As i recently mentioned, I am focusing this summer on the theologies of Paul Tillich & Karl Barth. As i have begun to work through some secondary literature, I have noticed a curious difference of interpretation regarding Tillich’s view of the God-World relation.
Initially it seems that for evangelicals, Tillich’s understanding is heavily, if not completely, focused on God’s immanence within creation. I can almost detect that for evangelicals this interpretation flows partially out of Tillich’s admitted love (but not strict adherence) to liberal thought. However, for authors that specialize in the work of Tillich, they equate Tillich’s view with a completely transcendent view of God. This is also not surprising, since I have quickly observed that Tillich scholars at times wish to position Tillich much closer to Barth’s thought, or at least his theological goals, than he really is.
Now, anyone who has even casually looked into the thought of Paul Tillich understands that he is a frustratingly complex and vague thinker. This has understandably led to differences of opinion regarding how to understand his thought. Nonetheless, I think it is fascinating how wide the two camps are on this issue, and how view will serve the larger interests of the interpreter’s eventual evaluation of Tillich’s project. This is not a completely unique occurrence, but the distance between these interpretations are striking to me, even within theological discourse today.