As Mary Ann Stegner states in her introduction to this volume, Tillich is far better known as a systematic theologian and philosopher than as a preacher. Indeed, he is the bane of the existence of many a seminary student who struggles through his magnum opus, the three-volume work entitled simply 'Systematic Theology'. However, Tillich always had the sense that this systematic theological and philosophical work was not an end in itself, but rather was a foundational task toward the greater Christian work, part of which is embodied most directly for most in the preaching and hearing of sermons and homilies. 'In this volume of sermons, Tillich preaches God's love, liberating truth, and fulfilling job, given to us in the New Being of Jesus as the Christ.' Tillich is not an easy read. Educated in German schools deeply influenced by liberal theology of the nineteenth century and philosophical schools reacting to the breakdown of Enlightenment thinking, Tillich sought to make theology a relevant subject in the academy. Much of his writing is primarily geared toward other academics, philosophers in particular. But this is not so with his sermons. Many seminarians have difficulty with Tillich, both in making real-world connections as well as traversing the language -- Tillich invents his own terminology and develops his own linguistic methods of discussing theological issues, but these things are made more clear in his sermons, meant for the wider audience. They also have more of a direct application - 'Tillich's sermons speak to us, at least in part, because he experienced deeply the same anxieties we do, anxieties of death, meaninglessness and guilt...' Tillich was profoundly influenced by his experiences in the first world war, where he served as a chaplain in the trench warfare.Read more ›
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