Compromised Correlation? Experience in Paul Tillich’s Concept of Correlation

Ulrich Schmiedel, Marijn de Jong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Paul Tillich conceptualised correlation as the unity of “dependence and independence” between situation and tradition. If theology conceives of situation and tradition as inter-in-dependent, the situation might contribute to the tradition as much as the tradition might contribute to the situation, without deducing or reducing what is asked to what is answered. But as John Clayton argues in his compelling critique of correlation, Tillich failed. Prioritising ‘independence’ over ‘dependence’, he was ultimately unable to mediate between situation and tradition. Thus, even theologians who adopt his correlational concern abandon his correlational concept. In this chapter, we address what the critics of correlation left unaddressed – the concept of experience. We argue that experience is crucial for both the critique and the construction of correlation. We aim to advocate a concept of experience through which correlation can be retrieved as a compromised correlation. By ‘compromised correlation’, we mean a correlation which concentrates on the experience of the encounter between the transcendent and the immanent. What theology can correlate, then, are the ambiguous experiences of the compromise between the transcendent and the immanent expressed in both situation and tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReturning to Tillich
Subtitle of host publicationTheology and Legacy in Transition
EditorsRussell Re Manning, Samuel Shearn
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISBN (Electronic)9783110533606
ISBN (Print)9783110532852
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2017

Publication series

NameTillich Research
PublisherDe Gruyter
ISSN (Print)2192-1938


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