Paul Tillich

1036 Words5 Pages
Critically assess the views of Paul Tillich on religious language.
(35 marks)
In this essay I am going to critically assess the views of Paul Tillich’s views on religious language. I will first start by critically assessing Paul Tillich’s theory of religious language being presented as symbols and his rejections of signs. I will then conclude and provide a short summary before moving on to views for and against his ideas, before stating my own thoughts.
Paul Tillich was a German- American theologian who believed that it is possible to speak meaningfully about metaphysical concepts and from this he came up with the theory that religious language, because it is symbolic in nature, has an overwhelming effect upon humans. Tillich argued
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What Tillich mean’s by this is that we don’t just see the object as it is but we see beyond the object and the meaning of the object. The second main function is that symbols participate in that to which they point, this is through the seeing of the symbol which ultimately leads a person to seeing the significance of the object. Tillich believed the third main function was that symbols open up levels of reality that otherwise are closed to us. By this he means that it is a way of us explaining things that would be ineffable otherwise, for example, explaining God. The final main function according to Tillich is that symbols open up the levels and dimensions of the soul that correspond to those levels of reality; this means that symbols open up our soul to the real world.
Tillich further 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 us that we can’t explain or can only explain in a limited way and therefore, the person listening will not understand the effect unless they have felt the same effect of the same piece of art. Also, symbols, like artwork can open up new levels of reality for us and offer a new outlook on life that we would not previously of had, without looking at the symbol/art.
Tillich maintained that religious language is a symbolic way of pointing towards the ultimate reality, the vision of God which he
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