intuition that must be embodied and more of a cognitive extension to what was deemed by authority to be revelation (i.e., Scripture).

Although Tillich is often critical of the cosmological approach as exhibited by thinkers like Aquinas or Barth, he sees the linking of it to the ontological approach as the key to reconciling philosophy and religion and religion and culture. He believes that God is not only a necessary being (cosmological), but he is also Being itself (ontological). If God is viewed only as a being, then he immediately becomes a being alongside other beings. Instead, God is the power of being—the prius of all being. He proceeds the prickly division between subject-object and essence-existence. Although God may be spoken of as a being, this language is only symbolic for Tillich, and without the ontological approach, religion would be subjected to a feeling or a cognitive faith directed towards authoritative revelation. This does not mean that faith no longer requires risk. Instead, faith “combines the ontological certainty of the Unconditioned with the uncertainty about everything conditioned and concrete” (p. 27). This synthesis of the ontological approach with the cosmological approach along with Tillich’s existential understanding of religion provides Tillich the ability to analyze culture through a religious and theological lens.

            Religion and Culture: Substance and Form

After fleshing out his definition of religion as Ultimate Concern, Tillich turns to religion and its relationship to culture. It should be noted that what makes Tillich so interested in culture is, once again, due to his philosophical understanding of religion. Religion is not theoretical for Tillich; it is existential. This allows him to see religion as being an active force within culture because “the religious and the secular are not separated realms”, instead they are found “within each other” (p. 41). Religion is the very “substance” of culture; it is the aim of culture, even if this aim is unconscious (p. 42). On the other hand, culture is the “form” of religion (p. 42). Tillich concludes this because language is a cultural creation, and this, along with other forms of cultural expression, are the forms used in religious expression. This means that religion is always wrapped within a cultural husk and that culture always retains some religious content either implicitly or explicitly. Following this line of thought, Tillich is then able to conduct a religious analysis of culture, which aims to uncover what he calls a theology of culture.

Part II: Concrete Applications

The Nature of Religious Language

In part two of this work, Tillich puts into practice his religious analysis of culture and uses it to analyze different aspects of culture including: art, science, industrialism, existential philosophy, and different types of morality. Before addressing these, Tillich precedes by elaborating on the nature of religious language. As mentioned earlier, religious language is a cultural creation for Tillich. Therefore, there is no one “holy language” (p. 59). Instead, there are signs and symbols, which Tillich takes great pains to clearly explain. The key difference between these two is that while both a sign and a symbol point to the reality of something other than itself, only a symbol participates in this reality. While signs can easily be created (e.g., a stop sign), symbols must develop organically via a “collective unconscious” and are always subject to deterioration (p. 58). This leads to the creation of new symbols, which will meet the changing needs a group or tradition.

In regard to the function of religious symbols, Tillich argues that they open up the ground of Being, which is the depth of man’s spiritual life. The aim of symbols is, therefore, to bring humanity into participation with this depth (i.e., the Holy). These symbols open up two levels of reality—the transcendent and the immanent. The transcendent is that which is beyond the scope of empirical reality while the immanent is that which is found within one’s encounter with reality. Once again, you see Tillich’s use of the ontological and cosmological approach occurring here. If one relies too heavily on the transcendence of God (i.e., the cosmological approach), then God becomes a stranger and remains unknowable. If one relies too heavily on the immanence of God (i.e., the ontological approach), then God loses the personal aspect of his character and simply becomes the force of all life.

While many people may not take Tillich seriously as a theologian because of his emphasis on religious symbols, the reader should be reminded that Tillich believes that the reality that a symbol participates in is no less real than what a symbol interpreted literally would entail. Tillich would most likely address these critics by arguing that they are confusing a sign with a symbol. Now that this has been addressed, Tillich is able to analyze specific aspects of Western culture.

            The Theological Significance of Existentialism and Psychoanalysis

Due to constraints, this section will not cover Tillich’s analysis of science, education, or Protestant art. Instead, it will focus on Tillich’s theological analysis of existentialism, psychoanalysis, and ethics.

It’s no secret that Paul Tillich’s theology and philosophy has been greatly influenced by existentialism. His interpretation of religion is chiefly existential, and his philosophy seems to combine elements of German idealism with existentialism. Tillich begins this section by offering a quick overview of existentialism and its history, followed by some particular motifs of the movement and its chief proponents. What makes this movement so vital to Tillich is its function in relation to religion. Tillich sees existentialism as a positive force that enables humanity to pose the appropriate questions about its current predicament. Although it is not able to answer these questions, it does have the unique ability to expose the tender spots of the human condition (e.g., anxiety, despair, estrangement, etc.). Once these have been exposed, it is the job of religion to provide adequate answers using its symbols, narratives, and practices. Tillich calls this the method of correlation, and it functions as the structure of Tillich’s Systematic Theology.

Just as existentialism is useful to religion, Tillich advocates for its utility within psychoanalysis. Existentialism has the ability to expose the anxieties buried within a person or culture, which with the help of a psychoanalyst, may help one to overcome them. Although psychoanalysis may heal someone’s neuroses, it is not as capable of providing meaning to the individual once he or she has been liberated. Once again, this is the role of religion. Tillich sees psychoanalysis (or depth psychology) and existentialism as being two tools that should be wielded by the theologian and the church. Existentialism is able to illuminate humanity’s dark predicament while depth psychology explains how an attempt to escape this predicament often creates psychosomatic illnesses. Tillich’s gratitude for these two tools is quite apparent in Theology of Culture.

            Moralisms and Morality: Theonomous Ethics 

Within part two, Tillich also covers what he calls theonomous ethics. Before jumping into the specifics, Tillich clarifies the terms he uses in the chapter: moralism, moralisms, and morality. Moralism is inherently negative for Tillich. It is an “attitude towards life” that is a distortion of morality (p. 133). Moralism can be exhibited in various ways; it can be puritanical, nationalistic, or conservative for example. Moralisms, on the other hand, is not inherently negative. These are ethical cultural productions and are limited by historical and cultural contingencies, although they tend to become oppressive and evolve into moralism. Morality, not to be confused with moralism or moralisms, is what Tillich calls “the experience of the moral imperative” (p. 134). This is equivalent to Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. Morality is the form of moralisms, and this form is Unconditional, although its content (i.e., moralisms) is conditional. This is one key variance between Tillich and Kant. While they both agree on the Unconditional nature of morality, Tillich advocates for concrete content to be found within the imperative or the “ought” while Kant does not.

Following this exposition of terms and structures, Tillich proceeds to expound upon common moralisms and the morality that they should strive towards. The first is the moralism of authority and the morality of risk. Although Tillich doesn’t view moralisms of authority as inherently negative, he sees them as limited since they must be internalized in order to be effectual. Furthermore, they can easily lead one to identify the “concrete media” of moralisms with the Unconditional, therefore making it demonic (to use religious language) or neurotic (to use psychological language). The opposite of a moralism of authority is a morality of risk. This risk within morality is due to the fallen nature of humanity and will always be inherent within the finite realm. It entails being subjected to the conditioned (i.e., finitude) and to be able to concretely embody morality despite ambiguity and the “threat of non-being, death, guilt and meaninglessness” (p. 141). In the words of Tillich, “moralism give safety, morality lives in the unsafety of risk and courage” (p. 141).

Tillich proceeds next to the moralisms of law and the morality of grace. In this sphere, reward and punishment conditions one’s obedience. While this isn’t inherently bad, Tillich believes it is unable to embody the Unconditioned of the moral imperative. Following the line of thought of Jesus, Paul, and Martin Luther, Tillich notes that “only the good tree brings good fruit” and that “only if being precedes that which ought-to-be, can the ought-to-be be fulfilled” (p. 142). This entails that change is only possible through grace and not through law because what one’s ethical transformation is essentially the reunion of man with his moral self. Without this reconciliation, moralisms deteriorate into legalism that either leads to despair or self-righteousness. The concept of grace, on the other hand, is as a way to reconcile both humanity’s guilt and estrangement. This is manifested in the biblical concept of the forgiveness of sins and the new being that is produced via salvation. Interestingly enough, Tillich see this concept of grace as also being central to the practice of psychotherapy as well. The therapist knows that hammering a patient with the moral imperative will only lead them to despair and further neurosis. Instead, the therapist must extend grace in order that the patient may forgive themselves and transcend their current predicament.

Lastly, Tillich covers the moralisms of justice and the morality of love. Tillich notes how ideas of justice, like Aristotle’s idea of proportional justice, are helpful although inadequate because they do not lead to transformation. Transformational justice is more effectual, and Tillich equates this with the concept of love. Love is the “ground, the power, and aim of justice” (p. 145). Love is balanced by grace on one end and justice on the other—by acceptance and transformation. Tillich believes this is the solution to the problem of morality.

Part III: Cultural Comparison

In part three of Theology of Culture, Tillich focuses on analyzing specific cultures that were prominent during his lifetime. In the first chapter, he compares and contrasts European and American culture while focusing on the intellectual and religious motifs of both. This focus is centered on what Tillich calls “intellectual provincialism”, which he unashamedly diagnoses Europe with. Europe, and particularly Germany, have dominated Western theological and philosophical thought ever since the Reformation, and Tillich believes this has created an arrogance that is detrimental to free inquiry. America, on the other hand, seems to have a knack for assimilating ideas from other cultures and is much more open to dialogue and discussion. Following this line of thought, Tillich unpacks some of the key philosophical differences that have led to the expanse between these two groups.

In the second chapter of part two, Tillich compares the church and state relationships between America and Russia, noting the sharp distinction. After this, he precedes to uncover and compare the covert religious workings within these two cultures. Eastern Orthodoxy, as represented in Russia, is sacramental, mystical, and limited in its political and social influence. This limit is self-imposed and is due to the church’s relationship with authority. In summary, the Eastern Orthodox church “transcends the given state of things without trying to change it” (p. 182). While the church has continued to thrive despite difficulties, Tillich is critical of its social and political impotence. In contrast to this, Protestantism in American is marked by a social and political emphasis. The downside of this emphasis is that it encourages a high level of conformity to Western values that may be detrimental to the Christian mission.

In the third chapter of part two, Tillich evaluates the thought of Martin Buber from a Protestant prospective. Similar to the previous chapters, Tillich’s evaluation is mingled with a sort of historical construction that notes aspects that may have led to the development of Buber’s thought. Tillich leverages Buber’s I-Thou heuristic to critique multiple religious movements, while using it the most to critique his own. For Tillich, Protestantism has struggled to integrate the mystical and the prophetic aspects of religion. The most salient example of this is social ethics. While Catholics have natural law and an authoritarian approach to social ethics, Protestants have a much more spiritual and ambiguous relationship to it. This explains why it has been appropriated the most by political movements like socialism. Tillich evaluates this and uses Buber’s I-Thou construction to call Protestants to an effectual approach to social ethics.

Part IV: Conclusion

In part four of Theology and Culture, Tillich provides some final thoughts to Christian ministers and teachers. His aim is to help them faithfully communicate the Christian message in the contexts in which they may find themselves. In order to accomplish this, he encourages readers to conduct an existential analysis to help uncover the “structures of anxiety, of conflict, of guilt” within the contexts they are ministering within (p. 201). While these may differ depending on the context, Tillich argues that all cultures and individuals will exhibit existential pain points that the Christian message can adequately address. Furthermore, it’s important that ministers and teachers address the pressing questions of a culture instead forcing non-Christians to ask questions that Christianity has historically been concerned with. This requires the minister or teacher to participate in the group he or she is ministering to. Without this participation, the Christian message become unintelligible, irrelevant, and unhelpful. For Tillich, this Christian message is “the message of a new Reality” (p. 208). It is a reality that enables humans to shoulder the tragedy of existence and to overcome their estrangement by participation in this “new Reality” (p. 208).

Analysis and Discussion 

German and American          

One of the many strengths of Theology of Culture is that it is a synthesis of both German and American philosophy and theology. As Tillich mentions in the work, modern German tradition was known for its attempts to generate an all-encompassing vision of the world (Weltanschauung) that addresses questions concerning Ultimate Truth. On the other hand, Tillich was also influenced by the American emphasis on pragmaticism, social ethics, and experimentalism. Theology of Culture seems to embody the spirit of both of these movements quite well. Its scope and ambition are notoriously German, while its analysis of contemporary culture is pleasantly American. It endeavors to answer questions about Ultimate Truth while also giving impetus for the immediate application of its discoveries. On a similar note, Tillich should also be commended for his pastoral heart. Instead of abandoning readers to the speculative realm, he provides timely words of wisdom to those on the front-lines of Christianity. He is an excellent example of what seems to be a dying breed of academics who are thoroughly concerned and involved with the Christian church.

Pantheism and Theism

To criticize Tillich, it is worth noting that his theology often seems to be pantheism/panentheism disguised with the language of theism. Although he does not admit this, he is more favorable towards the idea of God as Being as opposed to God as a personal being. While he sees the need for symbolic language when referring to God, one may wonder whether traditional language about God is even compatible with Tillich’s theology. If God is Being, then any name that we provide him other than Being or Ground or Existence seems unnecessary. If God is indeed Being or Existence, why hasn’t the Christian tradition spoke more frequently of him as such? Why aren’t Christian liturgies filled with similar language? Although I see elements of pantheism within the Scriptures and Christian tradition, a move towards Christian pantheism or panentheism requires a great amount of unnecessary theological reconstruction. Please note that I am not dismissing Tillich only because he may be either of these. I’m only criticizing him on the grounds of whether his pantheism is compatible with the Christian tradition. It seems that Tillich sees the need for traditional Christian language concerning God but only as a means to an end. This symbolic language is only necessary to appease our finite fallen selves. Although I see the logic behind this move since Tillich is trying to access the “God Beyond God,” it seems that his approach waters down the strong wine of the Christian tradition unnecessarily. I’m not sure if this is unavoidable, but it seems to be an epiphenomenon of Tillich’s thought and others who have attempted a project similar to his.

Although Tillich is best known as a Christian theologian, it is clear that he takes his orders from his philosophical commitments. Philosophers have historically preferred to speak of Being or Existence over traditional language about God. This is because it affords more philosophical opportunities while avoiding the difficulties of a more “biblical” theistic understanding of God. An example of this would be the issue of creation ex nihilo. Even Thomas Aquinas noted that the Christian philosopher cannot adequately prove that the world had a beginning. Instead, one must rely on revelation to conclude this. Tillich’s pantheism would avoid this issue altogether since he could easily deem creation ex nihilo as being merely symbolic. It seems that if you are a Tillichian, then you’ll be left with Being dressed up in symbolic language. Is a symbolic “dressed up” Being as effectual as traditional theistic language concerning God (e.g., God as Person, God as Father, God as Shepherd, etc.)?

Theology and Culture

Tillich’s understanding of culture’s relationship to theology is also worth revisiting. Although this seems the be the most novel and salient aspect of his thought, it is also far too limited in its scope. Few would disagree that Tillich’s use of the word theology has left a lasting imprint on the discipline. The word “theology” is not even used in the same manner as it was used before Tillich. Regardless, one weakness of Tillich’s thought is his narrow understanding of culture. Culture, at least according to Tillich, is relegated to high culture, and more specifically, high Western culture. Though Tillich mentions other nations and movements like existentialism and psychoanalysis, his idea of culture remains within the West’s upper echelon. One has to wait until others appropriate Tillich’s thoughtin order for it not to be exclusively focused on the high culture of the West.

Ethics and Natural Law

Regarding Tillich’s ethics, he seems to argue for the absence of any ethical content or structures within morality (as he uses the term). Instead, he argues for the existential risk of embodying the Unconditioned within the conditioned concrete ethical landscape. Although I admire Tillich’s revolutionary conception of ethics, I find it problematic. First, Tillich’s ethics ignore any conception of natural law or creation by design. This is due, once again, to Tillich relying too heavily on his philosophical convictions. If God created the world as “good,” shouldn’t there be some natural God-given structures that are good and worthy of restoration? Is the New Being not the reconciliation of creation to its intended state? Did this intended state not involve some concrete ethical content or structures (e.g., the first prohibition, man’s vocation of work, institution of marriage, etc.)? In essence, Tillich passes over the argument of natural law too quickly. This is my stumbling block in regard to beginning to celebrate Tillich’s conception of ethics. He seems to avoid the messiness of Christian ethics by providing no concrete structures or content within morality. Although I understand Tillich’s desire to reconcile different cultural ethical constructions (moralisms), does one have to throw out all ethical structures in order to do this? As a result, one’s left with Kant’s dry categorical imperative, and it is up to the ethicist to create their own conception without any limiting structures. My fear is that this could deteriorate into ethical content or structures that suit one’s own fancy. God would no longer stand against humanity in any prophetic way. While I’m sure that this is liberating initially, it fails to do justice to the Christian doctrine of creation. As many others have noted concerning Tillich’s theology, his method of correlation often limits the boundaries of God’s action—man’s questions become the limiting factor of God’s activity.

The reason why Tillich is able to ignore this idea of natural law so easily is due to what makes his conception of religion so appealing. Tillich is an existentialist. This means that existence precedes essence. This entails the impossibility of any argument from design or nature from the start. This is why Tillich refrains from arguing for any natural concrete structures within morality and instead just offers the ambiguous imperative of morality. Once again, Tillich is driven by his philosophy so much so that it makes the argument of creation by design null and void. In my opinion, Tillich loses much of his sheen once one understands this because this entails that there is no longer any “grain” to the universe (to borrow Stanley Hauerwas’ phrase). Instead, one is “thrown” into the universe and ought to aim at the ambiguous ideal of love. The true existentialist may struggle to read the Bible because it provides these natural constraints at one level of investigation or another.

My last criticism, once again, involves Tillich’s existential understanding of religion. One may wonder if Tillich’s reasoning is circular in the following manner. The existential understanding of religion obviously appeals to Tillich and with it he critiques the more classical understanding of religion or Christian faith. For example, the idea of submission to revelatory authority is abominable to Tillich. Here are my questions: why can’t submission to revelatory authority be an existential demonstration of faith? Why does Tillich insist on always having an authority-less and structure-less idea of faith? Is Tillich not acting anachronistically when he critiques Thomas Aquinas in this manner? In essence, Tillich seems to be universalizing his own understanding of faith that answers his particular existential anxieties while relegating a more medieval outlook to be unnecessary and unhelpful. Why can’t Aquinas’ conception of faith as a cognitive extension to authoritative revelation be just as real, radical, and faithful as Tillich’s existential structure-less conception of faith? In this manner, Tillich may be a victim to his own cultural-historical setting when he interprets Christian history.

Conclusion 

The greatest strength of Tillich’s system is its breath and flexibility. It can adapt to any cultural situation without reducing theology to cultural anthropology. It provides an explanation for the diversity of religious experience while not deeming these only as cultural artifacts. Dues esse for Tillich, and this should be celebrated especially given Tillich’s theological heritage. I see this breath and flexibility as embodying the teachings of Christ quite well. Furthermore, Tillich’s existential understanding of faith and religion is refreshing. It avoids the distress, anxiety, and often despair that accompanies much reflection on conflicting claims regarding religious truth. This is particularly true of myself coming from a fundamentalist background. Tillich’s conception of faith allows me to retain my faith even though I may be experiencing intellectual and spiritual vertigo at times. My “seriousness” is an attempt to embody the Unconditioned within the conditioned environment I find myself in. This is encouraging and reasonable. On the other hand, I wonder if Tillich has taken his existential tendencies too far. Many criticize Tillich because he seems to be an existentialist philosopher who has (for some reason) retained his vocation as a Christian theologian. While I concur with these individuals, I do not see Tillich as being detrimental to the Christian tradition. Instead, I see him as a theological stimulant who has helped bridge the expanse between theology and culture and religion and philosophy. I’m grateful for this and for all those who, like Tillich, bravely ask the questions that are often so near to our hearts and minds.

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