Paul Tillich's philosophical theology is a gift which promises to enrich us if we ride with it for some time before dismounting to look into its mouth. Once we peer down its throat to investigate how loosely the existentialist fillings cover the cavities of the idealistic teeth only the background of that ride prevents us from picking holes that would give too distorted a view of the whole. Meaningful wholes are prevented from becoming mere holes in a hole. Such a background is assumed here, as are the inevitable limitations implied by this assumption. Even with all the fillings removed, Tillich's thought is too vibrant with life to be fitted artificially into a mould cast by any of the idealistic predecessors who significantly influenced him. A balanced picture of some of the major nineteenth-century theological influences on Tillich would have to include, besides the ontological idealism of Hegel, the experiential idealism of Schleiermacher and Herrmann, and the existential idealism of Schelling. Complementing the influence of idealism, both the negative influence of scientific historical research and the kerygmatic–existentialist influence of Kahler and Kierkegaard penetrate to the roots of Tillich's thought. Even so, Tillich's systematic theology reflects decisively the glory and the limitation of Hegel's comprehensive ontological philosophy. By focussing on this we are able to move beyond the many general remarks that have been made by critics concerning the Hegelian influence, or the lack of it, in Tillich's thought to a more detailed analysis and a clearer picture of some of the similarities and differences.