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By Charles W. Kegley

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Though the expression is topic to misinterpretation, there's a experience within which Tillich's paintings constitutes a type of Protestant Summa for our time. we're acutely aware that Professor Tillich himself (in his Systematic Theology, I, vii, fifty nine) disclaims any purpose of writing a Summa, indicating fairly that he provides a process. within the very nature of the case, Protestantism could have no Summa, for the Protestant precept precludes something like finality. but in a given old scenario possibly there could be a paintings which so much totally gathers up the strands of all that's most sensible in secular idea, and unites them with the truths of God's self-disclosure. Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Schleiermacher, for example, attempted to complete whatever like this, and in a few very important respects the theological considered Paul Tillich has a similar marks.

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What a mighty, subtle, closely concatenated, allembracing system lay behind them we are only now beginning to realize. But realism of every sort was gaining the ascendancy in those difficult days: Steinbeck's literary realism, Niebuhr's political-economic realism, Whitehead's "provisional realism" in philosophy, and the "religious realism" of a whole group of writers who published a symposium in 1931. Tillich's term "belief-ful realism," derived from the realm of art,21 fell into combination with all these other realisms, and helped the growth of a general trend toward objectivist rather than subjectivist thinking, toward God-centered rather than man-centered thinking--a movement wherein thinkers of many different types found themselves temporarily comrades in a broad united front.

Next we find him negating Barth's radical negation of all extra-Biblical sources of theology. Finally, we see him turning back a degree toward Barth, while still opposing his purely "kerygmatic" approach to theology, when he encounters Barth's diametric opposite in Emanuel Hirsch. These three stages should suffice to define Tillich's relation to contemporary Continental theology. If Barth is neo-orthodox, Tillich is not; if Hirsch represents the nemesis of liberalism (as unfortunately he does to some extent), he also helps to make clear why Tillich cannot be a liberal, but prefers to live on the "boundary" between liberalism and neo-orthodoxy.

6 This is the actual cultural situation to which theology must address itself if it is to speak to modern man intelligibly and helpfully. Our cultural predicament would be hopelessly tragic were it not for the possibility that our spiritual impoverishment may become for us what St. John of the Cross and other Christian mystics have called "the dark night of the soul"--the stage of despair and penitence in which human arrogance is at least temporarily beaten down, and in which man once again acknowledges his finitude and turns for help to the Unconditioned which alone can satisfy and sustain him.

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