Reader's Guide to Tillich's Systematic Theology

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Reader's Guide Entry Page
Volume 1, Introduction
Volume 1, Part I: Reason and Revelation
Volume 1, Part II: Being and God
Volume 2, Part III: Existence and the Christ
Volume 3, Part IV: Life and the Spirit
Volume 3, Part V: History and the Kingdom of God

Volume I, Part II: Being and God

II.I: Being and the Question of God [163-210]

II.I.Introduction: The Question of Being [163-168]

II.I.A: The Basic Ontological Structure: Self and World [168-174]
  II.I.A.1: Man, Self, and World [168-171]
  II.I.A.2: The Logical and the Ontological Object [171-174]

II.I.B: The Ontological Elements [174-186]
  II.I.B.3: Individualization and Participation [174-178]
  II.I.B.4: Dynamics and Form [178-182]
  II.I.B.5: Freedom and Destiny [182-186]

II.I.C: Being and Finitude [186-204]
  II.I.C.6: Being and Nonbeing [186-189]
  II.I.C.7: The Finite and the Infinite [189-192]
  II.I.C.8: Finitude and the Categories [192-198]
  II.I.C.9: Finitude and the Ontological Elements [198-201]
  II.I.C.10: Essential and Existential Being [202-204]

II.I.D: Human Finitude and the Question of God [204-210]
  II.I.D.11: The Possibility of the Question of God and the So-Called Ontological Argument [204-208]
  II.I.D.12: The Necessity of the Question of God and the So-Called Cosmological Arguments [208-210]

II.II:_The_Reality_of_God_[211-289]

II.II.A: The Meaning of God [211-235]
  II.II.A.1: A Phenomenological Description [211-218]
    II.II.A.1.a): God and Man’s Ultimate Concern [211-215]
    II.II.A.1.b): God and the Idea of the Holy [215-218]
  II.II.A.2: Typological Considerations [218-235]
    II.II.A.2.a): Typology and the History of Religion [218-222]
    II.II.A.2.b): Types of Polytheism [222-225]
    II.II.A.2.c): Types of Monotheism [225-230]
    II.II.A.2.d): Philosophical Transformations [230-235]

II.II.B: The Actuality of God [235-289]
  II.II.B.3: God as Being [235-241]
    II.II.B.3.a): God as Being and Finite Being [235-238]
    II.II.B.3.b): God as Being and the Knowledge of God [238-241]
  II.II.B.4: God as Living [241-252]
    II.II.B.4.a): God as Being and God as Living [241-244]
    II.II.B.4.b): The Divine Life and the Ontological Elements [244-249]
    II.II.B.4.c): God as Spirit and the Trinitarian Principles [249-252]
  II.II.B.5: God as Creating [252-270]
    II.II.B.5.Introduction: Creation and Finitude [252-253]
    II.II.B.5.a): God’s Originating Creativity [253-261]
      II.II.B.5.a).(1): Creation and Nonbeing [253-254]
      II.II.B.5.a).(2): Creation, Essence, and Existence [254-256]
      II.II.B.5.a).(3): Creation and the Categories [256-258]
      II.II.B.5.a).(4): The Creature [258-261]
    II.II.B.5.b): God’s Sustaining Creativity_[261-263]
    II.II.B.5.c): God’s Directing Creativity_[263-270]
      II.II.B.5.c).(1): Creation and Purpose [263-264]
      II.II.B.5.c).(2): Fate and Providence [264-266]
      II.II.B.5.c).(3): The Meaning of Providence [266-267]
      II.II.B.5.c).(4): Individual and Historical Providence [267-269]
      II.II.B.5.c).(5): Theodicy [269-270]
  II.II.B.6: God as Related [271-289]
    II.II.B.6.a): The Divine Holiness and the Creature [271-272]
    II.II.B.6.b): The Divine Power and the Creature [272-279]
      II.II.B.6.b).(1):_The_Meaning_of_Omnipotence_[272-274]
      II.II.B.6.b).(2): The Meaning of Eternity [274-276]
      II.II.B.6.b).(3): The Meaning of Omnipresence [276-278]
      II.II.B.6.b).(4): The Meaning of Omniscience [278-279]
    II.II.B.6.c): The Divine Love and the Creature [279-286]
      II.II.B.6.c).(1): The Meaning of Divine Love [279-282]
      II.II.B.6.c).(2): The Divine Love and the Divine Justice [282-285]
      II.II.B.6.c).(3): The Divine Love as Grace and Predestination [285-286]
    II.II.B.6.d): God as Lord and as Father [286-289]

II.I: Being and the Question of God [163-210]

II.I.Introduction: The Question of Being [163-168]

Summary:

[163] The focus of Part II is the correlation of being and God. This leads to two key questions: the question of being and the question of God. The question of God is the most basic theological question. The question of being is the ontological question, and is the most basic philosophical question. God is the answer to the ontological question. The ontological question asks ‘What is being itself?’, as a result of a “‘metaphysical shock’”, or the threat of nonbeing. Thought must presuppose being (i.e., nothing can be thought without presupposing being). [163-164] However, thought can conceptualize the negation of being, and think of the “nature and structure of being which gives everything the power of resisting nonbeing.” [164] The ontological question is the “ultimate question”, and it is an existential question, so powerful that it drowns out all determinateness. This poses a problem: How is an answer to the ontological question possible? An answer is possible by appealing to concepts which are “Less universal than being but … more universal than any concept designating a realm of beings.” Ontology is not theology, but theology can benefit from the use of ontological concepts. Ontological concepts are divided into four levels: (1) the ontological structure implied in the ontological question, (2) the elements of this structure, (3) the characteristics of being (i.e., the conditions of existence), and (4), the categories of being and knowing. These four levels will be used in all parts of this Systematic Theology, but are now briefly augmented. Because the ontological question presupposes a subject asking about an object, or a self asking about a world, “The self-world structure” is the most “Basic articulation of being”. This is level one. [165] Three primary polarities, or elements, comprise level one (the ontological structure), and these elements are analyzed under level two. These are individuality and universality, dynamics and form, and freedom and destiny. Each polarity expresses the self-relatedness of being with its first element, and the belongingness of being with its second. The third level “Expresses the power of being to exist” and distinguishes the duality of essential and existential being. The unity freedom and finitude, or finite freedom, is the basis of existence, and the “Turning point from being to existence.” Therefore the third level analyses the polarity of finitude and infinity and its relation to the polarities of freedom and destiny, being and nonbeing, and essence and existence. [165-166] Level four discusses four primary categories: time, space, causality, and substance. [166] These are categories which are theologically significant for the primary task of this section, which is to “Develop the question of God as the question implied in being”. The concept of Finitude will now be the focus of this section, because “It is the finitude of being which drives us to the question of God.” The nature and structure of experience is determined by a priori ontological concepts. They are prior to experience, and no experience is without them. [167] Experience always presupposes a structure within which experience can occur. This position is compatible with process philosophy. Further, it answers historical relativism by offering an ontology that is not purely static. Rather, “Ontology and theology establish a relatively but not absolutely static a priori, overcoming the alternatives of absolutism and relativism which threaten to destroy both of them.”  

Definitions:

  • The Ontological Question: The “Question implied in being”, or the “Question of being itself. … What is that which is not a special being or a group of beings, not something concrete or something abstract, but rather something which is always thought implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, if something is said to be?” [163]
  • Ontology: The most basic task of philosophy is to investigate “The character of everything that is in so far as it is.” This is “‘first philosophy,’” or, “‘metaphysics’”. [163]
  • Metaphysical Shock: “The shock of possible nonbeing”, “Expressed in the question, ‘Why is there something; why not nothing?’” [163]
  • Concepts, Principles, Categories, Ultimate Notions: These are used by Tillich to address the ontological question; and they are useful because they are “Less universal than being but … more universal than any concept designating a realm of beings.” [164]
  • Polarities: “Pairs of elements” which “Constitute the basic structure of being”. The three primary polarities are “Individuality and universality, dynamics and form, freedom and destiny. The first element expresses the “Self-relatedness of being, its power of being something for itself, while the second element expresses the belongingness of being, its character of being a part of a universe of being.” [165]
  • Categories: “The basic forms of thought and being. They participate in the nature of finitude and can be called structures of finite being and thinking.” [165]
  • Verum, Bonum: “The true and the good.” [166]
  • Esse, Unum: “Being and oneness.” [166]
  • The Concept of Finitude: “It is the finitude of being which drives us to the question of God.” [166]
  • A priori: Ontological concepts are always a priori. “They determine the nature of experience. They are present whenever something is experienced. A priori does not mean that ontological concepts are known prior to experience. … On the contrary, they are products of a critical analysis of experience. … They constitute the very structure of experience itself.” [166]
  • Historical Relativism: A philosophy “Which denies the possibility of an ontological or a theological doctrine of man by arguing as follows: since man’s nature changes in the historical process, nothing ontologically definite or theologically relevant can be affirmed with regard to it; and since the doctrine of man … is the main entrance for ontology and the main point of reference for theology, neither ontology nor theology is really possible.” [167] 

Questions:

  • What is the most basic theological question?
  • What is the ontological question? Why does the ontological question involve a “Metaphysical shock”?
  • What is the answer to the ontological question?
  • Thought must presuppose being. Why?
  • The basic ontological structure consists of four pairs of elements, or polarities. What are these, and how do they function to provide an articulation of the second level of ontological concepts?
  • The movement from essential to existential being occurs within finite freedom. Thus freedom united with finitude is the basis of existence. Do you agree with this position? Why or why not?  
  • Why are ontological concepts a priori? What does a priori mean?
  • How does Tillich’s ontology and theology resolve the criticism of historical relativism?

II.I.A: The Basic Ontological Structure: Self and World [168-174]

II.I.A.1: Man, Self, and World [168-171]

Summary:

[168] Though all beings participate in the same structure of being, only human beings have the ability to contemplate this structure. This leaves man with a feeling of estrangement, or alienation, from the world. Hence, though we can observe and describe nature (i.e. animal behavior), we can do so only by analogy. This is a “Limitation of our cognitive function.” As a result, in efforts to describe the world, man resolves to poetry, Cartesianism, or ontology. In other words, man either gives up on the ability to overcome his cognitive limitation and poetizes, describes the world as a machine with many parts, or understands himself in an ontological sense as “That being in whom all the levels of being are united and approachable.” Of these, the third (ontology) is the strongest possibility. [168-169] This is so because man is the being with self awareness; and the only being that “Experiences directly and immediately the structure of being and its elements.” [169] However, man is the most difficult being to understand. Man not only thinks on, lives in, acts through, and is confronted with the structures which make cognition possible, “They are he himself.” Therefore, the self, freedom, and finitude are not objects among objects. These are ontological concepts used to articulate a description of being. They make the subject-object structure possible, but are not “controlled by it.” The fact that humanity experiences a self and a world, creates a dialectical relationship. This dialectical relationship is the basis for the ontological structure. All experience implies self-relatedness selfhood or self-centeredness, even in animals and atoms. However, humans, because of self-consciousness, have the highest level of self-consciousness (ego-self). [170] A self is both distinguished from, and part of the environment within which it lives. Every self both has and belongs to its environment. Like self, humanity is both distinguished from and part of its environment. Though humans are able to transcend the world through self-consciousness. Further, humans can grasp and shape the world through universal norms and ideas, using language. [171] A human can think of him or herself as a part of the universe, thereby encountering him or herself. The most basic ontological structure from which all other structures derive is the ego-self and world structure. This is so because they are interdependent poles; “Both sides of the polarity are lost if either side is lost.” The union of these two poles, or the self-world correlation, is the resolution to some of the problems of philosophy (such as subjective idealism, objective realism, and Cartesianism).    

Definitions:

  • Cartesians: Persons who hold the philosophical perspective which began with Rene Descartes. Here described as the perspective that the world has been transformed “Aside from the knowing subject, into a vast machine of which all living beings, including man’s body, are mere parts (Cartesians).” [168]
  • Sein und Zeit: “Being and Time”. [168] This work was written by philosopher Martin Heidegger.
  • Dasein: “(‘Being there’) the place where the structure of being is manifest. But ‘Dasein’ is given to man within himself.” [168-169]
  • Self-Relatedness: “Self-relatedness is implied in every experience. There is something that ‘has’ and something that is ‘had,’ and the two are one.” [169]
  •  Self: “A self is not a thing that may or may not exist; it is an original phenomenon which logically precedes all questions of existence. The term ‘self’ is more embracing than the term ‘ego’. It includes the subconscious and the unconscious ‘basis’ of the self-conscious ego as well as the self-conscious (cogitation in the Cartesian sense).” [169]
  • Selfhood or Self-centeredness: “Selfhood or self-centeredness must be attributed in some measure to all living beings … One can speak of self-centeredness in atoms as well as in animals, wherever the reaction to a stimulus is dependent on a structural whole.” [169]
  • Ego-Self: Within self-consciousness, man “‘Possesses himself’”, or “‘Has an ego-self’”. [170]
  • World, Kosmos, Universum: “‘World’ is not the sum total of all beings- an inconceivable concept. As the Greek kosmos and the Latin universum indicate, ‘world’ is a structure or a unity of manifoldness … The world is the structural whole which includes and transcends all environments, not only those of beings which lack a fully developed self, but also the environments in which man partially lives.” [170]
  • Language: “Language, as the power of universals, is the basic expression of man’s transcending his environment, of having a world.” [170]

Questions:

  • Why is humanity the only being able to answer the ontological question?
  • Human beings are the only beings with self-consciousness. Does this make humans easier to describe than other beings?
  • Human beings are the only beings that can transcend, grasp and shape the world. Why is this so? Do you agree that this is so? Why or why not?

II.I.A.2: The Logical and the Ontological Object [171-174]

Summary:

[171] This section will discuss the relation between the self-world polarity and the subject-object structure of reason, focusing on the way in which objective reason and subjective reason correspond to one another. The self is a centered structure, and the world is a structured whole, because of reason. [172] Reason functions subjectively in the mind, and sees the world as an objective reality. Thinking about God can be problematic. Because thinking about God is logical/religious objectification, we pull God down into the structure of being. This is blasphemy, because God is neither in the world nor under the conditions of existence. God is the ground of being, but not “one being among others.” Logical objectification is shown in three ways: Prophetic religion makes God a subject who has self-knowledge. Mysticism tries to erase the subject-object distinction in an ecstatic union of the two. [173] When God is understood as a conditioned thing. The structure of reality is neither derived from objective things, nor from subjective being. Ontology must maintain the self-world polarity within which all things and persons participate (in varying degrees). Subjectivity and objectivity are always in polar relation. [173-174] The “Trick reductive naturalism” occurs when the subjective self should is surrendered to the objective thing; the consequences of which are shown in naturalism and industrial society, provoking the response of existentialism, which wants to maintain the essential subjectivity of humanity. [174] The “Trick of deductive idealism” sacrifices the objective thing to the subjective self. Both tricks can be avoided with “An ontology which begins with the self-world structure of being and the subject-object structure of reason” wherein the subject-object relation is one of polarity. The question “What precedes the duality of self and world, of subject and object?”, cannot be answered by reason. “Only revelation can answer this question.”        

Definitions:

  • Objective Reason: “We have described the world as a structured whole, and we have called its structure ‘objective reason.’” [171]
  • Subjective Reason: “We have described the self as a structure of centeredness, and we have called this structure ‘subjective reason.’” [171]
  • Logos of Being: (Greek) Reason of Being. This context is using “Logos of being” in relation to the organizing function that reason plays in structuring the self and the world, within the mind. Without reason “Being would be chaos, that is, it would not be being but only the possibility of it (me on)”. [172]
  • Me On: Only the possibility of being. Without reason, being would not be actual being, but only possible being, or me on. [172]
  • Subject/Subjective: “Originally subjective meant which has independent being, a hypostasis of its own.” [172]
  • Object/Objective: ‘Objective’ used to mean “That which is in the mind as its content. Today, especially under the influence of the great British empiricists, that which is real is said to have objective being, while that which his in the mind is said to have subjective being.” [172]
  • Logical/Religious Objectification: “In the cognitive realm everything toward which the cognitive act is directed is considered an object … In the logical sense everything about which a predication is made is, by this very fact, an object. The theologian cannot escape making God an object in the logical sense of the word, just as the lover cannot escape making the beloved an object of knowledge and action.” This process is objectification. [172]
  • Mind: “The function of the self in which it actualizes its rational structure is the mind, the bearer of subjective reason.” [172]
  • Ding: (German) An object deprived of its subjective elements. “An object and nothing but an object.” [173]
  • Bedingt: (German) “‘Conditioned’”. [173]
  • Thing: The term ‘thing’ is most adequately applied to [an object such as a mechanical] tool”. [173]  

Questions:

  • Logical/Religious objectification points to the fact that to speak about anything, even God, is to objectify, or make an object of, what is spoken. Why then is speaking of God so problematic?
  • Is the basic ontological structure of being derived from an objective world, a subjective self, or both together? How does Tillich articulate this derivation?
  • How can the question “What precedes the duality of self and world, of subject and object?” be answered?

Changes in German:

  • [173]+4: making [+something] an object

II.I.B: The Ontological Elements [174-186]

II.I.B.3: Individualization and Participation [174-178]

Summary:

[174] The contrast between universal ideas and particular individuals, and how that contrast should best be articulated, begins this section. Examples from philosophy and from the biblical creation story are given, to show that in speaking of difference and individuals, universals and ideas are always implied. [174-175] Individualization is best understood as an ontological element or quality with which all things and all beings are constituted. [175] A being has selfhood, self-centeredness, or individualization. These terms imply the indivisibility of a being. However, there is a difference between human and nonhuman beings, in relation to the way in which the individuality of each becomes significant. Humans are both self-centered and completely individualized. Nonhumans are significant only in so far as they participate in human life. “Man is different.” Humans are significant as individuals, and participate in humanity. Legal systems and political structures presupposes both individuality and responsibility for every human being, though some legal systems err by denying full individualization (and denying full participation) to slaves, women, and children. [176] Individuality and participation are interdependent. Individual nonhumans are microcosmic, participating in the environment or natural structure within which they exist, and the latter participates in the former. For example, an individual leaf participates in its forest and the structure of the forest participates in (conditions) the leaf. Humanity, however, is a microcosmos, participating in the universe through “the rational structure of mind and reality”. Human participation in the universe is limited in actuality, but unlimited in potentiality, and human language proves that humans are universal. The perfect form of individualization is personhood, and the perfect form of participation is the communion of persons. All persons exist in participation within the community of other persons. If there were no communion of persons, there would be no persons. [176-177] This involves resistance, which serves to give identity to each individual person through the resistance of other persons (in community). In other words, just as there can be no darkness without light, a person has identity as a person only because there are other persons he or she is not. This introduces the concept of participation. [177] A person, when met with the resistance of other persons, is forced to participate in the communion of persons (the only alternative would be to destroy the other persons). The concept of participation relates not only to persons, but is extended to many functions; and is, in polarity with individualization, the basis of “the category of relation as a basic ontological element”. Relation is dependent on individualization and participation, and participation “guarantees the unity of a disrupted world and makes a universal system of relations possible.” Thus individualization and participation are two poles, connected by the relation of individual to communal participation. [177-178] By providing a balanced and integrated view of these two poles, the polarity of individualization and participation is a corrective for both nominalism and realism.   

Definitions:

  • Individualization: “Individualization is not a characteristic of a special sphere of beings; it is an ontological element and therefore a quality of everything. It is implied in and constitutive of every self, which means that at least in an analogous way it is implied in and constitutive of every being.” [174-175]
  • Telos: (Greek) “The inner aim, of the process of actualization.” [174]
  • Ideas: In Neo-Platonism, ideas are “eternal archetypes”. [174]
  • Individual: “The very term ‘individual’ points to the interdependence of self-relatedness and individualization.”
  • Person: “The original meaning of the word ‘person’ (persona, prosopon) points to the actor’s mask which makes him a definite character”; The “perfect form” of individualization. [175,176]
  • Communion: “Communion is participation in another completely centered and completely individual self.” [176]
  • Concept of Participation: The concept of participation involves the participation of each individual person participating in community with other persons, and is extended to “Many functions. A symbol participates in the reality it symbolizes; the knower participates in the known; the lover participates in the beloved; the existent participates in the essences which make it what it is, under the condition of existence; the individual participates in the destiny of separation and guilt, the Christian participates in the New Being as it is manifest in Jesus the Christ.” [177]
  • Nominalism: “According to nominalism, only the individual has ontological reality; universals are verbal   signs which point to similarities between individual things. Knowledge, therefore, is not participation. It is an external act of grasping and controlling things. Controlling knowledge is the epistemological expression of nominalistic ontology; empiricism and positivism are its logical consequences.” [177]
  • Realism: “[Realism] indicates that the universals, the essential structures of things, are the really real in them.” [178]
  • Mystical Realism: “‘Mystical Realism’ emphasizes participation over against individualization, the participation of the individual in the universal and the participation of the knower in the known.” [178]

Questions:

  • Human beings are both completely centered and completely individualized. In what way does this differ from non human beings?
  • How do non human beings become significant?
  • What is meant by the statement that “Man alone is a microcosmos?
  • How does humanity participate in the universe (the universe also participating in man)?
  • What is the polarity of individualization and participation? How does Tillich employ this polarity?

II.I.B.4: Dynamics and Form [178-182]

Summary:

[178] The polarity of form and dynamics has two elements. The first is Form. Being, comprised of both its essence and its logical structure, is a unification of content and form. Further, the logical structure of being allows reason to grasp and shape beings, thus grasping and shaping forms. The polarity of individualization and participation distinguishes special from general forms. The polarity of dynamics and form does not; because “in actual being these are never separated.” The actualization of being can only occur in a form. Thus no being is without form, and no form is without being. It is a mistake to speak of form and content as separate parts of a being. The treehood of a tree, for example, is a unity of form and content. A tree is a tree because it has the form of treehood. And treehood is the content of the form of a tree. There are cultural problems with the separation of form and content.  One can separate form and material (as did Aristotle), but when one separates form and content, problems such as formalism arise. [178-179] An example of this problem is found in cultural creations, as when an artist loses the spiritual substance of that which is portrayed, by superimposing a form which is an inauthentic expression of his or her experience (unified and in conflict with his or her period). [179] The second element in the polarity of dynamics and form, is Dynamics. Dynamics are not being, but rather the potentiality of being. Dynamics function as symbols, pointing to “that which cannot be named”. Philosophers have attempted to discuss the concept of dynamics in various ways, all of which are not non literal, and analogical. [180] The divine life of God, as well as the experience of humanity, need to be understood within the polarity of dynamics and form. The human experience, for example, involves the “polar structure of vitality and intentionality”. Humans are unique, in that the human being’s “dynamics reaches out beyond [his or her] nature”. Human intentionality and vitality are in contrast to and conditioned by one another. Under the polarity of form and dynamics, intentionality is the subjective form related to and interdependent with the objective dynamics of vitality. [181] Three examples are given: the tendency of a being to transcend itself and create new forms while conditioned by the conservation of its own form within which its self-transcendence is attempted, the unity of identity and difference, rest and movement, conservation and change, and being and becoming (process philosophy). The polarity of self-transcendence and self-conservation in the growth of an individual is a clear example of the interdependence of these two poles; they must be kept in balance. Because of self-conservation, humans alone can transcend both nature and themselves. This is done via the creativity (the creativity of grasping and shaping reason) with which a person interacts with the world. [182] Humans using nature “create technical forms which transcend nature”, thereby transforming themselves. However, the biological element of humanity cannot be trespassed.

Definitions:

  • Essentia: The “definite power of being” of a thing; the unity of form and content which is a things essence, or essential.
  • Formalism: The superimposition of form to the detriment of content. [178-179]
  • Dynamics: That which is formed by any form. “Dynamics, therefore, cannot be thought as something that is; nor can it be thought as something that is not. It is the me on, the potentiality of being, which is nonbeing in contrast to things that have form, and the power of being in contrast to pure nonbeing.” [179]
  • Actus Purus: A doctrine of God, combating the notion of God as static, with God as a living God. [180]
  • Vitality: “The power which keeps a living being alive and growing … Dynamics reaches out beyond nature only in man. This is his vitality, and therefore man alone has vitality in the full sense of the word.” [180]
  • Elan Vital: “The creative drive of the living substance in everything that lives toward new forms”; “The universal tendency toward self-transcendence.” [180,181]
  • Form: “On the human level form is the rational structure of subjective reason actualized in a life process.” [180]
  • Intentionality: “Being related to meaningful structures, living in universals, grasping and shaping reality” [180].
  • Telos: “The inner aim” of a being. [181]
  • Process Philosophy: Developed by Whitehead in “Process and Reality”, is the view that all actual occasions (i.e. all things) are in process, or are growing.

Questions:

  • Why is the attempt to separate form and content problematic? Tillich claims that the two cannot be separated. How does he show this? Do you agree? Why or why not?
  • The term dynamics relates to the potentiality of being. What is meant by this?
  • Humans are unique beings because they can transcend both their form (nature), and themselves. How does this relate to the polarity of form and dynamics? In other words, what is the element of dynamics in a human which enables transcendence?

II.I.B.5: Freedom and Destiny [182-186]

Summary:

[182] Freedom and destiny is the third ontological polarity under discussion. This polarity marks the turning point and fulfillment of the description of the “basic ontological structure and its elements”. Further, this polarity is the structural element which makes possible both the transcendence of being (without destroying its essence), and an apprehension of revelation. [182-183] The human being contains freedom within itself (its structure as a human), and is confronted with destiny as interacting with a world. [183] The polarity of freedom and destiny precedes determinism and indeterminism as an ontological structure. This is so because a person is not a ‘thing’ with or without a will; a ‘thing’ is a nonhuman entity. A human is a fully developed whole self with freedom and reason. [184] Therefore it is a mistake to attempt assessing determinacy to isolated parts of the whole, but one can assess the determinacy of the parts by the whole. A human stands above arguments and motives, sifts through them, and reacts with a decision, cutting off or excluding certain possibilities, and is responsible to answer for his or her decisions. A person is responsible for the process of deliberation and decision, because a person has the freedom, as a centered self, which is “the seat and organ of his freedom”. Our decisions arise out of our destiny. [185] Our personhood, in its entirety, (not an isolated ‘will’) makes decisions which are related to former decisions and the nature and history which have formed us: “My destiny is the basis of my freedom; my freedom participates in shaping my destiny.” Freedom and destiny are poles which are interdependent upon, and affect, one another. God does not have destiny because “[God] is freedom.” Destiny is not the opposite of freedom. Because of its eschatological connotation, destiny is in correlation with, not in opposition to, freedom. Destiny encapsulates the conditions and limits of freedom. Only human beings are “free in the sense of deliberation, decision, and responsibility”. Analogically, the polarity of spontaneity and law can be compared to the polarity of freedom and destiny. Just as freedom and destiny, so also are spontaneity and law, interdependent. [186] Natural law, for example, is a concept applied to nature by humanity, and points to structural determinateness. But nature has no freedom either to obey or disobey ‘laws’. “In nature spontaneity is united with law in the way freedom is united with destiny in man.” Every being is conditioned by the law of its self-centered structure and of the structure within which it exists; but its spontaneity is not destroyed by these structures. “Therefore, the polarity of freedom and destiny is valid for everything that is.”

Definitions:

  • Freedom: “Freedom is not the freedom of a function (the ‘will’) but of man, that is, of that being who is not a thing but a complete self and a rational person”; “Freedom is experienced as deliberation, decision, and responsibility”; “The seat and organ of [a person’s] freedom” is the centered self each person is.  [183,184]
  • Deliberation: “Deliberation points to an act of weighing (librare) arguments and motives.” [184]
  • Decision: “The self-centered person does the weighing [the weighing of arguments and motives] and reacts as a whole, through his personal center, to the struggle of the motives. This reaction is called ‘decision’. The word ‘decision’, like the word ‘incision’, involves the image of cutting. A decision cuts off possibilities... .” [184]
  • Responsibility: “The word ‘responsibility’ points to the obligation of the person who has freedom to respond if he is questioned about his decisions. He cannot ask anyone else to answer for him. He alone must respond, for his acts are determined neither by something outside him nor by any part of him but the centered totality of his being.” [184]
  • Destiny: “Our destiny is that out of which our decisions arise; it is the indefinitely broad basis of our centered selfhood; it is the concreteness of our being which makes all our decisions our decisions”; “My destiny is the basis of my freedom; my freedom participates in shaping my destiny.” [184,185]
  • Fatum/Schicksal/Fate: These terms relate to the eschatological implications of the term destiny. “Fatum (‘that which is foreseen’) or Schicksal (‘that which is sent’), and their English correlate ‘fate,’ designate a simple contradiction to freedom rather than a polar correlation…” [185]
  • Spontaneity: “An act which originates in the acting self is spontaneous.” [185]
  • Law: This term “Is derived from the social sphere and designates an enforceable rule by which a social group is ordered and controlled.” [185-186]
  • Gestalten: A German term, denoting form. [185-186]
  • Laws of Nature: “The laws of nature are laws for self-centered units with spontaneous reactions.” [186]

Questions:

  • In his critique of determinacy and indeterminacy, Tillich argues for the polarity of freedom and necessity as a better way to articulate human freedom. One of the problems with the former position is that it attempts to define the will of a person as “a thing among other things”. How does Tillich show this to be problematic. In other words, why is a human being not a thing?
  • Why cannot the isolated parts of a person ‘determine’ the whole of a person, yet the whole can determine the isolated parts?
  • Why is a person responsible for the decisions he or she makes?
  • How is destiny related to freedom?
  • Humans are the only beings free in terms of deliberation, decision, and responsibility. Why?
  • How does Tillich relate the polarity of spontaneity and law in nature to that of freedom and destiny in humanity? Why is the polarity of freedom and destiny “valid for everything that is”?

Changes in German:

  • [185]+14: [-Fatum…means to be free.] (these 9 lines are dropped in the German, apparently partly because it is explaining the fine sense of German words to English readers and so is simply not necessary in the German version)

II.I.C: Being and Finitude [186-204]

II.I.C.6: Being and Nonbeing [186-189]

Summary:

[186] The threat, or the metaphysical shock of nonbeing (not being or being not), leads to the question of being. Only the human being can transcend a given reality; thus only humans can ask the ontological question. This question, which involves the mystery of being and its negation, has a long history. Parmenides wrestled with this question, pointing out the logical contradiction in trying to speak of nonbeing: to speak of nonbeing gives it being. [187] Philosophers have tried to avoid the question of nonbeing with both logical and ontological arguments. The former by asserting that “nonbeing is a negative judgment devoid of ontological significance”; the latter confirmed by the former. Because human beings are structurally able to transcend a given reality and fall into error, humanity embodies and participates in both being and nonbeing together. The mystery of nonbeing has a dialectical character. To speak of being and nothingness is: to lose nonbeing (each element logically functioning as a being), and to lose the world (to speak of nothing is to lose the world). Therefore the question of nonbeing is an ontological question with a dialectical character. For “there can be no world unless there is a dialectical participation of being and nonbeing”. [188] Greek terminology offers a helpful way of articulating the dialectical character of nonbeing. The Platonic notion of Me ontic matter is rejected and replaced by the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. In this account, God matter is not created out of God (non me ontic), matter is created out of nothing at all, not even the possibility of being was present. Nonbeing has a dialectical character, also in the doctrine of the creatureliness of humanity; wherein the return into the nothingness from which humanity was created necessitates the “doctrine of eternal life given by God as the power of being-itself.” Last, the doctrine of God is another area of difficulty with regard to the problem of nonbeing. [188-189] For affirmative theology the living God is “the ground of the creative processes of life”. [189] The threat of death, meaninglessness, and nothingness have surfaced in existentialism. The dialectical problem of nonbeing cannot be avoided. But it can be met with courage. The problem of nonbeing is the problem of human finitude.   

Definitions:

  • Shock of Nonbeing: A shock or threat that can only be experienced by a human, when the ontological question is asked. [186-187]
  • The Ontological Question: The question of why there is being instead of nonbeing, or, ‘Why is there something instead of nothing’? [186-187]
  • Me On: (Greek) “Me on is the ‘nothing’ which has a dialectical relation to being.” [188]
  • Ouk On: (Greek) “Ouk on is the ‘nothing’ which has no relation at all to being.” [188]
  • Creatio Ex Nihilo: (Latin) Created out of nothing.

Questions:

  • Only humans can ask the ontological question- the question of being. Why?
  • Why is the question of nonbeing an ontological question? Why does Tillich think that humans participate in being and nonbeing?
  • Tillich concludes that “The very structure which makes negative judgments possible proves the ontological character of nonbeing.” What does this mean?
  • Can the problem of nonbeing be avoided? How does Tillich resolve to address the problem?

II.I.C.7: The Finite and the Infinite [189-192]

Summary:

[189] Being is limited by nonbeing. This is finitude. The power of being or being itself, however, does not fall under any limitation, because being itself is not a ‘thing’. Being itself is the power of being. [190] To be a being is to be finite; which includes “selfhood, individuality, dynamics, and freedom [which] all include manifoldness, definiteness, differentiation, and limitation.” All of these elements point to finiteness. Self-transcendence is experienced on the human level, and involves, simultaneously, “a decrease and increase in the power of being.” Thinking of finitude, one must imagine infinity; thinking of death means looking beyond one’s finiteness; and thinking of human limitations means imagining the unlimited. The relation of infinity and finitude is different than that of the other polarities. The infinite is a result of the free self-transcendence of finite being, and directs the mind towards unlimited potentiality, but does not make one an infinite being. The finite and infinite character of the world is an “antinomy”, or paradox; and infinity is, though not a thing, that through which space and time (which are not ‘things’) can be transcended. [190-191] Though the human mind can transcend space and time, the human remains a finite being. [191] Through self-transcendence, the human being can reach out beyond nonbeing, to being itself. This means that for the human being, there is a potential for the “presence of the infinite”. This potential negates human finitude, and acts as the relation between being and being-itself. Anxiety is caused by the awareness of finitude. Anxiety is “an ontological quality” because it is the result of the ontological state of human finitude. Thus one does not need an object to direct one’s anxiety toward. The fact that a person is finite (the threat of nonbeing) is all that anxiety depends on. Anxiety cannot be conquered by a finite being, because as long as one is finite (and aware of one’s finitude), one will experience anxiety. To conquer anxiety would be to conquer finitude. Anxiety is not fear. Fear needs an object and is psychological; anxiety needs no object and is ontological. [191-192] Because anxiety comes from the by the inside (instead of outside objects) of a person, anxiety is ontological: “Anxiety is the self-awareness of the finite self as finite.” [192] Anxiety is revelatory, in that it reveals finitude. A discussion of inner and outer finitude, and its relation to anxious awareness, will follow.

Definitions:

  • Finitude: “Being, limited by nonbeing, is finitude.” [189]
  • Nonbeing: “Nonbeing appears as the ‘not yet’ of being and as the ‘no more’ of being.” [189]
  • Finis: “That which is with a definite end.” [189]
  • Infinity: “It [infinity] is defined by the dynamic and free self-transcendence of finite being. Infinity is a directing concept, not a constituting concept. It directs the mind to experience its own unlimited potentialities, but it does not establish the existence of an infinite being ... ” [190]
  • Infinitude: “Infinitude is finitude transcending itself without any a priori limit.” [191]
  • The Power of Infinite Self-Transcendence: This is Tillich’s dialectical resolution of the polarity finitude and infinity; “The power of infinite self-transcendence is an expression of man’s belonging to that which is beyond nonbeing, namely, to being-itself. The potential presence of the infinite (as unlimited self-transcendence) is the negation of the negative element in finitude. It is the negation of nonbeing.” [191]
  • Being-Itself: “Being-itself is not infinity; it is that which lies beyond the polarity of finitude and infinite self-transcendence. Being-itself manifests itself to finite being in the infinite drive of the finite beyond itself. But being-itself cannot be identified with infinity, that is, with the negation of the finite.” [191]
  • Anxiety: “Finitude is awareness of anxiety. Like finitude, anxiety is an ontological quality, It cannot be derived; it can only be seen and described. As an ontological quality, anxiety is as omnipresent as is finitude. Anxiety is independent of any special object which might produce it; it is dependent only on the threat of nonbeing … Fear as related to a definite object and anxiety as the awareness of finitude are two radically different concepts. Anxiety is ontological; fear, psychological.” “Anxiety is an ontological concept because it expresses finitude from ‘inside’ … Anxiety is the self-awareness of the finite self as finite.”  [191,192]

Questions:

  • What is the difference between being itself (the power of being), and being?
  • Tillich says that “Being-itself” cannot be identified with infinity, that is, with the negation of finitude. It precedes the finite, and it precedes the infinite negation of the finite.” Why is being-itself not identified with infinity? Why is it important that being-itself is understood as not falling under the conditions of existence, like all other beings?
  • What causes anxiety?
  • Can anxiety be conquered? Why or why not? What would be necessary to conquer anxiety?
  • What is the difference between anxiety and fear?

II.I.C.8: Finitude and the Categories [192-198]

Summary:

[192] The human mind grasps and shapes reality through forms. These forms are called categories. Categorical forms are inherent in “Ways of speaking”, which are also forms of being. Thus there are two forms through which humans relate to reality; categorical forms and logical forms. Logical forms take from content in discourse, but do not form the content. Categories actually are the forms which determine content. Categories are ontological, present in everything, necessary for the human to interact with reality, used in all dialogue, and omnipresent. Because any thought or statement about anything- including God- require the use of categories, so too does the question of God. Thus theology must discuss categories. [192-193] Because categories are ontological, they are forms of finitude, have a “double relation” to being and nonbeing, and contain both affirming and negating elements. [193] The double relation of categories is a “duality”, and is relevant because the task of answering the ontological question involves “an analysis of this duality”. Further, the present analysis will lead to the question of God. The four main categories: time, space, causality, and substance, will be discussed; not only as they relate negatively from the outside (as they relate to the world), but also as they relate positively from the inside (as they relate to the self). “Each category expresses not only a union of being and nonbeing but also a union of anxiety and courage”; and the categories affect religious symbolism and interpretation. “Time is the central category of finitude”, and has both negative and positive sides. The former point out that the present (which all beings are present in) is illusory, then being is conquered by nonbeing. The latter discuss the irreversibility and creative components of time. Because time is experienced in immediate self-awareness (“uniting the anxiety of transitoriness with the courage of a self-affirming present”), the best way to analyze time is through ontology. The fear of the moment of one’s death is evidence that time is ontological. Further, the anxiety about “having to die” is the inner experience of nonbeing, and is potentially present in every moment of one’s existence. [194] This anxiety is present in man’s essential nature (Adam) and in man’s new reality (Christ). The positive side of man’s temporal existence is that it “is balanced by a courage which affirms temporality”, without which there would be a resignation from the present. Human beings, because of consciousness, have more anxiety about time, and thereby need more courage affirm the present. Humans must defend their present against the conception of infinity past and future. Presence also implies the second category of space. The present moment is a union of time and space: “In this union time comes to a standstill because there is something on which to stand.” Space functions in similar ways to time: uniting being with nonbeing and anxiety with courage. Both time and space are categories of finitude, and “subject to contradictory valuations.” All beings exist in and strive for spatiality, both physically and socially. Striving for space is an ontological necessity. [195] Negatively, spatiality includes the threat of nonbeing, because a finite being faces the fear of losing its space, thus losing being itself. Loss of space would mean loss of time and loss of being. The fact that a being has no definite and final space causes insecurity, and leads one to provide a secure space for oneself. Positively, one can counter the anxiety about losing space in the future with courage that affirms the present. And affirming the present means affirming present space. Because to be means to be in space, by existing, one positively affirms one’s space by courageous acceptance. But how is this courage to accept possible? This question leads to the third category of finitude, causality. Causality, like time and space, is ambiguous; expressing both being and nonbeing. Positively, causality affirms being by implying a source from which being comes. To show cause for something affirms the reality of that something (i.e. cause leads to effect). [196] “To look for causes means to look for the power of being in a thing.” Negatively, causality presupposes the inability of a being to bring itself into being; every being is dependent upon a power of being for its existence. Only God, the power of being, is exempt from this precondition. Only God has aseity. “Causality expresses by implication the inability of anything to rest on itself … Causality powerfully expresses the abyss of nonbeing in everything.” The finite category of causality, however, does not connote determinism. No being has aseity. This leads to anxiety. Human beings are contingent, causally determined, beings. Questions such as why one is, and why one should continue to be, do not have clear answers. “This is exactly the anxiety implied in the awareness of causality as a category of finitude.” [197] A courageous person accepts contingency (contingency is causality), and rests in his or her own self. Courage, which ignores its finitude, is displayed by a finite being. This is a paradox, and leads to the question; How is a courage which transcends yet is experienced within finitude, possible? The fourth category is substance. Substance precedes appearances, and is positively and negatively balance by its relation to accidents. How relatively static substances experiences change is a perplexing problem. With regard to this category, anxiety involves the threat of loss of substance. All change points to the “relative nonbeing” of substance; by implying the lack of substantiality in change. This is the tension that drove the Greeks to seek that which is does not change. [197-198] Static and dynamic elements of substance are neither logical nor ontological does not remove anxiety about change, because “this anxiety is anxiety about the threat of nonbeing implied in change”; culminating in the anticipation of the final loss of substance is the anticipation of death, resulting in loss of identity and loss of self. [198] In response (like the Greeks) humanity has searched for something unchangeable within the human being; resulting in arguments for the “so-called immortality of the soul”. Dismissing these arguments because they “are wrong”, instead holding that finite substances will continue infinitely, is “unjustified.” The correct response, instead of searching either for outer or inner security, is courage. Courage affirms finitude, and enables a one to take one’s anxiety upon one’s self. Again, the question remains, How is this courage possible? How does one accept the inevitability that one will lose one’s substance? “The four categories are four aspects of finitude in its positive and negative elements”; expressing the union of being and nonbeing and articulating “the courage which accepts the anxiety of nonbeing. The question of God is the question of the possibility of this courage.”         

Definitions:

  • Categories: “Categories are the forms in which the mind grasps and shapes reality”; “[Categories] are forms which determine content”; [Categories] are ontological, and therefore they are present in everything.” [192]
  • Gegenwaertig: (German) “Presence means having something present to one’s self over against one’s self (in German, gegenwaertig).”
  • Aseity: “Being in, of, and by one’s self … which theology traditionally attributes to God.” For a being to be by itself, without needing the power of being; to be absolute and entirely independent. [196]
  • Absolute: Something which would have “The power of depending on itself without a causal nexus…” [196]
  • Courage: “Courage accepts derivedness, contingency. The man who possesses this courage does not look beyond himself to that from which he comes, but he rests in himself. Courage ignores the causal dependency of everything finite.” Courage accepts “The anxiety of nonbeing.” [197,198]
  • Accidents: Changes. [197]

Questions:

  • Why are categories described as ontological?
  • Why does Tillich state that “A decision concerning the meaning of time cannot be derived from an analysis of time”, but that time should be analyzed ontologically?
  • Why do humans have more anxiety and need more courage than nonhuman beings?
  • All of the categories both affirm and negate being. Why do the categories involve both negative and positive aspects?
  • The threat of nonbeing, experienced through the finite categories, causes anxiety. What, for Tillich, is the proper response to this anxiety?
  • How does courage relate to the question of God?

II.I.C.9: Finitude and the Ontological Elements [198-201]

Summary:

[198] Finitude is actualized in both the categories and the ontological elements, through their polar character, which “opens them to the threat of nonbeing.” Each polarity contains two poles, which in balance limit and sustain one another, and in tension move in opposing directions. [198-199] The balance implies a whole, which is not given; the tension implies opposition. [199] Humans experience an ontological tension. We have anxiety that by losing one or the other polar element (in all of the polarities), we could lose the polarity. The key to this section is to remember that the polarities are the ontological structure of a human being. Therefore a break in the polarities means a break in our being; thus the tension is the “threat of a possible break and its consequent anxiety” now discussed in each of the polar elements. First, in finitude, individualization is in tension with participation. On the one hand, self-relatedness (i.e. individualization) threatens a loss of world. On the other, participation (in the world) threatens loss of self. This is the “twofold threat” experienced by humanity: the possibility of loneliness or the possibility of belongingness (or collectivity). Second, in finitude, dynamics and form are in tension. Dynamics seeks form, without which neither resisting nonbeing nor self-actualization of being is possible. This places dynamics in a position which threatens its loss in “rigid form”, without which chaos would result. [200] Human intentionality seeks form to embody. “But every embodiment endangers the vital power precisely by giving it actual being.” Humans have anxiety regarding either the extreme of losing dynamics to form (loss of vitality), or losing form to dynamics (chaos). Philosophy and theology have failed to recognize this tension. Third, in finitude, freedom and destiny are in tension. The necessities destiny implies threatens the contingencies freedom implies. This occurs in the anxiety involved in our decisions. We do not know our destiny, and we are thereby uncertain of what we should do. As a result, our decisions seem arbitrary, which threatens the loss of both poles. Determinism and indeterminism fail to articulate a balanced understanding of the tension of this third polarity. [201] Humans presuppose a unity between these two poles, whether realized or not. A loss of destiny would mean a loss of meaning, and a loss of being. Individually and socially, all people experience this threat. Existentialism has taken this threat to an unbalanced extreme, by dismissing destiny and positing absolute freedom, thereby losing both. In finitude, we are under the threat of losing our ontological structure, which would mean loss of self. However, this loss is only a possibility, not an actuality. Proof of this is found in Jesus as the Christ, who experienced all forms of anxiety, but no form of despair. This marks the distinction between essential finitude and existential disruption.        

Definitions:

  • Hypostasized Tensions: “For Heraclitus everything is in inner tension like a bent bow, for in everything there is a tendency downward (earth) balanced by a tendency upward (fire). In his view nothing whatever is produced by a process which moves in one direction only; everything is an embracing but transitory unity of two opposite processes. Things are hypostasized tensions.” [198-199]
  • The Anxiety of Losing Our Ontological Structure: Anxiety of “Losing one or another polar element and, consequently, the polarity to which it belongs. This anxiety is not the same as that mentioned in connection with the categories, namely, the anxiety of nonbeing simply and directly. It is the anxiety of not being what we essentially are. It is anxiety of disintegrating and falling into nonbeing through existential disruption. It is anxiety about the breaking of the ontological tensions and the consequent destruction of the ontological structure.” [199]
  • Destiny: “Destiny is not a meaningless fate. It is necessity united with meaning.” [201].
  • Despair: “The anxiety of guilt.” [201]

Questions:

  • How are the tensions within the polarities related to the anxiety we feel about the tension? In other words, why do the tensions cause anxiety?
  • How is the anxiety of losing our ontological structure, discussed in this section, different than the anxiety related to the categories? Do you think this an accurate distinction? Why?
  • In all of the tensions discussed above, Tillich warns against losing one by clinging too tightly to the other. Why is this warning so important?
  • In earlier sections, Tillich has asked how the courage to be in but not suffocated by finitude is possible. This section ends by hinting at Jesus as the Christ as the answer. Does this seem like a reasonable key as to how the courage Tillich has spoken of is possible?

II.I.C.10: Essential and Existential Being [202-204]

Summary:

[202] In a discussion of being, the correlation of finitude and infinity is just as important as the ontological structure and the polarities. The categories of finitude show the relation of essential being to nonbeing. And, as was discussed in the previous section, essential being is threatened by disruption and self-destruction, through a potential break in the polarities. Because of the polarity of freedom and destiny, this break is possible. All philosophical and theological writings presuppose the distinction between essential and existential being; by virtue of presupposing a distortion of essential being. In other words, the concept of essential being is a standard of measurement by which the accuracy of propositions is measured. This leads to the question of how the distortion of being is possible. This is an ontological question. The question as to how being can contain both actuality and its own distortion, is always answered (again, whether implicitly or explicitly) by distinguishing essence from existence. The terms essence and existence are ambiguous. [202-203] First, the term essence is ambiguous because it functions both in an empirical and a valuating way. [203] The reason for the ambiguity of essence is the ambiguity of existence, which both expresses and contradicts being. “Essence is that which empowers and judges that which exists.” Being has fallen from essence into existence. This is the reason for law and judgment. Second, the term existence is also ambiguous. To exist is to ‘stand out’ of mere potentiality. But this means that the state of existence is both more than mere potentiality and less than the power of essential nature. Three philosophical camps articulate the essence/existence distinction: Plato, where existence is negative and essence is positive; Ockham, where existence is primary and essence is secondary; and Aristotle, where both essence and existence are equally valued and dependent upon one another. Christian theology has followed Aristotle’s position, where existence is the fulfillment of God’s creation. [204] Here creation is positive because of existence, but negative in its movement away from “created goodness” into “distorted existence”. Further, the “essential structure of reality” is good. Christian theology must confront the problem of being. The definition of the relation of essence to existence has here been discussed, but a full elaboration of the essential to the existential is given in the whole of this theological system. (In other words, all five parts of Tillich’s Systematic Theology discuss the relation of essential being to the existent being.)  

Definitions:

  • Distortion of Essential Being: “Whenever the ideal is held against the real, truth against error, good against evil, a distortion of essential being is presupposed and is judged by essential being.” [202]
  • Essence: Essence functions in both a logical and valuating way: “Essence as that which makes a thing what it is (ousia) has a purely logical character; essence as that which appears in an imperfect and distorted way in a thing carries the stamp of value. Essence empowers and judges that which exists.” [202]
  • Existence: actuality, the "fallen world", or a type of thinking that rejects essences [203]

Questions:

  • The threat of disruption and self-destruction is caused by a break in one (or more) of the polarities. Which polar element in the ontological structure of a human determines either the break, or courage, prevails.
  • Why does Tillich say that philosophy and theology always presupposes the distinction between essential and existential being, even when it is denied? Do you agree? Why?
  • Tillich says that essence is ambiguous because existence is ambiguous. What does he mean by this?

Changes in German:

  • [203]-1: Existence is the [-fulfillment +actualization] of creation [-; existence gives creation its positive character]

II.I.D: Human Finitude and the Question of God [204-210]

II.I.D.11: The Possibility of the Question of God and the So-Called Ontological Argument [204-208]

Summary:

[204] Philosophers and theologians have been divided for centuries over arguments for the existence of God. Neither group has won for two primary reasons: the concept of existence and method of argumentation employed in these arguments. This section offers a better articulation of the concept of God with regard to existence, and a better methodology than arguing to a conclusion. [205] First, the concept of existence employed in these arguments are problematic when addressing the idea of God, because, to assert ‘the existence of God’ is to fall into contradiction, and to deny God.  The “idea of a creative ground of essence and existence” is very different from the idea of a God that exists. The Scholastics, when speaking of the existence of God, meant not ‘existence’ as in the ontological sense under the conditions of existence, rather the truth of the “idea of God”. This idea does not connote personhood, but modern arguments about God’s existence do. The terms God and existence are antonyms. Christian apologetics should employ this distinction; and the two terms should only be used together when speaking of God: “Becoming manifest under the conditions of existence … in the christological paradox. God does not exist. He is being-itself beyond essence and existence.” Second, arguments for God’s existence (e.g. Descartes, Aquinas, Whitehead) that argue through conclusions also contradict the idea of God. This is the case because these arguments derive conclusions through what is given (i.e. the world), for “what is sought” (i.e. God). The problem is that deriving God from world negates God’s infinite transcendence of all finite beings; making God a being among beings. These arguments neither argue for nor prove God’s existence. Rather, express the “question of God which is implied in human finitude.” The proper way to approach the question of God is to realize that the answer to the question of God lies in the question itself. The question is true, but all answers given to the question of God, are false. Theology should “eliminate the combination of the words ‘existence’ and ‘God’.” [206] A natural theology elaborates, but does not answer, the question of God. In contrast to the problematic arguments for the existence of God, a natural theology presupposes an awareness of God, rather than forms conclusions about God. Two arguments will be analyzed: the ontological argument and the moral argument. First, in the ontological argument, human awareness of finitude leads to the question of God. In actuality or existence, humans are finite; but in potentiality or essence, humans are infinite. This is the tension which is the crux of existential awareness, and the motivation for his question of God. [206-207] The presence within finitude of the unconditional element which transcends finitude is experienced both as the true-itself and as the good-itself. These both point to God as being-itself as the ground of being for all beings. [207] The absolute element in truth (Augustine), the unconditional element in thinking (Anselm), and the moral argument (Kant) all involve the unconditional element as a valid starting point, but they make the mistake of identifying the unconditional element as God. The unconditional element is not God (ontological argument). [207-208] Second, the moral argument is valid as “ontological analyses of the unconditional element in the moral imperative”, and also points to the source of morality in being-itself, but it makes a mistake if it tries to posit God as “divine co-ordinator” for morality. The important aspect of the ontological argument is the truth it contains: “the acknowledgment of the unconditional element in the structure of reason and reality”. Thus, the ontological argument can be discarded, but the unconditional element which makes the question of God possible, must be retained.

Definitions:

  • Ontological Argument: An argument for the existence of God which posits God as a conclusion through the lens of the world (i.e. human existence); “The ontological argument in its various forms gives a description of the way in which potential infinity is present in actual finitude. [204,206]
  • God: Being-itself beyond the essence-existence distinction; the ground of being, the ground of essence. [205]
  • The Christological Paradox: The union of the infinite and the finite, ground of being with being under the conditions of existence. [205]
  • Natural Theology: An elaboration of the question of God. [206]
  • The Unconditional Element: The presence within finitude of an element which transcends finitude; appearing “In the theoretical (receiving) functions of reason as verum ipsum. [206]
  • Verum Ipsum: (Latin) “The true-itself as the norm of all approximations to truth”. This is the unconditional element appearing in theoretical (receiving) reason, and is a manifestation of esse ipsum. [206-207]
  • Bonum ipsum: (Latin) “The good-itself as the norm of all approximations to goodness”, which is the unconditional element displayed in practical (shaping) reason; also a manifestation of esse ipsum. [207]
  • Esse ipsum: (Latin) “Being-itself as the ground and abyss of everything that is.” [207]
  • Veritas Ipsa: (Latin) Not clearly defined by Tillich, the context seems to indicate the meaning as “An absolute element in truth”. [207]

Questions:

  • Tillich complains that two problems, the concept of existence and the method of argumentation, are problematic in the traditional arguments for the existence of God. The concept used is one of finite existence. Why is concept a problem when speaking about God?
  • The method of argumentation in these arguments has been one deriving God from world. How is the problem of argumentation related to the problematic concept of existence?
  • Why are arguments for God’s existence better understood as “The question of God which is implied in human finitude”?
  • How does Tillich attempt to resolve these two problems?
  • Why must the unconditional element in the ontological argument be retained?

II.I.D.12: The Necessity of the Question of God and the So-Called Cosmological Arguments [208-210]

Summary:

[208] The question of God both can and must be asked. The question is possible because of the “unconditional element in the very act” of the question. The question is necessary because of the “threat of nonbeing”. This threat motivates man to seek being to conquer this threat of nonbeing, and courage to conquer anxiety; which is “the cosmological question of God.” Cosmological arguments (like the ontological and teleological arguments) are inadequate to posit a highest being called God. [209] The cosmological method of arguing for God’s existence moves in two methods, or “paths”. The first path is a narrow cosmological argument, arguing from finite being to infinite being. The second path is the teleological argument, which argues from finite meaning to an infinite bearer of meaning. “In both cases the cosmological question comes out of the element of nonbeing in beings and meanings.” The first path proceeds either from cause to God as first cause, or from substance to God as first substance.  Either angle on this first path is problematic because it cannot surpass the categories of finitude to posit a supra-categorical conclusion, which both angles. These two angles (first cause and necessary substance) of arguing for the first cosmological method are better understood as “Symbols which express the question implied in finite being.” The cosmological question of God asks how courage is possible. Humans need courage to overcome anxiety about the finitude of existence. “Finite being is a question mark.” Humans ask how to accept and overcome the temporal and spatial threats of existence, and what the ground of being for that acceptance and victory is. [210] The second method, or path of the Cosmological arguments is the “so-called teleological argument for the existence of God”, motivated by the threat of the break in the polarities (as discussed in II.I.C.9). This path argues that reality has a telos, which implies an infinite cause of that telos. Or that finite meaning must presuppose infinite cause for that meaning. This argument is problematic, because it is based upon existential questions asked in finitude. God is sought through the world. The teleological argument is not an argument, it is the basis for the question of the “ground of meaning”, just as the cosmological argument is question is the “ground of being”. The key to this section is to understand that the first cosmological method of argument relates to the categories of the ontological/essential structure of being, asking the question of being or essence, whereas the teleological argument relates to the polarities of the finite/existential structure of being, asking the question of meaning or existence. Both are helpful not as arguments for God’s existence, but as the ground for asking the question of God in relation to the categories (Cosmology) and the polarities (Teleology). Therefore, the twofold task: First “to develop the question of God” expressed by the “traditional arguments” for God’s existence and Second, to “expose the impotency of the ‘arguments’”, is complete. By showing that “the question of God is implied in the finite structure of being”, the ontological analysis is complete. “Traditional natural theology” is partly accepted and partly rejected, driving “reason to the quest for revelation.”

Definitions:

  • The Cosmological Question: “The question of God must be asked because the threat of nonbeing, which man experiences as anxiety, drives him to the question of being conquering nonbeing and of courage conquering anxiety. This question is the cosmological question of God”; “The cosmological question of God is the question about that which ultimately makes courage possible, a courage which accepts and overcomes the anxiety of categorical finitude.” [208,209]
  • The Cosmological Argument: An argument which moves “From the special characteristics of the world   to the existence of a highest being”; taking two main “paths”: The narrow argument from “The finitude of being to an infinite being” (arguing for ‘first cause’ or ‘first substance’), and the teleological path which moves “From the finitude of meaning to a bearer of infinite meaning”. [208,209]
  • The Teleological Argument: The second method of the Cosmological argument. An argument for the existence of a highest being positing God as “An infinite bearer of meaning for being.” [209]
  • The human form of ontological anxiety: anxiety about meaninglessness…it is the form of anxiety which only a being can have in whose nature freedom and destiny are united (210).

Questions:

  • Why can the question of God be asked?
  • Why must the question of God be asked?
  • What is the “unconditional element”?
  • What do the ontological, cosmological and teleological arguments for the existence of a highest being have in common?  How does Tillich show them inadequate?
  • How is the Cosmological argument related to the categories?
  • How is the Teleological argument related to the polarities?

II.II: The Reality of God [211-289]

II.II.A: The Meaning of "God" [211-235]

II.II.A.1: A Phenomenological Description [211-218]

II.II.A.1.a): God and Man’s Ultimate Concern [211-215]

Summary:

[211] Phenomenologically speaking, the term “God” is best understood as the answer to the ultimate concern of a finite human being. In other words, that which concerns a person ultimately becomes ‘god’ for that person. This leads to an “inner tension in the idea of God”; a tension between concrete finitude and abstract ultimacy. One cannot be concerned about something that is not encountered in concrete reality, yet ultimate concern must transcend the finitude of human existence in order to be “the answer to the question implied in finitude”. The result is a loss of “being-to-being relation”. This tension is “the key to understanding the dynamics of the history of religion, and it is the basic problem of every doctrine of God.” [212] A phenomenological assessment of the term “god” can serve as tool with which meanings of nature and religious phenomena can be discovered. “Gods” are imaginary human projections of finite things. They are primitive expression of ultimate concern, loaded with embodied meanings. Two main points are discussed, with relation to the tension between the ultimate and the concrete: the phenomenological ascription of power and meaning to the gods, in the history of religion. First, in relation to power, “Gods are ‘beings.’” This means that Gods are conceptualized as finite beings, under the categorical conditions of existence. Gods are substantive, which limits them in power and significance. They are seen as images of humans, which is the basis of ‘projection’. That which receives the projection, however, is the “realm of ultimate concern.” Gods receive yet transcend finitude. [213] Thus ultimacy and concreteness are in continual opposition. The history of religion shows that humans have always tried to “participate in divine power and to use it for human purposes”, which is shown in three ways: magic, nonmagical, and mystical worldviews. First, magic depends on the presupposition that gods are beings in whose power humans can participate, and is a “man to gods”, “gods to man” worldview. In this worldview the divine power is accessed without need of divine permission. Second, the nonmagical worldview is a “person-to-person” relation to participation in the power of gods, mediated through prayer. In this worldview the god is seen as a “concrete god” who may or may not grant the power sought. Third, the mystical way of accessing divine power involves a worldview wherein ultimate power is expressed in gods, and mediated in ascetic practice. [214] The second main point of the phenomenological description of God, focuses on meaning. In the history of religion, gods are seen as absolutized embodiments of “concrete values” such as truth and goodness. This relates to human imperialism, which presupposes divine imperialism. The tension between the ultimate and the concrete affects the way in which phenomenological meaning is ascribed to the gods: because of the “ultimacy of the religious concern”, humans are driven upward towards absolute ultimate/universal value and meaning, while simultaneously driven downward toward concrete/particular value and meaning. “The tension is insoluble.” Concrete human finitude wants to transcend itself via its ultimate religious concern, yet its ultimate religious concern is only possible in concrete human finitude. Religious concern is both ultimate and concrete, and the two are always in tension. The meaning of the term god has been discussed both as the human relationship to the gods (power), and how that relationship informs a phenomenological conception of the “nature of the gods” (meaning). The gods are not phenomena, they are phenomenological “expressions of the ultimate concern which transcends the cleavage between subjectivity and objectivity.” Ultimate concern is not subjective, it stands against and above finitude and subjective derivation; ‘existentially’ participating in the transcendence of subjectivity and objectivity. [214-215] Humanity can only speak of gods through relation, and this relation involves humanity both using gods and surrendering to gods. [215] In the Tension in Ultimate Religious Concern, the absolute element demands passion, as in “Protestant radicalism”; and the concrete element leads to cult participation, as in “Catholic relativities”. This tension “determines the religions of mankind in all their major aspects.”

Definitions:

  • Ultimate Concern: “Whatever concerns a person ultimately becomes god for him, and, conversely, it means that a man can be concerned ultimately only about that which is god for him”; “It remains to be emphasized that an ultimate concern is not ‘subjective.’ Ultimacy stands against everything which can be derived from mere subjectivity, nor can the unconditional be found within the entire catalogue of finite objects which are conditioned by each other.” [211,214]
  • The Tension in Ultimate Religious Concern: “The phrase ‘being ultimately concerned’ points to a tension in human experience. On the one hand, it is impossible to be concerned about something which cannot be encountered concretely … Universals can become matters of ultimate concern only through their power of representing concrete experiences … On the other hand, ultimate concern must transcend every preliminary finite and concrete concern … But in transcending the finite the religious concern loses the concreteness of a being-to-being relationship”; “The tension is insoluble”; “The tension in the nature of the gods, which is the tension in the structure of man’s ultimate concern (and which, in the last analysis, is the tension in the human situation), determines the religions of mankind in all their major aspects.” [211,214,215]
  • God: “God is the answer to the question implied in man’s finitude; he is the name for that which concerns man ultimately. This does not mean that first there is a being called God and then the demand that man should be ultimately concerned about him”; Defined in a phenomenological way, “Gods are beings who transcend the realm of ordinary experience in power and meaning, with whom men have relations which surpass ordinary relations in intensity and significance”. [211,212]
  • Anschaulich: (German) “Gods are ‘beings.’ They are experienced, named, and defined in concrete intuitive (anschaulich) terms through the exhaustive use of all the ontological elements and categories of finitude.” [212]
  • Theories of Projection: These theories “Say that the gods are simply imaginary projections of elements of finitude, natural and human elements.” [212]
  • The Magic Worldview: “Magic itself is a theory and practice concerning the relation of finite beings to each other; it assumes that there are direct, physically unmediated sympathies and influences between beings on the ‘psychic’ level”. Magic leads to a “Man to the gods and from the gods to man” world view. [213]
  • Nonmagical Worlviews: The “Nonmagical, personalistic world views lead to a person-to-person relationship to divine power, which is appropriated through prayer, that is, through an appeal to the personal center of the divine being”; “Men continue to use the power of their god by asking his favors. They demand a concrete god, a god with whom man can deal.” [213]
  • Mystical Worldview: “Its main characteristic is the devaluation of the divine beings and their power over against the ultimate power, the abyss of being-itself.” [213]
  • Imperialism: “Imperialism is never the expression of will to power as such. It always is a struggle for the absolute victory of a special value or system of values, represented by a special god or hierarchy of gods.” [214]
  • The gods: “The gods are not objects within the context of the universe. They are expressions of the ultimate concern which transcends the cleavage between subjectivity and objectivity.” [214]

Questions:

  • What does it mean to speak of one’s “ultimate concern”?
  • How does one’s ultimate concern affect his or her conception of God?
  • What are “gods”, and how are they conceived by humans? Do you agree with Tillich’s phenomenological definition of gods? Why?
  • How do humans seek participation in divine power?
  • How do gods offer meaning for humans?
  • What are the elements in the tension of ultimate religious concern? How does this tension relate to the way in which humans ascribe power and meaning to the gods?

Changes in German:

  • [211]+2: [-THE MEANING OF “GOD” +GOD AS IDEA]
  • [213] -1: [-The conflict between the Brahma power and the God Brahman as an object of a concrete relation with man points to the same tension within the structure of man’s ultimate concern which was noted above. +The same tension exists in the conflict between the impersonal Brahman power and the God Brahma.] (Note here corrections in errors of fact as well as infelicity of language.)

II.II.A.1.b): God and the Idea of the Holy [215-218]

Summary:

[215] Holiness, as a “sacred realm”, is an important “cognitive ‘doorway’ to understanding the nature of religion”, and will receive a phenomenological description. This description involves two elements which will be correlated, holiness and God. A proper doctrine of God must describe God as holy or it makes the gods as though they were “secular objects”, which is rightly dismissed by naturalism. It must also describe the holy as “the sphere of the divine” or it becomes too “aesthetic-emotional” (as with Schleiermacher and Otto). The best way to articulate a doctrine of God which avoids these mistakes is to first analyze “the meaning of ultimate concern”, then to develop the doctrines of God and holiness from it. The first derivation from this process, is that the holy is best understood as “a quality” of ultimate concern. Humans cannot have ultimate concern in something unless it has the quality of holiness. [215-216] As with Otto’s ‘numinous’, the holy should be understood as transcending the “subject-object structure of reality”, as both abyss and foundation of the being of humanity. [216] Holiness involves some ambiguity, as evidenced in the history of religion. First, holiness can be actualized only through objects which are not themselves holy, but are holy by negating themselves and “pointing to the divine of which they are mediums.” When this is not realized, holy objects cease to perform their proper function and become “demonic”, or “antidivine”. For example, nationalism and religions are valid insofar they are understood as pointing beyond themselves. Holy objects should never become a person’s ultimate concern. Idolatrous and demonic holiness is judged by justice; as has occurred in Greek philosophy (Dike), the Reformation (rejecting the holiness ascribed to objects by Catholicism), revolutionary movements (for social justice), etc. [216-217] As a result of these “antidemonic” struggles, the meaning of holiness was transformed into moral asceticism seeking perfection, and has now moved into liturgy and theological theory. [217] The unclean and the secular are two further concepts which are contrasted with holiness. First, the term ‘unclean’ used to mean demonic, but is now understood as immorality, which implies that the unclean and the secular are synonymous. Holiness, becoming “moral law”, has lost “its depth, its mystery, its numinous character.” Loss of the mysterious and numinous character is found in Luther, but not in Calvin, whose doctrine of God unified the holy with the unclean, leading to Puritanism, losing the numinous character of the holy. [218] Second, in contrast to the holy, the term ‘secular’ is the realm of “preliminary concerns” and “finite relations”, lacking ultimate concern. However, the holy embraces the secular, within which the divine can be manifest; giving the secular the potential to become consecrated. Further, the holy is dependent on the secular for its expression. But when the secular separates the holy from itself, it can prevent the manifestation of the holy in itself. In other words, when the secular does not see God as “all in all”, but “in addition to other things”, it falls into “sin”, and disrupts the actualization of the holy in itself.

Definitions:

  • Holiness: “The sphere of the gods is the sphere of the holiness”; “Holiness is an experienced phenomenon; it is open to phenomenological description”; Holiness “Is the most adequate basis we have for understanding the divine.” [215]
  • The Holy: “The holy is the quality of that which concerns man ultimately.” [215]
  • Numinous: A term used by Rudolf Otto, meaning “The presence of the divine.” [215]
  • Tremendum/Fascinosum: (Latin) More terms of Otto. “When he [Otto] describes the mystery of the holy as tremendum and fascinosum, he expresses the experience of ‘the ultimate’ in the double sense of that which is the abyss and that which is the ground of man’s being.” [216]
  • Demonic: “Holy objects are not holy in and of themselves. They are holy only be negating themselves in pointing to the divine of which they are the mediums. If they establish themselves as holy, they become demonic. They still are ‘holy’, but their holiness is antidivine.” [216]
  • Justice: “Justice is the criterion which judges idolatrous holiness.” [216]
  • Dike: (Greek) “Greek philosophers criticize a demonically distorted cult in the name.” [216]
  • Puritan: “Fear of the demonic permeates Calvin’s doctrine of the divine holiness. An almost neurotic anxiety about the unclean develops in later Calvinism. The word ‘Puritan’ is most indicative of this trend. The holy is the clean’ cleanliness becomes holiness.” [217]
  • Secular: “The word ‘secular’ is less expressive than the word ‘profane,’ which means ‘in front of the doors’- of the holy. But profane has received connotations of ‘unclean,’ while the term ‘secular’ has remained neutral”; … “The German word profan preserves this idea of neutrality. The secular is the realm of preliminary concerns. It lacks ultimate concern; it lacks holiness. All finite relations are in themselves secular.”  [217-218]
  • Sin: “The very heart of what classical Christianity has called ‘sin’ is the unreconciled duality of ultimate and preliminary concerns, of the finite and that which transcends finitude, of the secular and the holy. Sin is a state of things in which the holy and the secular are separated, struggling with each other and trying to conquer each other. It is the state in which God is not ‘all in all,’ the state in which God is ‘in addition to’ all other things.” [218]

Questions:

  • What does Tillich mean by “demonic”, and how does he show the demonic to have functioned throughout Church history?
  • How are “holy objects” to be understood? In other words, what is the proper function of “holy objects”?
  • When uncleanness is given precedence over holiness, the result is moralism. How does moralism demonize the holy?
  • When the secular focuses concern on itself, and separates God from itself, the holy is lost. How does this become “sin”, and demonize the holy?

Changes in German:

  • [216]-16: [-Holiness provokes idolatry.] (A deleted sentence that really should have been left in the German!)
  • [218]+14: in which [-the third +this] dimension is actualized

II.II.A.2: Typological Considerations [218-235]

II.II.A.2.a): Typology and the History of Religion [218-222]

Summary:

[218] This section will contrast The Idea of God with its reception in The History of Religion. Because the actualization of the holy can occur only in the finite and concrete, “the idea of God has a history”. Religious history is determined by and determines the history of the idea of God. [219] Theology, though dependent on the final revelation, must analyze the history of the idea of God. The final revelation includes recipients who have “insight into the meaning of ‘God’”, the interpretation of which should include both the history of religion and the component of “religious substance” within the history of human culture. There is no clear line of progress in the history of religion for systematic theology to trace. Final revelation, standing over and above human history, is manifest in history; but it “cannot be derived from history”. If theology does speak of progress in religious history, it should mean that the ultimate and the concrete elements in the idea of God are synthesized. Rather than speaking of progress, theology is better served to analyze religious history through typology, which classifies events according to the type to which each event belongs. [220] Typology in the idea of God will now be discussed. Under both elements: process and structure. First, the Process of the idea of God as a type involves the forces of history as its approximation. The idea or meaning of God has developed through “two interdependent causes: the tension within the idea of God and the general factors determining the movement of history (e.g. economic, political, and cultural factors).” First, the tension is that the idea of God has developed in, yet is not explained by, historical forces. The idea of God essentially is not, but existentially is, dependent on historical forces. These condition but do not produce, determine yet are transcended by, the idea of God. In order to discuss the history and typology of the idea of God, a concept of God which is neither too  narrow nor too wide will now be developed. [220-221] Theology should compare the “typical structures” Christianity with those of other religions. Better, theology should look at the “element of universal preparatory revelation” contained Christian and non-Christian typological analogies. Only after this first step, each can be scrutinized through final revelation. Second, the Structure of the idea of God is discussed. Typological structures are determined by two factors: the tension between the concrete and absolute elements in the idea of God, and from the contrast between the holy and the secular in the idea of God. Under the tension of the first factor the concrete element pushes people towards “polytheistic structures”, the absolute element towards “monotheistic structures”, and the need for a balance between the two towards “trinitarian structures”. Under the contrast of the second factor, the secular can be a realm of ultimate concern, but the danger is that “divine powers can be reduced to secular objects”. However, an essential unity of the existential separation between the sacred and secular is possible, by pointing to the interdependence of secular and sacred ultimates. [221-222] In this way, systematic theology can “analyze the religious substance of the basic ontological concepts and the secular implications of the different types of the idea of God.”      

Definitions:

  • Final Revelation: “An event which is prepared by history and is received in history, but it cannot be derived from history. It stands over against progress and regress, judging the one as severely as the other.” [219]
  • Typology: Involves “Types [which] are ideal structures which are approximated by concrete things or events without ever being attained.” [219]
  • Typological Concept of God: A concept of God “Needed to delimit the discussion of the history and typology of the idea of God”, which employs human ultimate concern and moral or logical concepts in a balanced way. [220]
  • Secular Ultimates: “The ontological concepts.” [221]
  • Sacred Ultimates: “The conceptions of God.” [221]

Questions:

  • Why does Tillich say that there is no real “progress” of final revelation in the history of religion?
  • How is the typological method of assessing the idea of God in the history of religion employed?
  • What is the benefit of this methodology?
  • How do the tensions in the idea of God, between the concrete and the absolute come into play, with regard to polytheism, monotheism, and trinitarianism?

II.II.A.2.b): Types of Polytheism [222-225]

Summary:

[222] Polytheism, as qualitative, is characterized by a lack of belief in a transcending, unifying, ultimate. Polytheistic divines claim ultimacy only in the concrete, not in the absolute element in the idea of God. Because polytheism disregards claims of other gods outside of its situation, posing a threat to “the unity of self and world”; and because each of its gods lays claim ultimacy, it is demonic. Monotheistic ultimacy is always in opposition to polytheistic concretion. This is shown in the three primary Types of polytheism: the universalistic, the mythological, and the dualistic. The first type, universalistic polytheism, posits universal power which are manifest (though split and contradictory) through concrete objects, persons, and places in the concrete world. The second type, mythological polytheism, posits divinity through deities embodying universal meaning and value. This is the only polytheism that provides adequate presuppositions for its mythologies. Whereas dualistic types try to transform the myth to interpret history. [222-223] And monotheistic types break myths via ultimacy in the idea of God. [223] Mythological “imaginings” result from the tension in the idea of God, as concrete concern ascribes anthropomorphic imagery to the gods in pursuit of a person-to-person relation. This raises an important element in religious experience: “there is a struggle for a personal God in all religions”. A personal God points to the concrete element of human ultimate concern, but the “subpersonal and suprapersonal” character of mythological types show the absolute element of human ultimate concern. This second element is seen in the “animal vitality” of the “animal-gods”, which are “transhuman” and “divine-demonic” symbols of ultimate concern. Star-gods also function symbolically through creative and destructive power, as ultimate concern. Mythological deities as “subhuman-superhuman” aim to divert equating the power of the divine with human power. If this aim fails, gods “become glorified men” and lose “divine ultimacy”. [223-224] As a result, religion erects “divine personalities” capable of transcending the form of their personhood, becoming “sub-personal or trans-personal”, mirroring the tension between concretion and ultimacy “in man’s ultimate concern and in every type of the idea of God.” [224] Mythological gods transcend morality. They are better understood as relating to ontology, “structures of being and conflicts of values”. “They are demonic, but they are not immoral.” There are monotheistic restrictions necessary for the life of these gods, such as the characteristic of ultimacy, which is shown in the act of prayer. Though a person may pray to several gods, the ultimate is sought in the identity of each god. Another restriction supporting mythological gods is shown in the hierarchy of gods, which though “inadequate”, functions to prepare the way for monarchal monotheism. Last, the restriction involving the component of fate, also preparing the way for monotheism. The third type of polytheism is dualism. This type relates to the ambiguity of holiness and the tension between “divine and demonic holiness.” The distinction between good and evil spirits results in a dualism “into the sphere of the holy through which it attempts to overcome the ambiguity of the numinous beings.” [225] Religious dualism is demonic, because it seeks to radically separate the demonic from the divine. This occurs in Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Christianity, where divine holiness and demonic holiness are concentrated into different realms, radically splitting the ambiguity in the realm of holiness. Yet dualism also contains monotheistic elements. Because human ultimate concern needs an idea of God containing both power and value, the tendency of dualism to place the good god over the evil god, wherein the good god eventually reigns, dualism foreshadows “the God of exclusive trinitarian monotheism.”                

Definitions:

  • Polytheism: “Polytheism is a qualitative and not a quantitative concept. It is not the belief in a plurality of gods but rather the lack of a uniting and transcending ultimate which determines its character.” [222]
  • Universal Polytheism: “The special divine beings, like divinities of places and realms, numinous forces in things and persons, are embodiments of a universal, all pervading sacred power (mana), which is hidden behind all things and at the same time manifest through them.” [222]
  • Mythological Polytheism: “Divine power is concentrated in individual deities of a relatively fixed character who represent broad realms of being and value.” [222]
  • Animal-gods: “They are expressions of man’s ultimate concern symbolized in the order of the stars and in their creative and destructive power.” [223]
  • Star-gods: “They are expression of man’s ultimate concern symbolized in the order of the stars and in their creative and destructive power.” [223]
  • Dualistic Polytheism: “Is based on the ambiguity in the concept of the holy and on the conflict between divine and demonic holiness”; “The most radical attempt to separate the divine from the demonic is religious dualism.” [224,225]

Questions:

  • How is polytheism “demonic”?
  • What is the significance of the human “struggle for a personal God in all religions”?
  • What are the problems with the notion of a personal God?
  • Why is religious dualism so problematic? How does it foreshadow “trinitarian monotheism”?

Changes in German:

  • [223]+4: the mythical as a category of religious intuition is different from the unbroken mythology of [-a special type of the idea of God +the mythical stadium of polytheism]

II.II.A.2.c): Types of Monotheism [225-230]

Summary:

[225] (This section will discuss four types of monotheism: monarchic, mystical, exclusive, and trinitarian.) Polytheism is dependent on monotheistic elements. However, monotheism, in contrast to polytheism, places the ultimate element over that of the concrete (the two elements in the tension of the idea of God). In neither case is either element completely destroyed. [225-226] The first type of monotheism is monarchic monotheism. This type involves a “god-monarch” who rules over the lower gods, representing the ultimate in both the power and value of his hierarchy. This type is shown in the Zeus of the Stoics. However, the god-monarch is threatened by revolution from the lower gods, which makes this first type too involved in polytheism. Yet there are elements of this type in the “Lord of Hosts” of Christianity. The second type is mystical monotheism, wherein the mystical transcends the realms of being and value, resulting in the disappearance of their “divine representatives” into a “divine ground and abyss”. All conflicts become swallowed in the transcendent ultimate abyss. Thus, the ultimate element swallows the concrete element (categories), with no differentiation in the power of being and the ground of being and meaning (polarities). Yet the concrete element is sought in the temporary manifestation of ultimacy. [227] The third type is exclusive monotheism, which is the only way that monotheism can resist polytheism. This type combines the ultimate and concrete elements in the idea of God, overcoming demonic claim. In the history of religion, only Israel has achieved this. Israel’s God is also the God who judges all other nations in the world, the God who is simultaneously absolute and concrete. Yahweh’s claim to universality is based not on imperialism, but on justice, and is related to Israel via a covenant. Yet Yahweh holds power whether or not Israel breaks the covenant, and destroys Israel based on the universal principle of justice. Therefore the monotheism of Israel negates polytheism, overcomes the demonic, and refrains from absolutizing the holy for itself. [228] However, exclusive monotheism needs “an expression of the concrete element in man’s ultimate concern”, which leads to the fourth type of monotheism: trinitarian monotheism. This type is a qualitative characterization of God, seeking to present a living God who unifies the ultimate and the concrete elements; which is also the trinitarian problem. The trinitarian problem is found throughout the history of religion, wherein each type of monotheism attempts to answer this problem. These answers are now discussed.  Monarchical monotheism tries to answer this problem with a highest god who becomes concrete in “manifold incarnations, in the sending of lower divinities, and in the procreation of half-gods”, and in positing a god who participates in human destiny. [229] Mystical monotheism has expressed a distinction between concretion and ultimacy in Brahma (concretion) and the Brahman principle (ultimacy); culminating in the “relation of the Brahman-Atman, the absolute, to the concrete gods of Hindu piety”. Exclusive monotheism in Christianity has given an “abstract transcendence of the divine”, wherein the “transcendence of the absolute command which empties all concrete manifestations of the divine. But since the concrete element demands its rights, mediating powers of a threefold character appear and posit the trinitarian problem.” This occurs in three groups: “hypostasized divine qualities, like Wisdom, Word, Glory”, the angels as divine messengers, and the “divine-human figure” of the Messiah. All three give a transcendent and “unapproachable” God who becomes “concrete and present in time and space”. With this move, as the distance between God and humanity grows, the trinitarian problem became more intense. Motives and forms of trinitarian monotheism function in the Christian doctrine of the trinity. [229-230] However, the Christian answer posits the Messiah-mediator, as a human being, Jesus of Nazareth, which transforms the trinitarian problem into the christological problem.

Definitions:

  • Monotheism: “In monotheism … the divine powers of polytheism are subjected to a highest divine power.” [225]
  • Monarchic Monotheism: “Lies on the boundary between polytheism and monotheism. The god-monarch rules over the hierarchy of inferior gods and god-like beings.” [225-26]
  • Mystical Monotheism: “Transcends all realms of being and value, and their divine representatives, in favor of the divine ground and abyss from which they come and in which they disappear.” [226]
  • Exclusive Monotheism: “Created by the elevation of a concrete god to ultimacy and universality without the loss of his concreteness and without the assertion of a demonic claim”; “In exclusive monotheism an abstract transcendence of the divine develops [in the exclusive monotheism of Christianity].” [227,229]
  • Demonic: “The claim of something conditioned to be unconditional.” [227]
  • Trinitarian monotheism: “[Trinitarian monotheism] is an attempt to speak of the living God, the God in whom the ultimate and the concrete are united.” [228]
  • The Trinitarian Problem: “The trinitarian problem is the problem of the unity between ultimacy and concreteness in the living God.” [228]

Questions:

  • What do all forms of polytheism have in common?
  • Tillich argues the Israel is the perfect example for the exclusive type of monotheism. Do you agree? Why?
  • Why is the exclusive type the only type which overcomes polytheism?
  • What is the trinitarian problem, and how have the types of monotheism attempted to answer it?

II.II.A.2.d): Philosophical Transformations [230-235]

Summary:

[230] A relation of philosophy to theology distinguishes the religious attitude which deals with the existential meaning of being through the philosophical categories and ontological elements, from the philosophical attitude which deals with the theoretical structure of being as manifest through existential experience. Each relies on the other for its expression, and both deal with the idea of God. The types which symbolize human ultimate concern carry implications regarding the nature of being. Philosophy dealing with these types is drawing from theology, theoretically pulling from the existential religious. Theology can discuss the implications of the nature of being in the types in a “double way”: taking the philosophical grounds of the implications and applying them as “expressions of ultimate concern on religious grounds.” The former limits the discussion to philosophical grounds, the latter to “existential witness”. This distinction will now be developed for an apologetic use. The first integration of the philosophical with the theological in the analysis of assertions about the nature of being shows that ultimacy experienced implies an ultimate of both “being and meaning which concerns man unconditionally because it determines his very being and meaning.” Philosophically, this ultimate is described as being-itself (esse ipsum), that which transcends all thought and the power of being in which all beings participate. Every philosophy uses this concept, even those (such as Nominalism) which reject it. Though ironically nominalistic epistemology is the best way to recognize the nature of being and knowing. [230-231] This is so because “If being is radically individualized, if it lacks embracing structures and essences, this is a character of being, valid for everything that is.” [231] The best way to proceed is to assess the nature of being-itself and ask how being-itself can be approached in a cognitive way. Logical positivism is defeated with the same argument against Nominalism: its cognitive approach limits itself only to the manifestation of being that are empirically verifiable, ironically making it the only method of cognitive approach to being-itself. The tension (between the absolute and concrete elements) in the idea of God is pushes the “fundamental philosophical question” to ask how absolute being-itself “can account for the relativities of reality”. On the one hand (absolute element) the power of being transcends all beings participating in it, negating all content, motivating philosophy towards absolutes (i.e. “the transnumerical One”, “pure identity”). On the other hand (concrete element) the power of being is the power of all concrete beings, motivating philosophy towards pluralistic principles (i.e. “relational or process descriptions of being”, and “the idea of difference”). The result shows philosophical history as moving from relative to absolute, absolute to relative, and seeking a balance in between the two. This tension is the tension of humanity as both finite and transcending its finitude. [231-232] With regard to polytheism: philosophy has transformed universalistic type of polytheism into monistic naturalism, [232] the mythological type into pluralistic naturalism, and the dualistic type of into metaphysical dualism.  [233] With regard to monotheism: philosophy has transformed the monarchical type of monotheism into gradualistic metaphysics, the mystical type into idealistic monism, [234] the exclusive type of monotheism into metaphysical realism, and the trinitarian type into dialectical realism. [235] These examples have shown that philosophical absolutes express the same tension in human ultimate concern as do the different types of the idea of God. Ultimate philosophical notions greatly influence the development of religious ideas of God, and affect religious experience and theological concepts. Because they are foundationally religious, they play a part in the history of religion. Theology has a twofold task with respect to philosophical absolutes: “it must ascertain their theoretical validity, which is a philosophical question, and it must seek their existential significance, which is a religious question.”       

Definitions:

  • Esse Ipsum: (Latin) The philosophical expression of “An ultimate being and meaning which concerns man unconditionally because it determines his very being and meaning”. It means “Being-itself, esse ipsum, that beyond which thought cannot go, the power of being in which everything participates.” [230]
  • Nominalism: “On the basis of its dissolution of the universals, nominalism objects to the concept of a universal power of being or to the concept of being-itself … Being is radically individualized.” [230]
  • Logical Positivism: A philosophy which takes “The question of being away from philosophy and … surrender[s] it to emotion and to poetic expression … The hidden assumption is that being-itself cannot be approached cognitively except in those of its manifestations which are open to scientific analysis and verification.” [231]
  • Deus sive natura: (Latin) “An expression of the universalistic feeling for the all-pervading presence of the divine.” [231]
  • Pantheism: “Pantheism is the doctrine that God is the substance or essence of all things, not the meaningless assertion that God is the totality of things.” [233-234]
  • Dialectical Realism: that which tries to unite the structural oneness of everything within the absolute with the undecided and unfinished manifoldness of the real. [235]
  • Transformation: “‘Transformation’ does not mean conscious acts whereby religious symbols are changed into philosophical concepts. It means the openness of being-itself, which is given in the basic religious experience, is the foundation for the philosophical grasp of the structure of being.”

Questions:

  • What is the relationship of theology and philosophy?
  • How do both depend on one another?
  • Tillich theologically discusses “Assertions about the nature of being” in a “double way”. What does this mean?
  • What is the foundation for philosophy’s grasp the structure of being?
  • How is the tension between the absolute and concrete elements in the idea of God shown to motivate philosophy?

II.II.B: The Actuality of God [235-289]

II.II.B.3: God as Being [235-241]

II.II.B.3.a): God as Being and Finite Being [235-238]

Summary:

[235] God is not a being under the conditions of existence (i.e. under the categories and polarities). God is being-itself, or the ground of being. If superlatives are used to describe God, they diminish God. Speaking of God as “highest being” is better understood as attributing unconditional power and meaning to God. [236] Being-itself is the infinite power of being that is in and above all things, which is the power that resists non-being. Theology must begin its doctrine of God with God and the power of being. God, as being-itself, is beyond the contrast of essence and existence. Thus God does not experience the transition from essence to existence. If God did experience this transition, it would mean that God participates in nonbeing, and God could lose God’s being. But these cannot happen to a God who has no being, but is being-itself, and who is logically prior to the split characteristic of finite being. This means that it is as wrong to speak of God as universal essence as to speak of God as existing. Universal essence would imply subjugation to finite potentiality, and lose the element of transcendence, resulting in pantheism. Further, God who is beyond existence cannot be said to exist. [236-237] Aquinas tried to say this by distinguishing two kinds of existence for God, but contradicted himself. [237] “The question of the existence of God can be neither asked nor answered.” Either to affirm or to deny the existence of God results atheistic. The first step in resolving this problem is usually called immanence and transcendence, where God transcends all beings, yet all beings participate in being-itself. This is a double relation of beings to God and God to beings gives God as being-itself a “double characteristic”. Being-itself is both creative ground and abyss. God as the ground of being has been wrongly understood through the categories of relation: causality and substance, to “express the relation of being-itself to finite beings”, the ground is both cause and substance of finite beings. The former was elaborated by Leibniz and the latter by Spinoza, and both are wrong. [238] Christianity prefers the category of causality to the category of substance, but ends up using both as symbols. God as ground is both ground of being and ground of the structure of being, though subjected to the conditions of neither. Because God is the structure of being, God can be our ultimate concern, symbolically cognizable only through the structural elements of being-itself.

Definitions:

  • Being of God: “The being of God is the being-itself. The being of God cannot be understood as the existence of a being alongside others or above others.” [235]
  • Aseity: God is “By himself; he possesses aseity.” [236]
  • Pantheism: God “Pouring all his creative power into a system of forms, [becoming] bound to these forms. This is what pantheism means”; “Pantheism does not say that God is everything. It says that God is the substance of everything and that there is no substantial independence and freedom in anything finite.” [236,237-238]
  • Prima Causa: (Latin) Loosely translated as ‘primary cause’.
  • Ultima Substantia: (Latin) Loosely, ‘ultimate substance’.

Questions:

  • What does it mean to say that God “is being-itself”, or the “power and meaning of being”?
  • Why is it important that God be understood as being-itself, beyond the contrast of existence and essence?
  • Why is it problematic to speak of God as universal essence?
  • Why does Tillich say that either to affirm or to deny the existence of God is atheistic?
  • Why can we only speak about God through the “structural elements of being itself”?

Changes in German:

  • [235]+22: [-THE ACTUALITY OF GOD +GOD AND THE WORLD]
  • [237]+13: [-Being-itself is beyond finitude and infinity; otherwise it would be conditioned by something otherwise than itself +A being which is only infinite would be bounded by the finite]

II.II.B.3.b): God as Being and the Knowledge of God [238-241]

Summary:

[238] To say that God is being-itself is not to speak symbolically. [239] Theology should begin with the most abstract and non-symbolic statement about God: “God is being-itself or the absolute.” Anything extending itself beyond this statement becomes symbolism. Symbols are different than signs: a symbol relates to and participates in “the reality for which it stands”, and does not change, but either grows or dies. Signs neither relate to nor participate in that to which they point and can change. Therefore the religious symbol which points to the divine, must participate in that power to which it points. Concrete assertions about God are symbolic expressions, both negated and affirmed by pointing to God. Thus because “everything participates in being-itself”, a segment of finite reality can be used to assert something about that which is infinite. [240] Religious symbols are true in so far as they “express the correlation of some person with final revelation.” There is a double meaning of the truth of a symbol: it has truth if it “is adequate to the revelation it expresses”, and it is true if it “is the expression of a true revelation”. Theology’s task is to interpret, not deny or confirm symbols. Religious symbols directed both to the infinite and finite, are “double-edged”, both opening the divine for the human and the human for the divine. [241] Last, it is important to note that to use the term ‘symbol’ does not mean that something symbolized is not real. This mistake occurs for three reasons: confusion between the terms sign and symbol, the identifying reality as empirically reality, and because some movements (i.e. Protestant Hegelianism and Catholic Modernism) have used religious symbols to diminish their reality and seriousness.     

Definitions:

  • Sign: “The sign bears no necessary relation to that to which it points”, and can change. [239]
  • Symbol: “The symbol participates in the reality of that for which it stands [and does not change, but] grows and dies according to the correlation between that which is symbolized and the persons who receive it as a symbol.” [239]
  • Symbolic Expression: “A symbolic expression is one whose proper meaning is negated by that to which it points.” [239]
  • Analogia Entis: (Latin) Analogy of being; the commensurability between the divine being and the creatures, especially humanity as the imago dei, or ‘image of God’. [240]

Questions:

  • Why is it important to distinguish symbolic from non-symbolic language about God?
  • Why does Tillich say that we can only speak about God symbolically?
  • What makes a religious symbol true or false, and how are symbols of God determined true?
  • How are symbols for God such as ‘Father’ and ‘King’, shown to be a “double edged sword”?

Changes in German:

  • [240]+8: A religious symbol [-possesses some truth +is authentic (or valid)]
  • [240]+10: is true [German removes emphasis]

II.II.B.4: God as Living [241-252]

II.II.B.4.a): God as Being and God as Living [241-244]

Summary:

[241-242] Because “life is the process in which potential being becomes actual being”, and because the structure of being is both in unity and in tension, to say that ‘God lives’ must be said in the sense that God lives in so far as God is the eternal process wherein reunion overcomes separation. [242] God symbolically pictured as living in the Old Testament as distinct from being-itself. Because in God as God there is neither potentiality nor actuality, God as living is a symbolic expression. The biblical anthropomorphic language about God attempts to speak of God as living, not simply a “pure absolute”, or “being-itself”, and enables God to become religiously symbolic. Thus religious instruction should deepen the feeling of anthropomorphic symbols, without diminishing the reality to which they point. Neither should theology “weaken” these concrete symbols, rather it should analyze and interpret them “in abstract ontological terms.” [243] Symbols of God are dependent on the ontological structure of being. Theology then should interpret this essential element alongside the existential element relating to revelation. Ontological poles come from the ground of being, from the God within which these are unified. Though the ground of these is God, God does not stand under them. The poles contain both an object/world side (participation, form, destiny) and a subject side (individualization, dynamics, freedom), both of which are “rooted in the divine life”. However, the subject/self side is the side from which symbols derive the “existential relationship between God and man”, from which humans apply ultimate concern in a symbolic way to God, making God, by analogy, personal, dynamic, and free. However, theology notes the other side (object/world) of the polarities in symbolic language about God. [243-244] To call God a person must be balanced with the understanding that God is not a person in “finite separation”, but only in “absolute and unconditional participation in everything”. God is dynamic, but in an absolute and unconditional unity with forms. God is free, but in an absolute and unconditional identity with the divine destiny. The divine self is the destiny. The self-world ontological structure of finite beings “is transcended in the divine life without providing symbolic material”. Therefore God can, strictly speaking, neither be called a ‘self’ nor a ‘world’. For both self and the world are rooted in the divine life, it is not the other way around.

Definitions:

  • Life: “Life is the process in which potential being becomes actual being; it is the actualization of the structural elements of being in their unity and in their tension.” [241]
  • Ontological structure of self and world: Two polarities that are co-dependent where one is needs the other to function. A reality that must be understood. An individual is a self yet one lives in a world with other selves. [244]

Questions:

  • What does it mean to say that God is a “living God”?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of using symbolic anthropomorphic language about God?
  • What does Tillich mean when he says that “God is man’s ultimate concern”, symbolically speaking?
  • Why is it important to realize the proper place of symbols which speak of God?
  • What does it mean to say that the self-world ontological structure is transcended in God? Why is it important to make this distinction?

II.II.B.4.b): The Divine Life and the Ontological Elements [244-249]

Summary:

[244] This section discusses problems in the history of theology with regard to its use of symbols for God. The crux of the problem, as previously discussed, is that symbols we use for speaking of God come from the ontological elements, and the ontological elements apply to beings under the conditions of existence, or finite beings; but God is neither under these conditions expressed by the ontological elements nor a finite being. The first step in analysis of symbols we use for God is to distinguish their proper sense from their symbolic sense, meanwhile balancing each side of the ontological polarities without “reducing the symbolic power of either of them”. First, the polarity of individualization and participation involves the symbol personal God as pointing to an existential “person-to-person” relation, any relation less than personal could not meet the demands of human ultimate concern. Personality includes individuality, but we can speak of God as an individual only as an “absolute participant”. [245] Both poles, individualization and participation, are grounded in God, but God transcends them both. “Personal God” means God is both the ground and power of personality. Theology made God a person by separating natural law from moral law (Kant). Theism made God a heavenly, perfect person above world and humanity; and atheism correctly protested the symbol of a God without the pole of participation. As ground and aim of every life God symbolizes participation also. Symbolically God is both poles. [246-247] Second, the polarity of dynamics and form as symbolically applied to God should be understood neither as actus purus or other terms leaning too heavily on the dynamic pole, nor as “nonsymbolic, ontological doctrine of God as becoming” which also sacrifice form to dynamics. [247] Rather the poles should be balanced to include form as symbolizing a God who in whom the actualization of potentiality “inescapably unites possibility with fulfillment”, and note that “will and intellect in God” show both poles symbolically in balance. [248] For over a century the pole of dynamics has swallowed form (Protestantism), which before was the inverse (Catholicism); “but theology must balance the new with the old”. Third, the polarity of freedom and destiny should be symbolically applied to God as a balanced unity of both poles, which means that the biblical picture of a free God with aseity, should include an “existential correlation of man and God” which does not condition God. [248-249] Symbolically, “in God freedom and destiny are one”, and “God is his own destiny”.

Definitions:

  • Persona, Prosopon: “Personality”; “Classical theology employed the term persona for the trinitarian hypostases but not for God himself.” [244,245]
  • Personal God: “‘Personal God’ does not mean that God is a person. It means that God is the ground of everything personal and that he carries within himself the ontological power of personality … God is the principle of participation as well as the principle of individualization.” [245]
  • Parousia: (Greek) “Plato uses the word parousia for the presence of the essences in temporal existence. This word later becomes the name for the preliminary and final presence of the transcendent Christ in the church and in the world. Par-ousia means ‘being by,’ ‘being with’- but on the basis of being absent, of being separated.” [245]
  • Universal Participation: “While active religious communication between God and man depends on the symbol of the personal God, the symbol of universal participation expresses the passive experience of the divine parousia in terms of the divine omnipresence.” [245]
  • Dynamics: “Potentiality, vitality, and self-transcendence are indicated in the term ‘dynamics’. [245-246]
  • Form: “The term ‘form’ embraces actuality, intentionality, and self-preservation.” [246]
  • Actus Purus: “Potentiality and actuality appear in classical theology in the famous formula that God is actus purus, the pure form in which everything potential is actual, and which is the eternal self-intuition of the divine fullness (pleroma). [246]
  • Ungrund: (German) “The ‘nature in God’. [246]
  •  Aseity of God: “Classical theology has spoken in more abstract terms of the aseity of God, of his being a se, self-driven. But aseity also means that there is nothing given in God which is not at the same time affirmed by his freedom.” [248]
  • Freedom (Symbolized in God): “Freedom, like the other ontological concepts, must be understood symbolically and in terms of the existential correlation of man and God. If taken in this way, freedom means that that which is man’s ultimate concern is in no way dependent on man or on any finite being or on any finite concern. Only that which is unconditional can  be the expression of unconditional concern. A conditioned God is no God.” [248] 

Questions:

  • Why is it important to distinguish the “proper sense” from the “symbolic sense” of the symbols we use to speak of God?
  • Why does Tillich say that “man cannot be ultimately concerned about anything that is less than personal”? Do you agree? Why?
  • What does it mean to unite the poles of individuality and participation when symbolically speaking about God?
  • When theology has leaned too heavily on dynamics without balancing it with form, what was the result?
  • What is Tillich’s understanding of the symbol destiny applied to God? In other words, does God have a destiny? Do you agree, and why?

Changes in German:

  • [244]-8: The symbol “[-p +P]ersonal God” (German capitalizes Personal despite not being at the beginning of a sentence and not being a noun)
  • [245]+17: “Personal God” is a [-confusing +misleading] symbol

II.II.B.4.c): God as Spirit and the Trinitarian Principles [249-252]

Summary:

[249] To say that God is spirit is to say that God is “the unity of the ontological elements and the telos of life”. Spirit is an excellent symbol for God, because it does not need to be balanced with another pole; it includes all ontological polarities. ‘Spirit’ is here capitalized, to distinguish it from lower case ‘spirit’, the latter uniting power and meaning. [250] “In contrast to Nietzsche, who identified the two assertions that God is Spirit and that God is dead, we must say that God is the living God because he is Spirit.” The Christian doctrine of the Trinity begins by asserting that Jesus is the Christ. However, if the presuppositions of the Christian doctrine of the idea of God are asked, then the trinitarian principles can be assessed, which begins with the Spirit. “God is Spirit, and any trinitarian statement must be derived from this basic assertion.” Trinitarian principles are “moments” within the process of God’s life as spirit. The elements of power (the “abyss of the divine”) and meaning (the “fullness of its content”).  [250-251] The first principle, which “makes God God”, is the ground and power of being, from which everything originates, and that which infinitely resists nonbeing. [251] The second principle involves the logos, which unites meaning and structure with creativity, in which God “speaks his ‘word,’ both in himself and beyond himself”, and without which God would be completely secluded, thus demonic. The third principle is the Spirit, which contains and unites power and meaning, giving actuality to the potential in the “divine ground and ‘outspoken’ in the divine logos”. Through the Spirit the finite is united, and distinguished, though not separated, with from and to the infinite. These trinitarian principles are not the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, they are prolegomena to it. [252] The symbol “divine life” points to the paradox that in God the finite and infinite are posited, though transcending potentiality and actuality.   

Definitions:

  • [capitalized] Spirit: “Spirit is the unity of the ontological elements and the telos of life … Spirit is the symbolic application of [lower case] spirit to divine life”; “Spirit is the power through which meaning lives, and it is the meaning which gives direction to power.” [249,250]
  • Telos: (Greek) “The word telos expresses the relation of life and spirit more precisely than the worlds ‘aim’ or ‘goal’. It expresses the inner directedness of life toward spirit, the urge of life to become spirit, to fulfil itself as spirit. Telos stands for an inner, essential, necessary aim, for that in which a being fulfils its own nature.” [249]
  • Geist, Espirit, Spirito: German, French, and Italian terms for (lower case) ‘spirit’. [249]
  • [lower case] spirit: “The meaning of spirit is built up through the meaning of the ontological elements and their union. In terms of both sides of the three polarities one can say that spirit is the unity of power and meaning. On the side of power it includes centered personality, self-transcending vitality, and freedom of self-determination. On the side of meaning it includes universal participation, forms and structures of reality, and limiting and directing destiny … spirit does not stand in contrast to body. Life as spirit transcends the duality of body and mind. It also transcends the triplicity of body, soul, and mind”. [249-250]
  • God is Spirit: “The statement that God is Spirit means that life as spirit is the inclusive symbol for the divine life. It contains all the ontological elements.” [250]
  • Logos: “The classical term logos is most adequate for the second principle, that of meaning and structure. It unites meaningful structure with creativity.” [251]

Questions:

  • What does it mean to say that “God is Spirit”? Do you think this symbol can be applied to God? Why?
  • Why does Tillich say that speaking of the trinitarian principles “must begin with the Spirit rather than with the Logos”?
  • Why does Tillich say that “without the second principle God is demonic”?
  • What does it mean to say that God is symbolically “divine life”?

II.II.B.5: God as Creating [252-270]

II.II.B.5.Introduction: Creation and Finitude [252-253]

Summary:

[252] The divine life (i.e. God) actualizes itself in “inexhaustible abundance”, via its creativity. The divine life and the divine creativity are the same, there is no distinction; “God is creative because he is God.” Thus to ask whether creation is either ‘necessary’ or ‘contingent’ is a moot question. Creativity is both the destiny and freedom of God, but God is not subjected to ‘fate’. Creation is not a “necessary” act of God, because God is not dependent on a “necessity above him”. God has aseity, which means that “everything he is he is through himself.” The doctrine of creation describes the relation between God and the world, answering the question implied in human finitude, and discovers the meaning of finitude as “creatureliness”, which is answered in the essential nature of humanity. However, the question is neither asked nor answered in the existential nature of humanity. Existence means that humans ask the question of their finitude without receiving an answer. [253] Divine creativity includes both preservation and providence. Last, because God is essentially creative, past present and future must be symbolically used to speak of God’s creativity. “God has created the world, he is creative in the present moment, and he will creatively fulfil his telos”. These three statements will be elaborated in the following sections.

Definitions:

  • Doctrine of Creation: “The doctrine of creation is not the story of an event which took place ‘once upon a time.’ It is the basic description of the relation between God and the world. It is the correlate to the analysis of man’s finitude. It answers the question implied in man’s finitude and in finitude generally.” [252]
  • Creation: God “Eternally ‘creates himself,’ a paradoxical phrase which states God’s freedom … Creation is not only God’s freedom but also his destiny. But it is not a fate; it is neither a necessity nor an accident which determines him.” [252]

Questions:

  • Is there a difference between the “divine life” and the “divine creativity”? Why?
  • Why does Tillich say that God’s creativity is neither necessary nor contingent? Why is this important?
  • Tillich says that the question implied in human finitude, the question of “creature as creature” is asked and answered in human essential, not existential nature. What does this mean and how is this claim made?
  • Why are all three modes of time included in the symbol of creativity as applied to God?

II.II.B.5.a): God’s Originating Creativity [253-261]
II.II.B.5.a).(1): Creation and Nonbeing [253-254]

Summary:

[253] Classical Christian doctrine describes creation as creation ex nihilo. Theology’s first task is to interpret this phrase. This doctrine is a negation, which has been used to prevent any type of ultimate dualism, and to differentiate Christianity from paganism. Ultimacy is intimately related to ultimate concern, which must have ultimate dependence. If nihilo means me on, it simply restates the Greek doctrine of matter and form. If nihilo means ouk on, it could not be the origin of the creature. Creatureliness implies but is more than nonbeing, because it both contains the power of being-itself and it participates in the creative ground of being-itself. Creatureliness means inheriting both nonbeing (anxiety) and being (courage). The doctrine of creation ex nihilo implies first, that existence is not “rooted in the creative ground of being”. [253-254] Which means that it “does not belong to the essential nature of things” (i.e. the existential is estranged from the essential). Ontological asceticism does not reverse this, because the tragic in finitude is conquered only through the “presence of being-itself within the finite”. Second, creatureliness involves nonbeing, hence death is a natural necessary but the tragic is not; the tragic is only a potentiality. The doctrines of the incarnation and eschatology are both based on the doctrine of creation, because it is derived from the relation of God to the world.

Definitions:

  • Creatio Ex Nihilo: (Latin) Meaning ‘Created out of nothing’. “The classical Christian doctrine of creation uses [this phrase] … their obvious meaning is a critical negation. God finds nothing ‘given’ to him which influences him in his creativity or which resists his creative telos.” [253]
  • ‘Nothing’: “‘Nothing’ is what (or where) [the word ex] comes from. Now ‘nothing’ can mean two things … absolute negation of being, or it can mean the relative negation of being.” [253]
  • Ouk On: The absolute negation of being. [253]
  • Me On: The relative negation of being. [253]

Questions:

  • What has Christianity used the doctrine of creation ex nihilo to avoid?
  • Why is ultimacy so important in the doctrine of creation?
  •  How are the doctrines of the incarnation and eschatology tied by Tillich to the doctrine of creation? In other words, what is the relation?

II.II.B.5.a).(2): Creation, Essence, and Existence [254-256]

Summary:

[254] The Nicene Creed designates God as “everything visible and invisible”, which, as with the trinitarian formula discussed above, functions to protect Christianity, this time from the Platonic teaching which makes the creator-god dependent on eternal essences or ideas. Incidentally, both Neo-Platonism and Christian theology discussed essences as “ideas in the divine mind”, patterns of God’s creation, but dependent on God. Because there is “no distinction in the divine life between potentiality and actuality”, essences are related to universals and to individuals. [255] Later Platonists accounted for individuality, which Nominalists took to an extreme; for they cannot deny that individuals point to a transcendence beyond themselves. God’s creative life process is prior to essence and existence, wherein individuals are symbolically both essential beings with inner aim, and existential beings within the creative life process. It is important to note that these observations are symbolic, “since we are unable to have a perception or even an imagination of that which belongs to the divine life.” The existence of humanity is different than its essence; belonging to both humans are in the creative ground of God and is manifest to itself and to “the whole of reality.” In other words, humans have left the creative ground to actualize their “finite freedom”. Hence the union of the doctrine’s of creation and the fall- the “most difficult and the most dialectical point in the doctrine of creation”. This is the case because “fully developed creatureliness is fallen creatureliness”. [255-256] The creature is “outside the creative ground” in so far as its freedom is actualized. This is both the end of creation and the beginning of the fall, involving both freedom and destiny. [256] Creation and fall intersect in a perplexing way: the universality negating individual contingency, and the separation of existence from its unity with essence negating structural necessity; “It is the actualization of ontological freedom united with ontological destiny.” In summary, “being a creature means both to be rooted in the creative ground of the divine life and to actualize one’s self through freedom”. The self-realization of a creature, as the fulfillment of creation, is freedom and destiny, marks a break between essence and existence; “creaturely freedom is the point at which creation and the fall coincide.” This leads to human creativity, which humanity has in every direction, but divine creativity is very distinct from human creativity.       

Definitions:

  • Creativity: the human creativity brings new into being, but can not bring into being from non-being. [256]

Questions:

  • What is the distinction between the Platonic doctrine of creation, and the Neo-Platonic, Christian doctrine? Why is this distinction important?
  • How is the statement that “there is no difference in the divine life between potentiality and -actuality” as resolution of the Platonic and the Neo-Platonic doctrine of creation?
  • How are individuals symbolically present both essentially and existentially in the creativity of God?
  • Why does Tillich note that we can only speak symbolically of the “creative process of the divine life”?
  • Why is the doctrine of the fall the “most difficult and most dialectical point in the doctrine of creation”?

Changes in German:

  • [256]-5: God is primarily and essentially creative [man is secondarily and existentially creative]

II.II.B.5.a).(3): Creation and the Categories [256-258]

Summary:

[257] The most relevant category of finitude for this discussion, is time. This is the case because the question of creation relates most aptly to the category of time. The question of what ‘happened’ before creation is absurd, because of its presupposition- that creation was an event which happened in the past. Since Augustine, traditional theology considers time itself as having been created. This view can imply creation’s coeternity with God, which theologians such as Barth, reject. The proper way to answer the question of creation and time is through the creative character of the divine life (God). Positing the finite (i.e. finite beings, which include everything that exists) within the “process of the divine life” implies that the forms of finitude, which are the categories, are posited in the divine life. The difference between the time of God and the time of finite creatures is that God’s time is determined by the present, whereas ours is determined by nonbeing: the ‘no longer’ ‘not yet’ time of existence. In the divine life the moments of time are “essentially united”, but the moments of time for humanity are existentially disrupted, due to the separation of essence from existence. None of these conditions of existence apply to God. The divine eternity includes temporality and transcends it. Under the discussion of creation and time, time has a double character: “It belongs to the creative process of the divine life as well as to the point of creation which coincides with the fall”. In other words, time participates in the destiny of created beings. We are simultaneously essentially rooted in and existentially separated from the divine ground beyond both. This separation has occurred in finite beings through the polarity of freedom and destiny. To talk about ‘time’ before creation is to point to God’s time, which precedes time as we know it and thereby cannot really be called ‘time’. To talk about “creation in time” is to point to the movement from God’s ‘time’ to our time, or essentially unified time to existentially split/disrupted time. The better way to answer the question of creation and time is to speak of “creation with time”, because “time is the form of finitude” in both the “creative ground of the divine life” and in “creaturely existence”. [258] All of the ontological categories of finitude are in the creative ground of the divine life and in the existential experience of “actualized freedom, in the fulfilment and the self-estrangement of creaturely being”. However, the presence of the categories in the creative ground of the God can only be asserted symbolically, while the categories in our existence are asserted literally.

Definitions:

  • Time: “Time is the form of finitude in the creative ground of the divine life as well as in creaturely existence.” [257]

Questions:

  • Why does Tillich say that the presupposition of the question as to what happened before creation is absurd?
  • Why is it important to note that God is not subjected to the conditions of existence, which include time?
  • What does it mean to say that humanity experiences time in the separation of essence and existence? In other words, how has this separation occurred?

II.II.B.5.a).(4): The Creature [258-261]

Summary:

[258] The argument that “the fulfilment of creation is the actualization of finite freedom” is continued in this section and applied to humanity as “the creature” within which finite freedom is actualized. Because the human being is the only being within which finite freedom is completely present, humanity is the telos of creation. The “image of God” is the biblical phrase for the creatureliness of humanity. This phrase has undergone many interpretations, complicated by translation of the terms imago and similitude. These terms led to “ontological dualism” (i.e. differentiation of the natural equipment from the divine gift in Adam) by Irenaeus, which were rejected by Protestantism, which interpreted these terms as indication that humanity had power to commune with God; the power which was lost in the fall. Roman Catholicism holds that humanity did not lose this power; rather it was simply weakened. The central point around which these arguments turn, however, is on the interpretation of grace within these camps. [259] Because ontological supranaturalism is untenable, the Catholic doctrine is here rejected and the Protestant accepted. Within Protestantism, however, there are two problems: first, the “exact meaning of ‘image of God’; second, “the nature of man’s created goodness”. The first problem is answered by distinguishing between image of God from relation to God. Humanity is in God’s image because humans have reason, which is “the structure of freedom”, because the human is the only creature within which the ontological elements are complete and united, and because humanity’s “logos is analogous to the divine logos”. The second problem is answered by discussing the original state of Adam as “dreaming innocence”, which was lost at the fall. “The goodness of man’s created nature is that he is given the possibility and necessity of actualizing himself and of becoming independent by his self-actualization, in spite of the estrangement unavoidable connected with it.” Because the actualization of Adam’s freedom was the turning point, the fall, one cannot speak of his “actual state” prior to this. To be in an “actual state” is to be actualized. Prior to the actualization which was the fall, Adam could not have been in an actual state. [260] Because humanity is the only creature in whom the ontological elements are complete, all other creatures are called “subhuman”. Because the human is the only creature who feels the threat of nonbeing, it has less natural perfection than the others, which are on a different ontological level than the human. Though there are subhuman creatures, there are not superhuman creatures. The human and subhuman creatures participate in one another, because in the human “all levels of reality are present. [261] This is shown mythologically and symbolically, culminating in the truth theology should learn from “modern naturalism”: “what happens in the microcosm happens by mutual participation in the macrocosmos, for being itself is one.”

Definitions:

  • The Telos of Creation: “The fulfilment of creation is the actualization of finite freedom … man is the telos of creation. In other beings there are preformations of freedom … but the power of transcending the chain of stimulus and response by deliberation and decision is absent. No other being has a complete self and a complete world; no other being is aware of finitude on the basis of an awareness of potential infinity.” [258]
  • Imago: (Latin) “The natural equipment of man.” [258]
  • Similitudo, Donum Superadditum: (Latin) “Similitudo … the special divine gift, the donum superadditum.” [258]
  • Justitia Originalis: “Man in his pure nature is not only the image of God; he has also the power of communion with god and therefore righteousness toward other creatures and himself (justitia originalis).” [258]
  • Grace: Roman Catholicism interprets grace as “supranatural substance”. Protestantism interprets grace as the reception of forgiveness “received in the center of one’s personality.” [258]
  • Rational: “Rational can be defined as technical reason in the sense of arguing and calculating.” [259]
  • Subhuman: “Man is the creature in which the ontological elements are complete. They are incomplete in all creatures, which (for this very reason) are called ‘subhuman.’ This does not imply less perfection than in the case of the human. On the contrary, man as the essentially threatened creature cannot compare with the natural perfection of the subhuman creatures.” [260]

Questions:

  • What is the fulfillment of creation, and how does this relate to humanity?
  • Why is the Catholic interpretation of “image of God” rejected?
  • How does Tillich distinguish the “image of God” from the “relation to God”?
  • What reasons does Tillich give for the assertion of the meaning “image of God”, applies to reason? Do you agree? Why?
  • Why could Adam not have had an “actual state” before the fall?
  • How does humanity and the rest of the world participate in one another?

Changes in German:

  • [260]+7: all [+other] creatures
  • [260]+15: has [-to be +been] given
  • [260]+19: (Paul should be Peter; German preserves the mistake)
  • [260]-10: [-They underlie…the Christian Era.]
  • [260]-6: [-They appear…same substance and power.]8 (note that footnote 8 is preserved in the German)
  • [261]+7: nominalism and [-individuals +individualism]
  • [261]+8: is about to [-reconquer +retrieve (or win back)].

II.II.B.5.b): God’s Sustaining Creativity [261-263]

Summary:

[261] The actualization of human freedom occurs within “the whole of reality”. This actualization involves the resistance both of nonbeing and the ground of being which we depend on. Yet ironically, humanity cannot actualize freedom without its dependence on “its creative ground”, and cannot resist nonbeing but by the power of being-itself. The traditional doctrine of the preservation of the world involved “the relation of God to the creature in its actualized freedom”, through which deism has entered into the theological tradition. [262] In attempts to speak of God’s preservation of the world, the untenable notion of deism (including consistent and theistic deism) has surfaced. A better interpretation of God’s preservation of the world explains preservation as God’s “continuous creativity”. This description defeats deism. Further, distinguishing originating from sustaining creativity; culminating in a faith that God’s sustaining creativity “is the faith in the continuity of the structure of reality as the basis for being and acting.” [262-263] Worldviews have fluctuated from negating to emphasizing the significance of God’s sustaining creativity. [263] The concepts of immanence and transcendence have been replaced by the incorrect phrase “as well as”, which point to a spatial God both in and above the world.  Because God is “neither I another nor in the same space as the world”, the non-spatial articulation of God as “immanent in the world as its permanent creative ground and transcendent to the world through freedom”, is a better answer to the question of God’s preservation of the world. God does not ‘preserve’ the world. Rather, God creatively sustains the world.

Definitions:

  • Consistent deism: God does not interfere with creation after its beginning. [262]
  • Theistic deism: God interferes with creation only occasionally through miracles and revelation. [262]
  • Consistent theism: God acts in a “continual interrelationship”. [262]
  • Preservation: the continuous creativity of God. [262]
  • Deus Sive Natura: “A phrase which indicates that the name ‘God’ does not add anything to what is already involved in the name ‘nature.’” [262]

Questions:

  • What is the irony in the asserting that the human actualization of freedom “includes structural independence … the possibility of resisting the return to the ground of being”?
  • Why is the phrase “as well as”, which replaced the concepts of immanence and transcendence, problematic?
  • How does Tillich offer a better answer to the question of God’s preservation of the world?

II.II.B.5.c): God’s Directing Creativity [263-270]
II.II.B.5.c).(1): Creation and Purpose [263-264]

Summary:

[263] The question of the purpose of creation is so ambiguous that it is not worthy of developing. The concept is shown to be ambiguous in the following way: from the perspective of creation, it “has no purpose beyond itself”, the creature, creation is its way to actualize itself, the creator, “the exercise of his creativity”. [264] In Calvinist theology God does not need creation to give him glory. In Lutheran theology, God’s purpose for creation is to have a loving relationship with “his creatures”. Yet the world here also, can offer nothing to God. The “telos of creativity” is a better notion than that of a “purpose of creation”. With the telos of creativity, traditionally called ‘providence’, God directs creation towards the inner aim of “fulfilling in actuality what is beyond potentiality and actuality in the divine life.”

Definitions:

  • Providence: creativity that directs creatures towards fulfillment [264]

Questions:

  • Why is the concept “purpose of creation” an ambiguous concept?
  • What is the alternative conception offered by Tillich? Do you think it is better? Why?

II.II.B.5.c).(2): Fate and Providence [264-266]

Summary:

[264] “Providence is a paradoxical concept” because faith in divine providence is held “in spite of” ‘the darkness of fate and the meaninglessness of existence.” This concept has been manifest in different ways: in Plato, as the overcoming of dark fate through “the good” (ultimate power of being and knowledge); in the late ancient world through a reign of terror, and in Christianity fate and fear were defeated by Christ. Subsequently Christianity transformed the concept of fate from providence to “a rational principle at the expense of its paradoxical character”. [265] This transformation has occurred in three forms: the teleological, which holds that all things serve God’s purpose as human happiness; the harmonistic, which argues that behind the “egoistic concerns” of people, there is a law of harmony moving; and the dialectical, wherein the self-realization of God is the explanation of history. [266] The modern era is characterized by a dark view of fate, from which individuals respond by seeking individual fulfillment; returning to the “same struggle in which originally the Christian victory was won.”

Definitions:

  • The Teleological Way: All things are constructed so that they serve the purpose of God’s action, which is human happiness [265]
  • The Harmonistic Way: The law of harmony always works towards overcoming the egoistic intentions of humans. The ‘universe bends towards justice’ [265]
  • Historical Dialectics: Sees a constant opposition between providence and fate, with providence eventually, or intermittently winning triumphant [266]
  • Pronoia: (Greek) Providence. [264]

Questions:

  • Why is providence such a “paradoxical concept”?

II.II.B.5.c).(3): The Meaning of Providence [266-267]

Summary:

[266] With respect to providence, God is usually ambiguously understood either as ‘foreseeing” or ‘fore-ordering’, implying God as an “omniscient spectator” or a “planner who has ordered everything that will happen”. The former leads to creatures either making their own world as God watches, or creatures as “cogs in a universal mechanism”, with God “as the only active agent”. Both views are problematic. God is rather a director who constantly creates through human freedom, directing everything towards its fulfillment; regardless of situation or circumstance. [266-267] This view of ‘providence’ includes all existential conditions, though God does not interfere, God creates. [267] Providence is “the divine condition” always present in finite conditions. Providence is neither miraculous nor divine activity, it is “inner directedness”.  Through faith in providence, the believer asserts that nothing can frustrate the fulfillment of his ultimate destiny. A prayer is not made with the expectation that God will change situation or events, but with the hope that God will direct the situation towards fulfillment. In a true prayer, the individual surrenders a part of himself to God, and expresses faith in God’s directing activity.

Definitions:

  • Pro-videre: fore-seeing and fore-ordering [266]
  • Providence: Providence is a quality of every constellation of conditions, a quality which ‘drives’ or ‘lures’ toward fulfilment. Providence is the ‘divine condition’ which is present in every group of finite conditions and in the totality of finite conditions.” [267]

Questions:

  • What is Tillich’s articulation of a proper meaning of providence? Do you think it is an improvement upon the classical doctrine of providence?

II.II.B.5.c).(4): Individual and Historical Providence [267-269]

Summary:

[267] Providence and special providence are distinguished; the former referring to individual and historical time, the latter is meant to assure an individual person that God through the “divine factor” keeps the possibility for fulfilment open. [268] Providence and special providence were not distinguished in the ancient understanding. Human fate was believed to be beyond a person's control, thus special providence had a liberating effect; which appears in philosophical movements such as Stoicism. In Christianity, providence assumes a personal relationship to God, including personal protection and guidance. Faith in this kind of providence encourages hope and confidence, but has a double edged character. It can become problematic when a person assumes that God’s providence will change his or her circumstances. In fact the inverse is true. Providence gives a person courage to bear any circumstances without the circumstances changing. Providence allows for transcendence. Historical providence on the other hand, has been embraced by Christianity from its root in Old Testament Judaic thought. Like special providence, historical providence can become dangerous when faith is invested in expectations of certain historical events, ends, or processes. Again, providence allows for transcendence of history, not the alteration of history.

Definitions:

  • Special Providence: “The certainty that under any circumstances, under any set of conditions, the divine “factor” is active and that therefore the road to . . . ultimate fulfillment is open.” [267]
  • Individual Providence: Providence as it is felt and understood by the individual. [268]
  • Historical Providence: The understanding of the eternal creativity of God as experienced in and through history, without allowing the outcome of specific historical events to determine one's faith. [268]

Questions:

  • What is the difference between individual and historical providence?
  • In what way has the history of Christianity changed the understanding and faith in Providence?

II.II.B.5.c).(5): Theodicy [269-270]

Summary:

[269] The difficulties involved in existential finitude give rise to the question of theodicy, the answer of which is given in a paradoxical faith in providence. The physical pain (i.e. finitude and the threat of nonbeing) is a necessary result of the creativity of the divine. Because God cannot create anything that is contrary to himself, though God does create that which has become finite. This only partially answers the question of theodicy. [270] To fully answer the question, we must be aware of the existential nature of all theological questions: theological questions are relevant only for those asking them. To answer a universal theological question, we must determine where our life intersects other lives. That intersection is found in our mutual participation in the ground of being. This then means that all questions have both a universal and personal implication. This understanding of individuality and participation is the answer to the question of theodicy in that all beings participate in the ground of being so there can be no division between the fulfilled and the unfulfilled in human life. Because they participate in the ground of being, all must be fulfilled. God participates in and transcends finitude, as the divine creativity, which makes paradoxical providence possible. Therefore the answer to the question of theodicy is faith in God who is the ground of being. Because God is creativity, universal participation in the ground of being denies the exclusion of any being, thus no being is excluded from fulfillment.

Definitions:

  • Theodicy: The question of the justification for evil and pain in the world if God is just and good why some beings are seemingly “excluded from any kind of fulfilment.” [269]
  • Patripassianism: “The doctrine that God the Father has suffered in Christ.” [270]

Questions:

  • What problem does the idea of Patripassianism present if God is the ground of being?
  • How is participation possible for God, but not Patripassianism?

II.II.B.6: God as Related [271-289]

II.II.B.6.a): The Divine Holiness and the Creature [271-272]

Summary:

[271] God as the ground of being and all relations of being is not a being. Thus God does not relate to beings as a being. To speak of a relation to God is to speak symbolically in the same way that we speak of God as a living God. Symbols, because of their inadequacy in reaching the ground of being, must be both affirmed and denied in their use. This true when we speak of relation to God. A relation assumes that God can become an object in the human subject-object or self-world sense of relation, but God is always a subject. God is in a way unapproachable, which means that God as inapproachable is nuanced in the term ‘holy’. In a relation with God, the ego embraces the ground of all relations, and embraces itself. [272] It is ultimately insulting to speak of God as a ‘partner’, or an object in relation to our subjectivity. The terms “majesty” and “glory” are symbols for God's transcendence found in the Old Testament and Calvinism. To take these symbols too far is to forget that all qualities of the divine life are qualified by God's holiness. Yet humanity participates, through the ground of being, in holiness. And when humanity praises God's as holy, humanity participates in holiness.

Definitions:

  • Holy: A word denoting the unapproachability of God, “the impossibility of having a relation with [God] in the proper sense of the word” [271].

Questions:

  • What is praise when it is directed towards God?
  • What does it mean for human beings to offer praise?

II.II.B.6.b): The Divine Power and the Creature [272-279]
II.II.B.6.b).(1): The Meaning of Omnipotence [272-274]

Summary:

[273] The symbol of omnipotence separates Christianity from all religions that posit gods with being, rather than the ground of being itself. Only a God that is not a being can be humanity’s ultimate concern. Omnipotence is the symbol which answers the first question of finitude. The symbol of omnipotence does not connote a personal god that acts arbitrarily. This would make God a finite being among other beings, even if he were the most powerful, and he could not be of ultimate concern. God transcends actuality and potentiality, as well as time and space. The expression of omnipotence within the ontological structure of being (i.e. the categories), and the subject-object structure as a whole are eternity, omnipresence, and omniscience respectively.

Definitions:

  • Omnipotence: The symbol of God's power in “resisiting and conquering nonbeing”. [272]
  • Eternity: Omnipotence “with respect to time.” [274]
  • Omnipresence: Omnipotence “with respect to space.” [274]
  • Omniscience: Omnipotence “with respect to the subject-object structure of being.” [274]

Questions:

  • In what way does omnipotence answer the first question implied in finitude?

II.II.B.6.b).(2): The Meaning of Eternity [274-276]

Summary:

[274] Eternity is an expression implying God as the ground of being, and is a better articulation of God than the traditional ‘omni-’ or all-temporality indicated by examples such as ‘omnipotence’ or ‘omnipresence’. Eternity alludes to the “power” which embraces all time; and time is a significant part of finitude. God as eternal means that God is that which stands against and transcends the temporal even as God participates in it. The eternal is composed of past, present and future equally and simultaneously, but it is the transcendent unity of the three aspects of temporality- without their loss of their distinctive modes of existence. Eternity is in this way not timelessness, but neither is it endlessness of time. [275] If time were endlessness, God would be less than divine, because he would be subjected to endless temporal moments. This would mean that God could not be the ground of being, or eternity itself. These assertions about timelessness and the endlessness of time beg the question, about the existence of the modes of time. First, the analogy of eternity found in human life will be used. This is the remembrance of past, combined with expectation of the future, within the present. The center of this analogy is a present that does not cease to move between past and future, but which is also ever present. The future must be open to God, God must know and anticipate it, or God would be less than God. [276] The same goes for eternity's relation to the past. Eternity is not dependent upon the past. The past, like the future, is changeable rather than static, thus containing potentiality. Eternity stands as the basis for the courage that negates the anxiety of the future and the past. Eternal life is found through participation in the eternal ground of being.

Definitions:

  • Eternity: “Is neither timelessness nor the endlessness of time . . . It means the power of embracing all periods of time.” [274]

Questions:

  • What is meant by “endless reiteration of temporality”?
  • How does eternity answer the question implied in finitude?

II.II.B.6.b).(3): The Meaning of Omnipresence [276-278]

Summary:

[276] “God’s relation to space, as his relation to time, must be interpreted in qualitative terms.” [277] God is neither in nor outside of space and time. Theology needs to focus on the symbolic, rather than the literal application of phrases such as ‘God is in heaven’. This does not mean that God is spatially and temporally present in heaven. This means that God’s “Life is qualitatively different from creaturely existence.” God “transcends” and “participates” in the spatial-temporality under which categorical structure we live, “But God is not subject to it; he transcends it and participates in it.” The ascription of God relating to time but not to space is also problematic; it stems from a poor ontology which locates vitality and personality in God. This is a problematic ontology because vitality and personality are applicable only to a person who has a “bodily basis.” [278] When we realize that God transcends the spatial-temporal designation, we have existential relief. Because God is beyond this distinction, we can find relief from our anxiety and experience the courage which allows us to overcome our fears in this life. When we find this relief in God, we enter into the supra spatial-temporal sanctuary, which is God.

Definitions:

  • Omnipresence: The notion of God as “An extension of the divine substance throughout all spaces…can be interpreted to mean that God is present ‘personally’ in a circumscribed place (in heaven above but also simultaneously present with his power every place (in the earth beneath). [277]
  • The Sacramental Presence of God: The “Actual manifestation of [God’s] omnipresence”. The existential relation to God that we can have, where the anxiety of our lack of a self space is overcome with a courage to “accept the insecurities and anxieties of spatial existence.” God transcends the sacred-secular distinction. [278]

Questions:

  • Why is it important that God should be understood as transcending space and time?
  • How is this important distinction helpful to our lives? Do you agree that this understanding of God relieves human anxiety? Why?

II.II.B.6.b).(4): The Meaning of Omniscience [278-279]

Summary:

[278] Omniscience is a symbol that expresses the way in which God is Spirit. Divine omnipotence and omnipresence have a spiritual character, which is expressed in the symbol of omniscience. The first task for theology is to provide good interpretation of the term ‘omniscience’. [278-279] God is not contained within the subject-object structure of reality. God transcends the structure of finitude, for God is Spirit. God is ‘present’ in the finitude of humanity only in a symbolic and spiritual way. Thus when theology speaks of God’s omniscience, it should avoid anthropomorphic assertions about God. [279] Because ‘in’ God the rational and the abysmal are unified, humanity enjoys an existential peace. Because darkness and “hiddenness” are in God as Spirit, they are not in humanity. Thus when we have faith in the divine omniscience, our anxiety is relieved. Further, because duality is unified in God, there is no “split of being which makes things strange and unrelated to each other”. In other words, God is the One for the many. Because God is the Logos, we can participate in the discovery of truth by faith in “the symbol of the divine omniscience”, which is God.

Definitions:

  • Omniscience: “The symbol of omniscience expresses the spiritual character of the divine omnipotence and omnipresence. It is related to the subject-object structure of reality and points to the divine participation in and transcendence over this structure.” [278] “The logical (thought not always conscious) foundation of the belief in the openness of reality to human knowledge.” [278,279]

Questions:

  • Why is it important to realize that God is not to be subsumed “under the subject-object scheme”?
  • What is meant by speaking of God as omniscient?

II.II.B.6.c): The Divine Love and the Creature [279-286]
II.II.B.6.c).(1): The Meaning of Divine Love [279-282]

Summary:

[279] Love should not be defined by its emotional side, because the emotional side of love is only a consequence of its ontological side. God is love. God is being-itself. Therefore, being-itself is love; and its actuality is life. Love is an ontological characteristic. [280] Love unifies the tension between the individualization and desire for participation which humanity experiences. To say that God is love is to speak symbolically. God as love expresses a love (agape) that seeks to reach out to a person, and fulfill the persons longing. God as love symbolizes universality, and the unity of God and humanity. God is agape love. [281] “God works toward the fulfillment of every creature and toward the bringing-together into the unity of his life all who are separated and disrupted.” The love of humanity toward God is not the same as the love of God towards humanity. God’s love is not self-seeking, where humanity’s love is. Humanity’s love is eros love. [282] Because God is the One for the Many, God love’s that which is estranged from God’s self. This is the proper articulation of Augustine’s notion of God loving God’s self (the “trinitarian personae”). The forms of humanity’s love can be evil (when it is selfish, self debasing or self hating).  

Definitions:

  • Love: Love is ontological. God is love; love is being-itself, and is actualized in life; the unity of individualization and participation [279].
  • Agape: Divine love; the love of one person to another, and the love of one person to God; a selfless love which “seeks the fulfillment of the longing of” another being. Agape unites the lover with the beloved (God with humanity), does not show partiality, suffers, forgives and accepts. [280]
  • Caritas: the Latin translation of the term Agape; comes from the English word Charity. [280]
  • Libido: “The movement of the needy toward that which fulfils the need” [280].
  • Philia: “The movement of the equal toward union with the equal” [280].
  • Eros: “The movement of that which is lower in power and meaning to that which is higher.” [280]
  • Eschaton: “The ultimate fulfillment in which [God] is ‘all in all’. [281]
  • Summum Bonum: A Latin term, which refers to the highest good. [281]

Question:

  • Why is it important to maintain a distinction between the emotional interpretation, and the ontological interpretation, of divine love?

II.II.B.6.c).(2): The Divine Love and the Divine Justice [282-285]

Summary:

[282] God as divine love also displays divine justice. God does not take away the freedom of the subject (i.e. the person), or superimpose God’s self on the existential state of the person. The divine love unifies the person with God, without destroying the freedom of the independent self entering into the love relation from each side. [283-284] Divine love involves divine justice. This means that the divine love honors the freedom of a person, and accomplishes the fulfillment of a person- resulting in reunion for both. [283] However, in addition to luring and affirming, justice “also resists and condemns.” Divine love is related to- not in conflict with- divine power. This relation is exemplified in divine justice. Divine power is being-itself. When a person violates “the structure of justice”, that person “violates love itself.” The result of this violation is judgment and condemnation. “Condemnation is not the negation of love but the negation of the negation of love.” This is the way in which nonbeing is not permitted to overcome being. This is the way in which God maintains the structures of being and the structures of justice. Love can accomplish these things because of its ontological character. The creature that rejects divine love will undergo self-destruction: this is the way in which theology should use the symbol of ‘God’s wrath’. [284] The eschatological connotation of God’s judgment is not of a temporal duration. In God there is a union of temporality and eternity. Therefore, one who rejects God ultimately rejects being, therefore losing the possibility of continuing as a being- thus moving from being to non-being. This is so because one can only have being if one is related to the ground of all being.   

Definitions:

  • Justice: “Justice is that side of divine love which affirms the independent right of object and subject within the love relation.” [282]
  • Symbiotic love: The kind of love which entails “chaotic self surrender or chaotic self-imposition…(Eric Fromm)”. This is often the character of romantic love. [282]
  • Divine Wrath: The result of resisting divine love, which is condemnation, judgment, and self-destruction. [283-284] The awareness of this self-destructive nature of evil. [284]
  • Condemnation: The result of resisting divine love, which is nonbeing. [284]
  • Justification: The expression of love and justice unified in God; the union of the structures of justice with “The divine act in which love conquers the immanent consequences of the violation of justice. [284-285]
  • Grace: “The divine love in relation to the unjust sinner is grace.” [285]

Questions:

  • The estrangement of a person from God is the person’s resistance of God’s love. Why does this resistance result in non-being and self-destruction?
  • Love does not end because being does not end. This is so because God is being-itself, and God is love. If one’s rejection of God is rejection of being-itself, is the traditional notion of ‘hell’ to be understood as a continued temporal existence for the person under condemnation? Why or why not?

II.II.B.6.c).(3): The Divine Love as Grace and Predestination [285-286]

Summary:

[285] Because of God’s grace, God initiates a relation between Gods self and humanity. God allows beings to be. God, in God’s grace, gives unique participation to every being, accepts and fulfils every being, and makes this possible by mediating on behalf of every being. Double predestination is untenable, because it contradicts the being-itself and the love-itself, which is God. The notion of predestination is a fallacious consequence, because it excludes “existential participation”. All theological consequences should be grounded in existential participation. [286] By predestination, God unifies the polarity of freedom and destiny. Predestination should be interpreted as symbolism, as should all articulation alluding to the relation between God and the creature. From the perspective of humanity, predestination implies causality and determination. This is problematic. Predestination should be understood as pointing towards the existential experience that is fulfilled in God. “Predestination is the highest affirmation of the divine love, not its negation.” Human existence has no higher answer than the divine love. This is answer is epitomized by the incarnation- it is the Christological answer. Jesus appearing as the Christ is the existential answer of the divine love.

Definitions:

  • Grace (gratia, charis): The relation between God and humanity is in no way contingent upon humanity, it is initiated by God. This is grace. There are three forms of grace: Creating Grace, which offers the possibility of unique and individual participation in being-itself to all other beings. “The second form of grace [Saving Grace] is paradoxical; it gives fulfillment to that which is separated from the source of fulfillment, and it accepts that which is unacceptable.” The third form of grace (Providential Grace) mediates between the first and second forms, resulting in unity. [285]
  • Gratia Praeveniens: The classical term for Providential Grace. This is the grace of God which prepares humanity for the possibility of accepting Saving Grace, via history. [285]
  • Predestination: The question of “the relation of divine love to man’s ultimate destiny”. [285]
  • The Demonic: The notion of an eternal split within being-itself, and of nonbeing entering the heart of being and of love (which is not possible). [285]

Questions:

  • How is the Christological answer related to predestination?

II.II.B.6.d): God as Lord and as Father [286-289]

Summary:

[286] The two primary symbols used in the articulation of a person-to-person relationship to God are “God as Lord and God as Father”. [287] These two “symbol spheres” are coterminous and inseparable. The Lord is the Father and the Father is the Lord. Theology has not understood the importance of holding the two symbols together; theology has erred by emphasizing one over the other. God as Lord implies the holy power of God. The symbol of “Lord” emphasizes the transcendence of God, expresses the divine will (Logos of being), and implies the fulfillment of every creature (the telos of creation). If God were only Lord and not Father, God would be seen as a despotic ruler, and obedience to God would swallow the possibility for love of God. Humanity would lose autonomy, and God would save people by destroying their freedom. This is why God must be understood as Lord and as Father. Lord implies the distance between God and humanity. Father implies the union. [288] God is not simply a “friendly-father” who would suspend justice and judgment. Guilt and justice are necessary in order for humanity to see the need for forgiveness. God as Lord necessitates these. God as Father becomes an object of humanity’s ultimate concern. The symbols of God as Lord and as Father express a transcendent (infinite) reality, and reach into the existential world of human finitude. [289] God is Lord and Father, but God is also being-itself, and Son and Brother in the existence of humanity.        

Definitions:

  • God as Lord: A symbol of God’s holy power. [287]
  • God as Father: A symbol expressing the relation of humanity to God who is holy love. [287]
  • The Ego-Thou relation: the relation of the ego of a being (“I”) to the thou of being-itself (God). [289]

Questions:

  • Should God be understood as a despotic ruler? Why or why not?
  • It is important to keep Lord and Father together as symbols of God. What are some of the consequences when one is emphasized over the other?

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