Category Archives: Religious Language

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Religious Language

John Herman Randall Jnr.

Another writer who wrote on the symbolic character of religious language was Tillich’s friend and colleague, John Herman Randall Jnr. The difference between them is very substantial, despite their agreements. For Randall, religious symbols were non-cognitive. They were socially necessary but not ‘true’ in the sense that the overwhelming number of religious people would assume. […]

The Dynamics of Faith
The Dynamics of Faith

Tillich: Dynamics of Faith

Tillich wrote many books. A short article by him on the subject of religious language and symbols follows these notes. To help you to understand this article, here is the summary of the six characteristics of symbols which he gave in a book called… The Dynamics of Faith i) Symbols point beyond themselves to something […]

Religious Language
Religious Language

Tillich on Religious Language

‘Faith‘, for Tillich was the state of being ultimately concerned. Everyone, he said, has an ultimate concern – that which they take for granted without thinking, something they would not surrender for anything. An ultimate concern could be the nation, a person’s scientific honesty, a political party, a pet, or God. All of these, with the […]

Religious Language
Religious Language

The Nature of Religious Language

This theme will cover two views of the nature of religious language: i) that religious language is SYMBOLIC; and ii) that it is ANALOGICAL. Religious Language as Symbolic One of the most famous and subtle theologians of recent times to write at length on the symbolic nature of religious language is the German born Paul Tillich (1886-1965). Tillich was […]

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Religious Language

D. Z. Phillips and the Wittgensteinian View

D. Z. Phillips is probably the most prolific writer in Philosophy of Religion representing the Wittgensteinian view. He has applied the approach to a whole range of Christian themes including prayer, eternal life and God. He has attempted to show that religious beliefs are ‘pictures’ in the sense that they provide the framework for what […]

Wittgenstein
Religious Language

Wittgenstein and The Language Game View in Response to the Empirical Challenge

In response to the empirical challenge, Wittgenstein had grown dissatisfied with his earlier book (Tractatus Logico-Philosophus) and in the second half of his life, he developed a different approach to language. In this later period, he stressed how varied language was, rather than attempting to develop an ideal language. What are Wittgenstein’s Language Games? The […]

God the Father
Religious Language

What Ethnicity is God?

This week, a student asked me the question (via Quora) ‘What ethnicity is God?’ This is definitely a question to be answered in terms of religious language – how can we describe God? To ask ‘What ethnicity is God? is a personification – you cannot apply human qualities which is a non-human form. The same […]

Aquinas analogical language
Religious Language

What is the Difference between Univocal and Equivocal Language?

Is it ever really possible to speak about God? Traditional answers on talking about God have centred on the via negativa (negation or what God is not) and the via affirmative (the affirmative or positive way). Some philosophers, such as the Vienna Circle, argued that any talk about God was meaningless. There are three main […]

Logical Positivism
Descartes Featured Posts Religious Language

Logical Positivism and the Vienna Circle

What is Logical Positivism? Logical positivism is essentially the challenge of science. During the enlightenment period, the main challenge of science presented itself to religion, with its origins in questions of logic and how we could know what was true. Logical positivism as a term was first associated with a group of empirical philosophers in Vienna […]

What is the Via Negativa?

What is the Via Negativa? The Via Negativa (also called the Apophatic Way) focuses on explaining the nature of God by focusing on what God is not (‘apophatic’ comes from the Greek term ‘to deny’). The via negativa is based on the fundamental belief that ‘God’ is beyond human understanding and description – ‘He’ is […]


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