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Paul Tillich: Theologian of the Boundaries (Making of Modern Theology) Paperback – January 3, 1987
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Editor Mark Kline Taylor describes Tillich as being a theologian of the boundaries -- particularly the boundaries of modernity, and the boundaries of philosophy and modern intellectual development. Tillich is sometimes mistaken for being an atheist, since he makes the radical claim that God does not exist -- however, this shows the redefinitions and subtle aspects at work in Tillich's writing. Only finite things can be spoken of as 'existing'; God, not being finite, does not 'exist' in the way that any created thing exists. God becomes for Tillich the Ground of Being, that from which all existing things come and in which all in existence have their being.
Tillich is not an easy read. Educated in German schools deeply influenced by liberal theology of the nineteenth century and philosophical schools reacting to the breakdown of Enlightenment thinking, Tillich sought to make theology a relevant subject in the academy. Much of his writing is primarily geared toward other academics, philosophers in particular. As Taylor remarks in his introduction, many seminarians have difficulty with Tillich, both in making real-world connections as well as traversing the language -- Tillich invents his own terminology and develops his own linguistic methods of discussing theological issues.
Tillich was profoundly influenced by his experiences in the first world war, where he served as a chaplain in the trench warfare. Unlike theologians such as Barth, he initially had a young man's bravado and support for the war, until the grim realities set in. This experience would never leave Tillich, and he continued to strive all his life to craft a systematic theology that would on the one hand address the concerns of culture but at the same time resist traditional pitfalls of theology-of-culture that make it less universal, and too much a human construct.
Tillich's development of Christology, with Christ as the New Being, is very significant, the way for Tillich's more general philosophical theology to find a grounding in Christianity. Tillich had a long fascination with other religions, Buddhism in particular, and was charged by some critics of relegating Christianity to a secondary status. Like many of Tillich's theological ideas, there is a tension apparent in his Christological development that exists between different traditional methods of dealing with the issue historically, philosophically and theologically.
The majority of the selections taken for this volume come from Tillich's primary work, 'Systematic Theology', a three-volume work that Tillich developed over a decade and a half near the end of Tillich's career (volume 1 was published in 1951; volume 2 in 1957; volume 3 in 1963). Taylor uses other writings as well to flesh out topics.
Each volume in this series also has a selected bibliography section -- this one for Tillich is divided into several sections: bibliographical resources; primary works of Tillich divided into nine periods of his work, including posthumous publications; finally, secondary literature about Tillich and Tillichian ideas. The book is well indexed, with indexes for subjects and for names. This is a very good book for scholarship. Much of Tillich's early work was in German (as is evidenced by the bibliography); much of his later work was in English -- thus, some of the work here is in translation.
You may not agree with all of Tillich's ideas, but you simply can't ignore him when considering the deeper issues of modern theology. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wishes to deepen their faith by considering issues not considered in the day-to-day Christian world.