A Wall Against the Pagans

February 4, 2010

Creation is an absolute act out of nothing. This implies God’s almighty power. To say that God is almighty does not mean that God is one who sits on a throune and can do anything he wants to do like an arbitrary tyrant. Rather, almightiness means that God is the sole ground of everything created, and that there is no such thing as matter which resists him. This is the meaning of the first article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” We should read this with great awe, because by this confession Christianity separated itself from the dualistic interpretation of reality in paganism. There are not two eternal principles, an evil principle of matter as eternal as a good principle of form. The first article of the Creed is the great wall which Christianity erected against paganism. Without this wall christology inevitably deteriorates into gnosticism in which Christ is one of the cosmic powers alongside others, although perhaps highest among them. Only in the light of the first article is the second article of the Creed meaningful. Do not reduce God to the second Person of the Trinity.

Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought, ed. Carl E. Braaten (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1967), 20-21.


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