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Tillich, Paul (1886–1965)

  1. Douglas Estes

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc1388

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Estes, D. 2011. Tillich, Paul (1886–1965). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


The most prominent theological philosopher and apologist of the 20th century. Born in Starzeddel, Brandenburg, Germany (now Poland) on August 20, 1886, Tillich was the son of a pastor in the Evangelical Prussian Church. From 1904 to 1911, he studied at the universities of Berlin and Tübingen, and received his doctorate from Breslau and his theological licentiate from Halle. Tillich served as a pastor until World War I, when he volunteered as a German Army chaplain; during the conflict, he was awarded two Iron Crosses for bravery. After the war, he took up teaching posts at universities in Berlin, Marburg, Dresden, and Frankfurt. His outspoken criticism of the rising Nazi power in Germany resulted in his dismissal at Frankfurt in 1933, and his subsequent emigration to the United States. Shortly thereafter, Tillich began teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he would remain for the next 23 years. It was during this time he rose to worldwide prominence. In 1955, Tillich retired from Union and became University Professor at Harvard. In 1962, he took up the position of Nuveen Professor of Theology at the University of Chicago, where he would remain until his death on October 22, 1965. In his lifetime, Tillich was awarded several honorary doctorates, the Goethe Medal, and the Peace Prize of the German Publishers Association. His portrait was featured on the cover of Time magazine, and the US Supreme Court cited his ideas. He was the most famous — if not the most influential — of all 20th century theologians.


  • Tillich, Paul (1886–1965);
  • union theological seminary;
  • the goethe medal, and the peace prize