Pensive Ponderings

Reflections on things that matter.

Summer Reading #1: a Study in Ultimate Reality

“Certainly we belong to being–its power is in us–otherwise we would not be. But we are also separate from it; we do not possess it fully. Our power of being is limited. We are a mixture of being and non-being. This is precisely what is meant when we say that we are finite.”

~Paul Tillich

biblical religion book cover

Hello all! Welcome to my first summer reading book “review.” The first book I have completed this summer is called Biblical Religion and the Search for Ultimate Reality, and it was written by the theologian Paul Tillich. I encountered Tillich as a MA student last year, and I’ve been fascinated with his work ever since.

The first thing to know about this book is that even though it is a mere 84 pages in length, it is anything but a “light read.” I chose this book because its subject matter feeds the very existentially aware part of my soul that seeks to unite my faith and my reason, and boy was I right to choose this book for that task!

If you aren’t interested in philosophy or religion in the least, this book isn’t for you, but if you have ever asked the philosophical question of why anything exists, or the religious question “what is God” or any other such conundrums, this book is a good resource. Now, be warned, it is an academic work, so some of the wording is dense, and almost every concept briefly touched on in  this text is doubtlessly expounded upon in one of Tillich’s many other works. The book’s primary concern is to unite the philosophical concept of ontology (the nature of being) and the assertions of biblical religions. The question is whether or not these two concepts, the former being absolute in nature and the latter being personal in nature, can exist correctly and completely in the same reality, or does the presupposition of one negate the other. Do the facts of “being itself” negate religious experience, or are they connected?

The best thing I got from this book was a re-definition of faith. I wrote a blog about this back in May entitled “That By Which We Are Grasped.” Honestly, though, I will be reading this book again because so much of it requires sincere thought and examination. I also plan to read another book by Tillich called Dynamics of Faith. Perhaps that will happen this summer as well!

Thanks for reading my review! Feel free to comment below if you have a question about this book, or if you have any suggestions for books you think I’d enjoy.

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