Volume 13, Issue 1, January 1996
Robert C. Coburn
God, Revelation and Religious Truth
Some Themes and Problems in the Theology of Paul Tillich
This paper begins with an explanation of why, despite their obscurity, Tillich’s writings have been attractive to a wide audience. I then describe some of the main features of his mature theological position and discuss a number of the central questions and difficulties to which this position gives rise. The discussion focuses on such questions as whether Tillich can justify holding his own “interpretations” of traditional Christian ideas to have a privileged status, whether the deliteralization of traditional Christian language is compatible with the idea that Christianity is a historical religion, how we are to understand Tillich’s notion of a symbolic or mythological account’s being adequate to revelatory experience, what it is for a “practical interpretation” of revelatory experience to be an adequate expression of such experience, and what is the best way of handling the problems raised by TiIlich’s claim that there are no literally true statements---or only one literally true statement---about God.