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Paul Tillich’s Critique of John F. Dulles’ Commission on a Just and Durable Peace

From the book Brokenness and Reconciliation

  • Ronald Stone


Comparing the rival visions of Paul Tillich and John Foster Dulles, this essay provides a survey and analysis of the intersection of key political and theological debates during World War II. Particular attention is given to the Dulles ‘Commission for a Just and Durable Peace’ and Tillich’s 1943 lectures. which both contributed to and challenged the Commission’s assumptions and quest for justice and peace. By 1943, The Federal Council of Churches’ Commission on a Just and Durable Peace, under the strong leadership of John Foster Dulles, had completed its preliminary work. The Commission invited Paul Tillich to deliver three lectures to help shape the Commission’s theological work. Though Dulles’ strong hand guided the work of the Commission, he realized his inability to do the theological work that the Commission needed. The work of the Commission never took the shape consistent with either John C. Bennett or Reinhold Niebuhr, but their influence is seen in the invitation to Tillich. Signs of Tillich’s lectures are also not apparent in the work of the Commission. His three lectures remained obscure until I found them in the Tillich Archives of the Andover-Harvard Library at Harvard Divinity School. They were handwritten, and Dr. Mutie Tillich Farris resisted publishing them until I persuaded her they were really against the grain of Dulles’ work and could help us better understand Tillich.

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