return to religion-online

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.


This book is a record of a seminar with Paul Tillich, considered by many to be the most profound if not the most influential theologian of this century. The discussions took place in the Spring of 1963 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The seminar was restricted to eighteen senior and graduate students selected from a variety of disciplines ranging from philosophy, religion, and psychology to mathematics, biology, and political science. The editor served as chairman of each session. Visitors at the different meetings included other faculty, students, and, on occasion, clergymen of different denominations. These visitors were necessarily limited because the seating capacity of the seminar room was twenty-four.

No attempt is made to identify any of the participants with the exception of Dr. Tillich. Comments or questions after the heading "Professor" are those of the editor or other faculty present.

Each meeting was tape recorded. The recordings have been edited to eliminate extraneous or repetitious material, to clarify certain passages, and to supply notes on various terms or references to be found in the discussions. The result is, I believe, a fair and accurate presentation of the Seminar.

The original tentative focus of the inquiry was upon the problems raised by the contemporary encounter of major religious systems: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu; and the quasi-religious movements: Nationalism, Socialism, Fascism, Communism. It quickly became apparent that problems of this nature could not be approached without a thorough understanding and a consensus as to the meaning and nature of Tillichian terms and concepts. Although all members of the seminar had done extensive reading and study of Tillich’s writings, his definitions remained obscure in some minds or, even when apparently understood, were vigorously challenged. This led to an open discussion throughout the seminar so that the dialogues returned over and over again to fundamentals even while the general movement of discussion attempted to deal with contemporary problems of the great religious and quasi-religious movements. This freedom to question informally every premise of Paul Tillich resulted, I believe, in a fuller comprehension of religious terms and values than any formal agenda would have permitted.

Dr. Tillich has read the manuscript to verify the accuracy of statements attributed to him. I very much appreciate the time he has given to this task. I am also indebted to Miss Catherine McKean, a student member of the seminar, for her assistance in transcribing the recordings, to Professor Richard Comstock of the Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, for his perceptive criticism of the manuscript, and to Cheever M. Brown, student member of the seminar, for contributing the introductory biographical chapter on Tillich.

The bibliography contains all major works of Paul Tillich available in English as well as all major publications in English concerning his religious ideas.


Santa Barbara

January 21, 1965

Viewed 184334 times.