Concern for creation: Paul Tillich and the ecology of being

Michael Francis Drummy, Fordham University


This dissertation argues that the Protestant theological tradition is characterized by a certain ambiguity with regard to the non-human world that has contributed to the present global ecological crisis. It is the thesis of this dissertation that Paul Tillich's theological enterprise attempts to address and to resolve this ambiguity and, in so doing, recommends itself as a fertile and valuable resource for contemporary ecological theologians. It is shown how Tillich's theology of nature steered a middle course between a Barthian confessionalism, a sentimental romanticism, and a liberal Protestant technocratism and that, accordingly, he developed a complex understanding of the relationship among the divine, nature, history, science, and human beings. What is ultimately undertaken in the dissertation is a critical retrieval of Paul Tillich's theology in an effort to provide the groundwork for an “ecology of being,” or, more precisely, an “ecological ontology.” The Introduction therefore briefly describes the magnitude and seriousness of the environmental problem, framing it in terms of the contribution made to it by traditional Protestantism and the Tillichean solution offered thereto. The chapter concludes with a straightforward discussion of the dissertation format and the methodologies that will be employed throughout the dissertation. Chapter One consists of a detailed analysis and Tillichean critique of the theological and philosophical roots of Protestantism's ambiguous attitude toward nature. The role of the non-human universe as an ongoing concern of Tillich's personal and professional life is the subject of Chapter Two. In Chapter Three, his theology of nature is retrieved and developed at length. Chapter Four is devoted to a summary, analysis, and critical evaluation of Tillich's theology of nature as retrieved in the previous chapter. Finally, in recognizing that “Tillich's approach is now relevant in an area for which his generation had little direct concern” (Gilkey), Chapter Five examines Tillich's ontology of love as productive for an environmental ethic and carries out an ecology of being utilizing a variant of Tillich's own method of correlation.

Subject Area

Theology|Ecology|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Drummy, Michael Francis, "Concern for creation: Paul Tillich and the ecology of being" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9926894.