Paul Tillich, fully Paul Johannes Tillich

Tillich, fully Paul Johannes Tillich

German-born American Theologian, Christian Existential Philosopher and Author

Author Quotes

To seek pleasure for the sake of pleasure is to avoid reality, the reality of other beings and the reality of ourselves. But only the fulfillment of what we really are can give us joy. Joy is nothing else than the awareness of our being fulfilled in our true being, in our personal center. And this fulfillment is possible only if we unite ourselves with what others really are. It is reality that gives joy and reality alone.

There is an element of venture or risk in every statement of the truth. Yet we can take this risk in the certainty that this is the only way in which truth can reveal itself to finite and historical beings.

The term “theo-logy” implies, as such, a mediation, namely, between the mystery, which is theos, and the understanding, which is logos.

The name of this infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being is God. That depth is what the word God means… For if you know that God means depth, you know much about him. You cannot then all yourself an atheist or unbeliever. For you cannot think or say: Life has not depth! Life is shallow. Being itself is surface only. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not. He who knows about depth knows about God.

The infinite significance of every moment of time is this: in it we decide and are decided about, with respect to our eternal future.

The ecumenical movement... is able to heal divisions which have become historically obsolete, to replace confessional fanaticism by inter-confessional cooperation, to conquer denominational provincialism, and to produce a new vision of the unity of all churches in their foundation.

Spirit is not a mysterious substance; it is not a part of God. It is God himself; but not God as the creative ground of all things and not God directing history and manifesting himself in its central event, but God as present in communities and personalities, grasping them, inspiring them, and transforming them.

Serious doubt is confirmation of faith. It indicates the seriousness of the concern, its unconditional character.

Prayer is a spiritual sighing and longing of a finite being to return to its origin.

Man’s hostility to God proves indisputably that he belongs to him. Where there is the possibility of hate, there and there alone is the possibility of love.

Knowledge of reality has never the certainty of complete evidence… Every knowledge of reality by the human mind has the character of higher or lower probability.

Justice is that side of love which affirms the independent right of person within the love relation.

Joy has something within itself which is beyond joy and sorrow. This something is called blessedness... It preserves in itself its opposite, sorrow. It provides the foundation for happiness and pleasure. It is present in all levels of man’s striving for fulfillment. It consecrates and directs them. It does not diminish or weaken them. It does not take away the risks and dangers of the joy of life. It makes the joy of life possible in pleasure and pain, in happiness and unhappiness, in ecstasy and sorrow. Where there is joy, there is fulfillment. And where there is fulfillment, there is joy. In fulfillment and joy the inner aim of life, the meaning of creation, and the end of salvation are attained.

It is man only who is able to face his death consciously; that belongs to his greatness and dignity... Man’s knowledge that he has to die is also man’s knowledge that he is above death.

In the depth of every living religion there is a point at which the religion itself loses its importance, and that to which it points breaks through its particularity, elevating it to spiritual freedom and with it to a vision of the spiritual presence in other expressions of the ultimate meaning of man’s existence.

In the creative vision of God the individual is present as a whole in his essential being and inner teleos and at the same time in the infinity of the special moments of his life process. Of course this is said symbolically, since we are unable to have a perception of or even an imagination of that which belongs to the divine life. The mystery of being beyond essence and existence is hidden in the mystery of the creativity of the divine life.

He who knows about depth knows about God.

God’s purpose in history is to save individuals, not as individuals, but as participants in his kingdom, in the unity of all beings under God.

Forgiveness is an answer, the divine answer, to the question implied in our existence. An answer is answer only for him who has asked, who is aware of the question.

Faith in providence is faith altogether. It is the courage to say yes to one’s life and life in general, in spite of the driving forces of fate, in spite of the catastrophes of existence and the breakdown of meaning.

Does anyone really believe he can escape from the responsibility for what he has done and thought in secret?… The center of our whole being is involved in the center of all being; and the center of all being rests in the center of our being.

An act of faith is an act of a finite being who is grasped by and turned to the infinite.

We can speak without voice to the trees and the clouds and the waves of the sea. Without words they respond through the rustling of leaves and the moving of clouds and the murmuring of the sea.

Vitality that can stand the abyss of meaninglessness is aware of a hidden meaning within the destruction of meaning.

Vitality in man is proportional to intentionality.

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Tillich, fully Paul Johannes Tillich
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German-born American Theologian, Christian Existential Philosopher and Author