Two ways of approaching God: (according to Paul Tillich)

Of course quotations as well as their reductionist renditions of complex truth are simplistic. And yet, they sometimes function to inspire, shape or even challenge thought/life. So here’s an “interesting” quotation… something worth thinking about:

One can distinguish two ways of approaching God: the way of overcoming estrangement and the way of meeting a stranger. In the first way man discovers himself when he discovers God; he discovers something that is identical with himself although it transcends him infinitely, something from which he is estranged, but from which he never has been and never can be separated. In the second way man meets a stranger when he meets God. The meeting is accidental. Essentially they do not belong to each other. They may become friends on a tentative and conjectural basis. But there is no certainty about the stranger man has met. He may disappear, and only probable statements can be made about his nature. — Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture, (1964), 10


3 Responses to “Two ways of approaching God: (according to Paul Tillich)”

  1. 1 KJ May 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Hey, I really like your thoughts. And Tillich’s quote definitely gets me thinking. I’m about to preach a sermon about how Christianity changes as it encounters different cultures. I’m an Irish American and am often saddened by the way Christianity has been “Americanized,” but I know if it hadn’t been translated into my culture I would probably not have been able to understand it. Do you have any thoughts about how Christianity is “Indianized” and if it’s good or bad? Necessary or unnecessary? Do you think it lost or gained important things from its core? Whatever that is… Thanks!

  2. 2 NAyK May 20, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    To KJ. Thanks for your comments. Just a note, Ireland has an amazing history of Christianity story; in that it helped preserve “western Christianity” as we know it especially with the Ottoman and other invasions in Europe. It was in the safe haven of Ireland that rich Christian historical literature were preserved in times of war. Eventually the monks of Ireland passed back the knowledge to the “main” church that interestingly now (as you say) dominates irish christianity. Interesting twist! :)

  3. 3 COPE June 24, 2009 at 6:10 am


    Today, as Christianity has been a world major religion, it should be contextualized into an indigenous context in its culture; but not to be tranlated, I think.

    Yes, as you say Christianity is Americanized so much that it is sadly regarded still as a Western religion.

    With regard to Indianization, It has not been, I think, Indianization yet. It should be Indianized in India and Burmanized in Burma(Myanmar)in their context so that Christianity ought to spread among the nations as world Christianity.

    World Christianity cannot be Americanized or globalized!!



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Passage for this Season

Philippians 2:11-13 (NIV) (12)Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (13)for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

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