Paul Johannes Tillich

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Tillich, Paul Johannes


Born Aug. 20, 1886, in Starzeddel; died Oct. 22, 1965, in Chicago. German-American Protestant theologian and philosopher. An exponent of dialectical theology.

After World War I, Tillich emerged as a critic of liberal Protestantism and demanded a return to the original ideals of the Reformation. In Germany in the 1920’s he was a leader of the religious socialist movement—a variety of Christian socialism. From 1929 to 1933 he was a professor of philosophy at the University of Frankfurt, but he emigrated to the USA in 1933 to escape fascist Germany. He was a professor at Harvard University from 1955 to 1962 and at the University of Chicago from 1962 until his death.

Tillich strove to unite the fundamental trends of Protestantism and Christian theology as a whole and to lay the foundations of a new, ecumenical synthesis. He proposed the creation of a theology of culture that would recognize the sanctity of all aspects of life in modern society (see Tillich’s works dealing with psychotherapy, ethics, education, and sociology). Tillich criticized historical Protestantism, which, having replaced the “symbols” of Catholicism with rational conceptions, moral laws, and subjective emotions, threatened the foundations of the church.

In contradistinction to K. Barth, Tillich stressed the religious value of culture and the necessity for religion of preserving human autonomy. For Tillich, god abides in this world as its fundamental and dominant element. One cannot “search for” god as one would any other thing; god does not exist as a specific being. Therefore, according to Tillich, the atheistic protest against god as a perfect being dwelling above the earth is completely valid. Christ, for Tillich, is an image of the “new existence,” which overcomes the demonical mechanisms of personal and social alienation.

Unlike R. Bultmann, Tillich believed that symbols (myths) formed the “natural language” of religion and did not lend themselves to any substitution. His theological method was a characteristic example of an attempt to create, under the conditions of a crisis in religion, a theological system open to the influences of various trends in modern philosophy, psychology, and other fields. Tillich had a considerable impact on both Protestant and Catholic philosophy of the mid-20th century.


Gesammelte Werke, vol. 1–. Stuttgart, 1959–.
The Protestant Era. Chicago [1948].
The Courage to Be. New Haven, 1952.
Love, Power and Justice. New York, 1960.


Killen, R. A. The Ontological Theology of Paul Tillich. Kampen, 1956.
Hamilton, K. The System and the Gospel: A Critique of Paul Tillich. [New York] 1963.
Armbruster, C. J. The Vision of Paul Tillich. New York [1967].
Scabini, E. II Pensiero di P. Tillich. Milan [1967]. (Contains bibliography.)


References in periodicals archive ?
Dealing with Paul Tillich, chapter I attempts to identify three fundamental elements, or "notions," central to Tillich's systematic thought: (1) the phenomenological context of all cognition; (2) the unity of essential and existential being; and (3) the being of the ultimate is absolutely unconditioned (p.
assumes a univocal sense of "sacrament" and monological notion of "the Eucharist" (17) that hide from him the dialogical power of Protestant preaching, for example, by Karl Barth, Paul Tillich and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
In his volume on art and architecture, Paul Tillich (1886-1965) refers to the Isenheim Altarpiece "as the greatest German picture ever painted.
I also understood what theologians, such as Paul Tillich, mean when they speak of the potential in the arts for revealing the "infinite in the finite" and for opening up levels and understandings of reality not knowable other than through the arts and symbol.
Carter reveals that soon after he left the Navy he read books by Paul Tillich, Karl Barth, Reinhold Neibuhr and Hans Kung.
Mightily revising his doctoral dissertation in religious studies for Marquette University at an undetermined date, Buhrman helps contemporary American scholar of literature and religion Scott overcome the bias that his literary criticism is so reliant on theological doctrines, particularly those of Paul Tillich, that it cannot bear the weight of academic attention.
In nuanced and discriminating detail, he demonstrates that Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, John Coleman Bennett, and many other leading critics of liberalism from the 1930s to the 1950s nonetheless stood clearly in the liberal tradition in their view of the symbolic-mythic nature of much of Scripture (and how one is to understand its authority), in their theology, in their social ethics, and in their openness to the historical and natural sciences.
Chesterton, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Karl Rahner and Paul Tillich, to name a few.
provides personal evaluations about research possibilities at the Harvard and Marburg archives and an update on the work and continuing development of the North American Paul Tillich Society.
See Paul Tillich, The History of Christian Thought, ed.
It was of course Paul Tillich, who understood well the religious dimensions of art, literature, and philosophy and who remained committed to the life of the mind and spirit throughout his career as an intellectual preacher of the Christian Gospel and theologian of culture.
Erskine examines the major influences on King, including Paul Tillich and Karl Barth, and then looks to the missing element in King's vision, the acknowledgment of the rightful place of women.