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On Niebuhr a Theological Study

by Langdon Gilkey

  • ISBN: 9780226293417
  • ISBN10: 0226293416

On Niebuhr a Theological Study

by Langdon Gilkey

  • List Price: $62.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 01/01/2001
  • ISBN: 9780226293417
  • ISBN10: 0226293416
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Description: For those living in the 1930s and 1940s who endured the devastation of the Depression, profound racial and social unrest, and the two World Wars ending in the Holocaust, the question of how to have hope and carry on the struggle for justice in a world seemingly filled with self-interest and evil became all-consuming. Many of these troubled souls turned for an answer to the realistic, yet also optimistic, political and ethical writings of Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971).

As the eminent theologian Langdon Gilkey demonstrates in this book, Niebuhr was able to provide such a persuasive answer because his social understanding was a theological understanding, one accomplished by viewing human beings in relation to God as well as in their political and economic relations. This "Biblical" understanding of human nature, while acknowledging the deep ambiguity and often moral hypocrisy of the real historical world, also revealed a divine hand guiding that history. To Niebuhr, it is God's participation in history that gives it meaning and a promise of fulfillment and presents believers the possibility of a social realism that maintains its moral nerve rather than succumbing to cynicism or despair.

On Niebuhr provides the first systematic treatment of Niebuhr's mature theology in relation to his political theory and the crises of the 1930s and 1940s by a scholar who both understands the theology deeply and knew Niebuhr personally. The book begins with a look at Niebuhr's early political writings, then moves to Niebuhr's later understanding of human nature and history. On Niebuhr also presents a moving account of the role that Niebuhr's thought played in Gilkey's own experience as a prisoner of warand in his subsequent life's work. The result is an indispensable book for the many students and admirers of both these religious thinkers.

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