Friday, August 26, 2011

"Dynamics of Faith" by Paul Tillich

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  • "There is hardly a word in the religious language, both theological and popular, which is subject to more misunderstanding, distortions and questionable definitions that the word "faith." It belongs to those terms which need healing before they can be used to the healing of men."
  • "Today the term "faith" is more productive of disease than of health. It confuses, misleads, creates alternately skepticism and fanaticism, intellectual resistance and emotional surrender, rejection of genuine religion and subjection to substitutes."
  • "there is as yet no substitute expressing the reality to which the term "faith"points. So, for the time being, the only way of dealing with the problem is to try to reinterpret"
  • "Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned: the dynamics of faith are the dynamics of man's ultimate concern."
  • "concerns - cognitive, aesthetic, social, political. Some of them are urgent, often extremely urgent, and each of them as well as the vital concerns can claim ultimacy for human life"
  • "Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned. The content matters infinitely for the life of the believer, but it does not matter for the formal definition of faith."
  • "Faith as ultimate concern is an act of the total personality. It happens in the center of personal life and includes all its elements. Faith is the most centered act of the human mind. It is not a movement of a special section or a special function of man's total being. They all are united in the act of faith. But faith is not the sum total of their impacts. It transcends every special impact as well as the totality of them and it has itself a decisive impact of them."
  • "Since faith is an act of the personality as a whole, it participates in the dynamics of personal life.
  • "Faith as the act of the total personality is not imaginable without the participation of the unconscious elements in the personality structure. They are always present and decide largely about the contents of faith. But, on the other hand, faith is a conscious act and the unconscious elements participate in the creation of faith only if they are taken into the personal center which transcends each of them. If this does not happen, if unconscious forces determine the mental status without a centered act, faith does not occur, and compulsions take its place."
  • "faith is a matter of freedom"
  •  "Freedom is nothing more than the possibility of centered personal acts."
  • "the symbols of faith are considered to be expressions of the superego"
  • "we must deny that man's essential nature is identical with the rational character of his mind"
  • "Man is able to decide for or against reason, he is able to create beyond reason or to destroy beyond reason."
  • "Faith is not an act of any of his rational functions, as it is not an act of the unconscious, but it is an act in which both the rational and the nonrational elements of his being are transcended."
  • "Faith as the embracing and centered act of personality is "ecstatic." . . . "Ecstasy" means "standing outside oneself" - without ceasing to be oneself"
  • "in every act of faith there is cognitive affirmation, not as the result of an independent process of inquiry but as an inseparable element in the total act of acceptance and surrender."
  • "There is certainly affirmation by the will . . ., but faith is not a creation of the will . . . Faith is not an emotional outburst . . . Certainly, emotion is in it, as in every act of man's spiritual life. But emotion does not produce faith."
  • "Man is driven toward faith by his awareness of the infinite to which he belongs, but which he does not own like a possession."
  • "faith is the concern about the unconditional"
  • "the inescapable consequence of idolatrous faith is "existential disappointment," a disappointment which penetrates into the very existence of man!"
  • "He who enters the sphere of faith enters the sanctuary of life. Where there is faith, there is awareness of holiness."
  • "The awareness of the holy is awareness of the presence of divine, namely of the content of our ultimate concern."
  • "The human heart seeks the infinite because that is where the finite wants to rest. In the infinite it sees its own fulfillment."
  • "There is no conditional way of reaching the unconditional; there is no finite way of reaching the infinite."
  • "The mysterious character of the holy produces an ambiguity in man's ways of experiencing it."
  • "The holy can appear as creative and as destructive."
  • "Our ultimate concern can destroy us as it can heal us. But we never can be without it."
  • "Faith includes an element of immediate awareness which gives certainty and an element of uncertainty. To accept this is courage. In the courageous standing of the uncertainty, faith shows most visibly its dynamic character."
  • "Courage as an element of faith is the daring self-affirmation of one's own being in spite of the powers of "nonbeing" which are the heritage of everything finite. Where there is daring and courage there is the possibility of failure. And in every act of faith this possibility is present. The risk must be taken."
  • "risk cannot be taken away from any act of faith. There is only one point which is a matter not of risk but of immediate certainty and herein lies the greatness and pain of being human, namely, one's standing between one's finitude and one's potential infinity."
  • "The life-and-death struggle of rebellious autonomy with the powers of religious suppression has left a deep scar in the "collective unconscious."
  • "the act of faith, like every act in man's spiritual life, is dependent on language and therefore on community. For only in the community of spiritual beings is language alive. without language there is no act of faith"
  • "Faith needs its language, as does every act of the personality; without language it would be blind, not directed toward a content, not conscious of itself."
  • "It is not only the popular mind which distorts the meaning of faith. Behind it lie philosophical and theological thoughts which is a more refined way also miss the meaning of faith."
  • "Faith is more than trust in authorities"
  • "Faith should not be used in connection with theoretical knowledge . . . The knowledge of our world (including ourselves as a part of the world) is a matter of inquiry by ourselves or by those in whom we trust. it is not a matter of faith. The dimension of faith is not the dimension of science, history or psychology. . . . Almost all the struggle between faith and knowledge are rooted in the wrong understanding of faith as a type of knowledge which has a low degree of evidence but is supported by religious authority. . . . confusion of faith with knowledge"
  • "The certitude of faith is "existential," meaning that the whole existence of man is involved."
  • "finite man cannot produce infinite concern."
  • "Faith is definite in its direction and concrete in its content . . . it claims truth and commitment."
  • "there is no conflict between faith and the cognitive function of reason"
  • "The truth of faith is different from the meaning of truth in each of these ways of knowledge."
  • "scientific truth and the truth of faith do not belong to the same dimension of meaning. Science has no right and no power to interfere with faith and faith has no power to interfere with science."

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