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Paul Tillich (1886) left his native Germany because of the Nazis about the same time as Karl Earth, but Tillich came to the United States and became a faculty member of Union Theological Seminary, New York. He had spent World War I as a Lutheran chaplain in the German trenches and came out of it looking for something better than the theology that could not explain or help the trench soldier.

His resulting work, primarily expounded since his adoption of English, has led some to proclaim him as the Protestant theologian of our time. Others have branded him heretical. This situation is quite pleasing to him since he thinks of himself as living on the boundary between either/or. What he calls the Protestant principle emphasizes his refusal to idealize or idolatrize either side of the boundary. This principle rejects any effort to replace God with sacrament, creed, or even church, because God makes possible both sides of the boundary. God invests each side with power, with being, and thus God is the "ground of being" and the source of power. Therefore, to insist that one choose either science or religion, reason or revelation, objectivity or subjectivity, dogma or feeling is, on the one hand, to reject God and, on the other, to replace God. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

An excerpt from Tillich's book, Systematic Theology, has been removed due to copyright restrictions. A more recent edition of this book is available here.


This is a part of Section XXIII: Theological Meaning. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.