Monday, September 18, 2006

Reading Tillich 10: Being Created

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).
Systematic Theology I, 253.
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.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Hello Patrik--When I read this Tillich quote I'm reminded of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Now bear with me here--the monster is a created being, he has that "divine spark" and he has the tendency to neglect it, which he does really well. This is an extreme example, but I think it's a good way of showing what Tillich is saying to us here. We all have a bit of "created monster" in us--and sometimes we let it take over. I guess it's just part of being created.
I've very much enjoyed reading your posts.