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My Travel Diary. 1936: Between Two Worlds 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. This book was edited by Jerald C. Brauer. Translation by Maria Pelikan. Published by Harper & Row, New York, Evanston, and London, 1970. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.

Introduction by Jerald C. Brauer

The year Paul Tillich made his first trip back to Europe, after his enforced emigration of 1933, was a time of escalating crisis and growing uncertainty. Just one month prior to Tillich’s sailing in April, 1936, Hitler had denounced the Locarno Pact and had remilitarized the Rhineland. In July the Spanish Civil War broke out and provided an occasion for Hitler and Mussolini to cooperate in joint plans. Soon most major European powers were involved one way or another in the Spanish struggle. Meanwhile, the non-Fascist and non-Communist governments stood confused and ineffective before the determination and maneuvering of Hitler.

This was the context in which plans were laid for the churches’ ecumenical Oxford and Edinburgh meetings on faith and order as well as life and work. The central theme of the life and work conference in Oxford, 1937, was the interrelationships between church, community, and state. Theologians and churchmen, in search for Christian unity across national and denominational boundaries, saw and experienced the expanding conflict between Christianity and the growing secular and even pagan forces of the 1930s. The conflict was seen to be between expanding forms of state totalitarianism which divinized themselves in monopolizing all goals of life and the Christian interpretation of human nature and destiny.

In preparation for the Oxford conference a number of study groups were established throughout the world. Issues were explored, studies were undertaken, discussions were held, and publications were developed. Over a three-year period nine subjects were studied as background preparation. In the summer of 1936 one of these groups was to meet at Oxford to hear each other’s paper, to discuss and to criticize prior to publication of the papers, and to continue exploration of the central problems on the agenda for the 1937 conference. Paul Tillich was invited to deliver one of the papers and to participate in the discussion on The Kingdom of God and History.

On this trip, lasting from April to September, 1936, Tillich kept a diary in which he recounted his daily experiences and personal reactions. As are most diaries, this is a highly personal document. He intended it to be read by his wife, for whom it was written, and his family, and it is clear he is not writing with any other audience in mind. It does not exhibit a high degree of consciousness of a public, nor does the diary indicate a concern for style or effect. This is a simple account of human experiences recorded in an almost spontaneous fashion.

What then is the value of the diary? Anybody who turns to it in search of new theological insights or for a fuller theological elaboration of Tillich’s concepts will not find them. The diary adds nothing new to the corpus of his theological writings. That is not its value. The diary does provide many comments by Tillich on the world situation and on the pressing political problems of the mid-1930s, but these reveal nothing new concerning his interpretation of, or a stand on, such issues.

The value of the diary lies in the way it reveals the man as theologian. Paul Tillich was an unusual theologian in the way he theologized. Not only did he exhibit a highly creative, subtle, and profound theological analysis of life, he also went about his theologizing in a most extraordinary manner. It is not enough to say his theology was existential, though it undoubtedly was. Tillich’s theology was a piece with his life and grew out of it. That was one point of his overwhelming appeal to modern men. He agonized over his tensions and problems as a modern man, thus he caught the imagination of modern men. He stood in the middle of the modem predicament and shared its frustrations, fears, and creativity. Tillich’s theology was not an abstract creation forged out of the interplay of logic and concepts. It found its point of departure in his own existence -- his own being. To read his diary is to understand better how he theologized.

No words can better describe Tillich the man and his theology than those words he applied to himself -- "on the boundary." His 1936 diary, the day-to-day account of his activities and reactions, clearly demonstrates how accurately he understood himself as a man who lived on the boundary and theologized out of that situation. The 1936 trip was his first return to Europe after his escape from Hitler, and he already saw himself as living between two worlds. He fully owned America as his new home, but a part of him remained in Europe, particularly Germany. One is astonished at the rapidity with which he identified himself with his new land. It is this which enabled him to live between two worlds.

Late in his life he had written, "Emigration at the age of forty-seven means that one belongs to two worlds: to the Old as well as to the New into which one has been fully received."2 One is not surprised that emigration at such a late age meant that he remained very much a European. The diary illustrates this. He comments on his arrival in England, "with real European forests," and its difference "from the American landscape that has been ravaged by technology, and … from the forbidding wilderness to be found in many nonindustrial regions of America."3 Already he was living between the two worlds, a part of each. Even in the debates over the upcoming Oxford conference, he found himself "standing on the boundary" between the two major points of view, "the Lutheran-German and the Anglo-Saxon."4

Equally divided was his deep feeling about Germany. As he was at the Edinburgh docks, he wrote in his diary that he had "two glimpses of the open North Sea -- the native ocean of my heart. Over there, a little off to one side, to the southwest, lies Germany! Kampen!"5 That was the spot where he spent so many memorable hours of summer vacation. Kampen was forever a part of him. The fact that he used an exclamation point after Germany should not be overlooked. Later, in May, as he traveled through Holland, he stopped "for lunch atop a mountain from where we can see all the way to Germany. I see it without any feeling of homesickness. Dead, destroyed; barbed wire and Gestapo."6 When he visited Riehen, a tip of Basel surrounded by Germany on three sides, he said it gave him an "uncanny feeling, like being pushed into a sack."7 However much he detested the Nazis, this could not destroy his love for his people and for his land. In Luxembourg he remarked how "the landscape is very German and close to my heart."8

The diary reveals that within three short years he came to identify with America in a remarkable way. It was his home, Americans were his people, and its landscape with its beauty and man-made ugliness were understood. He truly lived in that world. Yet he continued to live in Europe as well. He lived between the two worlds, and it took his first return to Europe to demonstrate that to him. This gave substance to the more profound elements in his experience of living on the boundary in all aspects of his life. For Tillich there was always both an outer and an inner emigration.9 To part from ways of thinking, of believing, from traditions, from political commitments -- all these represented inner emigration. Thus his experience of living between two worlds was a profound spiritual reality which marked every facet of his life.

The person who lives on the boundary is constantly risking oneself. One can easily lose himself in the risk of the boundary, but the essence of life is the risk of losing one’s being in order to find it. Perhaps that is one aspect of Tillich’s giving so much of himself to people. The most remarkable thing about the diary is the flood of people that pour over the pages. It seems impossible that one man could have known so many people -- an astounding variety of people -- professors, artists, musicians, politicians, students, businessmen, the great and the humble. He knew them and was concerned about them. To know a person does not mean to be acquainted with him. To know a person is to encounter him as someone with hopes, fears, convictions, dreams, pettiness, and generosity. Tillich’s knowledge of people, of his friends, was of this quality. The diary reflects this with great clarity.

Perhaps one reason Tillich sought out so many people of widely varying types was precisely because he was risking his own being -- living on the boundary between the center of his own strong personality and the diffusion of participating in genuine friendship with so many people. It would have been so much simpler and safer to confine himself to a manageable circle of friends, especially of a certain type. To have done so, however, would have meant the failure to go out of the center of self truly to encounter others. He appears to have constantly stretched himself in a dozen directions, as if he were testing himself. He certainly could have lost himself, his own center, in this vast diffusion of personal encounters. But that is the way he found himself -- in the risk and in the constant giving of self.

This was a very important way for Tillich to remain in contact with the concrete, to participate in reality through countless deep personal relationships with people. In many places he recounted his struggle to live between theory and practice, and this is not to be lightly dismissed. He could have been as most philosophers and theologians, buried in the abstract both in thought and in practice -- at no point participating deeply, existentially, in life itself. He had a genius for highly theoretical abstract thought that easily could have lost contact with men in history as they faced personal decisions, and experienced suffering, joy, alienation, and healing. However, he never permitted his unusual gift for abstract thought to cut him off from the human and the historical.

The diary shows a man who moved between disciplined thinking through lonely reflection in preparation for lectures or books and the give-and-take of friendship and discussion. He could write so perceptively about courage, suffering, or estrangement because he experienced it himself; not in solitary isolation, but in his deeply personal relationships with hundreds of human beings of such widely diverse types and professions. The diary enables one to understand better the remarkable insights into the human situation, both personal and social, developed by Paul Tillich the theologian and philosopher. This is due as much, perhaps even more, to his unusual involvement with people, individual specific people, as it is to his extraordinary theoretical gifts.

Tillich’s breadth of concern and interest was exhibited in many directions. Again, one wonders how he managed to maintain a wholeness and coherence both in his life and in his work. Yet coherence is precisely what marked Paul Tillich, although it was not the coherence of a neat, ordered, logical consistency. It was an integrity that emerged from a man living in tension with manifold creative dimensions of experience in which he participated fully.

This wide participation did not destroy or undercut his central concern as theologian, it was only in that way he became the kind of theologian he was. His interest in politics, economics, art, literature, philosophy, theology, and people was both a consequence of, and formative for, his essential theological point of view. There was no realm of culture or society off limits for the theologian. It was at the depth, the very ground, of these forms that the infinite was encountered.

To confine himself only to biblical language or simply to the history of the church’s doctrine or dogma was impossible for Paul Tillich. To be sure, one ignored or temporized with these at the risk of destruction as a theologian, but their importance lay in the fact that they were the particular and unique forms in which the experience and the reality of the sacred grasped the Christian community. As a believing and participating member of that community such experience was primordial for Tillich, but it was not confining or restrictive.10 It drove him to risk its reality and truth in as many facets of life as possible and later in encounters with other religions.11

The diary documents this wide-ranging interest and participation. He was, of course, deeply concerned and knowledgeable about the German situation. Everywhere he went he lectured about it, discussed it, and saw it in relation to the vast forces that reflected the movement of world history. In England he could not understand the reluctance of the Conservative government to face the reality of Nazism’s threat. In most nations, only a few were sensitive to the kairotic moment in history. Tillich saw this question as one not primarily political in character, but multiform. It had to be seen in relation to the total human situation -- the revolt against the bourgeois spirit which marked modern man. So he discussed economics, aesthetics, philosophy, education, science, literature, and sociology as well as politics in his lectures and with his friends.

It was his holistic concern for the historic moment that led him to propose his plan for an order or a group of leading Christian and concerned intellectuals to consider systematically the major political decisions confronting mankind. The diary makes a number of references to that idea, and he proposed it to Joseph Oldham. It would bring together men in positions of power and leading theoreticians so that between them they could concentrate combined resources on the analysis of major issues that confronted mankind. Thus, those in positions of power would be able to make more creative and constructive decisions in relation to the crises of history. Tillich envisioned this as a brotherhood of dedicated men working together in a common cause. Nothing seems to have come from the idea, though Oldham later developed an English group, the Christian Frontier Society, that was somewhat similar in structure and purpose.

The diary also reveals the integrity between Tillich’s theology and his life with regard to nature. Anyone who reads his theology, quickly discovers that here is a modern Protestant theologian who has a conception of nature radically different from his contemporary Protestant theologians. It was once remarked that Calvin lived in the midst of the beauties of the Swiss Alps but never mentioned them. Perhaps that is not so important as, though it is related to, the way that nature is treated in Reformed theology particularly, and in Protestantism generally. Tillich saw a difference between classical Lutheran and Reformed dogmatics on this point as reflected in their respective doctrines of Christ. In the Reformed tradition the finite was radically separated from the infinite and incapable of bearing it. Lutheran Christology affirmed the interpretation of the human and the divine qualities in the Christ, though they remained qualitatively different.12

Tillich’s religious tradition reinforced his basic view of nature as the finite expression of the infinite ground of all things. He viewed with horror man’s rape and destruction of nature, and he saw this as a logical consequence of the bourgeois spirit. One of his most radical criticisms of capitalism and of modern science was the way in which they misused nature. The former exploited it ruthlessly. The latter viewed nature in a strictly analytical way in order to master and control it. The major sin of both was their narrowly restrictive view or understanding of nature that distorted man as well as nature. Tillich was not opposed to man participating in all the riches and resources of nature, nor did he think it wrong for man to analyze and investigate the structures and content of nature. For that he had great admiration. What he could not abide was the attempt of man to deny anything further to nature, to insist that it was monodimensional, to be controlled, manipulated, exploited, and abused.

Nature was not only something to be loved and appreciated, it was also to be feared. It is a reminder through our very bodies of the boundary on which we live. Thus Tillich was concerned that nature be seen as a finite form through which the infinite was manifest. This led to what he termed a "predominantly aesthetic-meditative attitude" toward nature.13 In his case, he recalled how his memories and longings were "interlaced with landscapes, with the soil and with weather, with cornfields, and the smell of autumnal potato foliage, with the forms of clouds, with wind, flowers, and woods." 14

Throughout the diary are descriptions of landscapes, trees, flowers, rain, forests, and weather. This reflects the depth of Tillich’s awareness of, and openness to, nature. How many times he speaks of writing on a balcony or in a park! How often he pursued his thinking as he walked in a wood or meadow! Such a concern for nature is deeper than aesthetic, it involves the center of his being. Yet this is not romanticism or pantheism. The divine is encountered through nature, but is not to be confused with nature. The infinite is the ground of nature, and nature points to that depth of reality, but nature is not the divine. Even here there is the problem of possible idolatry, but Paul Tillich never succumbed to that distortion of nature or of the divine.

Perhaps it was his love for the sea that makes absolutely clear both his profound passionate attachment to nature and his distinction between nature and the divine ground. The concrete experience of the sea provided his imagination with the forms necessary so his thought could create concepts of "the absolute as both ground and abyss of dynamic truth, and of the religious essence as the eruption of the eternal into finiteness. . . ." 15 The vision of the sea, infinite in expanse, groundless in depth, gently and eternally rolling in wave upon wave, calm and certain at one moment yet changing into a raging mass of boundless fury, attacking the very heavens that hang low pressing upon it and assaulting the land that seeks to draw back from its fury -- this is the vision that kindled Tillich’s creative imagination. Even his concept of the boundary drew seminal insight from the sea. Here he saw vividly the infinite bordering on the finite, and he felt both love and fear.

So the diary makes personal or existential Tillich’s feeling toward the sea and reveals its relationship to his creative thought. His first days at sea reflect all of these dimensions in that relationship -- his love for and reveling in the beauty and majesty of the ocean, even the storm and wind, yet also his awaking in terror at the thought of having been left behind in a sinking ship.

His love of nature and the sea in particular is but one more illustration of how Tillich theologized. It was only through concrete experiences and acutely self-conscious participation in all the facets of life that Paul Tillich’s imagination could be so kindled that it set fire to his highly original theoretical capacities. That is probably one of the sources of his originality and creativity. He did not simply rearrange theoretical concepts or pursue ever higher levels of abstraction in an attempt to analyze and to explain reality. Experience constantly fructified his imagination which gave an urgency and a relevance to his theological and philosophical conceptualization. Thus he constantly moved between concrete experience and abstract formulation with an actively creative imagination forming the links -- providing the boundary between the two.

Just as in nature so in art Tillich found forms that made manifest the divine ground. His love of art was not synthetic or adopted for theological usage. Art was essential for his very being, and he studied it and meditated over it, especially painting, as if his very life depended upon it. In one sense, his life did depend on it for sustenance and for insight into the human predicament -- his own and others. Art was a further road to reality along with people and nature. At no point did Tillich want to lose contact with reality. It was almost as if he wished to embrace the whole creation in order that he not miss the presence of the divine. Yet he could not and would not misuse these forms and structures of life by reducing them to mere channels. Each had an autonomy and a givenness of its own dependent upon the ground of being but not identical with that ground.

Tillich’s frequent reference in the diary to art, paintings, artists, and museums demonstrates how fully his personal life was bound up with art. He seized every opportunity on the trip to visit and meditate on great works of art both ancient and modern. He demonstrates sensitivity and insight in his comments on buildings, architectural forms, and painting. Most revealing were his comments at the Louvre, "I am now sitting in the Louvre garden beside a fountain, facing a view of the greatest and most magnificent palace in a vanishing world. It is very quiet and the soul fills with silence. At this moment the arc lights come on. I must stop. But once again I know: man creates his world and there is none other -- natural or supernatural."16

This sounds like a repudiation of his basic view that the finite forms of art express a reference to that which lies beyond them. In fact, his comments at the Louvre are another way of stating the same point. Man in his creative action, in his belief, in his building a culture and a civilization creates his world and there is no other. Only through participating in that world created by man does one experience the ground, the unconditional meaning, which alone gives purpose and signification to that world.

Art can express, can point to ultimate meaning, but it cannot produce it. In The Religious Situation, Tillich said, "Art indicates what the character of a spiritual situation is; it does this more immediately and directly than do science and philosophy for it is less burdened by objective considerations. Its symbols have something of a revelatory character while scientific conceptualization must suppress the symbolical in favor of objective adequacy."17

It was the immediateness of the symbols of art that appealed to Tillich, for this was one more way for him to counterbalance his strong urge for abstraction and theoretical analysis. Perception of reality through the symbols of art is vastly different from the perception of reality through intellectual concepts. One must use theoretical concepts to write or to talk about reactions to the symbols and forms of art. But these concepts are created and engendered by the reaction of the imagination to the symbols of art. They are not the consequence of a logical analysis of abstract concepts which flow consistently from one to another until a satisfactory explanation is given. Imagination, not precision, is the key to intellectual abstraction. This holds true both for the creation of art and for the initial and primordial response to it. As Tillich said, "The highest form of play and the truly productive abode of imagination is art."18

It is interesting to note that in the diary Tillich corrects a statement made earlier in The Religious Situation. In that book he had stated, "It is not an exaggeration to ascribe more of the quality of sacredness to a still-life by Cézanne or a tree by Van Gogh than to a picture of Jesus by Uhde."19 On June 16 Tillich went to the Cézanne exhibit in Paris and gave a detailed reaction to the paintings. Phrases like "mystic pantheism," "breakthrough," "inorganic nature ‘lives,’" and "fullness of being" occur.

After viewing Cézanne, Tillich felt compelled to modify his earlier statement about Uhde, which he now felt was a bit unfair. The change was a consequence of two facts. The sheer beauty and charm of the landscape, because of its color, placed the Uhde portrait at a distinct disadvantage, "independent of content." Further, "Cézanne proclaims a mystical devotion to life, and does so with the tools of a very great artist. Uhde proclaims ethical-social devotion with the tools of a minor artist. But basically he, too, is religious."20 It was impossible for Uhde’s work to convey the quality of soundness to the degree of a Cézanne landscape because Cézanne was a much greater artist working with a subject that gave him a distinct advantage over Uhde. Thus the diary exhibits how Tillich drew heavily from art as a basic resource for his theologizing.

If the diary makes evident the way Paul Tillich theologized, nothing documents this more clearly than Tillich in constant discussion and conversation. One is amazed at his voracious appetite for conversation and the almost limitless boundaries of those discussions. In some sense, Tillich appears to have learned more from conversations, at least in later life, than he did from reading. He indicated that he never read great quantities of books, but it is clear that he read the formative books of Western culture and that what he read he mastered. The classics, both ancient and modern, were a part of him, taken into his own creative center. But he did not appear to have dipped very deeply into the stream of books, both fiction and nonfiction, that was flowing from the modern press. In fact, he stated in the diary that "I feel like a barbarian because I never read."21 He had reached that stage where creative men no longer read books but write them.

It would be a mistake to assume that Tillich was more interested only in writing books, in solitary thought, than in reading them. Conversation replaced reading as the means whereby he engendered new ideas, reacted for or against views of others, developed insights growing out of the confrontation with ideas or concepts, or sharpened perceptions as they emerged. Anybody who conversed with Tillich was aware of having participated in a rare occasion.

Personal encounter and face-to-face confrontation were integral to his total life as man and as theologian. It provided the concreteness for his existential point of view, and it sustained him in his own humanity. Though he stated on many occasions his belief in, and dependence upon, discussion and debate, his diary demonstrates how fully he lived and thought in that fashion. The diary is one long series of discussions and conversations ranging over a host of essential problems, carried through with an extraordinary number of people representing a variety of professions and positions, and all of this interlaced with personal reactions to the beauties of nature and the stimulation of art.

Three things about conversation were equally important for Paul Tillich and also held true, to a degree, even for lecturing. Human presence and response were highly stimulating for him and called forth his most creative work. He indicated that most of his writing emerged from lectures and addresses that he was invited to give. These public appearances gave him both the greatest anxiety and the greatest joy. There was a communion between the audience and himself that was present in his act of writing even before he appeared before the audience. He wrote for them before he saw them, he anticipated their presence in his preparation for the address. He required an audience to do his most imaginative and inspiring work. The appearance itself, before the audience, actualized the communion, even if there were not questions and answers. People who heard Paul Tillich participated in that communion, the sense of thinking through together common ultimate problems. He brought that to every audience, and they responded to make real the communion he posited by his presence.

Why was this so important for Tillich? He supplied his own answer when he pointed out that discussion and debate are the forms most appropriate for those concerned with existential truth. There one can encounter the truth as it "lives in the immediate self-expression of an experience . . ." The written word does not have the immediacy nor the impact of the personality of the author behind it. It is one full step removed from the person who wrote it, so it lacks a directness or the urgency of the spoken word.22 Because the written word lacks the immediacy and directness as well as the presence and power of the author’s whole personality, it is not so good a vehicle for confronting existential questions or truth. One is reminded of Luther’s insistence that revelation truly occurs when the word is preached and heard in a living communion rather than as it is found written on pages.

It was when the audience had a chance to respond that Tillich was most delighted, for there was the ultimate level of exchange between people. Question and answer, yes and no, formulation of views and rejection or revision of views -- all of this occurred in discussion or disputation and provided the dialectics necessary for creative thought and interchange. Paul Tillich called this the "original form of all dialects" and "the most adequate form of my own thinking"23

Dialectic marks Tillich’s theology at every point and is, in fact, another kind of living on the boundary in thought. It represents a both/and as well as a yes/no, but in either case these must go together. One cannot have only a part of the structure -- there is no yes without the no or vice versa. One moves through both of these and stands between them as he holds both in tension. It is the tension between the two, the positing and the rejection before the modification and repositing of the idea, that marked Tillich. How greatly he enjoyed and embodied the dialectical method! Never did it reach its intensity and its dynamics except in the give-and-take of people -- an I encountering a Thou. The results could be written down later in the study after careful thought and precise formulation, but the impetus for the idea and creativity of the dialectic was most fully present in the stage of personal confrontation.

That is one reason why for Paul Tillich there was no such thing as a stupid question if it was asked with seriousness. Serious questions, at their depth, were those that involved the very existence of the questioner, they could be questions of ultimate concern. Thus Tillich, in a question-answer situation, always received a question with the utmost seriousness and frequently rephrased the question in a way that astonished the one who originally asked it. Invariably, the way Tillich rephrased the question laid bare what the questioner was really after, but could not adequately formulate. This was part of Tillich’s encounter through dialectic with a person searching for meaning. Just as he had a genius for deciphering a myth from a strange religion, so he could decipher the real meaning of questions asked in discussion.24

All these things are revealed by the diary, and in that way it helps us to understand how Tillich theologized. These pages sketch out a half year of his life and activity. What is manifest in these pages is the way a man thought, lived, and acted. Through the diary one develops a whole new level of appreciation and understanding of how his theological concepts came to be and why the theologizing moved the way it did.

Tillich understood himself to be a new kind of scholar, quite different from his nineteenth-century teachers. He was different from his teachers, and he did exhibit a new way to be a scholar. He was not simply an expert fully in control of all the relevant data in a given discipline -- theology. Nor was he an objective, serene wise man detached from the ebb and flow of history so that he might speak an eternal word of truth to mankind caught in the midst of a maelstrom. He exercised special care in precision and correctness of description for its own sake but especially to maximize the impact of existential truth. He recognized that he was thrust directly into history as an intimate part of it, and so the problem of analyzing history -- its meaning and content -- was fundamental for his generation and much more difficult than it was for his teachers.25

To this task he gave himself, and he did not search primarily for answers that would be true simply in an abstract sense. He passionately looked for answers that would be existentially true -- for him and for modern man. That is why he had to keep in close contact with his fellow human beings and why he had to probe and search every aspect of their culture and action. Only religion was, by definition, interested in these issues in this particular way. He argued that in religion "theory means something other than philosophical contemplation of being. In religious truth the stake is one’s very existence and the question is to be or not to be. Religious truth is existential truth, and to that extent it cannot be separated from practice. Religious truth is acted -- in accord with the Gospel of St. John."26

That is the kind of theologian Paul Tillich was, and his diary demonstrates how he went about being that kind of theologian on a day-to-day basis. He was a human being of enormous complexity involved in culture and society at an astonishing number of points. He lived in, thought about, and reflected upon almost every important facet of contemporary life. This was not done in abstraction but always in relation to people and concrete historical events. Yet in the complexity and sophistication of Tillich and his thought, there was a profound simplicity born of a man who knows where the center of life lies. He did not flee or ignore his tensions nor was he a captive of them. He lived on their boundary.

Just as his central problem was to relate himself to the sacred, to the very ground of being, so his basic theological problem was to see the relation of the sacred to all the structures of creation and forms of culture. He could not bear to see himself, nor any man, cut off from that ground, nor could he bear to see that ground cut off, ignored, or controlled by creation or by culture, the creation of man.

The diary demonstrates that his style of life was the style of his theology. There was no hiatus or inconsistency between them. His life on the boundary was a piece with his theology of the boundary, his love for, and concern with, nature and art were integral to his theological analysis, and his personal involvement with hundreds of people in friendship, discussion, and debate was the grounding for his existential concern and analysis. Paul Tillich’s theology was an extension of his life, and his life style reflected his theology. Rarely can this be said of a professor, much less a professor of theology.



I. Paul Tillich, The Interpretation of History, 1936, pp. 3 ff. Reprinted under the title, On the Boundary (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1966).

2. Paul Tillich, My Search for Absolutes (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967), p. 50.

3. Paul Tillich, My Travel Diary: 1936 (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), p. 38.

4. Ibid., p. 42.

5. Ibid., p. 56.

6. Ibid., p. 76.

7. Ibid., p. 120.

8. Ibid., p. 174.

9. Tillich, Interpretation of History, p. 68.

10. Ibid., pp. 41 f.

11. Paul Tillich, Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963), pp. 29 ff.

12. Tillich, My Search for Absolutes, pp. 26 f.

13. Ibid., p. 25.

14. Tillich, Interpretation of History, p. 7.

15. Ibid., p. 8.

16. Tillich, My Travel Diary, pp. 100-10l.

17. Paul Tillich, The Religious Situation (New York: Meridian Books, 1956), p. 85.

18. Tillich, Interpretation of History, p. 14.

19. Tillich, Religious Situation, p. 89.

20. Tillich, My Travel Diary, p. 108.

21. Ibid., p. 81.

22. Tillich, My Search for Absolutes, pp.45 ff.

23. Ibid., p. 45.

24. Mircea Eliade, "Paul Tillich and the History of Religions," in Paul Tillich, The Future of Religions, ed. by Jerald C. Brauer (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), p. 33.

25. Tillich, My Search for Absolutes, p. 54.

26. Tillich, Interpretation of History, p. 18.
































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