Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Paul Tillich, fully Paul Johannes Tillich

German-born American Theologian, Christian Existential Philosopher and Author

"Depression is rage spread thin."

"Being religious means asking passionately the question of the meaning of our existence and being willing to receive answers, even if the answers hurt."

"Faith as the state of being ultimately concerned implies love, namely, the desire and urge toward the reunion of the separated. "

"Forgiving presupposes remembering."

"The awareness of the ambiguity of one's highest achievements (as well as one's deepest failures) is a definite symptom of maturity."

"The character of human life, like the character of the human condition, like the character of all life, is "ambiguity": the inseparable mixture of good and evil, the true and false, the creative and destructive forces - both individual and social."

"Religion is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, a concern which qualifies all other concerns as preliminary and which itself contains the answer to the question of a meaning of our life."

"The joy about our work is spoiled when we perform it not because of what we produce but because of the pleasure with which it can provide us, or the pain against which it can protect us."

"Theology moves back and forth between two poles, the eternal truth of its foundations and the temporal situation in which the eternal truth must be received."

"Religion is the substance of culture, and culture the form of religion."

"Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone."

"Religion is our ultimate concern."

"If you do not have "courage to be," you lose your own being."

"He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails is a failure in his whole being."

"Loneliness can be conquered only by those who can bear solitude."

"Philosophy is the continuing search for life’s meaning."

"A process was going on in which people were transformed into things, into pieces of reality which pure science can calculate and technical science can control… The safety which is guaranteed by well-functioning mechanisms for the technical control of nature, by the refined psychological control of the person, by the rapidly increasing organizational control of society – this safety is bought at a high price: man, for whom all this was invented as a means, becomes a means himself in the service of means. "

"Absolute faith is the dependence of the experience of nonbeing on the experience on being and the dependence of the experience of meaninglessness on the experience of meaning. Even in the state of despair one has enough being to make despair possible."

"Absolute faith, the acceptance of being accepted. Of course, in the state of despair there is nobody and nothing that accepts. But there is the power of acceptance itself which is experienced. Meaninglessness, as long as it is experienced, includes an experience of the power of acceptance. To accept this power of acceptance consciously is the religious answer of absolute faith, of a faith which has been deprived by doubt of any concrete content, which nevertheless is faith and the source of the most paradoxical manifestation of the courage to be."

"Anxiety may consist of the loss of psychological or spiritual meaning which is identified with one’s existence as a self, i.e., the threat of meaninglessness."

"All things… call on us with small or loud voices. They want us to listen; they want us to understand their intrinsic claims, their justice of being…. But we can give it to them only through the love that listens."

"Astonishment is the root of philosophy. "

"Anger is a noble infirmity; the generous failing of the just; the one degree that riseth above zeal, asserting the prerogative of virtue."

"Cruelty towards others is always also cruelty towards ourselves."

"Boredom is rage spread thin. "

"Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free."

"Experience of the power of being which is present even in the face of the most radical manifestation of non being."

"Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith."

"Faith is an act of a finite being who is grasped by, and turned to, the infinite."

"Faith consists in being vitally concerned with that ultimate reality to which I give the symbolical name of God. Whoever reflects earnestly on the meaning of life is on the verge of an act of faith."

"Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned. The content matters infinitely for the life of the believer, but it does not matter for the formal definition of faith. And this is the first step we have to make in order to understand the dynamics of faith."

"Faith as ultimate concern is an act of the total personality. It happens in the center of the personal life and includes all its elements. Faith is the most centered act of the human mind. It is not a movement of a special section or a special function of man's total being. They all are united in the act of faith. But faith is not the sum total of their impacts. It transcends every special impact as well as the totality of them and it has itself a decisive impact on each of them."

"Life remains ambiguous as long as there is life."

"Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone."

"Love that cares, listens."

"I hope for the day when everyone can speak again of God without embarrassment."

"Man is able to decide for or against reason; he is able to create beyond reason or to destroy below reason. "

"In the courageous standing of uncertainty, faith shows most visibly its dynamic character. "

"Man is asked to make of himself what he is supposed to become to fulfill his destiny."

"Man is free, in so far as he has the power of contradicting himself and his essential nature. Man is free even from his freedom; that is, he can surrender his humanity. "

"Neurosis is the way of avoiding nonbeing by avoiding being. "

"Man's ultimate concern must be expressed symbolically, because symbolic language alone is able to express the ultimate."

"Our language has wisely sensed these two sides of man are being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. Although, in daily life, we do not always distinguish these words, we should do so consistently and thus deepen our understanding of our human predicament. "

"Sometimes I think it is my mission to bring faith to the faithless, and doubt to the faithful. "

"The basic anxiety, the anxiety of a finite being about the threat of non-being, cannot be eliminated. It belongs to existence itself."

"Nothing truly real is forgotten eternally, because everything real comes from eternity and goes to eternity. "

"The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of being unacceptable."

"The name of this infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being is God."

"The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God disappears in the anxiety of doubt."

"The first duty of love is to listen. "