“Sublime Embarrassment”

From the most important liberal theologian of the twentieth century, Paul Tillich:

Have we not felt how something in us sometimes makes us stop, perhaps only for a moment when we want to say “God”? This moment of hesitation may express a deep feeling for God. It says something about the power of the divine name, and it says something about him who hesitates to use it. Sometimes we hesitate to use the word “God” even without words, when we are alone; we may hesitate to speak to God even privately and voicelessly, as in prayer. It may be that doubt prevents us from praying. And beyond this we may feel that the abyss between God and us makes the use of His name impossible for us; we do not dare to speak of Him, because we feel Him standing on the other side of the abyss from us. This can be a profound affirmation of Him. The silent embarrassment of using the divine name can protect us against violating the divine mystery. (The Essential Tillich, p.62)

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