Differences between Paul Tillich and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I just purchased Tillich’s ‘The Courage to Be’, and so far it’s been a very interesting read. For Tillich, God is conceived in a very different way than in most typical Christian thought – Tillich famously declared that God does not exist. The big questions occupy Tillich – existence, anxiety, and death all play a prominent part in his thought and it is faith and God that are able to answer these ultimate questions. It’s the total opposite of Bonhoeffer’s approach, where such ultimate questions are created by a man come of age in a world that has no need for religion or God. Both approaches are powerful in their own ways – Tillich wrestling with  existential despair and Bonhoeffer laying those questions bare as desperate attempts to make room for God in the world.

2 thoughts on “Differences between Paul Tillich and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  1. Amyclae May 22, 2014 / 7:06 pm

    I always viewed Tilich as the ultimate semiologist of Christian revelation. Sometimes the symbols are, as you point out, not physical symbols but the symbols that direct modern life. The symbols are anxiety, fear and all the other baggage that comes with living in ‘modernity.’ A Roland Barthes but decidedly less secular. Yet for whatever reason I found that seemingly rich, loamy material of Christian revelation correlating in some (ineffable? Sorry, Heschel) sense to existential worries (and vice versa) did not grow any sincere interest. When it came time to read Systematic Theology I blanched. I blinked. I went elsewhere. Don’t tell anyone.


    • whitefrozen May 22, 2014 / 7:16 pm

      I’ve not read his ST. I doubt I could take large volumes of Tillich, honestly.


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