Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reading Tillich 29: Equality

The churches rarely followed the attitude of Jesus towards the "publicans and the whores". The were and are ashamed of the way in which Jesus acted in acknowledging the equality of all men under sin (which they confess) and therefore he equality of all men under forgiveness (which they confess). The establishment of the principle of inequality between socially condemned sinners and socially accepted righteous ones is one of the most conspicuous and most anti-Christian denials of the principle of equality. In opposition to this attitude of many groups and individuals in the churches, the fact that secular psychology of the unconscious has rediscovered the reality of the demonic in everyone must be interpreted as an impact of the Spiritual Presence. ... If the churches do not feel the call conversion in this development, they will become obsolete, and the divine Spirit will work in and through seemingly atheistic and anti-Christian movements.
Systematic Theology III, 206-207.
The basic criticism Tillich presents here is hardly original, though I think few would claim that the churches has "felt the call to conversion" in this area. I find it interesting that Tillich proposes the anthropology of modern psychology as a possible source for rethinking in this area in the churches. It would be tragic if the new found knowledge of a different discipline would make the churches repent when the churches have confessed the same idea all the time.

I feel I am not unjust to Tillich when I interpret the latter part of the quotation, not so much as a threat or a description of what could happen in the future, as a sensitive description of what is actually happening right now. We see lots of movements with no connection to the churches that is basically succeeding where the churches systematically failing, to see that our loyalty should be with the poor and oppressed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Patrik-- I've gotten behind in my Tillich reading (I was going to start reading Dynamics of Faith, but didn't get very far in that endeaver)but you have inspired me with your last few posts to dig in and finish my first Tillich book. Tillich seems very relevant to our pos-postmodern (or whatever it's called) age and I think a renewed look at his theology could really to us all some good. I appreciate the careful and clear way you discuss your selected text--it is most helpful to me. I may be asking for your help in the next few weeks in my own reading.