Paul Tillich is an impressive representative of German scholarship. He is a student of man in all his moods and in all his occupations, and he brings to this concentrated but wide-ranging study that rather typically human but especially Germanic desire to synthesize his findings and enclose within his intellectual grasp an explanation for the totality of things.

Like Hegel before him, Tillich grasps the world of man in an extraordinarily comprehensive way, but unlike his predecessor he is passionately concerned about the individual. The existential reaction to Hegel (especially Kierkegaard) has left its mark on Tillich. He is always trying to understand and explain the human situation and to spell out the urgently needed solution that revelation has disclosed and that philosophy interprets and confirms. Thus Tillich is concerned not only to understand but also to preach, to come to terms with what man needs to know within his heart in the midst of what it may be possible for him to know with his mind. This combination of learning and preaching, of the scholar and the pastor, gives Tillich’s work its dynamic and draws even from his critics words of high praise.

It is simply not possible to summarize the complex philosophical theology of Paul Tillich in a brief space. We must content ourselves here with drawing attention to some of the main features in the variegated landscape of his thought and offering some evaluation of these from the point of view of a more deliberately biblical theology. We shall examine in order what Tillich has to say about God, Christ, and man.

The God Who Is Known

Bishop John Robinson’s Honest to God, published in 1963, popularized some of Tillich’s views about God. Robinson dismissed ...

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