Thursday, October 12, 2006

Reading Tillich 25: Ecstasy

The church must prevent the confusion of ecstasy with chaos, and it must fight for structure. On the other hand, it must avoid the institutional profanization of the Spirit which took place in the early catholic church as a result of its replacement of charisma with office. Above all, it must avoid the secular profanization of contemporary Protestantism which occurs when it replaces ecstasy with doctrinal or moral structure.
Systematic Theology III, 117.
Tillich's talk of ecstasy was difficult to "get" back in the fifties, it may be even worse now, when most people think of a pill when they hear the word. On the other hand, the concept has found a place in theology since then, Pannenberg uses it a lot (without giving Tillich any credit...)

In honesty, what Tillich says in this particular quote is not that radical or original. I think most people living in the church has a similar opinion, that true faith is neither submitting to religious authority nor to doctrinal or ethical rules. What is special is that Tillich really places this thought in the centre of his theology, and it goes right through the system. He acknowledges that religion is an ambiguous phenomenon and has to be so.

1 comment:

Aaron G said...

Henri Nouwen also wrote about extasy, though I can't remember the book right now.