Paul Tillich has written a book known as Dynamics of faith where he elucidates matters of religion. In the book, the author explains the meaning of confidence in his approach. Further, the critic’s religion and outlines the challenges that religion faces in a traditional setting. According to Tillich, faith has the most definitions and has been subjected to distortions than any other word in the religious language. By explaining what he thinks religion is, he is trying to remove the confusion surrounding the meaning of the word faith. Tillich describes faith as a condition of being concerned in the final analysis. Man, in his nature, is always involved as he goes through his day to day activities. He has cognitive skills that help him differentiate what is urgent and not among his concerns. Whether big or small, these concerns are centered on a god who humans believe is ever concerned about our needs. Human beings think that God can fulfill their demands but at the same time, think that they will be fulfilled through faith. To explain how important the promise of fulfilling needs is to a believer, he compares it to a symbol. He elaborates the notion further by saying marks are not taken for granted since they represent essential things. Tillich argues that a believer’s concerns matter to them all their lives, which is the dynamics of faith.
Tillich goes ahead to explain the meaning of ultimate concern. To him, God is the foremost concern of every Jew. God represents justice to all, including a nation. Because of these, he is said to be a universal God such that he is every believer’s ultimate concern. The utmost concern of being successful is also expressed in the context of faith. In a very competitive culture globally, one requires to surrender to a god to become economically and socially successful. This kind of trust also faces a threat if people face economic defeats. As Tillich states, faith is centered on the acts of personality, which is infinitely an ultimate concern. When speaking about character, concerns are two dimensional. We have to study the relationship between the one who is concerned and his concerns. In this aspect, Tillich notes that man can transcend through different changes that go through in his day to day life. His struggles and activities come and go unless they are conditioned to remain finite. Based on these facts around the human’s personality, it is evident that faith has a human potentiality.
When Tillich talks about the relationship between faith and holiness, he highlights that faith goes hand in hand with righteousness. This illustrates that when one is concerned about something, the concern automatically becomes holy. Initially, holiness meant what is different from other things. It is itself separated from worldly activities, and that’s why cult places are separated from holy places. This means that there is no way the finite things can reach infinite things. In other words, the conditional will always trail behind the unconditional. The concept of holy has been distorted over the year. Such that it is seen as an element of justice and truth. These developments can be summed up to conclude that initial holiness was. It is an aspect that lies below the good and bad. Based on these facts, one can now distinguish true faith and idolatry based faith. At this point Tillich notes that religion is demonic and itself is not holy. Also, there is no difference between religious faith and idolatrous faith. All of it is still faith. This means that our ultimate concerns can either build us or destroy us, but we must live with either of the two.
Faith is doubtful, especially if its infiniteness is received by a finite person. While it is hard to remove the uncertainty that religion is associated with, it must be accepted in this state. The act of accepting this uncertain faith requires courage. In this context, the dynamic character of faith is revealed. There is a significant risk if one surrenders for something doubtful. For instance, if one risks themselves for the sake of the country because it is of ultimate concern, the breakdown one goes through is too much in case of failure. However, faith must take the risk. If faith has an ultimate concern for a being or something that is not worth the concern, then this faith becomes a failure where the only God it believes in disappears, but divinity is left behind. This risk is a consequence of doubtful faith, which explains the relationship between doubt and faith. That is, if faith is concerned, then doubt must prevail in that context.
Tillich further explains the relationship between faith and the community. He suggests that local authorities should remain neutral even if the community of faith is based on the church substance. Enforcing the spiritual setting only removes the fear and risk that belong to the faith. The civil communities are tasked to deal with different forms of faith in society. At some point, they are not able to enforce all kinds of beliefs. In such a situation, the spiritual measurements are based on the common factors in the target group. The target group may be too religious or secular. This type of faith is classified in the character of unconditional concern. Above all these elements, it is correct to say that all institutions, including churches and civil authorities, are under the prophecies. The community of faith is a form of continuity risk that sums up the character possessed by faith. Based on these relations with faith, there is no doubt that faith precedes all attempts to derive it from something else because these attempts are themselves based on faith.
Tillich seems to agree with Durkheim in his theories of faith and the community. Durkheim talks about symbols that exist within an organization that is based on religion. He believes that people have faith in signs they produce and rely upon them as they go on with their lives. For a community to have an ultimate concern, the symbols must be present. This would mean that there would be no symbols that explain the existence of faith without the community of faith. Similarly, Tillich believes in the presence of symbols that the community follows. However, he cautions against following these myths and symbols too much, leading to an idolatrous faith. The fact that these two authors acknowledge the existence of symbols within the community of faith shows that trust exists as an ultimate concern for each living being.
Tillich, P. (2005). Dynamics of Faith. Gruturgi House Publishing.
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