Theses on Paul Tillich's "Systematic Theology" - Thesis 4

Thesis 4: The search for unambiguous life gives rise to the symbols of its anticipation, primary of which are the symbols of ‘Spirit of God’ – redefined as ‘Spiritual Presence’ – ‘Kingdom of God’, and ‘Eternal Life’.

Explanation: It is here that Tillich rehashes his discussion thus far as well as gives us a very important new piece of the puzzle. In redefining ‘Spirit of God’ to ‘Spiritual Presence’, he explains that “The Spirit of God is the presence of the Divine Life within creaturely life” (107). This presence symbolizes revelation’s answer to humanity’s search for unambiguous life as it corresponds to the ambiguities of life inherent within life’s spiritual dimension. Such divine presence within the creaturely world, although particularly related to the dimension of spirit in humanity, includes all the ‘lower’ dimensions that provide the preconditions for that dimension and thus we must understand Spiritual Presence to be found there as well.

The other two symbols – ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Eternal Life’ – occupy the same place with reference to life’s historic dimension. They will thus be important for the fifth section of Tillich’s Systematic Theology and need not concern us here. It is important to note, however, that Tillich conceives of these three symbols as mutually immanent – that is, where one is found the other two are also present. Their distinction is a matter of emphasis, not exclusivity of meaning.


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