God en leegte: persoonlijk of onpersoonlijk? Nishida – Tillich – Barth | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 56, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268



The personality or impersonality of transcendent reality is one of the main issues at stake between Buddhists and Christians. The Christian idea of a personal God differs deeply from the Buddhist idea of , which is often said to be impersonal. Based on this difference, religious scholars usually draw the conclusion that both ideas of ultimate reality are incompatible. Although the contradiction between Buddhist and Christian schools on this central point may seem unbridgeable, I suggest that a closer examination of the ideas of personality and impersonality can increase mutual understanding, since at present significant misunderstandings may exist in each side’s image of the other party. This is not to say that both traditions can be brought to agree, but only that on a deeper level more understanding seems possible. In this contribution, I first deal with the (im)personal nature of transcendence. I then go on to summarise the idea of the divine in two writings of the founder of the Kyoto School Philosophy, Kitaro Nishida, as well as the ideas of God’s personality in Paul Tillich and Karl Barth. I attempt to show that, due to important qualifications in each tradition’s use of ‘personal’ and ‘impersonal’, both beliefs are not as straightforwardly opposed as they often are supposed to be, and I mention some of the questions for further dialogue.


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