return to religion-online

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
Tillich 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.

Viewed 80833 times.