Archive for the ‘Paul Tillich’ Category


The God of Show and Tell… or is it Tell and Show?

December 28, 2009
The God of Show and Tell… or is it Tell and Show?
The other day my Kids had “show and tell”. You know, when they take something important to them to school to share with the other kids… like when my daughter Ciana brought her silver jewelry box to school and was so excited to show it and tell how her Auntie gave it to her. I began to think about God and what He showed us through Jesus. God did not just “tell” us how to live, rather God told us and then through Jesus showed us… thus, God is the God of show and tell… or rather, Tell and Show. In fact, if you get right down to it, Through the bible we see God telling us how to live and then through the incarnation of Jesus, showing us how to live, and died… and then live again. With this, we have a model of how we are to live, die and live again.
Now many people just view this as living now, dying now and living again later, but what is happening is that we are doing all of this “now” for “later”. We live now to die not for death’s sake, but for Christ’s sake so we may live again in abundant life. This New Life in Christ starts “now” and for those who are “in Christ” continues into the “later” or New Creation, which is the fulfillment of “on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Rob Bell, in his book Velvet Elvis talks about the idea that we live either in or for heaven “now” or in and for hell “now” which then is part of the decision as to where we spend eternity later. This is not about works salvation, but whether one lives out the New Life that comes in us from Jesus or we keep hold of the old life. In the bible, (Matt 25: 31-46) there is the parable of the sheep and goats who hold to their “beliefs” to save them. Yet the sheep find they are the ones that did the things that God desires. The rub is that those who held to “believism” did not enter into the Kingdom, while those who did the work of the Kingdom now, entered in the Kingdom for eternity. This is scandalous if you think about it! Those who believe “rightly” are punished? Why are they punished? They were just tellers of the Word but not, “Show and tellers” of the Word. (Now I know technically it is Tell and Show, yet I am not about to set in stone some formula as I find God sometimes has one show others the Gospel so they can earn the right to tell the “other” the Gospel, so for now the idea of “show and tell” is interchangeable.)
In God’s telling and showing, we learn that what one believes is not enough. We see this in how Jesus confronted the Pharisees for their “correct” belief, yet their doing or showing was inadequate. They would tithe the smallest of amounts even down to the spices they had, and meanwhile let someone starve in their city. They would pass by someone they deemed “unworthy” or less worthy of God’s mercy and grace as they saw them “unclean” and if touched would defile them. They clung tightly to their own righteousness…
Paul Tillich writes about the Pharisees “righteousness”… (To be honest I am still sorting this out in my own heart and head) Jesus fully acknowledged the Pharisees as “righteous”. Tillich states that the righteousness of a Pharisee was a very high standard; even Jesus stated that one’s righteousness must surpass that of the Pharisee to get into Heaven! To be clear, there is no argument allowed to claim the Pharisees as being unrighteous. Yet, by whose righteousness do we get into the Kingdom of Heaven? The Apostle Paul makes it clear that it is only by the righteousness of Christ we make it in to the Kingdom. Rom 1: 17. For in the gospel righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” It is not our own righteousness that gives us life… For all the righteousness of the Pharisee, the Law could not give them eternal life for the Life is in the Son. (John 3:36; 1 John 5: 10-11) One must have life to live… forgiveness is not enough… I like how Luke puts it in Acts 1:1
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach
Jesus came to tell us and show us how to believe and live and that is our challenge… to allow Jesus to do that today in and through us. We are now called to let Jesus live His life in and through us today and forever and to tell and show others of The Way, the Truth, and the Life of Jesus.



Paul Tillich: What is Truth?

December 10, 2009
I have tried to avoid reading Paul Tillich for quite a while, yet I stumbled on The New Being which is a book of his sermons. I decided to read the chapter called “What is Truth?” and found much of it familiar. I had to laugh as I felt I was reading some of the stuff I have written on truth over the years. I always find it strange to read someone else (who is much more articualate then I am) explain what I have tried to express.
Here are a few excerpts from Chapter 8 of The New Being called, “What is Truth?”
“Twofold are the temptations to evade the burden of asking for the truth that matters. The one is the way of those who claim to have the truth and the other is the way of those who do not care for the truth. The first ones are called “the Jews” in our gospel. They point to their tradition which goes back to Abraham. Abraham is their father; so they have all truth, and do not need to be worried by the question which they encounter in Jesus. Many among us, Christians and secularists, are “Jews” in the sense of the Fourth Gospel. They point to their tradition which goes back to the Church Fathers, or to the popes, or to the Reformers, or to the makers of the American Constitution. Their church or their nation is their mother, so they have all truth and do not need to worry about the question of truth. Would Jesus tell them, perhaps, what He told the Jews—that even if the church or the nation is their mother, they carry with them the heritage of the father of untruth; that the truth they have is not the truth which makes free? Certainly there is no freedom where there is self-complacency about the truth of one’s own beliefs. There is no freedom where there is ignorant and fanatical rejection of foreign ideas and ways of life. There is not freedom but demonic bondage where one’s own truth is called the ultimate truth. For this is an attempt to be like God, an attempt which is made in the name of God.”
“But those of us who dare to face the question of truth may listen to what the Fourth Gospel says about it. The first thing which strikes us is that the truth of which Jesus speaks is not a doctrine but a reality, namely, He Himself: “I am the truth.” This is a profound transformation of the ordinary meaning of truth. For us, statements are true or false; people may have truth or not; but how can they be truth, even the truth? The truth of which the Fourth Gospel speaks is a true reality—that reality which does not deceive us if we accept it and live with it. If Jesus says, “I am the truth,” he indicates that in Him the true, the genuine, the ultimate reality is present; or, in other words, that God is present, unveiled, undistorted, in His infinite depth, in His unapproachable mystery. Jesus is not the truth because His teachings are true. But His teachings are true because they express the truth which He Himself is. He is more than His words. And He is more than any word said about Him.”
“The Church very early forgot the word of our Gospel that He is the truth; and claimed that her doctrines about Him are the truth. But these doctrines, however necessary and good they were, proved to be not the truth that liberates. Soon they became tools of suppression, of servitude under authorities; they became means to prevent the honest search for truth—weapons to split the souls of people between loyalty to the Church and sincerity to truth. And in this way they gave deadly weapons to those who attacked the Church and its doctrines in the name of truth. Not everybody feels this conflict. There are masses of people who feel safe under doctrinal laws. They are safe, but it is the safety of him who has not yet found his spiritual freedom, who has not yet found his true self. It is the dignity and the danger of Protestantism that it exposes its adherents to the insecurity of asking the question of truth for themselves and that it throws them into the freedom and responsibility of personal decisions, of the right to choose between the ways of the sceptics, and those who are orthodox, of the indifferent masses, and Him who is the truth that liberates. For this is the greatness of Protestantism: that it points beyond the teachings of Jesus and beyond the doctrines of the Church to the being of Him whose being is the truth.”
“How do we reach this truth? “By doing it,” is the answer of the Fourth Gospel. This does not mean being obedient to the commandments, accepting them and fulfilling them. Doing the truth means living out of the reality which is He who is the truth, making His being the being of ourselves and of our world. And again, we ask, “How can this happen?” “By remaining in Him” is the answer of the Fourth Gospel, i.e., by participating in His being. “Abide in me and I in you,” he says. The truth which liberates is the truth in which we participate, which is a part of us and we a part of it. True discipleship is participation. If the real, the ultimate, the divine reality which is His being becomes our being we are in the truth that matters.”

The whole book is available online here.