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Theological method and the proclamation of the church: a study of Karl Barth and Paul Tillich

Sansom, Michael Charles (1974) Theological method and the proclamation of the church: a study of Karl Barth and Paul Tillich. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Despite being contemporaries and both deeply concerned about the proclamation of the Church, there are deep differences between Earth and Tillich in their understanding both of the task and nature of proclamation and of the theological method which informs it. The differences in their understanding of proclamation may be traced to the very different situations in which their early and formative years were spent. Thus Earth displays a preoccupation -with the problems of the sermon, while Tillich is concerned with those of "the alienation from the Church of the intelligentsia and the working classes, the disintegration of the intellectual world and the isolation of theology. Strongly influenced by Schelling, Tillich wished to effect not simply a synthesis of philosophy and theology, but a reintegration of the whole system of sciences which, with its ontological foundation, would provide an important place for theology. The premises worked out in this early period inform much of his later work. However, as a real It of the impact on him of existentialist thinking, he works with not one but two different conceptions of the relationship between philosophy and theology. His confusion at this key point produces a further confusion in his exposition of the method of correlation. Yet despite this confusion and his tendency to exploit the ambiguity of words there is a fundamental consistency in his method which we characterise as a posteriori. Like Tillich, Earth reacted strongly against liberal theology. but unlike Tillich, rejected an ontological solution to the problems of theology. His early attempts to allow the Bible to speak to his own generation by-passed the dogma tic discipline and came under severe criticism. Nevertheless, the conviction that -the concept of the Word of God is basic to preaching and theology remained fundamental in his thinking, Although his approach and emphases registered changes, his basic method, formed in the 1920s as he recognised the importance of dogmatics, did not alter substantially. Whereas Tillich thinks of theology as seeking to translate the kerygma for the "situation Barth looks upon it as a devotional engagement in faith and obedience as the believer seeks to understand his faith. He is committed, moreover, to the vulnerability of a revelation mediated through historical events. Nevertheless, at the heart of his understanding of revelation is the indissoluble subjectivity of God. Theology under the impact of divine revelation has no option but to develop an a priori method which in Earth's hands has strong similarities with linguistic analysis.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1974
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 10:28

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