A Professed Christian Faith
To the extent that a Catholic background informed that project, one could say that the institutions and commandments of the Church loom large against the prospect of truly engaging with a non-Catholic faith. However, in this period of American history--when much personal and cultural identity seems to be bound up with religion and when the strict moral traditions of institutional Catholicism seem nothing if not unreasonably rigid in the face of the varieties of morbid human experience that have their source in the institution (e.g., Dowd)--it seems incumbent on any serious student of religion to at least begin to sight the limits of ecclesiastical authority while at the same time examining the varieties of religious identity.

In that regard, consider the opening sentence of Systematic Theology, wherein Paul Tillich assigns the term theology to the realm of Christian thought, adding that it "must serve the needs of the church" (Tillich, ST 3). Plainly Tillich's church is not the Roman Catholic Church; his manifest point of departure is what he calls the Protestant principle, the name given to the religious concept that originated in the doctrine of justification by faith, "the idea that separated Protestantism from Catholicism and that became the so-called 'material' principle of the Protestant churches" (Tillich, PE x). The Protestant principle was initially formulated a

 
 
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