Critically Asses the Views of Paul Tillich on Religious Language

776 Words Nov 3rd, 2012 4 Pages
Critically Asses The Views Of Paul Tillich On Religious Language

Paul Tillich was a renowned American Protestant theologian born in Prussia 1886. As a self-proclaimed philosophical theologian, Tillich saw the very nature of Christian faith expressed in religious symbols that demanded constant reinterpretation. He was famous for believing that it is possible to speak meaningfully about metaphysical concepts and therefore came up with the theory that religious language, because it is symbolic in nature, has an overwhelming effect upon humans. Tillich argued that religious language is symbolic. This means that religious symbols communicate the most significant values and beliefs of human beings.

In his theory, Tillich firstly
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Tillich famously used the example of a national flag to illustrate his point: a flag points to something beyond itself, the country it represents, but also participates in the meaning of the country. He believed that symbols could unite a religious believer with a deeper dimension of himself as well as with a greater reality. He also believed that symbols must emerge out of an individual collective unconsciousness, and can only function when they are accepted by the unconscious. For Tillich symbols cannot be just invented, but instead live and die at the appropriate times.

Also Tillich suggests that religious faith, can express itself only in symbolic language, because
"whatever we say about that which concerns us ultimately...has a symbolic meaning” presumably because it is of greater concern and import than the mere language, which can only point towards it. "The language of faith is the language of symbols" Tillich then went onto develop his idea of a symbol further by outlining the functions in which a symbol carries out which are Point to something beyond themselves, Participate in that to which they point, Open up reality that otherwise are closed to us and finally They also open up the levels and dimensions of the soul that correspond to those levels of reality. Tillich furthermore argued that symbolic language operates in a similar way that a piece of music, art work or poetry might. This is because they can heave a deep overwhelming effect upon
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