Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 327
Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous YES to one's own true being
In The Courage to Be, Tillich asserts that cowardice is a retreat into a stance that life is meaningless and negative. It takes courage in a world that seems filled with anxiety and negation to embrace such seemingly naive spiritual positives as joy, wisdom, and faith. Tillich was a German theologian who escaped Nazism to live in the United States. Like other German theologians, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who were groping with the deep crisis of Nazism and its seeming obliteration of a Christian worldview, Tillich gropes with finding hope and joy in a world that has lost God, a world in which one must, in Bonhoeffer's words, seek a "religionless Christianity."
The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt.
This seemingly paradoxical (contradictory) quote challenges readers to find God's presence when God no longer seem to be a bedrock on which one can anchor one's life. Writing in 1952, in the wake of the destruction and horror of World War II, Tillich understands the despair that can be caused as “the result of contingent experiences in human life.”
To accept this power of acceptance consciously is the religious answer of absolute faith, of a faith which has been deprived by doubt of any concrete content, which nevertheless is faith and the source of the most paradoxical manifestation of the courage to be.
Tillich is famous—perhaps more in his Dynamics of Faith than this book—for asserting that faith transcends or rises above "concrete content." The truth value of Christianity is, for Tillich, not dependent on historical fact—it doesn't matter if Jesus rose from the dead or even if he ever lived—the message or truth of the faith is nevertheless real, and this is what we need to courageously embrace in a modern world filled with doubt and anxiety.
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