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The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses Paperback – September 10, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 10, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300040016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300040012
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brown, a former friend and student of the influential theologian, concentrates on Niebuhr's theological essays. PW stated that "although this is not a representative selection of Niebuhr's religious, political and social thought, the anthology offers a useful introduction to his work."
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Niebuhr was the towering giant of Protestant theology in his time, and also an incisive political thinker during the tumultuous years from the Great Depression to Vietnam. This collection, which brings together Niebuhr's most penetrating and enduring essays on theology and politics, should demonstrate for a new generation that his best thought transcends the immediate historical setting in which he wrote. It also shows why Niebuhr, with his dialectical approach to the central questions of God, man, and history, will likely remain a perennial disturber of the complacencies and cliches of the standard "left" and "right." The anthology is ably edited by Robert McAfee Brown, whose introduction succinctly presents the central features of Niebuhr's life and thought. Mel Piehl, History Dept., Valparaiso Univ., Ind.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Reinhold Niebuhr was one of the giants of twentieth century theology. His theology was not contained in a massive, multi-volume systematic treatment, but rather in the practical and spiritual applications he drew out of his philosophical and theological meditations. This collection of essays shows both the practical and spiritual aspects of what Niebuhr was about - they deal with ethics, politics, justice, the interplay of science and religion, and above all, God's grace and mercy that extends to the entire world.

The first book of Niebuhr's that I read was 'Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic', in which Niebuhr reflects on life, society, and his time as a pastor at a church. That set the stage for a lifelong love of Niebuhr's way of thinking (if not always his particular conclusions), a love that is obviously shared by the theologian Robert McAfee Brown, the editor of this collection. These essays are somewhat different in tone from the first book I read, but there is a consistency of spirit. According to Brown, 'Niebuhr's resources in this sort of writing were always two: (1) the particular heritage of the Christian faith that he had appropriated, drawing especially on the Hebrew prophets, Jesus, Paul, the Reformation and Kierkegaard, and (2) a viewpoint in scrutinising the world around him not only in the light of this faith, but also with the tools of social science, political philosophy, and history that he acquired during his adult life.'

Niebuhr's influences drew him into a prophetic ministry. Prophetic ministry is not one in which the minister predicts the end of the world, but rather one in which the minister dares to speak the truth (and tells the consequences of such actions in no uncertain terms).
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84 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Kamm on November 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Niebuhr was not only one of the great Protestant theologians of the last century: he was one of very few thinkers ever to have derived a sophisticated and illuminating approach to the worldly order from theological premises. This collection of his writings contains some truly essential expressions of his philosophy, in the form of shorter essays and addresses.
The volume's consistent theme is the Augustinian realism that Niebuhr expounded in the darkest years of modern history, when the western democracies faced the tyrannies of Nazi Germany and expansionist Communism. Against these messianiac creeds, Niebuhr posited the merits of democracy, *not* because of its supposed congruence with the characteristics of the Kingdom of God but because of its effect in tempering the destructiveness of man's urge for dominion.
He did so, moreover, when many Christians were susceptible to the romantic illusion that discipleship required them to oppose the militant defence of western values. No one has better exposed these pretensions than Niebuhr in his essay 'Why the Christian Church is not Pacifist', included in this volume. Those Christians' mistake was to fail to understand the nature of evil. To regard the Sermon on the Mount as a manual for political action without seeing it in the context of Jesus's expectation of the irruption of the Kingdom of God into human history is a misreading. The message of the Gospels is not non-violence, but the immanence of the Kingdom. Niebuhr argues that while conflict is not part of the Kingdom of God, it does not thereby dissipate if Christians act as though they are already living in the Kingdom.
This is a powerful corrective to much wishful thinking that passes for Christian social ethics.
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By Justin Chang on July 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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