Master of Arts (MA)


Communication Studies

Document Type



20th century theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich believed that religion could only be understood in the context of the surrounding culture. He attempted to assert Christianity’s importance in the modern era, and did this through his use of language. In this study I examine how Tillich’s rhetorical situation uniquely informed the communication style of his sermons. Drawing on the work of Lloyd Bitzer, this rhetorical situation includes Tillich’s exigencies, rooted both in the personal and historical, his resources and constraints in the form of influences and limitations, and his audience which provided him with an arena. By examining selections from the three volumes of Tillich’s sermons, it is possible to construct his communication theory in five parts. These five elements include logos, or the appropriate use of reason; kairos, or right-timing; language invention and reconfiguration, including translation of religious symbols into existential language; prophetic style; and a focus on community and love. This project is a unique contribution to Tillichian studies and homiletics, as I examine Tillich’s sermons within a rhetorical and communicative frame.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

King, Andrew

Included in

Communication Commons