In Part One of this survey of the theology of Tillich, the author examined what Tillich has to say about God in a section entitled “The God Who Is Known.” Now he turns to the topics of Christ and man.
The Christ Who Reveals
Tillich believes that revelation is necessary because “what is essentially hidden can only emerge from its concealment in an act of revelation, so that it is that for which there exists no way or device to break down its concealment. Everything that exists is on principle accessible to the cognitive consciousness; but when what is on principle inaccessible is manifested to the consciousness, this takes place in the act of revelation” (“Revelation and the Philosophy of Religion,” in Twentieth Century Theology in the Making, ed. J. Pelikan, Collins [Fontana], 1970, II, 49).
Further, according to Tillich, this revelation does not come about (as traditionally conceived) by God’s “breaking in” to mundane reality “from outside” in some miraculous way (especially an incarnation); rather, through and within the natural order we perceive the depth at the heart of all things.
Because revelation is “the manifestation of what concerns us ultimately”—that is, of the ground of our being—its apprehension can never be simply calmly rational. Tillich speaks, therefore, of “convulsion” and “reorientation” or, more simply, of “ecstasy”:
“Ecstasy” (“standing outside one’s self”) points to a state of mind which is extraordinary in the sense that the mind transcends its ordinary situation. Ecstasy is not a negation of reason; it is the state of mind in which reason is beyond ...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 63+ 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