Item description for The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses by Reinhold Niebuhr & Robert McAfee Brown...
Overview The best of the renowned theologian's essays, illuminating his primary concerns and approaches--from the life of faith to theological ethics--are selected and introduced by Niebuhr's student and friend.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses by Reinhold Niebuhr & Robert McAfee Brown has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Publishers Weekly - 08/07/1987
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Studio: Yale University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25" Weight: 1 lbs.
Release Date Sep 10, 1987
Publisher Yale University Press
ISBN 0300040016 ISBN13 9780300040012
Availability 0 units.
More About Reinhold Niebuhr & Robert McAfee Brown
ELISABETH SIFTON, an editor and book publisher for forty years, is the author of The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War. She lives in New York City and in Princeton, New Jersey.
Reinhold Niebuhr was born in 1892 and died in 1971.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses?
An important collection Oct 9, 2005
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). Thus, Niebuhr called upon the Christian community to be engaged in the world. One wants to be careful to not read into Niebuhr that he is going to automatically be a proponent of any kind of social or military action - Niebuhr resisted the isolationism of the American Christian community prior to the second world war, but might not be a particular advocate of Cold War and post-Cold War military engagements such as we have now. After all, in the same essay in which Niebuhr argues against a general pacifist view, he also states, 'A simple Christian moralism is senseless and confusing. It is senseless when, as in the World War, is seeks uncritically to identify the cuase of Christ with the cause of democracy without a religious reservation.'
Niebuhr's work is very good at identifying the tensions in which Christians must live - the tension between following prophetic calls and being good stewards, between love and judgement, between righteousness and mercy. He identifies dangers in the prevalence of the secular culture, including its influence in the church itself. The paradox of the search for meaning and the ubiquitous nature of mystery is one that guides an early essay in this collection, also paradoxically named, 'Pessimistic Optimism'.
Niebuhr also looks at the Jewish-Christian relationship over time, and draws conclusions helpful for the bettering of relations for the future. He is distrustful of supersessionist views by Christians toward the Jewish people and culture.
This is an important collection of Niebuhr's thought
Essential indeed Nov 8, 2001
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. It ought to be read urgently by anyone who imagines that the sentimentality of today's anti-war movement, when the western democracies are fighting an enemy as destructive and nihilistic as any seen in the last century, is an expression of the Law of Love.