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By Sally Lloyd-Jones

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He delivered lectures in various cities, but a permanent return to Germany was out of the question, largely because Barthian neo-orthodoxy had established itself such that theology of the sort Tillich represented was perceived as a threat. Nevertheless, in the following years Tillich would return at regular intervals to give lectures and talks in Germany. While Tillich elaborated some basic propositions in his lectures on systematic theology at Union, he had still not produced a comprehensive statement of his theology.

Because God in himself is an ‘atheist’, every atheist is also in God. The atheist cannot become detached from God. The being-in-God of the atheist is grounded in the innermost doctrine of God. No nihilist is excluded from being-itself; no experience of nothingness can allow one to fall deeper than into the depth of nothingness that is overcome in the self of being. The negations and doubts of the nihilist and the atheist can refer at most only to a theistic God, a personal God, indeed, an anthropomorphic God.

Only in 1937 would he become Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology and finally, in 1940, Professor of Philosophical Theology. During these years Tillich lectured on philosophy of religion and systematic theology. From 1945 onwards he also gave lectures on ‘Church History’ and ‘History of Christianity’ instead of philosophy of religion. Thanks to his extensive lecturing activities Tillich quickly became known outside Union. As early as 1934 he was invited to the celebrated ‘Theological Discussion Group’, and only a few years later he was offered membership of the ‘Philosophy Club’, a privilege extended to only the most exceptional individuals.

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