Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. James C. Berryman

Second Advisor

Dr. Cecil Sutley

Third Advisor

Dr. Gilbert L. Morris


The problem of knowing God has not been solely a twentieth century phenomenon, but the current "death of God" theology has brought the problem into focus within the Christian community in terms of secular involvement. A "Christian agnosticism" has emerged from within the Church criticizing archaic ecclesiastical structures and confessions. Those criticisms have been leveled by radical theologians, represented by Altizer, Hamilton, and Van Buren, who have denied for humanity a living God and consequently a knowledge of God.

Modern man has suffered the loss of life's meaning and its supportive Reality. "God", therefore, has become a term without meaningful content. Religious existentialism, as a mode of thinking, has offered some hope to man, for it communicates to him the meaning of his existence and his relationship to a Reality beyond his existence.

The concept of spirit has come to be used with a new emphasis in contemporary theology. The question of this investigation was whether or not a religious existentialism took the concept of Spirit seriously as a means of knowing God. Both Tillich and Berdyaev were religious existentialists who brought the concept of Spirit into sophisticated academic theology and philosophy. A divine-human exchange was expressed in their thought as knowledgeable experience. That attainment was possible only when the structures of subject and object were transcended. Man's self-transcendence was the result of and initial act of the Spirit through which the Divine was revealed as Reality. Thus, for Tillich and Berdyaev, Reality was made known as Divine by the Spirit in the innermost depths of man.



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