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 ?
(2) Paul Tillich, The Eternal Now (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963), 125.
(7) Paul Tillich, "The Protestant Principle," in The Essential Tillich: An Anthology of the Writings of Paul Tillich, ed.
Paul Tillich in conversation: Psychotherapy, religion, culture, history, psychology.
(23.) Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons), 43.
(2) Paul Tillich, "Existentialist Aspects of Modem Art," in Carl Michalson, ed., Christianity and the Existentialists, chap.
Paul Tillich wrote of God as "the ground of being"--the sine qua non of everything.
My favorite was Paul Tillich, who noted our language ably encompasses the two sides of being alone: "loneliness" expresses the pain and "solitude" the glory.
A Study of Paul Tillich's Interpretation of Modernity.
On one side of the debate, Soren Kierkegaard emphasized being authentic to your religious values and Paul Tillich (1952 pp155-190) emphasized that the holy is a 'God-Beyond-God'.
This conflict became the subject of his dissertation as it was played out in the theologies of Emmanuel Hirsch and Paul Tillich at the beginning of the Nazi era in Germany.