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Dynamics of Faith (Perennial Classics (Paperback)) [Paperback]

Paul Tillich
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct 2001 Perennial Classics (Paperback)
One of the greatest books ever written on the subject, Dynamics of Faithis a primer in the philosophy of religion. Paul Tillich, a leading theologian of the twentieth century, explores the idea of faith in all its dimensions, while defining the concept in the process.This graceful and accessible volume contains a new introduction by Marion Pauck, Tillich's biographer.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 1 edition (Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060937130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060937133
  • Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 13.2 x 1.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 167,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned: the dynamics of faith are the dynamics of man's ultimate concern. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life of faith... 14 Jan 2004
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
Paul Tillich is one of the more important theologians of the twentieth century. Born into a culture being enticed away from the importance of things religious and theological in favour of science and philosophy. In particular, in the early part of the twentieth century, the philosophical school of existentialism became a strong, perhaps even the dominant force in intellectual development; it was against this (and the atheistic, nihilistic tendencies that followed) that Tillich undertook to reintroduce theology and faith as important components of human existence. Tillich, much to the consternation of many seminary students and more general readers, largely addresses the academy in the academy's language – he is very philosophical and precise in his constructions, and like many in the long tradition of German theologians, crafts his theology with his own terminology and internally-defined concepts that often make his theology difficult to follow.
This text, 'Dynamics of Faith', is one of Tillich's more accessible writings, more directly relevant to the situation of individuals and congregations. Tillich here looks at what faith is, and is not, from a theological perspective, but his intention is to make this transformative for the humanity that seeks to understand God.
In the first chapter, Tillich introduces one of his key terms – ultimate concern. Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned about something – God – without conditions or reservations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Paul is all things to all people 24 Aug 2008
Format:Paperback
Since I only read two books by Tillich, this one plus "The Courage to Be", it may be somewhat risky to comment upon his ideas. This review should therefore be seen as preliminary. It's really a review of both books, although most of the contents covered are found in "The Dynamics of Faith". For those entirely new to the subject, Tillich was a Christian theologian, usually regarded as very liberal and existentialist. He was German, but fled Germany after the Nazi take-over in 1933, becoming a US citizen in 1940.

Tillich does ask interesting questions and make intruiging observations. The key sentence in "The Dynamics of Faith" is: "Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned". Since every human is ultimately concerned about something, this means that all humans have faith. The existence of faith cannot be disproven, since all attempts to do so are circular. To "disprove" faith, one must assume that there isn't anything to be ultimately concerned about. But this is in itself an ultimate statement. Besides, the philosopher who frantically attempts to prove that everything is meaningless is also ultimately concerned about something, namely the truth of his nihilism. Thus, faith is as self-evident as the Cartesian "Cogito, ergo sum".

Tillich's point, of course, is that all humans assume that there is something higher than themselves, transcending our everyday existence, something of cosmic importance. And this is not simply an abstract idea. All humans actively seek self-transcendence. All humans have faith, even the atheists. Tillich also makes an observation familiar to readers of C.S. Lewis: All humans operate on the assumption that there are universal moral laws, transcending the individual.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A different approach to faith 16 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback
I gave up on religion many years ago, but even as an atheist I remain interested in religions and faith. In fact I was drawn into reading Tillich after reading God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens by John Haught who cites Tillich a great deal. One question always bothering me is that how can so many smart, intelligent people have a faith which is so full of holes, untruths and ambiguities?

This book goes a little way in answering this question. At first I found the book difficult to read, mainly because Tillich uses a special sort of vocabulary. "Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned" says the author. If you plough on, you can gain an insight into what he means. Man is finite, but God or the content of one's ultimate concern is infinite. Revelation is when one experiences the infinite.

Tillich also relates Christian faith to other religions, science and secularism. If a secularist has an ultimate concern, the he/she also has faith. I buy into that, but some sweeping statements are made about such things as morals, love and human emotion which I find difficult to accept. Tillich tends to tie them all into faith, anything else being idolatrous. However, Tillich regards symbolism and myths as important in keeping faith alive.

This book doesn't explain all about God, but it does explain how and why people put their faith in God. For that, the book is well worth reading!
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
82 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little classic 11 Nov 2002
By magellan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although my philosophical interests are mostly in 20-century analytical thought and the philosophy of science, I've still read my share of theologists, including Kierkegaard, Barth, Bultmann, Rosenzweig, Marcel, Mauritain, Buber, Berdyaef, and Niebuhr, and Tillich is perhaps the greatest of them all. So I still have considerable respect for Tillich, and I thought I'd make a few comments about that.
This little book (only about 140 pages) is still packed with much of the best that Tillich's subtle and profound mind had to offer. The chapter, "The Truth of Faith," is probably the greatest essay on the attempt to reconcile faith with reason, and how an intelligent man can be religious, ever written, a subject which goes back at least to St. Augustine's The City of God over 1500 years ago.
Tillich's basic idea is that faith can become a transformative and even transcendent force in people's lives. As one reviewer here put it so perceptively, "Faith is creative precisely because we act even though we cannot be entirely sure of the outcome. This is the Faith that creates science and art, and produces miracles in everyday life. When that Faith is attached to life's ultimate concern, it becomes sacred and holy."
Overall, a great book from a great philosopher that itself perhaps transcends its subject matter.
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life of faith... 14 Jan 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Paul Tillich is one of the more important theologians of the twentieth century. Born into a culture being enticed away from the importance of things religious and theological in favour of science and philosophy. In particular, in the early part of the twentieth century, the philosophical school of existentialism became a strong, perhaps even the dominant force in intellectual development; it was against this (and the atheistic, nihilistic tendencies that followed) that Tillich undertook to reintroduce theology and faith as important components of human existence. Tillich, much to the consternation of many seminary students and more general readers, largely addresses the academy in the academy's language - he is very philosophical and precise in his constructions, and like many in the long tradition of German theologians, crafts his theology with his own terminology and internally-defined concepts that often make his theology difficult to follow.
This text, 'Dynamics of Faith', is one of Tillich's more accessible writings, more directly relevant to the situation of individuals and congregations. Tillich here looks at what faith is, and is not, from a theological perspective, but his intention is to make this transformative for the humanity that seeks to understand God.
In the first chapter, Tillich introduces one of his key terms - ultimate concern. Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned about something - God - without conditions or reservations. Ultimate concern can be religious or not, and can be misguided (people are tempted into idolatry, according to Tillich, not only by making things such as money, power and fame the objects of ultimate concern, but also by making particular ideas or views of God and religion into inappropriate ultimate concerns). In the second chapter, Tillich explores the ideas of what faith is not - faith is not merely intellectual understanding, emotional bonding, or even an act of will. Faith is rather (going back to the first chapter) an act of total personality - one's whole being is drawn to the ultimate concern.
Through the remainder of the text, Tillich develops an intriguing idea of the symbolic in faith - symbols are not constructed like marketing logos, but rather assume a life of their own and participate in that to which they point, in a community context over time. Community is important to Tillich for symbols and for faith, as it is through community that we develop the language and understanding skills necessary to codify and understand such things. Tillich looks at the different disciplines of science, history, philosophy and reason, asking (perhaps echoing Pilate in a different manner) what is truth? Tillich clearly states that neither scientific nor historical truth can negate or validate the truth of faith, and vice versa. Philosophical truth is a different matter, given that the 'language' of faith, through theology, is often expressed in philosophical terms - however, even here, philosophical truth and reasoning cannot be used as a trump card. However, for the truth of faith to be affirmed, the faith must be focussed upon the 'real' ultimate concern.
Tillich often irritates modern Christians because of mistaken assumptions about what he means. In other texts (such as his massive 'Systematic Theology', also often used in higher-level seminary and graduate courses on theology), Tillich describes God as a Ground of Being, and as such, having no 'existence' as we commonly use the term; this gets reduced to the soundbite 'God does not exist', and Tillich is written off. In 'Dynamics of Faith', Tillich often refers to 'cults' and 'myths', using these terms in specific scholarly manner, to refer to religious and biblical issues and events - again, the soundbite becomes 'Tillich says that the Bible is a myth', and given the popular non-Tillichian definition of the word 'myth', again Tillich is dismissed.
There is much material packed into this small text. It is worth exploring.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant little book on empowering the human spirit 28 Sep 2000
By Paul L. Laclair - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a brilliant little book. Written by Tillich in the 1950's, it analyzes and synthesizes a key element in human spirituality. This element --- Faith --- both undergirds contemporary mysticism and New Thought, and stands far ahead of the norm in both fields.
A central idea in the book is the one that led to my own religious conversion experience as a Humanist: That Faith is a creative force as an action, not merely a belief. In fact, Tillich observes, "faith" that rests solely on belief and demands the elimination of doubt is the antithesis of true Faith. Faith is creative precisely because we act even though we cannot be entirely sure of the outcome. This is the Faith that creates science and art, and produces miracles in everyday life. When that Faith is attached to life's ultimate concern, it becomes sacred and holy.
The book is not a product of a simple mind, and therefore is not a simple read. Yet like Martin Buber's spiritual classic I and Thou, it packs more into its 136 little pages than most books many times its size. It belongs on the permanent shelf of anyone who cares about spiritual growth, personal fulfillment and service to others.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tillich Revisited 8 Aug 2002
By Pr. D. W. Girardin, RN; M.Div. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The last time I read Tillich was over 20 years ago in the Seminary. Frankly, I read what was required, memorized enough for the tests, and then dumped it - Wow did i make a mistake!
My current academic advisor / clinical supervisor structured a summer reading program of several of Tillich's books. The 'Dynamics of Faith' will challenge the reader to re-examine the depths of their emotion, focus / energy, and being. Woven through each chapter is the concept of faith as a 'total and centered act of the personal self, the act of unconditional, infinite and ultimate concern.' In our fast paced - immediate gratification - superficial age that impacts all that we do (From the foods we eat to the God we worship); Tillich challenges us to go deep, to savor, to discover the glory of The Ultimate. A 'Must Read' or 'Must Reread' for Pastors.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tillich brings perspective to issues of faith and belief 8 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this book Tillich provides an amazingly objective and penetrating perspective on the concept of faith, in all its multivarious forms. Tillich draws sharp contrasts between that which is usually perceived as faith--belief--and that which faith really is, as he puts it--"the state of being ultimately concerned." This book has had a profound impact on my life and has changed the way I work through the day to day as both a struggling soul and human being and a spiritual guide for others.
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