As a religious philosopher of the Christian religion, Paul Tillich happens to be one of the greatest minds in the twentieth century. His thoughts and theological analysis of Christianity is not merely an exaggeration but are logics that makes contributes a lot to the development of theology. In one of his discoveries, Tillich defined faith as a state of being ultimately concerned. This paper discusses what Tillich meant with this statement and how it relates to the Christian human development.
According to Tillich, ultimate concern is a report that contains some felicitous ambiguity. The statement is inclusive of the act of faith, but it does not matter on the content of faith. That is to say that ultimate concern emphasizes on a person’s primary care and the reality that the individual wants to achieve from the act of faith.
Faith and personality are directly proportional. This is to say that the dynamics of faith must be contained in all the dynamics of nature. One’s personality determines their beliefs, strength, and fears and hence will have a significant effect on the level of faith that they are likely to have for something or someone. Every person has the freedom and the will to choose to have faith in something. Therefore, from this, it can be argued that religion is ecstatic because it relies so much on one’s personality.
One cannot simply have faith by having the motivation to believe. Rather, it is or should be a cognitive and logical affirmation of the unmatched nature of ultimate truth. One cannot achieve this by just applying the procedure of intellectual inquiry but should be able to fully accept and surrender to the whole system or idea that is in question. “Our ultimate concern can destroy us as it can heal us,” Tillich says.
It is expected that faith creates a consciousness of the sacred. Tillich states that faith is ultimate, this is a clear indication there should exist some knowledge of the sacred and the individual should be able to recognize the relation between the finite and the infinite reality. However, there are certain situations, the uncertainty of the sacred to exist, and it, therefore, become too hard for a person to avoid its existence.
Faith as a state of being ultimately concerned can also mean that faith and doubt have a direct interaction. Teaching varies and sometimes it is important that one should question the existence and the need for faith. Some acts of faith require great sacrifices but do not show any possibility of a good outcome. In such situations, doubt is allowed to exist. Therefore, faith and doubt are warring forces in everyday lives of people.
The ultimate concern of faith also requires courage. Courage means that one can choose to believe in some without evaluating the consequences. In faith, uncertainty is expected. The Certain action of faith is non-dynamic, static and involves a lot of risks. Courage, therefore, becomes the only motivating factor that will encourage the individual to believe that good results may be achieved in the long run.
Faith is a probability belief. It is not a guarantee that if a person has faith in something, then the results would be positive. Sometimes there might be no results at all, and sometimes the act of faith may not have any course. “No command to believe and no will to believe can create faith” According to Tillich, historical conflicts have caused the people to misunderstand faith as a kind of knowledge that supports religious authority.
Myths and folk tales are symbols of faith. People tell stories that are full of scenes of ultimate concerns. According to him, there are two types of myths, the broken and the unbroken. The broken give symbolic sentences of reality, and they have less or no doubts. People can prove the story by looking at the existence of evidence in the society. On the other hand, unbroken myths are just stories full of accurate statements about reality, and it is so difficult to prove if they are true stories.
In faith, the existence of certain symbols and people cannot be explained. It is not clear how they came to be or why they behave the way they do. For instance, God, the Supreme Being, is believed to be the creator and protector of everything in the universe. No one knows where He came from or what the source of all His power is. Therefore, it becomes futile and meaningless to ask questions about His existence but to believe that He is what the Bible says and what people say he is.
Therefore, from the discussion, it is clear that faith is just reason. That is to say, faith requires a reason to be logical while logic creates awareness to faith by showing the existence of ultimate reality. He says that faith is “the act in which reason reaches ecstatically beyond itself” Tillich’s definition of faith is thus very insightful and applicable in religious philosophy. It helps understand why people confuse the meanings of faith and at the same time describe the life of faith and the most important aspects of faith. People believe because of different reasons, and Tillich’s definition helps understand why such a difference exists among people.
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