Chapter 19, “You Are Accepted” pp. 153-163
This is a passage which Tillich hesitate to preach on. It seemed impossible to him, maybe because sin and grace are difficult terms, partly because we take them for granted. He could not find any replacement terms for sin or grace. What then is sin? Tillich refers to it as separation, and he draws it as separation from other people, from self, and from “the Ground of Being” (p. 155) Our very existence is separation. What about grace? Tillich says sin and grace are intertwined. We cannot know sin without grace or grace without sin. He views grace as putting things back together.
In Romans 7 Paul discusses sin as a law within himself which causes him to do what he hates. Yet we cannot escape from sin. We are bound to it, on p. 159, by “the Ground of Being.” This could lead us to despair, but Paul reminds us of the presence of grace. Tillich describes this in Jesus, who when rejected by God was able to accept himself and be reconciled to others, having been struck by grace. Note this is Tillich’s view, not mine. Tillich goes on to say that in the same way, we need to receive grace, not just doctrinal teaching. Then our lives are transformed from despair to life. He is not clear about the source of this grace and acceptance. It is simply something we receive, realizing that we are accepted. Then and only then do we receive peace and the ability to live as people who have not alienated ourselves.