The Imprint Of Tillich

Perspectives on 19th & 20th Century Protestant Theology, by Paul Tillich, edited by Carl E. Braaten (Harper & Row, 1967, 252 pp., $5.95); The Vision of Paul Tillich, by Carl J. Armbruster, S.J. (Sheed and Ward, 1967, 328 pp., $6.95), and The Fabric of Paul Tillich’s Theology, by David H. Kelsey (Yale University Press, 1967, 202 pp., $6), are reviewed by Gordon H. Clark, professor of philosophy, Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana.

The first of these three books was posthumously printed from tape recordings of the 1963 lectures at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Despite Tillich’s reputation for profundity or unintelligibility, these impressionistic remarks on two dozen philosophers (often too short for scholarly accuracy: two pages for Strauss and Baur, only two pages for Feuerbach) are easier reading than Karl Barth’s work on nineteenth-century theologians.

As a summary of impressionistic evaluation, the book contains caricature, distortion, and highly stimulating insights. Tillich makes clear the affinity between rationalism and mysticism; he partly explains the course of theology in America by the absence of Romanticism; he enthusiastically over-rates Schelling (in my impressionistic judgment), yet pages 141–152 are possibly the finest in the book.

Although there is none of his systematic theology here, one quickly sees that his view of faith and of the very nature of religion is far removed from Protestant orthodoxy. This latter he lampoons. He is guilty of falsification when he writes that American conservatives identify the King James Version with the true Word of God. Similarly he must plead ignorance or intellectual dishonesty, forty years after the publication of B. B. Warfield’s ...

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