Thursday, September 14, 2006

Reading Tillich 9: God and Existence

It would be a great victory for Christian apologetics if the words "God" and "existence" were very definitely separated except in the paradox of God becoming manifest under the conditions of existence, that is, in the Christological paradox. God does not exist. He is being-itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore, to argue that God exists is to deny him.
Systematic Theology I, 205.
The last part of this famous quote is often used to discredit Tillich and make him out to be some kind of radical ultra liberal blasphemer. What Tillich is actually trying to do here is to describe God in a way that later will make the talk of Incarnation understandable. To appreciate the mystery of the Incarnation one has to understand in what way God is fundamentally different from creation. In Tillich's terms this difference consists of the fact that God is beyond essence and existence, that is things as the "should" be and things as they are. When he says that God does not exist, his point is that we cannot reach God by adding things to the finite. That way we will only end up with Idols. as he says later on: concerning God all superlatives are diminutives.

3 comments:

krister said...

Patrik-I just wanted to say that I am really enjoying this series on Tillich's ST. While some people fail to appreciate his method, it was his theology (initially discovered through reading collections of his sermons) that literally saved my faith as a young Christian in college. As I get closer to completing my M.Div., I am now enjoying his Systematic Theology as I find it continues to speak to me in unusual ways. I also have to agree that his treatment of the creation myths is outstanding. Anyway, just wanted to thank you for these snippets of Tillich each day.

Joey said...

Your posts on Tillich help me appreciate and understand him better. It's like having a Tillich reader's companion. Thanks

Patrik said...

Thanks for your comments, guys. I'll keep it up then!