Ultimate Concern - Tillich in Dialogue by D. Mackenzie Brown
Donald Mackenzie Brown is Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara. This book was published in 1965 by Harper & Row, Publishers. This book was prepared for Religion Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams.
Introduction -- Paul Tillich: "A Pervasive Sense of Joy"
Professor Brown introduces Tillich’s thought with several general comments that lead into Dr. Tillich’s clarifying finer points of his systematic theology in response to questions about "ultimate concern," "Ground of all Being," estrangement, religion and quasi-religion, being "grasped," and free will.
Following requests for general clarification, Tillich offered his definition of terms, including ultimate concern, idolatry, demonization, unconditional secularization, finite and infinite, distorted and profaned, quasi-religion, humanism, and symbols and myths in religion and art.
Answers are given by Tillich to questions for clarification about concepts of God, being and existence, love and self-love, finite and infinite, power and vocation, rigidity and fragility, symbol and reality.
In dialogue with students about socialism as a quasi-religion, Tillich addresses socialism as a replacement for Christianity, Christian and Communist self criticism, the American way of life, the restoration of religion following socialism, church narrowness, the necessity of symbols.
In close questioning by students Tillich explores whether Judeo-Christian dialogue is possible, how tolerant both may be, the place of grace, reconciliation, and forgiveness in the dialogue, and what is the concept of progress in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
After an extensive discussion of kairos as timing in historical events, this dialogue explores the cross as symbol, the term "Son of God," sainthood, Buddha and Christ as historical figures, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and his difference from saints, Christ as a symbol, the death of some religious symbols, and individual experiences of kairos.
In an extensive description of his antisupernaturalistic attitude toward miracles as suspensions of the laws of nature, Tillich clarifies his understanding of miracles as subjective-objective events that are signs pointing beyond finite reality to ultimate reality, and are perceived by humans in their creaturely freedom in interplay with the directing creativity of God.
Tillich affirmatively answers a charge that he is theologically dangerous by pointing out the dangers of thinking. The dialogue then moves on to discussions of monasticism, marriage and vocational vows, saintliness, pride and self-assertion, the uniqueness of Christ and his centrality in Western civilization.
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