Tillich Course Syllabi
The primary aim of this course is read and understand
the theology of Paul Tillich. The course focuses on his
Systematic Theology (ST) but also covers
some other of his writings and some biographical
material. The secondary aim is to help students develop
their own theological ideas in detailed conversation
with Tillich’s, a purpose for which ST is
particularly well suited.
This course explores the main themes and
thrust of Paul Tillich’s theology, examines his
theological system, and critiques his ideas in relation
to the challenges that the church and society are facing
in our contemporary times. This course fulfills the
systems of thought requirement of the curriculum.
Objectives: at the end of the course the
students will be able to:
1. Grasp the main themes of Paul
2. Understand and articulate Tillich’s
theological method and theological system
3. Critique Tillich’s theological system
4. Evaluate Tillich’s ideas in light of our pressing
Paul Tillich is regarded as one of the
greatest theologians of the 20th century and a leading
advocate of an existential interpretation of Christian
theology. His work grew out of the crisis of protest
against Hitler in Germany that forced him to emigrate to
the United States where he developed his approach of
correlating the questions of human existence with the
enduring categories of Christian faith. This course
examines his views regarding life and the corresponding
reality of God, the New Being in Christ, life in the
Spirit, and the meaning of history and the Kingdom of
1. To examine the basic method and
structure of Tillich’s theological thinking.
2. To consider Tillich’s way of making
the Christian message relevant to the questions of human
3. To become familiar with Tillich’s
distinctive philosophical terminology for presenting the
4. To assess the effectiveness of
Tillich’s approach among other theological methods.
5. To explore Tillich’s thesis that
theology and ethics cannot be separated.
6. To see how Tillich applied his
systematic theology to ethical issues and preaching to a
diverse religious and secular audience.
7. To practice and test Tillich’s
theological approach on an issue chosen by each student.
This course is an introduction to the ideas of the Christian philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich. Emphases for this introduction will be focused upon being comfortable with the theological language of Tillich’s writings and contextualizing his ideas into ministerial contexts.
1. Intellectual: As a course focused upon a major thinker in the canon of the Christian intellectual tradition, this course will expand the student’s knowledge of this intellectual tradition in substantive ways, engaging philosophical and theological vocabularies.
2. Practical: The student will make explicit practical connections between the life of the mind and the life of ministerial practice, and will perform an act of fundamental practical theology indicative of the “praxis-theory-praxis” model.
3. Spiritual: By studying Tillich, a theologian whose ideas push its audience out of comfort zones of tradition, the student will be invited to reflect upon his or her own continuing faith formation.
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