Friday, October 30, 2009

The Shaking of the Foundations (Tillich)

"The Shaking of the Foundations" by Paul Tillich (SCM Press, 1957)

It is sad that this slender compilation of Paul Tillich's preaching is out of print, but fortunately second-hand copies are readily available via the internet. For what we have here is not another volume of Tillich's dry and dated academic theology, but fine devotional writing that should challenge and inpire Christians of every and any persuasion.

I came to this book with my evangelical and theologically conservative barriers firmly in place, expecting it to be just one more example of the vague liberal wash typical of mid-20th century theology. And indeed, Tillich does as usual understress the unique atoning work of Christ and the reality of his resurrection and second coming.

However, to be fair to Tillich his sins are those of omission rather than commission. In other words, he says little in this book that a more conservative theologian could reasonably take exception to, for the simple reason that he is not writing analytically about divisive theological issues. Rather, these chapters are the transcripts of sermons delivered to a real congregation of diverse individuals, and consist of preaching designed to unite his listeners in celebrating the blessed experience of salvation.

In summary, what we have here is a collection of profound and relevant insights from a man who, however controversial some of his theories may have been, was not just another supercilious academic theologian. Indeed, he was one of the two or three greatest thinkers of his time, and a man who combined considerable literary gifts with the priestly and prophetic charismata of a true spirit-filled Christian. In particular, this book includes the world-famous sermon, "You Are Accepted", which justifies the price all by itself.

Highly recommended.

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