Appeared in Fall 1990, Vol. XVI, No. 3

In this his first article for Faith & Reason, George Kendall offers an insightful critique of the thought of Paul Tillich. He reveals how Tillich’s erroneous ontological view ends up distorting the Christian vision of revelation.

Paul Tillich’s Theology of revelation and, by extension, of salvation, has as its center his principle of correlation. This principle affirms that God’s revelation to His creatures must, in its form, be correlated to the conditions under which creatures have their being, that is, the conditions of existence. This is formulated in the familiar statement that existence is the question to which revelation is the answer.1 The structure of existence thus sets the formal conditions which revelation must meet in order to answer meaningfully the questions posed by existence. The popularity of this approach is accounted for, at least in part, by the fact that the human interpretation of existence enters, at least in part, into the structure of existence, and thus, if we accept the principle of correlation, we are in a position to argue that revelation must correlate itself to the particular interpretation of existence (world-view or Weltanschauung) to which a particular culture or group is committed.2 This means, practically speaking, that it is possible for the various modern ideologies which (in the present view) are fundamentally anti-Christian, to require that God’s revelation conform itself to their demands. This approach provides a foundation for a project of human self-salvation or self-deification, an issue central to this essay.

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