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The Eternal Now 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 Charles Scribnerís Sons, New York, 1963. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.

However the Christian message is expressed, whether in abstract theological language, or in concrete language in preaching, it must be relevant for our time if it uses the language of our time.

Chapter 1: Loneliness and Solitude
Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone. Solitude expesses the glory of being alone. The innermost nature of solitude is the presence of the eternal upon the crowded roads of the temporal.

Chapter Two: Forgetting and Being Forgotten
The simple word "forget" plunges us into the deepest riddles of life and death, of time and eternity. There are three kinds of forgetting: 1. The burden of the past liberated by the present. 2. The pain of our past guilt forgotten by repentance. 3. The distress of our being forgotten repressed by our forgetting.

Chapter 3: The Riddle of Inequality
The riddle of inequality cannot be solved on the level of our separation from each other. It is eternally solved through the divine participation in the life of all of us and every being. The certainty of divine participation gives us the courage to endure the riddle of inequality, although our finite minds cannot solve it.

Chapter 4: The Good That I Will, I Do Not
Paul speaks more often of Sin Ė Sin spelled with a capital "S," Sin as a power that controls world and mind, persons and nations. Sin is more than the trespassing of a list of rules. All sins are manifestations of Sin, of the power of estrangement and inner conflict. Sin dwells in us, it controls us, and makes us do what we donít want to do.

Chapter 5: Heal the Sick; Cast Out the Demons
The first task of a minister is to make men aware of their predicament. Both physical and mental, individual and social, illness is a consequence of the estrangement of manís spirit from the divine Spirit, and that no sickness can be healed or any demon cast out without the reunion of the human spirit with the divine Spirit.

Chapter 6: Man and Earth
There is a dread that permeates the whole being of our times, especially amid the younger generation. It is the sense of living under a continuous threat, the imminent danger of a universal and total catastrophe. Only the Eternal can give us the certainty that the earth, and, with it, mankind, has not existed in vain, even should history come to an end tomorrow.

Chapter 7: Spiritual Presence
The work of the Spiritual Presence in a man reaches its height when it liberates him from the yoke of the commandments to the freedom of the Spirit. Life is great and holy, deep and abundant, ecstatic and sober, limited and distorted by time, fulfilled by eternity.

Chapter 8: The Divine Name
Either in denying or in affirming when we say "God," we are in sublime embarrassment. There are three forms of this embarrassment: The embarrassment of tact, of doubt and of awe.

Chapter 9: Godís Pursuit of Man
If someone is arrested by God and made aware of the ambiguous character of his religious life, religion is not taken away from him. Since he has reached freedom from religion, he also has reached freedom for religion. He is blessed in it and he is blessed outside of it. He has been opened to the ultimate dimension of being.

Chapter 10: Salvation
It is our estrangement and guilt which are the impediments which keep us from reaching eternal life here and now.

Chapter 11: The Eternal Now
The mystery is that we have a present; and even more, that we have our future also because we anticipate it in Ďthe present; and that we have our past also, because we remember it in the present. In the present our future and our past are ours.

Chapter 12: Do Not Be Conformed
Not conformity, but transformation -- The conformism that threatened Jesus most effectively and brought him to death was the religious conformism of his time. And the situation was and is not different in the church. Dare to be not conformed to this eon, but transform it courageously first in yourselves, then in your world -- in the spirit and the power of love.

Chapter 13: Be Strong
One cannot be strong without love. For love is not an irrelevant emotion; it is the blood of life, the power of reunion of the separated. Strength without love leads to separation, to judgment, to control of the weak. Love reunites what is separated; it accepts what is judged; it participates in what is weak, as God participates in our weakness and gives us strength by His participation.

Chapter 14: In Thinking Be Mature
The decisive step to maturity is risking the break away from spiritual infancy with its protective traditions and guiding authorities. Without a "no" to authority, there is no maturity. This "no" need not be rebellious, arrogant, or destructive. As long as it is so, it indicates immaturity by this very attitude.

Chapter 15: On Wisdom
Wisdom is not a matter of intellectual power; rationality is not wisdom. It is wisdom to see wisdom in the mystery and the conflicts of life. It is insight into the meaning of oneís life, into its conflicts and dangers, into its creative and destructive powers, and into the ground out of which it comes and to which it must return. He who has encountered the mystery of life has reached the source of wisdom.

Chapter 16: In Everything Give Thanks
Thanksgiving consecrates everything created by God. It transfers something that belongs to the secular world into the sphere of the holy.

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