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Title: The pluralism of Paul Tillich
Author: Ross, Mathias M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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This study seeks to evaluate Paul Tillich's theological bases for affirming the validity and compatibility of the many understandings of reality, especially as they bear on important issues in the theology of religions. This will be done by addressing two related problems in Tillich's approach to the religious. The first has to do with difficulties in suggesting that Tillich's theology of religions is pluralist, because some of his statements seem to reflect an 'absolutist' stance and others a 'universalist' one. We discuss relevant theological definitions of Tillich's and his observations of other religions and their important concepts to show that he does not claim superiority for Christianity a priori. Despite his observation of certain unique features of Christianity, he does not put forward criteria from Christianity and show that other religions do not satisfy them. His criteria, actually, are formal and derive from (1) his larger definition of religion as ultimate concern, (2) the type-determining elements of religion, and (3) the nature of religious symbols. Tillich's concept of religion indicates his pluralist stance by reason of its identification and treatment of 'motives' present in the 'prereligious and religious life" of humans, including secular movements which have a religious source. The type-determining elements, namely the sacramental, the mystical and the ethical, are seen as uniting differently to embody themselves in various forms in the concrete religions, thereby providing a religious typology that would facilitate understanding in intra-religious and inter-religious contexts. This typology therefore affirms the uniqueness of every religion, and the important role of historical and cultural determinants in the making of the special forms. So Tillich's apologetic intent, which drives him to show Christianity as having actualised the various typological elements, despite distortions which Christianity, like any other religion, cannot avoid, is that of demonstrating the nature and dynamics of religion from one example, namely Christianity, rather than that of claiming Christian superiority.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available