Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Tillich, Phenomenology and Theolgoical Method

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Paul Tillich
 
 
 
 
 
Athesits are always talking about how stupid theology is. "I don't have to read the theology because I know it's stupid." I hear various ones (not all but many) say that all the time. I would like them to actually read some theology and tell me why it's stupid. Here is some theology for them to read. They are always saying "what else would you use but scinece?" What that really means is their self selected set of facts form scinece that back their ideology, excluding those that disprove their ideology. My answer to them is "phenomenology." But you have to read this to know how it works.

Tillich was born August 20, 1886, in Starzeddel, then a province of Brandenberg, Germany (now part of Poland), family moved to Berlin 1900. His father was a Luthern Pastor. He was ordained as a Luthern Pastor in 1912 and kicked around giving lectures at various universities: Berlin, Dresden and Frankfurt.[1]


His liberalism and opposition to the Nazi movement led to his dismissal in 1933. Fortunately, Reinhold Niebuhr, whom he had met in Germany, offered him a position at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. Tillich became a U.S. citizen in 1940, then took up a position at Harvard in 1954, followed by one at the University of Chicago in 1962, where he was to remain until the end of his life.[2]


Paul Tillich is the central figure in the current effort; Heidegger is definitely a major influence upon Tillich. Be that as it may the great Theologian did not merely copy off the philosopher’s understanding of being. Tillich was a influenced by Heidegger philosophically, but was also his political enemy. The former was a leftist and a socialist, the latter a right-winger and Nazi. Tillich was coming from the perspective of a larger tradition; Christian theology is not all Aristotelian, there’s a whole Platonic wing that produced centuries of complex and brilliant ferment form which the average communicant is totally cut off. That tradition also has it’s own take on being. Tillich lived in that tradition like a fish lives in water. Perhaps it was Heidegger’s connection with the “life world” that gave him his connection to Nazism through the notion of the folks, the soil, the people and their traditions.[3] It’s easy for us to judge looking back on Nazism as the emblematic evil, while we forget many intelligent people were duped by it. Perhaps it was Tillich’s connection with the medievalists and his love of the Platonic that enabled him to see the valuable connections in Heidegger’s ties to the past. Tillich was not a dusty scholar, however, stuck in the library with no connection to the life of the day. He was a vibrant intellectual of modernity and he constantly tried to bring his medievalism into the present and understand it in a modern light. He used Heidegger to modernize. Nevertheless, in the world of their present, however, Germany of the 1930’s these arid philosophical issues took on a concrescence of life and death.
 
Tillich’s response to the political situation of his day was a proving ground for his theological method, and he responded to the crisis of Germany in the twenties and thirties the same way he responded to modern theology; by relating the human situation in which he lived to the larger picture of faith and the Christian and seeking the psychological points of contact where the human perception of God manifested it in symbolic terms pointing to our ultimate concerns. Tillich contrasts “Kerygmatic” theology with “apologetics.” Kerygma refers to the unchanging truth, and this contrasted with the temporal situation, always in flux.[4] Tillich’s concept of “the situation” includes the cultural context of time and place. Tillich is the embodiment of his own concerns. He more than any other theologian of the twentieth century, personified liberal theological credo; translating the timeless truth of the Gospel into the moment in one’s own cultural context, as he advocated doing.
Tillich’s major methodological move is called “correlation.” In a nut shell, he correlates the great truths of Christian doctrine, though an understanding of the symbols it uses, with the existential apprehensions within the current situation, when the two stack up in some way, he lined them up.[5] Tillich understood this as a philosophical task, even for theologians. The task of the philosopher must draw upon material from all realms of culture.[6] One central question give focus to the entire inquiry: what does it mean to exist? Tillich understood this as an “existential” analysis. The cultural context of this term as used in that era meant that the question was central to human understanding.[7The term “existential” is closely related to phenomenology. Both deal with allowing the sense data to suggest the categories into which we organize the data. Both deal with human understanding as rooted in its own immediate life situation. It begins with the perspective of the individual in the concrete situation. One immediate implication of this aspect is that it might suggest that we ignore the phony Aristotelian perspective of which atheists try to hard to root themselves, the “rational man,” the “scientist” (meaning “reductionist”) who decides before the tally is ever made that there can’t be anything beyond the material. This “rational man” is a phony place to start because it automatically rules out the transcendent, the sacred, the aspects of human existence that have always meant the most to people. It assumes form the beginning that there’s “nothing there” and reality must be defined by pre set ideology involving the wearing of white lab coats.
 
As the term “existential” implies, the perspective is concerned with the meaning of existence. According to Tillich’s perspective of the existential self understanding rooted in the standard point of the meaning of existence was the primary issue and fundamental problem around which all of human understanding orbits. “Existence is the question which underlies all other questions.”[8] Yet Tillich did not pin the answer upon existentialist dogma. Nor did he root the answer in the situation itself. The answer would not come from the situation but from the universal and timeless message brought by the symbols of the Christian faith. This is no retreat to the ivory tower; it’s an attempt to bring the truth of the message to the place where it is needed, the actual concrete situation of life, and to apply in a relevant way. Tillich said “the method of correlation explains the content of the Christian faith through existential questions and theological answers in mutual interdependence.”[9]
The term “correlation” Tillich uses in three different ways. It can indicate the correspondence of a series of different sets of data; it can designate the interdependence of concepts; or it can designate the real interdependence of things in structural wholes.[10

There is a correlation in the sense of correspondence between religious symbols and that which is symbolized by them. There is a correlation in the sense between concepts denoting the human and those denoting the divine. There is a correlation in the factual sense between man’s ultimate concern and that about which he is ultimately concerned. The first meaning of correlation refers to the central problem of religious knowledge…the second meaning of correlation determines the statements about God and the world, for example the correlation of infinite and finite. The third meaning of correlation qualifies the divine human relation within religious experience…[11]

This is a crucial passage in Tillich, because these concepts, his take on symbols and their participation in what they symbolize, the use of symbols as the delivery system for revelation, meaning, answers, as well as the religion of the eternal and the temporal, these are the concepts which form the basic engine of his ontotheology. [12] In the next chapter these concepts will be crucial in formulating the meaning of “being itself, “ or “the ground of being.” There has been a certain degree of fear expressed by various theological concerns that correlation relativizes the divine or makes God dependent upon man. Tillich argues that God is not dependent upon man but our understanding of God’s revelation to us is dependent upon our willingness to understand. Solidarity between humans and the divine is dependent upon our willingness to be in solidarity.[13] Thus it is also dependent upon our wiliness to seek correlation.
The methodology of correlation proceeds as follows: In analyzing the human situation the theologian demonstrates that symbols used in the Christian message offer answers to the existential questions that arise. The answers are much older than existentialism. Tillich points out that they are as old as humanity and they have been expressed in many ways since humans began to think philosophically.[14 In pondering our existential condition we realize that we are strangers in the world and we can’t penetrate beyond the surface level of science. In coming to grasp this realization we also realize that we ourselves are the answer to this problem. Because we are human, because we are trapped in an existential dilemma we automatically have the credentials and the method for moving beyond the surface level, which is the level of science, and penetrating the nature of being. Though our state as examples of being for itself we are able to understand the nature of existence. This is where we can employ philosophical thinking in understanding our own being. “whoever has penetrated into the nature of his own finitude can find the traces finitude in everything that exists. And he can ask the questions implied in his finitude as the question implied in finitude universally.”[15]
 
 
 
 
Sources

[1] Sam Addision, Website for Gifford Lectures. “Authors, Paul Tillich.” URL http://www.giffordlectures.org/Author.asp?AuthorID=169 visited 10/20/10.
[2] Ibid
[3] find
[4] Michael Gleghorn. “Paul Tillich’s Theological Method: A Summary Evaluation.” Online PDF file, URL: http://michaelgleghorn.com/documents/PaulTillichsTheology.pdf
visited 10/28/10. no pagination.
Gleghorn is a conservative from Dallas Theological Seminary so his ultimate evaluation of Tillich’s theology is negative. He finds that Tillich is prone to error due to his method. Yet his summary of Tillich’s view is cogent.
[5] Gayton B. Hammond, “An Examination of Tillich’s Method of Correlation.” OxfordJournals: Journal of The American Academy of Religion Vol XXXII, Issue 3, 248-251. On line version URL: http://jaar.oxfordjournals.org/content/XXXII/3/248.extract .Visited 11/8/10, Hammon is professor of Philosophy and Religion at Virginia Polythechnic Institute in Blacksberg Va. Ph.D. Vanderbilt, Yale Divinity School.
[6 Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Paul Tillich quoted in Alistter E. McGrath, “Paul Tillich: Method of Corroletion,” The Christian Theology Reader. (online page 53) Maldan Ma, USA: Blackwell Publishing, Alister E. McGrath ed. first published 1995, second edition 2001-2004 Google books online version URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=yDls7tV0mRcC&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=Paul+Tillich+Method+of+Correlation&source=bl&ots=81AvGNSD_Z&sig=0deQITzlW4LAUyLi10IR0wZdolY&hl=en&ei=-2bJTNTjB4G0lQf66YDBAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB0Q6AEwATgK#v=onepage&q=Paul%20Tillich%20Method%20of%20Correlation&f=true visited 11/8/10.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ontotheology, I understand that this term is used mockingly of thinkers such as Tillich. It’s like the term “phalologocentric” it’s a means of saying “this is out of date,” ‘this is opposed to our truth regime.” I therefore use it proudly and defiantly.
[13] Tillich in McGrath, Ibid.
[14] Ibid. 54
[15] Ibid.
 
 

9 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

I'm going to make a brief stab at being fair to the atheists you castigate for rejecting theology.

There are two primary ways experts in a subject area acquire greater authority than non-experts:
(1) In general, they have read more extensively than non-experts, and often have read works of a more rigorous quality than non-experts have. (Roughly, they have better knowledge of the academic literature.)
(2) They have better facility in the methodologies particular to the subject matter.

If we compare theology to physics, for example, in these respects, it is not hard to accept that theologians, like physicists, will be better informed about the highest-quality literature in their respective disciplines than non-experts. So far, so good.
But if we compare them in respect of the second criterion, we find a significant difference. The methodologies of physics have been empirically shown to pay off in beliefs we know to be true. The same cannot be said of theology, however.

Now, having said this, I can point out that exactly the same kind of complaint has been made against philosophy. A number of scientists have scoffed at philosophy just as disdainfully as they have at theology, and (as a philosopher) I take some offense at this.

I have several different responses to this in defense of the value of philosophy, and in fact most of them would apply, I think, just as easily to theology (which isn't surprising since I tend to think that theology just is philosophy oriented toward questions like, 'How, if at all, does God relate to the world?').

The biggest mistake I think the critics of theology and philosophy make is that they assume that these disciplines are primarily supposed to yield confident answers to the questions they take up. I think, however, that philosophy is much more about highlighting where knowledge and clarity are lacking, than it is about trying to fill those lacunae once identified.

im-skeptical said...

I think the biggest mistake theistic philosophers make is to separate themselves from empirical and scientific knowledge. They try to create a chasm between the two and pit them against one another, as if they are working toward entirely different ends. But for those who truly want to place knowledge for its own sake above any ideological stance, philosophy must be informed by science and vice versa. The two should complement each other - and indeed, that's the way it has been throughout most of history. Aristotle's philosophy was fully integrated with scientific knowledge as he understood it. It's only in more modern times, when science has cast serious doubt on many theistic beliefs, that theistic philosophers, driven by their own ideologies, have taken a negative view of scientific knowledge, and especially of those who don't accept their theistic epistemological views. They are ridiculed, and their approach to epistemology is labeled as "scientism" and turned into a straw man. Thus, we see statements like this: "reality must be defined by pre set ideology involving the wearing of white lab coats".

7th Stooge said...

I think the more common mistake is made by those who adopt some form of scientific expansionism, in which science and scientific method is thought to be the only legitimate means, or the most reliable means, of gaining knowledge. Under that sort of attitude, interaction between scientific and non-scientific disciplines becomes less of a dialogue and more of a lesson in inter-theoretic reduction. Not all scientists believe this way. Possibly a majority do not. The apologists for science more often do believe in something like this.

Joe Hinman said...

Eric, for the most part skeptics don't know what theology is about or what it means to do. Most of them assume it's some kind of cheap copy of science. There are two major definitions of theology, the traditional definition is: faith seeking understanding" The second is "study of and participation in a religious tradition." So both share the concept of understanding better the nature of the religious tradition. That does not necessarily include proving it to other people, in fact it can and does include being skeptical of the truth claims of the faith.



I have several different responses to this in defense of the value of philosophy, and in fact most of them would apply, I think, just as easily to theology (which isn't surprising since I tend to think that theology just is philosophy oriented toward questions like, 'How, if at all, does God relate to the world?').

I think that is a mistake to think of theology as just philosophy about God they are very different. Philosophy is open needed init's commodious. Theology starts out with an understanding of where one is supposed to end up but the trick is to find how we get there.

The biggest mistake I think the critics of theology and philosophy make is that they assume that these disciplines are primarily supposed to yield confident answers to the questions they take up. I think, however, that philosophy is much more about highlighting where knowledge and clarity are lacking, than it is about trying to fill those lacunae once identified.

I agree, that's a pretty cogent answer. I think most of the internet atheists assume that science is the only valid form of knowledge and they castigate theology because it doesn't yield sickness (and because its about God). They castigate philosophy because they think philosophers are theists because WLC is a philosopher.

Joe Hinman said...

Blogger 7th Stooge said...
I think the more common mistake is made by those who adopt some form of scientific expansionism, in which science and scientific method is thought to be the only legitimate means, or the most reliable means, of gaining knowledge. Under that sort of attitude, interaction between scientific and non-scientific disciplines becomes less of a dialogue and more of a lesson in inter-theoretic reduction. Not all scientists believe this way. Possibly a majority do not. The apologists for science more often do believe in something like this.

I agree Jim That;s a valid criticism and one I find played out a lot. I know there are more intelligent atheists on the net but one can't help but remember the extremes.One guy I recall called Thomas Kuhn a fundamentalist preacher.

They want scientific knowledge to confirm or deny the specific truth consent of theology but that is really assuming the purpose of theology is to vouchsafe the truth content,It is not at least that is one subdivision (apologetic) but it's not the major concern of theology.

Joe Hinman said...

Blogger im-skeptical said...
I think the biggest mistake theistic philosophers make is to separate themselves from empirical and scientific knowledge. They try to create a chasm between the two and pit them against one another, as if they are working toward entirely different ends.

Name one theologian who tries to pit something against science? Tillich actually employs scientific method in hypothesis sting,



But for those who truly want to place knowledge for its own sake above any ideological stance, philosophy must be informed by science and vice versa.

Both Husserl and Heidegger were atheists, Heidegger said the major philosophical question is why is there something rather than nothing? How does science even begin to answer that question?


The two should complement each other - and indeed, that's the way it has been throughout most of history. Aristotle's philosophy was fully integrated with scientific knowledge as he understood it.

No quite the opposite, Aristotle opposed hypothesis testing


***_______________It's only in more modern times, when science has cast serious doubt on many theistic beliefs, that theistic philosophers, driven by their own ideologies, have taken a negative view of scientific knowledge, and especially of those who don't accept their theistic epistemological views.____________****

this is the kind of ignorant testament you love to make and it shows that you know nothing about theology or philosophy,

(1) where does science case doubt on belief other than the specifics of some Biblical interpretation such as six day creation where does science actually come up with any disproof of God or anything connected to belief?

(2)Name a single theologian or philosopher who actually takes a "negative view of scientific knowledge,"

(3) name the ideologies that drive them?

(4) give me one example of "theistic epistemological views"




They are ridiculed, and their approach to epistemology is labeled as "scientism" and turned into a straw man.

what the hell are you talking about?


Thus, we see statements like this: "reality must be defined by pre set ideology involving the wearing of white lab coats".

what does that have to do with any thing? I don't think the person who said that was a philosophy or theologian

im-skeptical said...

Name one theologian who tries to pit something against science? Tillich actually employs scientific method in hypothesis sting
- Really? You want to pretend that there is no conflict there? Read The theological case against evolution.

Both Husserl and Heidegger were atheists, Heidegger said the major philosophical question is why is there something rather than nothing? How does science even begin to answer that question?
- If those guys were atheists, that is irrelevant to the point I raised. Science and philosophy must work hand-in-hand. But to look at your own words (as well as many other religionists), there is always a tendency to discredit those who don't make the a priori assumption of God, but prefer to use evidence as a basis for belief. You ridicule such people, and you place (theistic) philosophy over and above science.

No quite the opposite, Aristotle opposed hypothesis testing
- Aristotle did not practice modern science. Nevertheless, it was science as he understood it that was fully integrated into his philosophy. There was no separation. Try to grasp what I'm telling you. It wasn't until science started coming up with different answers (that theists didn't want to hear) that this separation began to occur.

this is the kind of ignorant testament you love to make and it shows that you know nothing about theology or philosophy,
- More ad hominem. Sometimes I think I have a better grasp of theistic philosophy than you do.

(1) where does science case doubt on belief other than the specifics of some Biblical interpretation such as six day creation where does science actually come up with any disproof of God or anything connected to belief?
- For Christ's sake, will you quit ranting about proof? Nobody is making claims of proof. I said science casts doubt on religious beliefs. And it's much more than creationism. How about the science of cognition, which flatly denies any kind if immaterial soul, or seat of consciousness?

(2)Name a single theologian or philosopher who actually takes a "negative view of scientific knowledge,"
Why don't you read what Reppert says about evolution, and about immaterial mind? Now, I will admit that most of these guys claim to be supportive of science, but their brand of science is decidedly unscientific. For example, Reppert postulates the existence of fundamental particles called "psychons", "theons" and "angelons". He says that physicists don't recognize these things only because of their bias.

(3) name the ideologies that drive them?
- It's what I call religionism.

(4) give me one example of "theistic epistemological views"
- Plantinga's "Reformed Epistemology".

what the hell are you talking about?
- Your own constant harping about scientism.

what does that have to do with any thing? I don't think the person who said that was a philosophy or theologian
- It was your own statement - right here in this article. Do you even know what you said?

Joe Hinman said...


Blogger im-skeptical said...
Name one theologian who tries to pit something against science? Tillich actually employs scientific method in hypothesis sting
- Really? You want to pretend that there is no conflict there? Read The theological case against evolution.

There is no theological case against evolution, I cant think of any actual theologian who are is a creationist. Certainly Tillich was not one. No creationist I know of is a theologian,

Both Husserl and Heidegger were atheists, Heidegger said the major philosophical question is why is there something rather than nothing? How does science even begin to answer that question?


- If those guys were atheists, that is irrelevant to the point I raised. Science and philosophy must work hand-in-hand.

why? they don't do the same things, they deal with different kinds of knowledge,


But to look at your own words (as well as many other religionists), there is always a tendency to discredit those who don't make the a priori assumption of God, but prefer to use evidence as a basis for belief. You ridicule such people, and you place (theistic) philosophy over and above science.

o far you have given no examples of theologians who fit your stereo types, I must ask for one here as well: theologian who "discredit those who don't make the a priori assumption of God." Name the theologian.

No quite the opposite, Aristotle opposed hypothesis testing
- Aristotle did not practice modern science. Nevertheless,

you said he supported science

it was science as he understood it that

creationists do that



was fully integrated into his philosophy. There was no separation.

that's is because there was academic discipline called "science" what we would think of as science in that era was part of philosophy natural philosophy it would be called by the time of Newton,

Try to grasp what I'm telling you. It wasn't until science started coming up with different answers (that theists didn't want to hear) that this separation began to occur.

when was that? who were the first religions people who began to separate? What were the issues? try to grasp what I'm asking you.

Joe Hinman said...

this is the kind of ignorant testament you love to make and it shows that you know nothing about theology or philosophy,

- More ad hominem. Sometimes I think I have a better grasp of theistic philosophy than you do.

It's not ad hom it's a statement of fact.Your ignorance is borne out in the fact that you can't give me a single example of what you are claiming nor can you answer my questions,

(1) where does science case doubt on belief other than the specifics of some Biblical interpretation such as six day creation where does science actually come up with any disproof of God or anything connected to belief?

- For Christ's sake, will you quit ranting about proof? Nobody is making claims of proof. I said science casts doubt on religious beliefs. And it's much more than creationism. How about the science of cognition, which flatly denies any kind if immaterial soul, or seat of consciousness?

there is factual basis to such a claim that is clearly an ideological stance when some of the top people refuse to go aloe with it, refuse to accept it, Raymond Talis says it's a pose it's not fact of any kind. When we hashed out the four arguments I make to counter it (binding problem et al) you didn't answer anything of the kid with anything like a factual answer. you can;t possibly disprove that mind is soul, i soul is mind..what ever mind is is soul.Before the age of Trump there were minds,

(2)Name a single theologian or philosopher who actually takes a "negative view of scientific knowledge,"

Why don't you read what Reppert says about evolution, and about immaterial mind? Now, I will admit that most of these guys claim to be supportive of science, but their brand of science is decidedly unscientific. For example, Reppert postulates the existence of fundamental particles called "psychons", "theons" and "angelons". He says that physicists don't recognize these things only because of their bias.


you answered your own argument, you can't be objective on that issue. I meant to say theologian, Reppert is not a theologian,his views are not representative of theology


(3) name the ideologies that drive them?
- It's what I call religionism.

sere you got nothing,that is is not an ideology. Trying to treat all of religion like a single monolithic ideology and one that opposes science says a lot more about your ideology then it does religion.


(4) give me one example of "theistic epistemological views"
- Plantinga's "Reformed Epistemology".

I am not sure that's a real epistemology

what the hell are you talking about?
- Your own constant harping about scientism.

I'm not a theologian, I'm a historian of ideas.even science and scientisim are tow different things,


what does that have to do with any thing? I don't think the person who said that was a philosophy or theologian

- It was your own statement - right here in this article. Do you even know what you said?

I know I'm not a philosopher or a theologian, I had to google to be sure it was me ;-)