Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thoughts from today's personal reading...

While I usually can't stand am not a big fan of Paul Tillich, I found this to be an interesting statement:

"When fundamentalism is combined with an antitheological bias, as it is, for instance, in its biblicistic-evangelical form, the theological truth of yesterday is defended as an unchangeable message against the theological truth of today...It elevates something finite and transitory to infinite and eternal validity. In this respect, fundamentalism has demonic traits. It destroys the humble honesty of the search for truth, it splits the conscience of its thoughtful adherents, and it makes them fanatical because they are forced to suppess elements of truth of which they are dimly aware."

-Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology Volume I. Chicago: University Press, 1951.


Jennifer said...

this is quite nice! I'll need to ponder it further, for sure. Is the book in general good?

(I've been lurking for some time.. but happy to finally be coaxed out!)

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, the book is fantastic. One of my favorite things about Tillich (with whom I apparently have more sympathy than the new curate) is his equasion of Protestantism with the refusal to identify any finite thing with the infinite: ultimate concern. From his book, "The Protestant Era:"

"Protestantism has a principle that stands beyond all its realizations. It is the critical and dynamic source of all Protestant realizations, but it is not identical with any of them. It cannot be confined by a definition. It is not exhausted by any historical religion; it is not identical with the structure of the Reformation or of early Christianity or even with a religious form at all. It transcends them as it transcends any cultural form. On the other hand, it can appear in all of them; it is a living, moving, restless power in them; and this is what it is supposed to be in a special way in historical Protestantism. The Protestant principle, in name derived from the protest of the 'Protestants' against decisions of the Catholic majority, contains the divine and human protest against any absolute claim made for a relative reality, even if this claim is made by a Protestant church. The Protestant principle is the judge of every religious and cultural reality, including the religion and culture which calls itself 'Protestant.'"

Tillich got a little carried away in some ways, but in this respect I think he has something to say to all of us. He was aiming for Barth, but he hits American-style evangelicals in the process.

The Archer of the Forest said...

Perhaps I was a bit harsh. I am not certain if it is Tillich's substance so much as his style that I don't like. I find his tone pompous and inaccessible. In his defense, he does have some good things to say.

He's sort of like the anti-C.S. Lewis. Lewis could take a complex problem and simplify it down so much as to make it overly simplistic. Tillich is the opposite, he could take asimple subject and analyze it all out of proportion as to be of no practical use to anyone. I think that's what my issue with Tilllich is.