The System and the Gospel: A Critique of Paul Tillich

The System and the Gospel: A Critique of Paul Tillich

The System and the Gospel: A Critique of Paul Tillich

The System and the Gospel: A Critique of Paul Tillich

Excerpt

PAUL TILLICH'S philosophical theology is one of the most spectacular features of the contemporary theological landscape. Its influence is felt everywhere, and it has been much expounded, defended, attacked and pronounced on. Philosophers as well as theologians have been intrigued by it. Yet, although the first volume of the Systematic Theology was published almost a dozen years ago, nearly all the critical writing on Tillich to date has been in essay form; and, if ever a theology called out for extended analysis, this one does. Recently, Father Tavard's full-length study of Tillich Christology, Paul Tillich and the Christian Message, has filled a gap -- its distinguished Roman Catholic author expressing surprise that no Protestant work has preceded his. There are many other gaps still to be filled. In what follows I have tried to take a part in this ongoing task. My aim is to give a general outline of Tillich's system from one particular angle, the angle of the relation of the system to historic Christianity. Thus, while I have a wide area to cover, what I hope to achieve is less a rounded exposition than a pointed critique.

Consequently, very much will be left unsaid in this study which otherwise would have been said, and said emphatically. Any comprehensive survey of Tillich's thought could not fail to dwell on the massive intellectual drive of his theology and the breadth of its scope, whereas I am occupied chiefly with probing in order to discover inadequacies. So it is not until my final chapter that I refer to the positive contribution which Tillich has made to present-day theology -- and even then my emphasis is upon what (in my opinion) we must reject rather than upon what we can gladly accept. Therefore the reader . . .

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