Idolatry And The Dynamics Of Faith

The theologian Paul Tillich opens his book The Dynamics of Faith (1956) by asserting that “[f]aith is a state of being ultimately concerned.”

Idolatry he defines as the elevation of a matter of provisional concern to one of ultimate concern. It is 1956, just 12 years after WWII, and Tillich, born a German, is living and teaching in the US. Hence the examples of idolatry he adduces: the nation, which nods to the Weimar Republic, and success, which alludes to American-style capitalism.

Tillich did not live, perhaps, to see the idolatry of work (he died in 1965). Total Work is now here and in full force, and for a while has it been misshaping our spirits. Or, rather, we have been complicit in this deformation of our spirits.

Therefore, with what ought we to be ultimately concerned?