In Paul Tillich’s book of meditations entitled The New Being, he has a meditation dealing with the nature of certainty (pgs 75-78).
To put his point succinctly, Christians can only be certain about the Gospel, and not about the individual hues that color their understanding of that Gospel. Tillich warns us to guard against making the Gospel we confess dependent on our own understandings. He points to Paul’s comment in the letter to the Galatians, that “even if we . . . should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you (emphasis mine) . . . ” For Tillich even Paul didn’t place his certainty in his own experiences. Paul believed he could come to teach a distorted Gospel.
Tillich encourages his hearers to realize that the Gospel is more than just us comprehending or taking hold of God; rather, it is also (and for Tillich ultimately) about God knowing and taking hold of us. Tillich’s sentiments here were published in the 50’s, but seem prophetic today in our post(or hyper)modern culture. Most of us today realize that we cannot get completely outside of the various contexts in which our beliefs were formed. Thus, as Tillich points out, our hope cannot be ultimately found in our understanding of God or what He has done for us, but in the fact that He has said “yes” to us in His Son.
I think that this is the essence of what Tillich is saying; I’m not sure that I’m completely agreeing with Him. Any thoughts?