By Luigi Giussani
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Extra resources for American Protestant Theology: A Historical Sketch
After a complete academic curriculum at Cambridge University, he had been a very well known preacher in the Church of Saint Rodolph in Boston, Lincolnshire, until his flight to America in 1633, in order to avoid the heavy hand of Bishop Laud, a persecutor of nonconformists. In the “second Boston,” he would become the key personality of religious and cultural life, the perfect interpreter of Calvinist Puritanism. One historian sums up the image of his presence in that new world in this way: “He wielded with strong and brilliant mastership the fierce theocracy of New England.
It is, rather, a theology of history that fundamentally orients the human to its proper religious experience, not a philosophy of history. This theology of history includes both an “orientation of the self towards a ‘unity of experience’ and towards its ‘creaturely nature’” (151ff). This is the axiomatic centre from which the human experiences ultimate necessity, or “religious dependence” (151–2 and 171–2). The second aspect of this religious phenomenology is our “capacity for freedom,” which according to Niebuhr makes us “responsible creatures in nature,” with a rational capacity.
Tillich went to the United States partly at the behest of the brothers Reinhold and Richard Niebuhr. But, Tillich was also considerably motivated by a deteriorating social-political situation in Germany, his native land. He was very much a child of the late modern “crisis of the European mind” that was the final stage of German Romanticism, Idealism, and the monistic philosophies of nature represented in Spinoza, Schelling, and especially Hegel. Giussani is well aware of Tillich’s European heritage and does not seek to downplay it.
American Protestant Theology: A Historical Sketch by Luigi Giussani