return to religion-online

The New Being 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. The New Being was published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1955. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.


Chapter 1: "To Whom Much is Forgiven. . ."
Jesus is on the side of the sinner. Forgiveness is not found among the righteous ones, for they do not know how to give it. The Church would be more the Church of Christ if it joined Jesus in its encounter with those who are rightly judged unacceptable.

Chapter 2: The New Being
Christianity as a religion is not important, for Christianity is more than a religion. It is the New Being that is important. Resurrection is not an event that might happen in some remote future, but it is the power of the New Being to create life out of death, here and now, today and tomorrow. Where there is a New Being, there is resurrection, namely, the creation into eternity out of every moment of time.

Chapter 3: The Power of Love
He who professes devotion to God may abide in God if he abides in love, or he may not abide in God if he does not abide in love. And he who does not speak of God may abide in Him if he is abiding in love. And since the manifestation of God as love is His manifestation in Jesus the Christ, Jesus can say that many of those who do not know Him, belong to Him, and that many of those who confess their allegiance to Him do not belong to Him.

Chapter 4: The Golden Rule
The great commandment as Jesus repeats it and the descriptions of love in Paul and John’s tremendous assertion that God is love, infinitely transcend the Golden Rule. It must be transcended, for it does not tell us what we should wish that men would do to us.

Chapter 5: On Healing (I and II)
Faith means being grasped by a power that is greater than we are, a power that shakes us and turns us, and transforms us and heals us. Faith here, of course, does not mean the belief in assertions for which there is no evidence. It never meant that in genuine religion, and it never should be abused in this sense. The people whom Jesus could heal and can heal are those who self-surrender to the healing power in Him. Today we know what the New Testament always knew—that miracles are signs pointing to the presence of a divine power in nature and history, and that they are in no way negations of natural laws.

Chapter 6: Holy Waste
There is no creativity, divine or human, without the holy waste which comes out of the creative abundance of the heart and does not ask, "What use is this?"

Chapter 7: Principalities and Powers
Life, personal and historical, is a creative and destructive process in which freedom and destiny, chance and necessity, responsibility and tragedy are mixed with each other in everything and in every moment.

Chapter 8: "What Is Truth?"
There is not freedom but demonic bondage where one’s own truth is called the ultimate truth. For this is an attempt to be like God, an attempt which is made in the name of God. Distrust every claim for truth where you do not see truth united with love. The truth that liberates is the power of love, for God is love.

Chapter 9: Faith and Uncertainty
We may not grasp anything in the depth of our uncertainty, but that we are grasped by something ultimate, which keeps us in its grasp and from which we may strive in vain to escape, remains absolutely certain.

Chapter 10: "By What Authority?"
Even the authority of Jesus the Christ is not the consecrated image of the man who rules as a dictator, but it is the authority of him who emptied himself of all authority; it is the authority of the man on the Cross

Chapter 11; Has the Messiah Come?
The Christians feel blessed, according to the words of Jesus, because they have seen the presence of the saving power within the world and history. The Jews consider such a feeling almost blasphemous, since, according to their faith, nothing of what they expect to happen in the Messianic age has actually happened.

Chapter 12: "He Who Believes in Me..."
We cannot pray to anyone except to God. If Jesus is someone besides God, we cannot and should not pray to Him. But he who sees Him sees the Father.

Chapter 13: Yes and No
Yes and No
Truth as well as life unite Yes and No, and only the courage which accepts the infinite tension between Yes and No can have abundant life and ultimate truth.

Chapter 14: "Who Are My Mother and Brothers...?"
The image of God can be distorted by the images of father and mother, so that its saving power is almost lost. This is not a limit for God, who again and again breaks through the images we have made of Him, and who has shown in Christ that He is not only father and mother to us, but also child, and that therefore in Him the inescapable conflicts of every family are overcome.

Chapter 15: "All Is Yours"
No finite being can attain the infinite without being broken as He who represented the world, and its wisdom and its power, was broken on the Cross. "Broken" does not mean reduced or emaciated or controlled, but it means undercut in its idolatric claim.

Chapter 16: "Is There Any Word From the Lord?"
The Church calls not His words but His Being the Word of God. The Church believes that in His Being, the eternal has broken into the temporal in a way which once for all gives us a word, nay, the word from the Lord.

Chapter 17: Seeing and Hearing
We never see only what we see; we always see something else with it and through it! Seeing creates, seeing unites, and above all seeing goes beyond itself. The disciples and the masses saw Christ and through Him the God who is really God. He who has seen Him has seen the Father: This is true only of the Crucified.

Chapter 18: The Paradox of Prayer
Words, created by and used in our conscious life, are not the essence of prayer. The essence of prayer is the act of God who is working in us and raises our whole being to Himself.

Chapter 19: The Meaning of Joy
Joy which has in itself the depth of blessedness is asked for and promised in the Bible. It preserves in itself its opposite, sorrow. It provides the foundation for happiness and pleasure.

Chapter 20: Our Ultimate Concern
Being concerned ultimately, unconditionally, infinitely is what Mary was. It is this that Martha felt and what made her angry, and it is what Jesus praises in Mary.

Chapter 21: The Right Time
The Preacher starts his enumeration of things that are timed with birth and death. They are beyond human timing. They are the signposts which cannot be trespassed. We cannot time them and all our timing is limited by them.

Chapter 22: Love Is Stronger Than Death
It is love, human and divine, which overcomes death in nations and generations and in all the horror of our time.

Chapter 23: Universal Salvation
We should ask whether we are able to feel with the evangelists and the painters, with the children and the Roman soldiers, that the event at Golgotha is one which concerns the universe, including all nature and all history.

Viewed 345137 times.