Capitalism as Religion? A Study of Paul Tillich's Interpretation of Modernity

Capitalism as Religion? A Study of Paul Tillich's Interpretation of Modernity

by Francis Ching-Wah Yip


Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


The relationship between religion and modern culture remains a controversial issue within Christian theology. This book focuses on Paul Tillich's interpretation of modern culture and the influence of capitalism, highlighting the context of his work in relation to Karl Marx and the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School. When Tillich moved to the United States he sharpened his focus on the cultural dimensions of capitalism. Using the concept of "cultural modernity," Francis Ching-Wah Yip reconstructs Tillich's interpretation of modernity with the key categories of autonomy, self-sufficient finitude, technical reason, objectification, and dehumanization, and shows that Tillich's notion of theonomy served to underscore the problems of modernity and to develop a response.

The final section of the book relates Tillich's theology to contemporary theological interpretations of global capitalism and modernity. Yip appeals to the work of Jürgen Moltmann to argue that one should go beyond Tillich's analysis by placing much more emphasis on the material-economic basis of culture and by moving away from the Eurocentric viewpoint to a more global perspective. Finally, he draws on Émile Durkheim to show the quasi-religious dimension of capitalism as a global civil religion and as the culture of modern society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674021471
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 09/30/2010
Series: Harvard Theological Studies , #59
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Francis Ching-Wah Yip is Assistant Professor in the Divinity School of Chung Chi College and the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Abbreviations xv

Introduction 1

Relevance of Paul Tillich 5

Contributions 10

Overview of Chapters 12

Chapter 1 Tillich's Religious Critique of Capitalism 13

An Overview of Tillich's Critique of Capitalism 13

Tillich's Critique of Capitalism: Marx and Beyond 14

Religious Socialism and the Critique of Capitalism 14

A Holistic Perspective 17

Sharpening of the Cultural Focus 18

The Alleged Depoliticization of Tillich 18

McCarthyism and Tillich's Suppression of Marxist Themes 21

Tillich's Focus on the Cultural Dimension of Capitalism 22

Tillich's Critical Theology of Culture 24

Religion as Substance of Culture 24

Religious Analysis of Capitalistic Culture 27

Tillich's Critique of Capitalism as Demonic 31

The Idea of the Demonic 34

The Origins of Tillich's Idea of the Demonic 35

A Summary of Tillich's Idea of the Demonic 39

The Demonic as an Ambiguous Structure 39

The Demonic as Antidivine Religion 41

The Demonic as Self-Elevation to Infinity 44

The Demonic as Possession 48

Contributions of Tillich's Idea of the Demonic 49

Capitalism as Quasi-Religion" 53

Conclusion 57

Chapter 2 Tillich's Critique of Capitalist Modernity 59

Preliminary Remarks: Capitalism and Modernity 59

Theonomy, Autonomy, and Modernity 63

Tillich and the Frankfurt School 67

Tillich's View of Modernity: Bourgeois Society and Its History 70

Bourgeois Society and Modernity: An Introduction 70

Principal Characteristics of Bourgeois Society 70

Technology and Modern Society 71

Globalization of the Bourgeois Principle 72

Historical Background of Bourgeois Society 73

Double Break with the Myth of Origins 73

Protestant Reformation 74

European Enlightenment 75

Development of Bourgeois Society 77

Interim Observations 79

Tillich's Critique of Modernity and the Spirit of Bourgeois Society 80

Spirit of Bourgeois Society: A General Analysis 80

Autonomy and Self-Sufficient Finitude 81

Autonomy as Main Principle of Modernity 81

Problems of Autonomy 82

Self-Sufficient Finitude 85

Problems of Self-Sufficient Finitude 87

Technical Reason 88

From Ontological to Technical Reason 88

Problem of Means and Ends 91

Objectification and Dehumanization 93

Controlling Knowledge 93

Objectification 93

Dehumanization and Dialectic of Enlightenment 95

Conformity 96

Unsuccessful Challenges to Objectification 97

Theological Responses: A Snapshot 98

Critique of Cultural Modernity as the Critique of the Cultural Dimension of Capitalism 100

The Distinctiveness of Tillich's Critique of Modernity 101

Modernity as Manifestation of Universal Human Predicament 101

Theonomy as Critical and Constructive Ideal 103

Theological Hope: Beyond Social-Theoretical Pessimism 104

Conclusion 107

Chapter 3 Critical Discussions 109

Enhancing Tillich's Critique of Capitalistic Modernity with Insights from Moltmann 110

Moltmann's Critique of Capitalistic Modernity: An Overview 110

Why Moltmann" 110

Moltmann's Material-Economic Perspective 113

Global-Critical Perspective of Modernity 115

Global Problems and Victims of Capitalistic Modernity 119

Beyond Tillich's Cultural-Spiritual Perspective 125

Inadequacy of Tillich's Cultural View of Capitalistic Modernity 125

Toward a More Material-Economic Perspective 127

Beyond Tillich's Eurocentric Perspective 129

Inadequacy of Tillich's Eurocentric View of Modernity 129

Modernity Influenced by Contributions of Non-Western Civilizations 130

Modernity Developed at the Expense of the Non-Western Other 134

Toward a Global-Critical Perspective 136

Enhancing Tillich's Concept of Religion with Insights from Durkheim 138

Tillich's Asocial Conception of Religion 138

Durkheim's Social Conception of Religion and Its Contributions 140

Durkheim's Compatibility with Tillich 140

Durkheim's Significance for Tillich 142

Chapter 4 Capitalism as a Quasi-Religion: A Constructive and Critical Perspective 149

Tillich's Contributions and Limitations 149

Contributions 149

Limitations 153

Capitalism as Quasi-Religion: A Constructive Proposal 154

Beliefs and Practices of Capitalism 156

Capitalism as Global Civil Religion 161

Capitalism as Religious Substance of Modernity 165

Contributions to Critique 170

Summary of Theological Response 174

Conclusion 179

Bibliography 185

Index 203

Customer Reviews