Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




At the heart of the anthropology of both Martin Luther and Paul Tillich, stands their respective concepts of human freedom, or the lack of it.

For Tillich, existence is made possible by the structural element of freedom. Freedom, operating within the framework of the structural element of destiny, is present in everything that is. Everything ontologically relevant that can happen to being is mediated by this freedom-destiny unity. These two polar elements underly Tillich's understanding of creation, the Fall, and existence, and without them, the whole of reality is incomprehensible.

For Luther, freedom is a dangerous concept. He admits of a certain human freedom of choice -- man is not an automaton after all -- but even this nod to "civil righteousness" is apt to provide man with a higher opinion of his abilities than he ought to have. It will be seen that Luther is not much concerned with explaining creation and the Fall of man in terms of freedom. His concern is largely a pastoral one, and as such is a good deal narrower than that of Tillich. He argues that man has no freedom where his relationship with God is concerned. His will i s enslaved by sin and can effect nothing that is acceptable to God. He is powerless to contribute anything toward his own salvation. Man's lack of freedom is thus at the very center of the human predicament as Luther understands it.

Since Tillich's understanding of the concept of freedom describes its active role in creating the existential predicament of man, it will be helpful to begin with his view.