Nevertheless, the term ex nihilo says something fundamentally important about the creature, namely, that it must take over what might be called the "heritage of nonbeing". Creatureliness implies nonbeing, but creatureliness is more than nonbeing. It carries in itself the power of being, and this power of being is its participation in being-itself, in the creative ground of being. Being a creature includes bot the heritage of nonbeing (anxiety) and the heritage of being (courage).It is interesting how Tillich kind of hides his intent in this text, by putting the key to the quote in parenthesis. I'm not sure if this interpretation of the ex nihilo-formula holds the scrutiny of historical methods, but that is hardly Tillich's point. He connects a central human experience, the tension between anxiety and courage, to the Christian doctrine of creation. To be created is to on the one hand carry within oneself a spark of divine might, but also the tendency to neglect this spark. This is what it is to be human. What Tillich is discussing in this passage is not primarily the philosophy of being but human ethics at a very fundamental level.
Systematic Theology I, 253.
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