Critically Asses the Views of Paul Tillich on Religious Language

Topics: Religion, Faith, Metaphysics Pages: 3 (786 words) Published: November 13, 2012
Critically Asses The Views Of Paul Tillich On Religious Language

Paul Tillich was a renowned American Protestant theologian born in Prussia 1886. As a self-proclaimed philosophical theologian, Tillich saw the very nature of Christian faith expressed in religious symbols that demanded constant reinterpretation. He was famous for believing that it is possible to speak meaningfully about metaphysical concepts and therefore came up with the theory that religious language, because it is symbolic in nature, has an overwhelming effect upon humans.  Tillich argued that religious language is symbolic. This means that religious symbols communicate the most significant values and beliefs of human beings.

In his theory, Tillich firstly establishes the difference between signs and symbols and he does this by saying signs are something that point towards a statement and have no other effect as this therefore means that without understanding that sign, it is meaningless to you. An example would be a road sign indicating that you can now travel at the national speed limit and has no other effect of meaning. On the other hand, symbols possess much more meaning and power according to Tillich as they are actually involved and take part in what they are symbolising thus having an impact on it. For example the Cross that represents Christianity, Not only does it stand as a marker for that religion, but it also makes a powerful statement. It immediately reminds Christians of the sacrifice they believe Jesus to have made on the cross for them; it also reminds them of their beliefs about God and his plan for the salvation of human beings.

After the distinction between the two had been made, Tillich claimed that religious language worked as a symbol for those who use it as it has meaning and impact on what it represents. He maintained that religious faith is best expressed through symbolism because a symbol points to a meaning beyond itself and best expresses transcendent...
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