Rothwell, Andrew Thomas (2014-07). Salvation from Despair and Estrangement: An Analysis of Religious Existentialism as Found in Soren Kierkegaard and Paul Tillich. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the causes and effects of existential despair and estrangement on man, and additionally the methods in which man can be saved from them by Christ, as found in seminal works of Soren Kierkegaard's The Sickness unto Death and Paul Tillich's Systematic Theology Vol. II. In-depth analysis will be given to these two works in order to show how traditional existential concepts of despair and alienation are understood within a heavily Christian framework. Within Christianity, these two authors will show the theological import of despair and estrangement on the soul of man. Both conclude that these aspects of existence are a terrible burden on the soul and, ultimately, constitute a unique interpretation of sin outside of the traditional ethical framework. Kierkegaard builds up a unique ontology of man as dialectical politics of multiple syntheses and showing how despair is actually the result of misrelations within these synthetic relationships. He also examines the consequences of conscious and unconscious despair. Tillich, on the other hand, believes that estrangement is related to the separation of man from God as a result of vices. Conscious that we are separated from God and desiring salvation, man seeks various methods of self-salvation that Tillich believes unilaterally fail. After analyzing the theology of atonement, Tillich ultimately agrees with Kierkegaard. The only thing that saves us from our despair and estrangement, which constitute sin, is the individual's acceptance of the saving grace of Christ's forgiveness.

publication date

  • July 2014