Paul Tillich and existential Christianity
Paul Tillich (1886-1965) was a popular theologian* who reinterpreted the Bible in terms of existential themes. Existentialism was fashionable in the 1950’s, for it addressed the loneliness and absence of meaning that many felt after World War Two. We had won the war, the economy was booming, but what was the point of it all, especially when the population of the planet could be annihilated in an hour; for this was the height of the Cold War?
Unusual for a popular author, Tillich was also esteemed by his colleagues for his intellectual rigor, above all his three-volume masterwork, Systematic Theology. There and in his more popular works, Tillich transformed the language of the Bible into the language of existentialism. God became our “ultimate concern” and sin became estrangement, separation from God, from self, and from neighbor (Essential, pp 165-166).