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Systematic Theology, Volume 1 [Paperback]

By Paul Tillich (Author)
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Item description for Systematic Theology, Volume 1 by Paul Tillich...

This is the first part of Paul Tillich's three-volume Systematic Theology, one of the most profound statements of the Christian message ever composed. In this path breaking volume Tillich presents the basic method and statement of his system--his correlation of man's deepest questions with theological answers. Here the focus is on the concepts of being and reason. He shows how the quest for revelation is integral to reason itself. Here also Tillich defines his thought in relation to philosophy and the Bible and sets forth his famous doctrine of God as the "Ground of Being." Thus God is understood not as a being existing beside other beings, but as being-itself or the power of being in everything.

Publishers Description
This is the first part of Paul Tillich's three-volume "Systematic Theology," one of the most profound statements of the Christian message ever composed and the summation and definitive presentation of the theology of the most influential and creative American theologian of the twentieth century.
In this path-breaking volume Tillich presents the basic method and statement of his system--his famous "correlation" of man's deepest questions with theological answers. Here the focus is on the concepts of being and reason. Tillich shows how the quest for revelation is integral to reason itself. In the same way a description of the inner tensions of being leads to the recognition that the quest for God is implied in finite being.
Here also Tillich defines his thought in relation to philosophy and the Bible and sets forth his famous doctrine of God as the "Ground of Being." Thus God is understood not as "a" being existing beside other beings, but as being-itself or the power of being in everything. God cannot be made into an object; religious knowledge is, therefore, necessarily symbolic.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: University Of Chicago Press
Pages   307
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.05" Width: 6" Height: 0.68"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 15, 1973
Publisher   University Of Chicago Press
ISBN  0226803376  
ISBN13  9780226803371  

Availability  64 units.
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More About Paul Tillich

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Paul Tillich (1886-1965) was a world-renowned philosopher and theologian. Harvey Cox is Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.

Paul Tillich was born in 1886 and died in 1965.

Paul Tillich has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Perennial Classics
  2. Systematic Theology

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( T ) > Tillich, Paul
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Systematic Theology, vol. 1?

Flawed but a worthwhile read  Jan 24, 2006
Paul Tillich - Systematic Theology, 3/5 stars

I had spent the previous two years away from any theological reading as I decided at that point that their was little knowledge to actually be gained through an understanding of 'theology'. This book had sat on my shelf for several years without any of its pages read, originally purchased after numerous proddings by (mostly Protestant) clergy who never ceased to extoll the virtues of Tillich's work.

First, I did find Tillich's doctrine of the symbolic nature of our understanding of God to be appealing. God is not simply another 'being' to which we describe attributes. Even if you are queasy about his specific identification of God as "the ground of being" his assertion that if you aren't free to describe God in the same way as other beings (making God subordinate to some other principle, to 'condition' God in the same way other beings are 'conditioned') at some level has to be right. Therefore, while we are free to at least say that God is 'good' or 'just' we must understand that ultimately all knowledge about God is symbolic: 'God' is the symbol for something that points well beyond those three letters. The important point as least as I understand it is that we have license to describe God not simply in contrast to human beings but in a more self contained way. While I'm not sure this was meant to stand in contrast to Aquinas' doctrine of knowing God only through the 'via negativa' it does seem more appealing in a way. Most ecclessiastical structures don't think of acquiring knowledge of the divine as simply the removal of human defects, chipping away to make the divine form like some spiritual ice sculpture and theology shouldn't be turned into a sort of junk-food sociology anyway. Point for Tillich.

Unfortunately, most of the rest of the book wasn't nearly as interesting/compelling. On the whole, it is not the fact that "Systematic Theology" is systematically weak in logic which keeps me from giving it a higher rating. Most of it is well argued. In general it was only weak in certain sections that were indicative of Tillich's *Protestantism*.

The much bigger concerns are threefold. First, Daniel C. Dennett (by way of Paul Edwards) cites Tillich's work as an example of a 'bombastic redescription of orthodoxy' that is passed off as compelling *and* innovative. The charge is definitely warranted with Tillich's work, at least with "Systematic Theology". The identification of theology as the study of man's 'ultimate concern' was interesting, well argued, ......and insinuated by countless theologians before him. In fact, I'm not sure if such an identification isn't tautologically true (at least for 'believers'). The same goes for his discussion of objective and subjective reason. The discussion tends to be 'bombastic' in the sense that Tillich uses some idiosyncratic language to describe what has been described before and in the sense of being needlessly wordy. In fact, I think this book could easily have had its length cut in half.

Second, the treatment on revelation and miracles was lacking, littered with question-begging arguments and did little to make the entire enterprise seem more appealing to the unchurched and/or doubters. Tillich states, contrary to the personal beliefs of many, that 'miracles cannot be interpreted as a supranatural interference in natural processes'. This is true supposedly because doing so would make God a contradiction: 'the manifestation of the ground of being would destroy the structure of being'. While it wasn't spelled out as to why such interference would destroy the 'structure of being' (as opposed to merely disrupt the normal strictly and statistically deterministic regularities in the universe: not exactly the same thing), there were bigger problems. Tillich rightly sees miracles as sign-events within which the 'mystery of being gives itself'. Miracles are given only to those who interpret them as sign-events. However, one of the criterion of miracles is that which is 'astonishing, unusual, shaking' without of course being 'supranatural interference'.

Then who exactly 'does' the miracle? Are miracles a by product of the universe or a 'canned' program executed at certain times in history? Saying nothing of actually violating the laws of physics, I just don't see how a 'miracle' can truly be anything other than 'supranatural interference'. Furthermore, what constitutes 'unusual' and 'shocking' is culturally dependent. Floating on thin air isn't exactly 'shocking' (as to be miraculous) now given our knowledge of electrodynamics. To some people, Houdini was 'shocking' and 'unusual', but I don't think the true believers take the Sarah Silverman line and think that "Jesus is Magic". Does the fact that something is 'shocking and unusual' in Tillich's context really tilt one in favor of labeing it a 'miracle'? This really wasn't fleshed out well.

Even worse was his discussion of tradition and revelation. Tillich spends some time discussing 'actual revelation', 'final revelation', and tradition. Tillich right claims that 'final revelation' is not an isolated event but 'presupposes a revelatory history which was a preparation for it and in which it was received'. He criticizes what he sees as an overemphasis on revelation as 'static' from evangelicals as well as church councils making pronouncements on revelatory content (er, dogma). The former's error is obvious in that it forsakes tradition and sees He then gives the example of Luther's 'justification by faith' article as the lens through which one reads back through the New Testament and thus aid to establish dogma. This lead Luther to, among other things, develop a serious dislike for the Epistle of James because of its clash with sola fide.

Yeah, but that's circular. Luther didn't grab 'sola fide' out of thin air. Romans itself is a by product of tradition, at least of written tradition. Interpretation of Romans is also a byproduct of tradition. The Gospels themselves are a by product of decades of oral tradition. As long as we're dealing with theology in which revelation is given 'in history' and illuminated by interpretation tradition has to be prior. I therefore do not see how one can follow Tillich's prescribed line and furthermore cannot see how Orthodoxy and Catholicism err in the usage of church councils to decide the most basic dogmatic issues.

Finally, Tillich leaves one with a God that could not possibly be the same being (or same being-itself, to use his language) that billions believe in, die for, spent ridiculous numbers of hours praying to, etc. For him God is 'the ground of being', 'being-itself', 'the power of being'....and other neo-Platonic labels. That in and of itself is fine. However, what is troubling is that Tillich seems to deny that God really is a person. He seems to defend this by claiming that the 'internal relationship' of the Godhead is in a way 'personal' but that God, as the ground of being, is not really 'personal'.

There are two responses to this. First, there's absolutely no way that this is consistent with what must be embraced with Christianity. Even if it weren't explicitly stated by Athanasius or other early Church fathers in discussions on the Godhead this is true by implication. Second, this cannot be right if Tillich really thinks that God is somehow synonymous with "the power of being" or what have you. The 'power of being', I would think, would be more manifest in 'higher being', being which supposedly is created in the image and likeness of God. How can such a creator not be personal if its created 'image' is personal? I think that in this regard, Tillich makes the implicit mistake that 'the really real' or the 'ground' of being has to be simple in the sense of not strictly personal. While he is not alone in this mistake, it still doesn't mean that Christianity doesn't require the exact opposite: God *is* a person. Illuminating would have been more of a direct encounter between Tillich and process thinkers, most noteably Hartshorne or Teilhard de Chardin. The latter, in fact, thinks its obvious that God, as 'being itself' or the 'Omega' must in fact be supremely 'personal', more so than we can imagine. I'm inclined to agree. As to why his very odd position is taken, I think here Tillich's obsession with wanting God to not just be a 'being among beings' gets the best of him. That need is perfectly fine (and orthodox), but it doesn't obviously follow that God cannot really be 'a person' anymore than God can be 'loving' or can 'interact' with us.

Overall, this was a worthwhile read, but just beware of the 'bombastic redescriptions' and keep in mind that God and abstract theological descriptions of Him/Her are not necessarily congruent.
The Ground of Being and Ultimate Concern  Sep 10, 2004
Tillich, in his three-volume series on Systematic Theology, addresses the overall problem of meaning and meaninglessness in modern times. Written in the middle of the twentieth century, Tillich's theology is greatly influenced by the intellectual developments of the late nineteenth/early twentieth century philosophies, including such schools of thought as phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger, etc.) as well as existentialism, and in particular issues such as `the death of God' philosophical/theological speculations. Tillich's theology is also significantly influenced by (as are the intellectual developments of which he was part) larger historical events such as the first and second world wars. Tillich, a native of Germany, saw meaninglessness first-hand in the trench warfare of the first world war, in which he served as a chaplain. He also saw problems in the rise of the Nazi party, not just for political and cultural issues, but also theological issues (such as the idolatry of the state over God).

Tillich, spirited out of Germany during the rise of the Nazi power, spent the remainder of his career teaching in universities and seminaries in the United States. This first volume of his major work in Systematic Theology was produced in 1950, while he was in residence at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, drawn there by his friend and fellow theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.

In this volume, Tillich discusses the sources of theology as he sees them - scripture (both text and the events behind the text), the overall church history and tradition, and the wider traditions and history of religion in the world. Tillich has a problem with seeing experience as a source, but rather prefers this to be seen more appropriately as the medium through which the sources are understood and analysed. Tillich introduces norms and the rational character of systematic theology - Tillich is in many ways writing for philosophers who have discounted the validity of theology in the modern world; by emphasising the aspects of reason and logic in his system, he carries more weight in that community. Tillich also develops his famous Method of Correlation, a dialectical system of engagement between the temporal situation and the eternal in an ongoing process.

Tillich explores the various aspects and relationship of reason and revelation, including ways of trying to make sense in a rational manner of revelations, including what constitutes final revelation. From here, Tillich proceeds with his ontological constructions - one of the keys to Tillich's overall theology is contained here, in which God is the `ground of being'. Some have accused Tillich of being an existential atheist, because they have heard that Tillich claims that God does not exist - while it is true that, for Tillich, God does not exist, it is not true that there is no God; Tillich defines the term `existence' as being `that which is created', and as God is not a created being, God cannot exist. Rather, God is something greater, something deeper - the ground of being. God also becomes the only appropriate `ultimate concern' (another key element in Tillich's theology) - that concept is developed in this volume as well.

Tillich's theology is continued in two subsequent volumes, one produced in 1957, and the third volume in 1963, a few years before Tillich's death in 1965. Taken together, the three volumes represent a major theological force in the twentieth century, and one that is bound to continue to have impact for generations to come.
reminder  Jul 15, 2001
This book accepts that theology serves only for Christian church. Theology must serve the needs of all religions. So we can not accept that its function is only to serve for Christian church and must serve the needs of the church.
You'll need lots of time to absorb this one!  Dec 30, 1998
WOW! Used all three volumes in an upper-level seminary class. Excellent text, but extremely complex! You have to read every sentence and digest it before you bite off any more. Uses existentialism wisely while building a pretty solid theology. Great discussion on theological methods. Makes some very timely remarks for the church entering the 21st century.

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