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14 notes

Whoever makes Jesus the Christ into a giver of absolute laws for thinking and acting opens the dike for revolutionary revolt, on the one hand, and relativistic undercutting, on the other hand, both of them justifiable. There is, however, an absolute law which can stand under the criterion of finality because it is not denied in the act of self-sacrifice but rather fulfilled. The law of love is the ultimate law because it is the negation of law; it is absolute because it concerns everything concrete. The paradox of final revelation, overcoming the conflict between absolutism and relativism, is love. The love of Jesus as the Christ, which is the manifestation of the divine love – and only this – embraces everything concrete in self and world. Love is always love; that is its static and absolute side. But love is always dependent on that which is loved, and therefore it is unable to force finite elements on finite existence in the name of an assumed absolute. The absoluteness of love is its power to go into the concrete situation, to discover what is demanded by the predicament of the concrete to which it turns. Therefore, love can never become fanatical in a fight for an absolute, or cynical under the impact of the relative. This refers to all realms of rational creativity. Where the paradox of final revelation [i.e., Jesus as the Christ] is present, neither cognitive nor aesthetic, neither legal nor communal, absolutes can stand. Love conquers them without producing cognitive skepticism or aesthetic chaos or lawlessness or estrangement.

Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology

A follow-up to yesterday’s post, which used a different passage from this book as the basis for a song.

Filed under Tillich love Jesus Christ theology absolute concrete

1 note

Knowledge of revelation cannot interfere with ordinary knowledge. Likewise, ordinary knowledge cannot interfere with knowledge of revelation. There is no scientific theory which is more favorable to the truth of revelation than any other theory. It is disastrous for theology if theologians prefer one scientific view to others on theological grounds. And it was humiliating for theology when theologians were afraid of new theories for religious reasons, trying to resist them as long as possible, and finally giving in when resistance had become impossible. This ill-conceived resistance of theologians from the time of Galileo to the time of Darwin was one of the causes of the split between religion and secular culture in the past centuries.

Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology

Not sure why he’s using the past tense here.

Filed under Tillich science religion church history theology

31 notes

There is much that philosophy could learn from the Bible. To the philosopher the idea of the good is the most exalted idea. But to the Bible the idea of the good is penultimate; it cannot exist without the holy. The good is the base, the holy is the summit. Things created in six days He considered good, the seventh day He made holy.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath (via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under 75 abraham joshua heschel the sabbath sabbath philosophy judaism religion theology good the good holy

19 notes

LORD, shall we not bring these gifts to Your service?
Shall we not bring to Your service all our powers
For life, for dignity, grace and order,
And intellectual pleasures of the senses?
The LORD who created must wish us to create
And employ our creation again in His service
Which is already His service in creating.
For Man is joined in spirit and body,
And therefore must serve as spirit and body.
Visible and invisible, two worlds meet in Man;
Visible and invisible must meet in His Temple;
You must not deny the body.
Now you shall see the Temple completed:
After much striving, after many obstacles;
The work of creation is never without travail;
The formed stone, the visible crucifix,
The dressed altar, the lifting light,

The visible reminder of Invisible Light.

T.S. Eliot, “The Rock” (via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under t.s. eliot poetry poem lit christianity religion theology

97 notes

Even in the life of a Christian, faith rises and falls like tides of an invisible sea. It’s there, even when he can’t see it or feel it, if he wants it to be there. You realize, I think, that it is more valuable, more mysterious, altogether more immense than anything you can learn or decide upon in college. Learn what you can, but cultivate Christian skepticism. It will keep you free - not free to do anything you please, but free to be formed by something larger than your own intellect or the intellects of those around you.
Flannery O’Connor (via invisibleforeigner)

(via invisibleforeigner)

Filed under Flannery O'Connor letters Christianity faith theology mystery skepticism

28 notes

Paradox ≠ contradiction

What are Thou then, my God? What, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong; stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never old; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet nothing lacking; supporting, filling, and over-spreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having all things. Thou lovest, without passion; art jealous, without anxiety; repentest, yet grievest not; art angry, yet serene; changest Thy works, Thy purpose unchanged; receivest again what Thou findest, yet didst never lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet exacting usury. Thou receivest over and above, that Thou mayest owe; and who hath aught that is not Thine? Thou payest debts, owing nothing; remittest debts, losing nothing.

—Augustine, The Confessions

The term “paradox” should be defined carefully, and paradoxical language should be used with discrimination. Paradoxical means “against the opinion,” namely, the opinion of finite reason. Paradox points to the fact that in God’s acting finite reason is superseded but not annihilated; it expresses this fact in terms which are not logically contradictory but which are supposed to point beyond the realm in which finite reason is applicable. This is indicated by the ecstatic state in which all biblical and classical theological paradoxa appear. The confusion begins when these paradoxa are brought down to the level of genuine logical contradictions and people are asked to sacrifice reason in order to accept senseless combinations of words as divine wisdom. But Christianity does not demand such intellectual “good works” from anyone, just as it does not ask artificial “works” of practical asceticism.

—Paul Tillich, Introduction to Systematic Theology

Filed under theology Augustine Tillich paradox