Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD student, Farabi Campus, University of Tehran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Tehran, Farabi Campus


In discussions on religious language, meaningfulness of the religious statements is one of the challenges the philosophers of religion are faced with. Among the responses given, Paul Tillich’s religious symbolism is of special importance. Based on this theory all the religious statements except for ‘God exists’ are symbols. Distinguishing between ‘sign’ and ‘symbol’ and regarding the religious statements as non-literal and hence symbolic, he deems religious language as ‘meaningful’ and thus responds to the challenges raised by positivists against all religions in speaking of God. Religious symbolism tries to show how the religious language could be of cognitive nature. But the problem is that by accepting his pan-symbolic view about religious statements and religious language, it becomes impossible to actually and literally talk about God. Thus any way to comprehend and to communicate with God would be blocked out, and this turns his symbolic interpretation to be more of a philosophical nature and preoccupation than a theological tenor and application – to the extent of rendering Christianity devoid of its genuine content.
Comprehending this complicated theory is only possible when one would understand it within the framework of his whole theologico-philosophical system of thought.


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