The Rev. Mark D. Isaacs Rostered ELCM Pastor February 13, 1999

The PhD Study Assignment:

Read A History of Christian Thought: From Its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism, by Paul Tillich, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967, 1968).

Summarize each chapter with a minimum overall submission of at least 3,000 words. Examine and critique the content in light of your own theological perspective.


Never having read Paul Tillich --and basing my opinions of his work on random quotes and secondary sources (such as the excellent work by Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson)-- I had always dismissed Tillich as a liberal heretic --just another one of those overrated infamous back-sliding bad boys of Western Christian theology. After all, if the New York Times could praise him in a rare front page obituary [October 23, 1965], and since he made the cover of Time on March 16, 1959, how could he possibly have anything to teach orthodox Lutheran ME?

With this in mind, I was dreading the prospect of being forced by Trinity Theological Seminary to suffer through this assigned book. However, to my great joy, the more of this book that I read, the more surprised and delighted I was.

Tillich's History is a series of transcribed lectures. Thus, unlike his famous --and dreadful-- three volume Systematic Theology, this book tends to be highly conversational and readable. If Tillich's lectures were this insightful, it is not surprising that he was so popular among his students.

In addition, while I still do not agree with the majority of Tillich's radical theological views, I could not help but to be impressed with the sweeping scope and depth of this work. Tillich's A History of Christian Thought contains a storehouse of useful historical details and theological connections.

At the same time, on the down side, Tillich does tend to repeat himself. He is also a great self-promoter --peddling his three volume Systematic Theology (1951-1963) and his deep admiration for German philosopher Friedrich Schelling whenever possible. Tillich is certainly not a humble genius.

What value is this book? In the introduction Carl E. Braaten [who I once met at the Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary] writes, "Many of Tillich's favored ideas in terms, which sounded utterly novel to American students, came originally from a long line of honored ancestors."

Braaten adds that Tillich's "theology was a living dialogue with great men and ideas of the past, with the fathers of the ancient church, both Greek and Latin, with the Schoolmen and mystics of the medieval period, with Renaissance humanists and Protestant reformers, with theologians of liberalism and their Neo-Orthodox critics. His method of handling the tradition was eminently dialectical goal, in the spirit of the Sic et Non of Peter Abelard."

Indeed, for me, Tillich's "living dialog" with the historical giants of theology really connected the dots. One of the reasons I am working on this Ph.D. from Trinity is to unback --and put into some context-- the scattered and dislocated fragments of theological data which I picked up working on my M.Div. degree at the liberal Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (1988-1992).

Typically, at LTS-G, my professors presented strange philosophical and radical theological conclusions without any sort of foundation. Tillich's book (as well as many other books in this excellent Trinity program) have really helped me to understand --but not to wholly accept-- many of the concepts my previous professors were attempting to indoctrinate me with.

In addition, I appreciate Paul Tillich's book because via osmosis my theological world-view tends to be American and English Conservative Evangelical (not really Lutheran). Tillich presents his case via the strange and eclectic mix of the German Orthodox-Pietist-Idealist-Existentialist Weltanschauung.

Again, my LTS-G professor's tended to share Tillich's German theological Weltanschauung. Thus, at Gettysburg Seminary, coming from an American-English Conservative-Evangelical perspective, half of the time I was offended, shocked, and frustrated. Hence, I wish that I would have read Tillich's book ten years ago!


"Our task," writes Tillich in Part Two of his book, "is to cover in this series of lectures the tremendously large subject of Protestant theology in the 19th and 20 is centuries." Paul Tillich, in his sweeping History of Christian Thought covers theological history "from its Judaic and Hellenistic origins to the development of the modern-day Existentialist movement." Tillich covers his vast subject over the course of 541 pages. My challenge with this paper is to summarize Tillich's arguments in 3000 words.

Of course, this task is impossible. Tillich's arguments are detailed, complex, and sweeping in scope. At best, I can merely progress through the book stopping here and there to point out a few of the interesting highlights that attracted me to Tillich's arguments.


Paul Tillich, (August 20, 1886-October 22, 1965) was a famous [perhaps the most famous theologian of the 20th century] German-American theologian who represents the radical end of mid-20th century movement called Neo-Orthodoxy. Karl Barth (1886-1968) would represent the "conservative" end of this same movement.

Paul Tillich was born in East Prussia. He was the son of a Lutheran pastor. Young Paul was raised with traditional German Orthodox-Pietistic Lutheran beliefs. It is said that Tillich's mother encouraged him to read widely and to be open to new (often unorthodox) ideas.

While he was still a young man his family moved to Berlin. Tillich went on to study at the universities of Berlin, Tübingen, and Halle. He receiving his Ph.D. at Breslau. During this period Tillich developed a life-long interest in philosophy --particularly that of the early 19th century idealist Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854).

Paul Tillich was ordained as a Lutheran pastor in 1912. During WWI Tillich served Germany as a army chaplain. After the war, in 1924, Tillich began a long and distinguished career teaching theology and philosophy at the University of Marburg where he came under the influence of Martin Heidegger's (1889-1976) Existentialist philosophy. In addition to contemporary Existentialism Tillich was also an advocate of Christian Socialism. Tillich's teaching career eventually took him to the Universities of Berlin, Marburg, Dresden, Leipzig, and Frankfurt. In 1933, with the rise of the Hitler and the Nazi Party, Paul Tillich was proclaimed an "enemy of the state." Thus, his academic career in Germany was terminated.

However, thanks to Reinhold Niebuhr (1893-1971), Tillich was able to obtain a teaching post at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Tillich soon learned English and he became an American citizen in 1940. Subsequently Tillich held professorships at Harvard and the University of Chicago.

During his career Tillich published a large number of shorter writings, including sermons. These writings attracted the attention of the intellectual public. His chief work was his three volume Systematic Theology (1951-1963), which sets out the philosophical position that underlies his shorter works. In a fair criticism of Tillich's Systematic Theology, Paul Enns writes that, "To those familiar with traditional theology, Tillich's Systematic Theology is like a museum of Picassos. While some of the subjects have an oddly familiar look, the perspectives are often startling and strange. His whole approach has a highly abstract quality. The Bible is rarely quoted, and only occasional reference is made to the classical theologians. Instead, there is a great deal of talk about existence and being. The reason for this is Tillich's desire to investigate the structure of reality which, for him, is represented symbolically in the Bible."

As Martin Luther reportedly once said of the book of Revelation, "my spirit can not abide this book," I would make the same statement concerning Tillich's Systematic Theology. I have tried to read this book and just I can do it! My orthodox brain is not wired this way!

In Tillich's philosophical theology he viewed God as impersonal "Being." For Tillich, God is the "Ground of all being." Thus, basic to Tillich's approach was his rejection of what he calls supranaturalism belief in God over and above the world. Instead, Tillich believed in "Being." Tillich's God was a purely immanent God. He is the ground of all being or Being itself. Critics have argued that Tillich's position is scarcely distinguishable from pantheism. Tillich also taught that sin was estrangement from one's true self, and that God is a person's "ultimate concern." Tillich employed the "method of correlation" in which questions from the human situation are related to answers from the divine revelation. Within this schema Jesus is understood as "the bearer of the New Being." In Existential categories, Jesus --argues Tillich-- overcomes man's estrangement, anxiety, and guilt.

Thus, the key to Tillich is to understand his guiding hermeneutic -- the movement called Existentialism. "Modern existentialism," argued Tillich, "was born as a protest against Hegelian essentialism." Indeed, the modern Existentialist movement goes back to at least the melancholy Dane, Søren Abby Kierkegaard (1813-1855), whose writings were not widely known outside Denmark prior to 1918.

Indeed, in his History of Christian Thought, Tillich recalls with fondness his school days in 1905-1907 when Kierkegaard's writings were being re-read and re-discovered by his peers at Halle University. He writes that in those years, "we were grasped by Kierkegaard."

In his book, Tillich explains that Existentialism as a movement grew out of the soil of Kantian agnosticism, the vacancy left by German idealism as the philosophical basis of Christianity, and the sterility and spiritual bankruptcy of German liberalism. Tillich explains his attraction to Kierkegaard arose because we could not accept, "the theological orthodoxy of repristination... [and] the `conservative' theologians who disregarded the historical-critical school." At the same time, Tillich also could not escape the "feeling of moralistic distortion and amystical emptiness... that was missing... from the whole Ritschlian school."


In the opening section of his book Paul Tillich describes the philosophical and historical context in which the movement we now call Christianity emerged from.

Using the apostle Paul's concept of kairos --meaning the qualitative "right time or moment in history," Tillich discusses the amazing universal and cosmopolitan political and sociological setting of Roman Empire. Within the context of the Pax Romana, with Roman roads, law and order, and with the bankruptcy of the old Greco-Roman pantheon and rival Eastern mystery religions, Christianity was able to flourish becoming an accepted and tolerated religion with the Edict of Milan in 312 A.D. --and ultimately the state religion of the late Roman Empire after 385 A.D.

Tillich discusses the important influence of Hellenistic philosophy --including Skepticism, the Platonic and Neo-Platonic traditions, and Stoicism-- on the development of Christian dogma. Tillich writes that, "Greek philosophy had undermined the ancient mythological and ritual traditions." These various ancient philosophical movements are important because many of the Early Church Fathers wrote and thought in Greek philosophical categories --not necessarily Hebrew or biblical categories.

Tillich concludes this section by stating that "the greatness of the NT is that it was able to use words, concepts, and symbols which had developed in the history of religions and at the same time preserve the picture of Jesus who was interpreted by them." Thus, for Tillich, the NT is great because it was able to take these concepts "with all their pagan and Jewish connotations without losing the basic reality, namely that event of Jesus as the Christ."


In this section Tillich discussing the Post-Apostolic Fathers and the Apologetic movement. Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Clement and Origen of Alexandria, the Shepherd of Hermes, Justin Martyr, and others all fall into this category. Tillich labels the Apologetic movement, "the birthplace of a developed Christian theology." Tillich reminds us that apologia means giving and answer to a judge in court. In Tillich's world-view "giving an answer" to the theological questions of mankind is an important Existential category. With this in mind, Tillich discusses how Christian theology emerged out of questions and conflicts with the pagan Celsus and the "many sects" of Gnosticism.

The roots of Christian dogma go back to at least Plato (427-347 B.C.) and Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). Through a strange historical twist the teachings of Plato caught on in the Roman Empire --and later medieval Europe-- and were embellished by great Christian and pagan thinkers through the centuries. Plato was an Idealist and Realist. He taught that the world which we see with our eyes and touch with our bodies was in reality only a world of shadows. Through Philo (c.20 B.C.-50 A.D.), and the Alexandrian Christian fathers (Clement and Origen), and the father of Neo-Platonism Plotinius (c.205-269 A.D.), Plato's ideas were read and studied widely in the Christian West.

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (c.500 A.D.), Tillich reminds us, "was the mediator of Neo-Platonism and Christianity, and the father of Christian mysticism." During the Middle-Ages, the writings Dionysius the Areopagite had a tremendous influence on Christian thought.

Tillich ends this section of his book with a detailed and lengthy discussion of St. Augustine. Tillich breaks the life and thought of St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) down into seven useful points.

These are:

1.) his dependence upon his mother Monica's unrelenting Christian piety;

2.) the discovery of the problem of truth while reading Cicero's Hortensisus;

3.) his time as a Manichaean dualist;

4.) his time as a philosophical Skeptic and truthseeker;

5.) his Neo-Platonic period;

6.) his conversion to Christianity and the Catholic influence by St. Ambrose of Milan;

and 7.) his Christian asceticism.

Indeed, Tillich is correct, the individual life and spiritual growth and development of Bishop Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) --perhaps the most outstanding Christian thinker of all time-- had a profound and lasting influence on Christian dogma. St. Augustine is great for many reasons. Above all, he was God's man born at the right time in history. Augustine was the son of a pagan Roman father and a Christian mother (later St. Monica).

In Augustine's search for the truth, he ran through the list of lifestyle alternatives including living as a drunk and stupid youth, taking up the study of Greek and Roman philosophy (he became a Neo-Platonist) after reading Cicero's Hortensisus, and then joined the Manichaeans (for 9 years). Only through an Existential "encounter with Christ," and after years of faithful prayers from his mother Monica (she never gave up on him!), Augustine was converted to the Catholic (universal) Christian Faith. Augustine was a very well-educated man whose world-view was rooted in his faith in Jesus Christ, his knowledge of the Bible, and his grasp of the great works of literature of the later Roman Empire.

During his career Augustine wrote many books, but he is best remembered for his two great classics The Confessions (a work which set the standard for introspective autobiographies), and The City of God (which refuted the pagan claim that the sack of Rome by Alaric the Visigoth in 410 A.D. was caused by the Empire abandoning the classic Roman gods and becoming Christian).

It is interesting to note that Alaric was that he was not a classic pagan barbarian --like the Huns, or Mongols, or the Vikings-- but an Arian Christian (i.e., their Christology was very similar to the modern cult the Jehovah's Witnesses!). With the Arians at their door, who could blame the religious pagan Romans for being upset! Thus, the Romans blamed the orthodox Catholic Church for their deteriorating social, military, and political situation.

Augustine's refutation, and his philosophy of history, are presented in his influential classic The City of God. In this book Augustine totally refutes the notion that classical Roman-Greek (or eastern mystery religions) paganism could provide a moral basis which could sustain the Roman Empire (the classical gods were amoral!). After refuting these pagan delusions, Augustine then presents the Christian linear concept of history, i.e., history is moving from the Creation to Christ and then to the Second Coming (the end of the age). With in this schema, Tillich correctly states that for Augustine the Church on earth is a corpus mixtum.

Augustine's linear view of history directly refutes the pagan cyclical-view of history (re-introduced by Hegel-Marx-Spengler-Toynbee-Schlesinger Jr. & Co. in these latter-days). In his other writings the Bishop of Hippo also took on the rigorous boot-strap religionist Pelagius (and Pelagianism), and he also dealt with the Donatist Controversy.

The Donatists (followers of Bishop Donatus of Carthage) were a fanatical puritanical Christian sect that rejected private property rights, and excommunicated any and all who received Sacraments from priests who licked the boots of the Roman persecutors during the persecution by Emperor Diocletian. Augustine argued --and set the principle--that the Sacraments (the Visible Word) are valid in themselves, thus, they do not depend on the faithfulness (or sinlessness) of the priest performing the rite.

In the end, St. Augustine is important because he set the theological framework that both Protestant (Martin Luther was an Augustian Hermit Monk) and Roman Catholic theologians (St. Thomas Aquinas held Augustine in high regard) could build on for centuries to come.


Paul Tillich opens this section of his book by reminding us that the basic theological problem of the Middle Ages was that God was gradually assigned to realm of "a transcendent reality." Tillich is correct when he states that "if we keep this in mind, we can understand everything going on in the Middle Ages." Presumably, for Tillich, "everything" would include the rise of the cult of Mary, the Papacy, the elevation of the priesthood over against the laity, indulgences, the seven Sacraments, etc.

Tillich follows historical convention by dividing the period under discussion into four periods, i.e.: 1.) the period of transition A.D. 600-1000; 2.) the early Middle Ages, A.D. 1000-1200; 3.) the high Middle Ages, A.D. 1200-1300; and 4.) the late Middle Ages, A.D. 1300-1450. Tillich adds the Middle Ages ended about 1450 with the "new motifs" of the twin movements of Renaissance (c.1453) and the Reformation (c.1517).

Tillich states the Scholasticism "was the determinative cognitive attitude of the whole Middle Ages." Tillich explains the Scholasticism was a rigorous system of theological thought which sought to interpret "all problems of life." He points out that into this rigorous theological system --which many mistakenly have taught was dry and spiritually lifeless-- we need to keep in mind that a strong mystical element informed the Scholastics. Tillich correctly states the during the Middle Ages, "mysticism and Scholasticism belonged together."

Scholasticism in the classical orthodox Christian West was a balance of the thought of St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), St. Anselm, Canon Law, Peter Lombard's Four Books of Sentences, and the giant of the age St. Thomas Aquinas (1227-1274).

Earlier, Tillich pointed out that with the writings of Augustine there is a profound lack of influence by Aristotle. Until the Middle Ages, Aristotle --whose works were not translated into Latin until the 12th century-- remained largely unknown to theologians in the West. Aristotle was re-discovered by the West through the writings and commentaries of Boethius (c.480-525 A.D.), and via partial translations of some of the works of Aristotle. However, the real turning point for Aristotle was his "Christianization" by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.). This, combined with the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to Moslem Turks, sent the Christian Greek scholars --and manuscripts of Aristotle-- to the West.

Thus, two of the greatest Schoolmen of the Middle Ages were St. Anselm and St. Thomas Aquinas. Anselm (c.1033-1109) became Archbishop of Canterbury and he is remembered for at least three things.

These are: 1.) his book Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became a Man);

2.) his famous Ontological Argument;

and 3.) Anselm's "general (theological) approach summed up in the celebrated phrase... 'credo ut·intelligam' (p.24)." Or, "I believe so that I may understand."

Tillich writes that Anselm is famous for his application of his theological principles to the problem of the doctrine of the atonement in his wonderful little book Cur Deus Homo. This book is a dialogue with a monk with the unfortunate name of Boso ["BOZO" in Seminary!] in which Anselm set out to demonstrate the inner necessity of why Christ came into our world (the Word made flesh) and died (for our sins).

In Anselm's Ontological (from BEING) Argument for the existence of God he describes God as "that which no greater can be thought." Over the years Anselm's great argument has fueled the philosophical imaginations of later thinkers such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Aquinas, Kant, Hume, Hegel, Karl Barth, Hartshorne, and many others. At one a time or another each of these great thinkers have taken their best shot at Anselm's Argument --and the old Saint still stands!

In contrast to St. Anselm, who wrote only a few books, "The Angelic Doctor," St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.) wrote volumes --heavy massive volumes!!! And, his works are not just light writings --they are, as one historian has commented, "cathedrals of the mind!"

Aquinas was a huge man who belonged to the Dominican Order the Preaching Order founded by St. Dominic. He studied under Albertus Magnus, and for a time taught at Cologne. His entire life was devoted to reading, thinking, praying, and providing an "intellectual defense and propagating of the (Roman Catholic) faith, as he understood it." Aquinas' greatest two works are his Summa Theologiae (60 volumes in the latest critical edition), and his Summa Contra Gentiles (a textbook for missionaries).

The Summa Theologiae is a series of questions and objections subdivided into articles. This work is not great because of its originality, but because it is a brilliant synthesis of previous thinking. He blends and mixes the Bible, the best traditions of the Church, teachings of the fathers [especially St. Augustine (d. 430), Gregory the Great (c.540-604), and the Eastern Fathers], and philosophy (especially "The Philosopher" --Aristotle).

Tillich writes that St. Thomas is perhaps best remembered for his famous "Five Ways" or "Proofs for the Existence of God." Tillich states the these five arguments "appear again and again in the history of philosophy."

The Five Ways are; 1.) The argument from Change;

2.) The argument from Causation;

3.) The argument from Contingency;

4.) The argument from Degrees of Excellence;

and 5.) The argument from Harmony.

Critics of St. Thomas Aquinas charge that while the Five Ways are interesting, they are fallacious because they are dependent on "an outdated Aristotelian pre-scientific view of the world." Hence, as a critic, Tillich writes that Aquinas' arguments, "draw conclusions which are not justified."

The problem with objections such as Tillich's is that many of these same critics base their own systems on out-dated Hegelian Absolute Idealism, on soon to be passé Process Thought, or some other philosophical fad system such as Tillich's own brand of Existentialism. In December 1273 Aquinas apparently had a profound mystical experience [again, Tillich reminds us the Scholastics includes a strong mystical element] which was so intense that he was unable to write. Invited to the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 Thomas fell ill and died on March 7, 1274. He was canonized in 1323. The medieval synthesis was broken down by a combination of factors. These would include the Nominalist thought of William of Ockham, the mystical reflections of Meister Eckhart, and the attacks on the Roman Church by the Pre-Reformers such as John Wyclif and John Hus, and by Humanists such as Erasmus of Rotterdam. Each, in their own way, helped prepared the way for Protestant Reformation (c.1517).


Tillich writes that, "the turning point of the Reformation, and of Church history in general, is the [Existential] experience of an Augustinian monk in his monastic cell --Martin Luther."

After correctly pointing out that Lutheranism {as a movement] is not the same as Luther [the man], Tillich states that Martin Luther (1483-1546) was, "the only man who really made a breakthrough, and whose breakthrough has transformed the surface of the earth. This is greatness!"

Luther abandon his earlier study of law to become an Augustinian Hermit monk in what Tillich would regard as a personal and Existential moment of anxiety when, during a horrible Northern German thunderstorm, Luther cried out, "Help me St. Anne, and I'll become a monk!"

At first, as a novice monk, Luther accepted the traditional medieval Roman concepts of the Sacramental System, Canon Law, the monastery system, the harsh asceticism of his order, and the study of the Scholastics (the via moderna).

However, Luther's particular problem with the medieval Roman Church erupted over the issue of the third sacrament of penance. Tillich explains that abuses over the issue of indulgences --as way to get rid of the punishment of purgatory-- triggered a crisis of faith for Luther.

Thus, the Roman system, rather than bringing Luther closer to God --and bringing Luther spiritual comfort and assurance-- made God seem more angry and remote [more transcendent]. Luther was seeking what Tillich calls, "an I-Thou relationship," i.e., a personal relationship with God.

For Luther, the turning point came (sometime between 1513 to 1516) as he studied the Scriptures --specifically Psalms, Galatians, and Romans. Through the Scriptures --and with a special emphasis on the theology of the apostle Paul -- Luther encountered God not as an alien, but as a friend; not a judge, but as a Savior who forgave those who turned to Him in simple faith. For this reason, Adolph von Harnack called Luther "a genius of reduction."

For Luther, the doctrine of justification by faith through grace (Sola Fide) meant that everything, i.e., all theological statements, must be reexamined in light of the Word of God. Thus, with this breakthrough, "the Reformation restated the unconditional categories of the Bible."

Luther's personal crisis came to a public head when on October 31, 1517 he posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. Written in Latin, these thesis were intended by Luther to spark a scholarly debate on how to reform the existing Roman Church. However, instead of dialog and reform, the entrenched Roman Church reacted in anger demanding that he recant his writings, and ultimately excommunicating Luther and placing him under an Imperial Ban. Tillich details Rome's long running reaction to Luther's proposals --and to the work of the other Reformers-- with an interesting, but less than useful, chapter on the Counter-Reformation. In this chapter Tillich writes as a typical arrogant Harnackian German Liberal Protestant as his anti-Roman bias manifests itself.

As for Luther, with God's help, and with the aid of the printing press, the support of the German people, and with the political protection of German princes --such as Elector Frederick the Wise-- Luther's reforms were able to survive.

The Reformation outside of Germany was lead by Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) and John Calvin (1509-1564). Unlike Luther, Zwingli and Calvin's Christian faith was rooted in, and informed by, Renaissance Humanism. Tillich reminds us that Zwingli's Humanist cry was "Ad Fontes --back to the sources!"

Tillich writes that today Zwingli is perhaps best remembered for his famous argument with Luther at the Marburg Colloquy in 1529. Luther held to the literal biblical meaning of "this is my body... and blood (the Real Presence)," while Zwingli [following the Dutch Humanist Hoius (Hoen)] argued that the "the body of Christ is in heaven circumscripte." Thus, reasoned Hoen and Zwingli, because Jesus Christ ascended into heaven on the fortieth day, during the Lord's Supper, Christ is present only in memory, and with the living confession of those that believe (symbolically).

In the end, Tillich reminds us that the difference between the Lutheran and Zwinglian view came down to finitum capax infiniti (the Lutheran view) and finitum non capax infiniti (the Reformed view). Tillich states that "this is a fundamental difference which shows up first in Christology, then is extended to the whole of sacramental life and the relationship to nature.

While Luther and Zwingli wrote scattered shorter polemical works, John Calvin --trained as lawyer-- was much more detailed and systematic as he presented a clear and logical systematic theology in his classic Institutes of the Christian Religion (final edition 1559). Thanks to John Calvin and his Institutes, Protestants were provided with a unified theology/ideology against the potentially overwhelming intellectual might of the Jesuits and of the Counter-Reformation.

Tillich writes that the "central attitude of Calvinism is a fear of idolatry." For Calvin, images threaten "to divert the mind form the wholly transcendent God." Indeed, argues Tillich, Calvin fought against idols wherever he believed he saw them. Tillich explains that, "For this reason, Calvin had no interest in the history of religion, which is practically condemned as a whole as being idolatrous." Hence, Tillich labels Calvinism "an iconoclastic movement, crushing idols, pictures of all kinds, because they deviate for God Himself."

In the end, Tillich correctly states that 16th and 17th century "Calvinism [with an educational system centered in Geneva] became a tremendous international power through the alliances of Protestants on a world-wide scale... [and because of this,] ...Calvinism saved Protestantism from being overwhelmed by the Counter-Reformation."


In his chapter on Orthodoxy, Pietism and Rationalism, Paul Tillich has high praise for the movement called classical Orthodoxy. Tillich calls classical Orthodoxy, "one of the great events in the history of Christian thought."

Tillich points out that "the vagueness of much theological thinking in modern Protestantism stems from a lack of knowledge of Protestant Orthodoxy." Tillich then states that, "Orthodoxy is the most objective representation of Protestant theology."

Hence, Tillich, unlike many modern liberal, Neo-Orthodox, and liberationist theologians holds classical Orthodox theology in very high regard. He argues that a solid knowledge of Orthodox theology provides the very foundation for coherent present day Protestant theological discourse.

Building on this argument, in Chapter VI, in his chapter on The Development of Protestant [Orthodox] Theology, Tillich makes an interesting comment which I feel applies to the current state of theological education within the mainline Protestant denominations.

Tillich writes that in his day, "in Germany, and generally in European theological faculties --France, Switzerland, Sweden, etc. --every student of theology was supposed to learn by heart the doctrines of the least one classical theologian of the post-Reformation period of Orthodoxy, be it Lutheran or Calvinist, and in Latin at that. Even if you should forget about the Latin today, we should know these doctrines, because they formed the classical system of Protestant thought. It isn't unheard-of state of things went Protestant churches of today do not even know the classical expression of their own foundations in the dogmatics of Orthodox."

Tillich is right on with this point. He adds that "you cannot understand people like Schleiermacher or Ritschl, American liberalism, or the Social Gospel theology, because you do not know that against which they were directed [sic], or on what they were dependent."

At LTS-G, as I took my M.Div. degree (1988-1992), this was largely my experience. Most of my professors presented a host of often contradictory Neo-Orthodox, Liberationist theologies, Existentialist theological systems, etc. [protest theologies] without teaching us the classical systems of Orthodoxy upon which these theologies were intended to refute.

In other words, how were we supposed to understand the latter-day insights of Robert W. Jenson and Carl E. Braaten [Christian Dogmatics, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984] if we were not grounded in the thought of the likes of "Archtheologian of Lutheranism," Johann Gerhard (1582-1637) --who Tillich correctly calls, the Thomas Aquinas of classical Lutheran Orthodox theology.

Thus, from my experience, Tillich is absolutely correct when he argues that modern students of theology need to be grounded in the great 17th and 18th century systems of Orthodox Protestant theology. Again, this is why I value my Trinity Ph.D. program --and this course. I feel that with my Trinity readings I am --at long last-- getting grounded in Orthodoxy. Later in his book, Tillich goes on to praise the Orthodox and their use of Latin. He states that, "we have in the Latin language something that I sometimes call a philosophical and theological clearinghouse. Its sharpness of linguistic and logical distinctions overcomes much of the vagueness that is prevalent in Protestant thought. There is no modern language that has this kind of sharpness."

Thus, as 21st century students of Christian theology would be wise to heed Tillich's wise advice in this area.

Also, in his chapter on Orthodoxy, Tillich makes an interesting point concerning the theology of the Protestant Reformation period. Tillich argues that the Reformation created a special educational problem which ultimately ended up opening the door to rationalism. Tillich explains that with in the schema of Roman Catholicism a person could be saved by "believing what the church believes." The argument follows that if you believe what you are taught by the Church, then implicitly you receive the truth and salvation.

This was one of the major points on which the Protestant Reformation was fought over. Over against the collectivist Roman view, the Reformers argued that each Christian must have an individual experience of grace by faith. As a result, writes Tillich, Protestants were forced to teach every Christian how-to read and write so they might have direct access to the Scripture. Thus, Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin and others were interested in public education for the masses.

The question, asks Tillich, is how could the Bible and Protestant doctrines be made understandable to common lay people? Tillich points out that Protestants still have this problem today.

Beginning on page 283 Tillich discusses the great and important movement called Pietism (c.1675). Tillich argues that Pietism is important for theology into least three aspects. In the wake of the horrors and social havoc brought about by the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) Pietism --as a Second Protestant Reformation-- sought to reform: 1.) theology, 2.) the Church, and 3.) public morals.

According to Pietists, such as Philip Jacob Spener (1635-1705) and August Hermann Francke (1663-1727), theology must be a practical discipline. Protestant Orthodoxy, by this period in time, tended to be dry, abstract, and disconnected from the spiritual needs of average Christians. Pietism offered these Christians a bold and life giving alternative.

Tillich explains that that, "in order to know [God], one must first believe --an old demand of Christian theology. This demand entails, at the same time, the central importance of exegesis. Old and New Testament theology become decisive, not systematic theology. Whenever the biblical theology prevails over systematic theology, this is almost always due to the influence of Pietism."

Tillich is unique in that unlike many Neo- Orthodox and modern liberal theologians, he sees a positive benefit springing from that great Pietist movement in the history of theology.

For example, Tillich writes that, "Pietism influenced morals in the Protestant world. At the end of the 17th century the moral situation was disastrous in Europe. The Thirty Years' War brought about dissolution and chaos. The form of life became extremely brutal, unrefined, and uneducated. The orthodox theologians did not do much about the situation. The Pietists, however, tried to gather individual Christians who would accept the burden and the liberation of the Christian life. Its main idea was sanctification, a common emphasis in Christian sectarian movements."

With in modern Lutheran --an evolved fusion of Orthodoxy and Pietism--- many of the best things that we do as modern Christians spring from Halle University and from P.J. Spener's 1675 reforms, i.e., support of bible societies, foreign missions, Bible study groups, Biblical and practical preaching, heart-felt worship, etc. The Church is certainly better off as a result of the 17th century Pietist movement.


The Enlightenment [Aufklarung] marked a completion of the transition from the Classical and Medieval era into the Modern world. Enlightenment thinkers --in nearly all disciplines of human knowledge-- challenged the foundational assumptions and systems of classical authorities [physiological, philosophical, and theological].

Important characteristics of the Enlightenment would include:

1.) an optimistic anthropology;

2.) the expectation of limitless human progress;

3.) faith in human reason and autonomy [auto = "self" + nomos = "law"];

4.) a new cosmology which stressed harmony, natural law, and "an ordered mechanized universe (a la Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) in physics, and Adam Smith (1723-1790) in the realm of political-economy ]" which replaced the old Medieval Synthesis of a hierarchical ordering of reality;

5.) an emphasis on ethics and morality not dogma;

6.) human beings as transformers of their environment rather than passive and static beings subject to the power of fate, random chance, and the caprice of the gods;

7.) an emphasis on the new science [nature/ physics rather than supernatural/ metaphysics];

8.) and an anti-supernaturalism --opposition to all things supernatural-- ranging from total atheism [the French Enlightenment] to the skeptical agnosticism {David Hume (1711-1776)]. Tillich states that, "in light of these principles you can understand why the Enlightenment was one of the greatest of all [intellectual] revolutions."

Indeed, despite the fact that the Enlightenment was largely an 18th century movement, theology and philosophy --to this day-- are rooted in, and informed by, these principles. Thus, Tillich is correct when he points out that, "most of our academic life is based upon [Enlightenment era] principles."

Tillich states that there are three great "fulfillers and conquerors of the Enlightenment, i.e., Rousseau, Hume, and Kant." But, the greatest of these is Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant, raised as a good German Pietist Lutheran, and awakened from his "dogmatic slumber" via an encounter with the writings of David Hume, sought to save Revealed Religion [metaphysics] from Hume's attempt to eclipse and limit it via the supremacy of Natural Religion [physics].

In The Critique of Pure Reason (1781) Kant sought to set metaphysics upon a firm footing. Kant argued in favor of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy --meaning that science/ physics /empiricism [limited to the categories of Cause & Effect and Time & Space can not make any statements (either positive or negative)] about "higher order" metaphysical concepts which are beyond Time and Space. Thus, in defense of "revealed religion" Kant sought to set limits on the claims of sense-based empiricism making metaphysical claims more plausible. Kant's famous dictum is, "I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith."

In the end, with Kant's proposal --which sought to answer the skeptical challenge of the Hume wing of the Enlightenment-- the transcendent God was lost in the voice of practical human reason and the categorical imperative.

Tillich ends his discussion on the importance of Kant by recalling that, "during my student years there was a slogan often repeated: Understanding Kant means transcending Kant. We all try to do this, and I will be showing various ways in which theology [every since] has tried to do it." Thus, Tillich correctly argues that a basic understanding of Kant is vital to understand modern theology.


Tillich argues that the key to understanding Romanticism as a movement is to see it as a reaction "against the Enlightenment." For example, Romanticism sought to return society a real or imagined Golden Age of the past, i.e., the Middle Ages. In sharp contrast, for the thinkers of the Enlightenment period, the past was typically regarded as an age of "bondage to superstition." Thus, the past was something to be freed from, not to return to!

Perhaps the most important theological thinker of the age of Romanticism was Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768-1834). Schleiermacher was an influential Reformed minister who preached at Trinity Church in Berlin. He has been called "the prince of the Church;" "a Herrnhutter (Moravian pietism) of a higher order;" and the father of classical liberal (German) theology. In their book, Grenz and Olson correctly argue that Schleiermacher sought to find a balance to the age old theological problem of Immanence verses Transcendence by creating a theology based on Gefuhl or feeling. Schleiermacher can be best understood as a late and radical Pietist who sought to blend in elements of Romanticism (a popular literary movement of the time in Germany that rejected both dogmatic orthodoxy and the cold rationalism of the Enlightenment philosophy).

Romanticism stressed human emotions, imagination, the Gothic, the natural, the supernatural, the intuitive, self-realization, and self-expression. In addition to his duties as a popular preacher at Berlin's Trinity [Reformed] Church Schleiermacher helped found the University of Berlin, produced an important German translation of Plato's works, wrote books on ethics, philosophy, hermeneutics, the life of Jesus, and his magnum opus The Christian Faith (1821-1830). Tillich states that because of his interest in the philosophical concept of eros, "it is no mere coincidence that Schleiermacher was the great Romantic translator of Plato." Schleiermacher, writes Tillich, is indeed "the father of modern Protestant theology."

Schleiermacher was theologically educated within the framework of both Protestant Orthodoxy and Pietism. Tillich argues that, "If you read his dogmatics, The Christian Faith, you'll find that he never developed any thought without making reference to classical Orthodoxy, then to the Pietist criticism of Orthodoxy, and finally to Enlightenment criticism of both, before he goes on to state his own solutions. This is an important procedure for all theological thought."

With his theological system Schleiermacher argued that the old impasse between theological rationalism and orthodox could be solved if the source of theological statements were based on human experience, i.e., "the feeling [Gefuhl (`deep sense or awareness')] of absolute dependency," rather than on dogmatic propositions about God. In the past, both Lutheran and German Reformed Orthodoxy sought its theological foundation "from above," while Enlightenment rationalism sought to base itself "from below." Rejecting both historic options, Schleiermacher sought a third way, basing his system on the human reflection on the human experience of God.

Thus, Schleiermacher was willing for religion to wave all claims on anything belonging to either the realm of science or ethics/morality. In return, Schleiermacher wanted religion's "cultural despisers" to recognize religion as "something human in its own right and of its own kind." That is, Schleiermacher sought to establish the autonomy of religion over against other fields of academic and scientific inquiry. Like Tillich himself, in Schleiermacher's system, the line between theism and pantheism is very thin indeed. Some have described Schleiermacher's doctrine of God as panentheism, i.e., that God is has no existence above or outside of the cosmos [classic Transcendence and God as thought of by Enlightenment thinkers ]. With Schleiermacher, God correlates so closely with the world that the world and God become nearly inseparable.

Tillich ends his discussion of Schleiermacher with a surprising and important criticism. He writes that when religion is reduced to feeling --Gefuhl-- as in Schleiermacher, "and weakened by sentimental hymns --instead of the great old hymns [of Orthodoxy, i.e., Paul Gerhard (1607-1676), etc.] which had religious power of the presence of the divine --people lost there interest in the churches." Tillich charges that thanks to Schleiermacher's theology, the churches of German during the 19th century became empty as "neither the youth nor the men were satisfied with [mere] feeling."

With the rise of the Church Growth Movement, and the popularity of content-less "praise choruses" with in many modern Evangelical Churches, this is an interesting commentary! Perhaps Tillich, as an historian of Christian thought has something important to teach us!


While Schleiermacher forged his theological system at the University of Berlin, his rival and colleague Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) offered still another important challenge to the Enlightenment. Tillich is correct when he states that "neither Marx, nor Nietzsche, nor Kierkegaard, nor Existentialism, nor the revolutionary movements, are understandable apart from seeing their direct or indirect dependence on Hegel."

To this list I would add Hitler and the Nazis [the fruit of right-wing Hegelianism], and Marx-Lenin-Stalin-Mao-Pol Pot, etc. [the fruit of left-wing Hegelianism]. Hegel, who died in 1831, spawned the ideologies that led to the deaths of perhaps 200-300 million people during the 20th century.

On the theological front Hegel spawned the thought of "Life of Jesus" critic David Fredrich Strauss (1808-1874); NT critic F.C. Bauer (1792-1860) [THESIS = early Jewish-Christian communities and Petrine thought; ANTITHESIS = pagan, Greek and Pauline thought; SYNTHESIS the Johannine community; and the work of OT Higher Critics such as Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918).

Tillich points out that while it is true that biblical criticism had existed since the time of deism and the Enlightenment, "a new element was introduced by Hegel." This new element was Hegel's notion that "history is a process [the Hegelian dialetic]." This process provided the intellectual foundation for the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis [the Higher-Critical Method].

Virtually all contemporary theology is based on the Bible understood via the Higher-Critical Method. Hegel is important because without the dialectic of Hegel the entire system of Higher-Critical Method crumbles. Indeed, ideas have consequences. Hegel is known for his complex working out of his concept of "the relative mind or Geist (spirit)" and for his grand fusion of theology with philosophy. Like Tillich, with Hegel, the line between theology and philosophy is typically difficult to discern.

Hegel broke with previous thinkers that had argued that reality was static. For centuries, traditional Western philosophy and logic held to the Aristotelian law of non-contradiction which presupposed a static reality [i.e., "A is A and NOT non-A"]. Instead, explains Tillich, Hegel taught that all reality is active, dynamic, fluid, developing, and unfolding. In Hegel's schema, not only is truth relative, truth is a process within history. It is an unfolding of the Absolute.

For Hegel, all reality moves in the now famous Hegelian triad [the Dialectic] of "Thesis -- Antithesis -- Synthesis." Tillich then adds that this "distorted image of Hegel" is "the usual caricature." He adds that once he taught Hegelian philosophy in Frankfurt "I spent the whole academic year, four hours a week, and got through only half of the material." The point Tillich seeks to stress is the that old "Thesis -- Antithesis -- Synthesis" Hegelian triad fails to do justice to this profound system. This is one of the reason I hate Hegel. Whenever I run into a Hegelian they always try to pull a elitist Tillich.

Hegel's writing is incomprehensible. Hence, it lends itself to caricature and misinterpretation. Then, Hegel's arrogant disciples turn around and blame normal readers for their inability to understand Hegel's "true meaning." The "distortion" is on Hegel's end, not on the receiving end of the transmission!

Thus, in Hegel's system, philosophy, theology, and history are all "swallowed up" by a complex metaphysical unfolding of the Absolute.

Applied to Christian theology Hegel's system has been described as "a grand declaration of the metaphor of the Incarnation." Hegel, with his mystical and speculative idealism, sought to answer the Enlightenment by elevating theological truth beyond history.

In the process, Hegel's system became "the work of a radical immanentist." According to Grenz and Olson, "this immanentism {pantheism] is Hegel's most important and lasting contribution to contemporary theology."


During his university training Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889) was influenced by Schleiermacher, Kant, and the Hegelian NT scholar F.C. Bauer. Ritschl taught at the University of Gottingen from 1864 to 1889. His teachings and writings influenced the entire pre-WWI generation of Protestant pastors and teachers. Tillich notes that "it was the Ritschlian school which introduced Kantianism into theology." Following Kant, Ritschl set up a distinction between scientific knowledge [which describes only the way things are], and religious knowledge which deals with the way things ought to be. In philosophy this is concept is known as the Is/Ought, or the Fact/Value Dichotomy.

According the Ritschl, again following Kant and sounding like Schleiermacher, conflicts and misunderstandings arise within the secular academic community "when people fail to observe this distinction between theoretical knowledge and religious knowledge." Like Kant and Schleiermacher, Ritschl sought to protect religion by moving it above and beyond secular knowledge. Tillich states that end result of the Ritschlian movement in theology was development in two key areas; "scientific [historical] research and the moral principle or experience of the ethical personality." That is, Biblical Higher Criticism and ethics.

In the end, Ritschl --and the other 19th century Liberals-- were bitterly attacked in the early 20th century by Neo-Orthodox theologians such as Karl Barth and Emil Brunner.


"The greatest figure in the Ritschlian school," writes Tillich, "was Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930)." Tillich states that this last great German classical liberal theologian was "basically a Church historian" and a patristics scholar. Harnack was a prolific writer and an influential politically connected scholar. For example, in 1905 Harnack was appointed director of the prestigious Prussian State Library and in 1911 he helped found the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for Fostering Scholarship.

Tillich notes that Harnack's greatest achievement was his multi-volume History of Dogma, "still a classical work in this area of research."

During his lifetime Harnack's writings were very controversial. However, because he enjoy the support of the German government Harnack was protected from more orthodox critics within the state Evangelical {Lutheran-Reformed State Church].

Harnack taught that "the kernel of authentic Christianity could only be discovered when it had been separated [by trained German scholars and critics of course!] from the husk of cultural forms that NT documents and Church traditions had cloaked it in." Harnack, reports Tillich, rejected Hellenized dogmatic theological terms such as ousia and hypostatis as elements foreign to true Christianity.

Thus, for Harnack, the husk was centuries of Greek philosophy and later "Roman Catholic tradition and darkness" that had been stripped away by the Protestant Reformation. The highest and most advanced form of Christianity was of course the German Evangelcial Church [a Lutheran-Reformed amalgamation formed by the Prussian Union of 1830.]

With his book What is Christianity? (1900) Harnack helped popularize German Classical Liberal theology with the clear proclamation that "true Christianity" is "the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the infinite value of the human soul." Tillich tells an amusing story about Harnack's book. According to Harnack himself, the train station in Leipzig, Germany "was blocked by freight cars in which his book What is Christianity? was being sent all over the world." Tillich adds that Harnack also stated that "this book was being translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible." What a freighting thought!

It is important to note that Harnack's theological views were not new or original. As we have seen with the help of Tillich's excellent book, Liberalism of the German variety can at least be traced back to Schleiermacher.

At the same time, Tillich [as a Neo-Orthodox radical] is critical of Harnack and Liberalism stating that the movement, "had no real systematic theology; it believed in the results of historical research in a wrong way... therefore, its systematic utterances were comparatively poor."

In the end, 19th century German Liberalism --with it's optimistic anthropology and unlimited faith in human progress and the immanence of God-- failed. WWI and the bloody 20th century exposed the fatal weakness in their naïve theological system.


Tillich states that Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968), "came out of the religious socialist movement in Switzerland."

Barth, a disciple of Adolf von Harnack, was provoked into launching his famous attack on German Liberalism as a reaction to his mentor's close attachment to the German government during WWI. With his connections to the pacifist religious socialist movement --and largely because of Harnack's close ties to Kaiser Wilhelm II during WWI)-- Karl Barth became a pacifist. Among other things, Barth could not tolerate the fact that Harnack wrote the Kaiser's 1914 speech that proclaimed Germany's entry into the Great War.

Like Tillich himself, Barth was influenced by a renewed interest --prior to WWI-- in the writings of Danish Lutheran theologian and philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Kierkegaard's themes of the Transcendence of God who speaks to the individual in a divine moment of encounter became the foundation on which Barth and the other Neo-Orthodox thinkers began their theological deliberations.

In addition to the trauma of WWI, as a parish pastor in Switzerland Karl Barth found that Liberal theology was useless in his weekly task of preaching to Gospel to his people. This, in turn, drove Barth back to Scripture and into what he called "the strange new world within the Bible." In the Scripture Barth found not a record of human religion [a major theme in Liberalism], but instead the revelation of the living God in relationship to fallen humanity [a vital and important distinction].

Within this new schema Christianity is not a religion [man to God (as in the tower of Babel)], but instead a living relationship [God to man via the incarnated Christ].

Thus, Barth found a relevant message for his parishioners in the transcend Word --and not in the theological and philosophical religious speculations of the 19th century Liberals. Thus, in 1919, with his famous commentary --The Epistle to the Romans [Der Romerbrief]-- Barth rejected the old German Liberal theological establishment ideology based on human centered theology, "theology from below," and instead demanded its replacement with "theology from above."

On Barth's famous book, Tillich writes that it is "a book of great prophetic paradoxes; it was received in Germany and in all Europe as a prophetic book."

Tillich adds that with Barth's commentary on Romans, "here began the fight against the use of the word `religion' in theology." Barth stressed the wholly otherness of God, and the centrality of God's revelation impacting concepts such as sin, eternity, salvation, Christology and the Gospel.

Neo-orthodoxy is interesting in that most of its champions --such as Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Tillich-- had been educated in the great German universities. For example, Barth studied under Adolf von Harnack in Berlin and Wilhelm Herrmann (1846-1922) --a great Ritschlian at Marburg, "under whom [at the time] many Americans [also] studied."

Neo-orthodox theologians accepted the Enlightenment as a given. They also accepted the liberal conclusions of Biblical Criticism. At the same time, Neo-orthodoxy rejects the culture of liberalism which arose out of the emphasis on natural theology and the German state churches. The central focus of Neo-Orthodox criticism was liberalism's attempt to make the Gospel of Christ more reasonable and palatable to the modern mindset --a trend that had gone on since Schleiermacher's attempts to reach "the cultural despisers."

With his Neo-Orthodox breakthrough, Tillich writes, Barth also sought to save "Protestantism from the onslaught of the neo-collectivist and pagan Nazism [so-called `German Christianity']." Later, Tillich writes that Barth eventually saw "the movement headed by Hitler is a quasi-religious movement which represents an attack on Christianity."

As a Lutheran pastor --with several aging WWII German army veterans in my two congregations-- I appreciate Tillich's insights when he points out that Nazism was a "neo-pagan," "quasi-religious movement," and that it was an anti-Christian false religion. Some of my people here in Rhinebeck still refuse to make this vital admission!

In addition, most secular historians [such as William Shirer] fail to make this vital quasi-religious connection to the Nazi movement. Establishment secular historians tend to cling to the anti-Semitic hypnotic gangster theory of Hitler. This dangerous theory assigns all of the blame on Hitler as an historical aberration.

In addition, Tillich rebukes Barth for not challenging the Nazis sooner that he did. The ugly secret of the rise of Nazism is that it was not the product of Hitler alone. National Socialist ideology arose in the vacuum created by the theologically bankrupt German state churches {Lutheran, Reformed, and Roman Catholic --depending on the region in Germany]. Germany Liberal theology, Higher Criticism, and apostasy emptied out the churches and caused the people to turn toward neo-pagan religious alternatives. Like many in his generation, Tillich himself seldom attended church! The point is, Germany, leading up to WWI, abandon historic Christianity and turned toward the false gods of Neo-paganism, nationalism, atheism, the occult, eastern mysticism, and Marxism, etc.

Tillich fails to make the connection between Rationalism, German Liberalism, Higher Criticism, and the new Neo-Orthodoxy and the destruction of the faith of the average German Christian.

Perhaps the most freighting aspect of this is that our country is presently going through the same cycle with the rise of the New Age Movement and related Neo-pagan alternative religions. Indeed, there are many ominous parallels here!

Despite tinges of jealousy from Tillich [e.g., p.539] Karl Barth remains one of the most important theologians of the 20th century and he rightfully takes his place among the Church's greatest thinkers such as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Schleiermacher.


Paul Tillich's book A History of Christian Thought is both important and interesting. I am glad to have had the opportunity to read it. In addition, this book has will helped to prepare me for my next task of reading Helmut Thielicke's three volume The Evangelical Faith. Thielicke wrestled with many of the same issues and theological personalities that Tillich has tackled.