Sin and evil show the presence of God, as everything does. They push us into a situation of awareness of what we really are. (That is an idea which Luther took over from Mister Eckhard.) God is the Nunc sternum, the Eternal Now, which takes us in this moment, as we are now, into repentance – not as we were in the last moment, namely sinful. God comes to the individual in his concrete situation. He doesn’t ask that the individual first develop some goodness and then he will come to him. But God comes to the individual in his estrangement. In order to receive the Divine substance, serenity, patience, not moving9 is needed.
Work is not the way in which we can come to God, but it is the result of our having come to God. He fights against purposes, in the religious relationship. All this is a strange mixture between quietism – being quiet in one’s soul – -and a tremendous activism. The inner feeling must become work and vice versa. This removes also the difference of the secular and the sacred worlds. They are expressions of the Ground of Being. who is in us.
Now this mysticism was very inf luential in the Church for a long time, and is still inf luential in many people. The Dominican mysticism is a counter-balance against the nominalistic isolation of the individual from the individual. In the realm of the religious, one could say that the impulses given by German mysticism prevailed. In the realm of the secular culture, it is the nominalistic attitude which prevailed.
And now I come tomorrow to the so-called pre-Reformers, especially Wyclif, and after this we must have a survey on the development of Catholicism, and then to the Reformation. Now you see this means, practically, that we have dealt very thoroughly with the ancient and medieval Church. And this was our intention, because that is what you will never hear again. You will hear about the Reformation, and you will hear sometimes, very often, about the modern development, But you will not hear about the Early Church and the Middle Ages. So we intentionally put this into the center, because of the limits of our time.
Paul Tillich, A History Of Christian Thought – Table of Contents