- 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: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation (2 Volume Set) 1st Edition
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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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Really really shoddy. Buy a used copy of the original.
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. What Jesus told us is that God overcomes evil not by destroying evildoers but by taking their evil upon himself. God's love is suffering love.
To live in accordance with the law of love seems to require that we accept the reality of an existence beyond this life. If the reality of this other existence is denied, then Jesus' statement that "whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" makes no sense.
Yet, we are not to despise this life. To be righteous, to a Christian, means to serve others, and we need to strive after intermediate and partial arrangements that help point the way toward ultimate resolutions and revelations. God provides ultimate meaning. Just as the human mind can provide meaning to a sequence of chronological events by comprehending them all in an instant, so God provides meaning by comprehending all events both prospectively and retrospectively.
This poor summary of what Niebuhr has to say on the largest subjects makes it sound as if this is a very otherworldly book. It is not. The book contains a great deal of keen observation of human behavior and current events at the outset of World War II, and Niebuhr later became extremely influential in the U.S. State Department. Niebuhr's observations on politics and social justice still speak to us with great immediacy.
This is one of the most insightful books I have ever read. The way the book
articulates the Human Nature of man, and why we think the way we do is second
to none. Also expressed in this book is man's finite mind set, and how we fool
ourselves into thinking we are at one point, when we really are not. This is a must
read for anyone who wants to elevate their mind set to another level.
Most recent customer reviews
it is a cheaper version.Read more