Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions by Paul Tillich
Paul Tillich is generally considered one of the century's outstanding
and influential thinkers. After teaching theology and philosophy at various
German universities, he came to the United States in 1933. For many years he
was Professor of Philosophical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New
York City, then University Professor at Harvard University. His books include
Systematic Theology; The Courage to Be; Dynamics of Faith; Love, Power and Justice;
Morality and Beyond; and Theology of Culture. Published by Columbia University Press, 1963.
Chapter 1: A View of the Present Situation: Religions, Quasi-Religions and Their Encounters
holds that religion is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, a
concern which qualifies all other concerns as preliminary and which itself
contains the answer to the question of the meaning of our life. Given this definition, secularism,
nationalism, communism and capitalism can all be seen as quasi-religions. The dramatic character of the present
encounter of the world religions is produced by the attack of the
quasi-religions on the religions proper.
Chapter 2: Christian Principles of Judging Non-Christian Religions
It is natural and unavoidable that Christians affirm the fundamental
assertion of Christianity that Jesus is the Christ and reject what denies this
assertion. Tillich examines the history
of Christianity's rejection and its tolerance of other religions. He concludes that Protestantism has its most
intimate relation with the liberal-humanist quasi-religion.
Chapter 3: A Christian-Buddhist Conversation
Dr. Tillich compares and contrasts the encounter of Christianity with
Buddhism, one of the most competitive of the "proper religions." Their points of convergence and
divergence are shown, and the whole is summed up in the two contrasting
symbols, Kingdom of God and Nirvana
Chapter 4: Christianity Judging Itself In the Light of its Encounter with the World Religions
Dr. Tillich asks, How can a community of democratic
nations be created without the religions out of which liberal democracy in the
Western world originally arose? A
mixture of religions destroys in each of them the concreteness which gives it
its dynamic power. The victory of one religion would impose a
particular religious answer on all other particular answers. But. the question of the ultimate meaning of
life cannot be silenced as long as men are men. Religion cannot come to an end,
and a particular religion will be lasting to the degree in which it negates
itself as a religion. Thus Christianity will be a bearer of the religious
answer only so long as it breaks through its own particularity.
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