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The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation (2 Volume Set) Paperback – November 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0664257095 ISBN-10: 0664257097 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 - 1971) was an ethicist, theologian, and political philosopher who taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York City from 1928 to 1960. Before that, for thirteen years, he was minister of Detroit's Bethel Evangelical Church.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 684 pages
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1st edition (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0664257097
  • ISBN-13: 978-0664257095
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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I even enjoyed R. Niebuhr better than Tillich and Barth.
Tron Honto
Anyone who approaches this work will be touched and enlightened.
Lifetime Student
This is one of the most insightful books I have ever read.
John

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 94 people found the following review helpful By -_Tim_- on October 24, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the Nature and Destiny of Man, Reinhold Niebuhr, the influential "Christian realist" theologian, deals with big issues: the nature of man, history, and the end of the history. He offers deep - I would say profound - support for his views, but not proof. He offers one interpretation of the meaning of life's mysteries but not the only possible interpretation.
Niebuhr begins by arguing that the Christian view of man's nature, compared with alternative views, is more complete and offers more explanatory power. According to the Christian view, man is made in the image of God. Unlike alternative views that establish a good/bad duality between mind and body, in the Christian view, both mind and body are good because both are created by God. Man is made to live in harmony with others and God's will but violates this harmony when he - inevitably - makes himself the center and source of meaning for his life.
Man has tremendous creative and imaginative powers, and his mind can transcend both itself (since he can make his own thoughts the object of contemplation) and the natural world (since he can manipulate natural forces to create new possibilities and vitalities of nature). Because man cannot find ultimate meaning in what he can transcend, he cannot find ultimate meaning within himself or in the natural world. This is why we turn to religion.
Christianity is a religion of revelation, meaning that Christians believe that God must speak to us in order for us to arrive at a correct understanding of his nature and will. If the Bible is to be believed, God spoke to man throughout history but his message was not clearly understood. Because of our misunderstanding, and because God's law is so radically different from man's law, Jesus' message was highly offensive to his listeners.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By greg556 on November 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While this book is very interesting, do not buy this version. It is a slap in the face. Considering it's published by a Christian publisher, it's a shocking display of parsimony. All they did was Xerox the original book into this new binding. They charge $49 and did not bother to reset it. I'm amazed. As a result, except for the front matter, the whole book looks like it was published in the '40s. Broken type, uneven lines, archaic typeface.

Really really shoddy. Buy a used copy of the original.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Tron Honto on September 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
This work is known to be a classic, and in my opinion, it is the best written last century. I even enjoyed R. Niebuhr better than Tillich and Barth. His erudition and conclusions are powerful and engaging. I recommend reading this for those familiar with political thought and philosophy of the modern era. By no means is this work parochial, it scope makes it a enthralling read even for those who find themselves outside to sprectrum of Christian belief.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Lindsay J Case on July 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Niebuhr has developed the most balanced statement of our character, identity, and core behavior motivations. He references all major worldviews from Eastern Naturalisms to Western Rationalism to Bibilical Revelation. The Bibilical Worldview provides the most balanced perspective of our human nature, which is offensive to the contrasting perspectives. In Volume 1, he identifies our form and our vitality as essential components of our nature. He also identifies that our desire for freedom, our ability to transend our natural state, and our self interest leads to "Man's Problem." Volume 2 focuses on worldviews that have messianic expectations and resolutions of history through corporate indentities. One can understand Niebuhr's perspecive on the eve of WWII's Fascist nations. In summary, this is absolutely one of the best works I have read to help clarify our human nature. His perspective is pragmatic, but is still very focued on core christian doctrines. Buy it, read it, wait a year, read it again, and ponder the depth and breath of his insights!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on July 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) was an American theologian and "public intellectual" during the mid-20th century.

In the Preface for the Scribner Library Edition, he writes, "It was my purpose to trace the growth, corruption anf purification of these two concepts in the ages of Western history in order to create a better understanding between the historical roots and the several disciplines of our modern culture which were concerned with the human situation... my thesis ... was that individual selfhood is expressed in the self's capacity for self-transcendence and not in its rational capacity for conceptual and analytic procedures."

He asserts that there are basically two views of human nature: The Graeco-Roman, and the Biblical. "Plato and Aristotle thus share a common rationalism; and also a common dualism... The Bible knows nothing of a good mind and an evil body."

Here are some representative quotations from the book:

"The fact that man ... cannot find the end of life except in God is the mark of his creativity and uniqueness." (V1, Ch. 4)
"The fact of self-transcendence leads inevitably to the search for a God who transcends the world." (V1, Ch. 6)
"Religion, by whatever name, is the inevitable fruit of the spiritual nature of man; and religious intolerance and pride is the final expression of his sinfulness.: (V1, Ch. 7)
"Human personality has a depth and a uniqueness which escapes the ordinary processes of knowledge." (V1, Ch. 10)
"(L)ife can approach its original innocency only by aspiring to its unlimited end." (V2, Ch. 3)
"(N)o sinful self-centredness can ever destroy the structure of freedom and self-transcendence in man." (V2, Ch.
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