I saw the American courage to go ahead, to try, to risk failures, to begin again after defeat, to lead an experimental life both in knowledge and in action, to be open toward the future, to participate in the creative process of nature and history. I also saw the dangers of this courage, old ones and new ones, and I confess that some of the new ones have begun to give me serious concern. Finally, I saw the point at which elements of anxiety have entered this courage and at which the existential problems have made an inroad among the younger generation.… Although this fact constitutes one of the new dangers, it also means openness for the fundamental question of human existence: “What am I?” the question which theology and philosophy both try to answer.—From Paul Tillich’s autobiographical reflections recorded in The Library of Living Theology: The Theology of Paul Tillich, Kegley and Bretall, editors.
Paul Tillich’s death removed from the current theological scene a leading molder of twentieth-century thought who was beyond doubt the most influential author of a systematic theology fashioned in America in this generation. Many intellectuals sharing the modern revolt against the supernatural were attracted by Tillich’s probing of science (including depth psychology), his retention of a theoretical apologetic and role for metaphysics in a non-metaphysical era, his postulation of the Unconditioned God of the depths “beyond naturalism and supernaturalism,” his view of faith as the state of absolute concern, and his espousal of the courage of self-affirmation in the face of meaninglessness.
Much of the appeal of Tillich’s thought lay in his emphasis on the ultimate unity ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more