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Paul Tillich and His Theology - Book Report/Review Example

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Paul Tillich and His Theology

Despite the sometimes overwhelmingly abstract nature of Tillich's methodology, it had much stronger relation to the reality than many could imagine. Even brief analysis of the political and cultural contexts that surrounded Tillich during his life and career reveals how strongly those contexts affected his theological views.
Born on August 20, 1886 in a little village called Starzeddel, Germany, Paul was introduced to religion early in life. His father was a Lutheran minister and his mother was brought up as a more liberal Calvinist. Paul received his Ph.D. from Breslau in 1911 and was ordained as a Lutheran minister, like his father, in 1912 (Pauck & Pauck, 1976). The period from Tillich's birth to the First World War was the time when his theological system only started to develop. Born in the last quarter of the 19th century, Tillich spent his young years surrounded by the spirit and traditions of Romanticism, the dominant movement in the European culture of that period. The Romantic protest against the rationalization of nature, coupled with the stress on the emotional aspects of existence and, of course, confronting the sublimity of nature could not but affect the way Tillich perceived his relation to the surrounding world (Henderson, 1986).
Tillich's perception of the world was put to the severe test during the years of World War I. Tillich headed toward the front ".filled with nationalistic fervor and even enthusiasm over the opportunity to serve both God and country as a military chaplain" (Henderson 1986, p. 143). However, the realities of war almost immediately undermined Tillich's belief in "a nice God who would make everything turn out for the best" (Pauck & Pauck, 1976, p.40). One of his duties was to bury the dead and soon the young chaplain found himself spending more time digging graves than fulfilling his direct duties (Henderson, 1986). The essence of the impression produced on Tillich by those horrors of warfare is illustrated by the following phrase: "I have constantly the most immediate and very strong feeling that I am no longer alive. Therefore I don't take life seriously... not that I have childish fantasies of the death of the world, but rather that I am experiencing the actual death of this our time" (Pauck & Pauck, 1976, p.51). This statement perfectly conveys the sense of despair and disillusionment that seized the whole generation, including the young chaplain.
The realization that much of his classical philosophy was inadequate in the contemporary world, made Tillich revise many of his pre-war views. After the war, Tillich continued his academic progress at the University of Berlin where he spent five years from 1919 to 1924. Delivering lectures on the philosophy of religion, Tillich started to use the newly adopted views to develop his specific theology. In particular, the young scholar proposed the so-called 'theology of culture' which related religious problems to political and philosophic issues, art, psychology and social sciences.
Tillich's strive to bring together the fields of study that had not been related to each other by the orthodox theology earned him deserved popularity as a lecturer. However, the key feature of Tillich's theological studies was his desire to bring theology to everyday life: the scholar believed that in doing so he would ...Show more

Summary

Paul Tillich, the most prominent and prolific Protestant theologian and philosopher of the last century, played the key role in shaping the philosophy of Christian existentialism. A great master of abstraction, Tillich adopted a highly specific approach in his analysis of theological problems…
Author : maurine74
Paul Tillich and His Theology essay example
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