Re: history and Tillich

Murphy (
Thu, 06 Mar 1997 19:45:15 -0500

James Peterson wrote:

> I am glad to hear that you are not a "Tillichean", and appreciate that you
> still want to be sure that he is treated accurately.
> Yes, as you know, Tillich did continue to refer to God as "the ground of
> being," but no longer to God in the way that Abraham, Issac, or Jacob would.
> That God does not exist for Tillich. For example from Tillich's Systematic
> Theology Volume 1 page 271: "God cannot become an object of knowledge or a
> partner in action.

My concern is not just that Tillich be treated accurately as a
matter of historical precision. With the clear defects of his
all-too-philosophical theology, we should bear in mind his warning that
God is not simply an antity in the world alongside other entities. &
the defects of Tillich's idea of God are in fact shared with many of the
traditional God concepts of theology with their "perfectly
simple", a-temporal & impassible character. These are as much "the God
of the philosophers" as Tillich's. Fortunately many theologians have
displayed a blessed inconsistency by letting the biblical picture of God
have more of an influence on their work than their philosophical
constructs allow. & IMO the same can be said of Tillich.

> When Tillich would preach, and he did, some might
> hear of the God of the historic Christian tradition, but that would be by
> God's grace, not Tillich's intent.
This isn't the impression one gets from his sermons - note my
last sentence above.
George Murphy