Tillich on Kierkegaard & Organized Religion

February 11, 2010

The church which he attacked so radically, with its tradition within culture, was the basis of his statement that in the years AD 1-30 God came to man. Without the tradition of the church which produced both the Bible and the church nothing would have come to Kierkegaard, and his whole relationship with God would not have been possible. That is an idea that you should remember when someone attacks “organized religion” – a bad term – and says, I am very religious, but I am against organized religion. That is nonsense. It is nonsense because in his personal religiousness – exuse this terrible word – he is dependent on the tradition of the church for every word, every symbol that he might use in prayer, in contemplation, or mystical experience. Without the community of speaking, there is no speaking whatsoever, and without inner speaking, there is no spiritual life whatsoever. In this way it is easy to refute these attacks againt organized religion.

Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought, ed. Carl E. Braaten (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1967), 477-478.

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One Response to “Tillich on Kierkegaard & Organized Religion”

  1. Justin Says:

    I have great respect for both these writers. Kierkegaard’s hyperbole is valuable… but so is Tillich’s misreading of it.


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