Fortress Press

Reinhold Niebuhr: Theologian of Public Life

Reinhold Niebuhr

Theologian of Public Life

Larry L. Rasmussen (Author)


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Reinhold Niebuhr, the most significant North American theologian since the eighteenth century, has decisively influenced the shape of Christian thought and action in the United States for much of the twentieth century. Niebuhr addressed social and political issues from the perspective of "Christian Realism." This was his blend of liberalism, shrewd social analysis, and elements within the Augustinian tradition. His legacy continues to be influenced through his writings and the work of many of his distinguished students. Larry Rasmussen's introductory essay and notes on the selected texts set Niebuhr in his historical context, chart the development of his thought and indicate the significance of his theology in the development of Christian theology as a whole. Substantial selections from Niebuhr's work illustrate key themes:

  • The disorders of a technical civilization
  • Morality and power
  • Preachers and prophets
  • Augustine and Christian realism
  • Grace and sin
  • Justice and love
  • Nature and destiny
  • Theological ideas, political and social ministry
  • Coherence, incoherence and Christian faith
  • The king's chapel and king's court
  • The theological virtues
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • ISBN 9780800634070
  • Format Paperback
  • Dimensions 8.5 x 5.5
  • Pages 312
  • Publication Date September 19, 1991

Table of Contents

Editor's Note


1. A Public Theologian
2. A biographical Sketch
3. A Few Facets of Niebuhr's Thought


1 The Disorders of a Technical Civilization

2 Morality and Power

Moral Man and Immoral Society: Introduction
Social Sin Compounded
The Preservation of Moral Values in Politics
The Conflict between Individual and Social Morality

3 Preachers and Prophets
The Tower of Babel
Christianity and Tragedy
Transvaluation of Values
The Thinks That Are and the Things That Are Not
The Fulfillment of Life

4 Augustine and Christian Realism
Augustine's Political Realism: Introduction
The Relevance of Christian Realism
Idealism, Realism and Christian Responsibility
The Insufficiency of Politics

5 Grace and Sin
The Occasion and Forms of Sin
Wisdom, Grace and Power
Grace and Possibilities

6 Justice and Love
The Struggle for Justice
Love, Law, and Relativity

7 Nature and Destiny
Fulfillments in History and the Fulfillment of History
The Church and the End of History

8 Theological Ideas, Political, and social Theory

9 Coherence, Incoherence, and Christian Faith

10 The King's Chapel and the King's Court

11 Faith for a Hazardous Future

12 Epilogue: On the Theological Virtues


Notes to the Introduction
Subject Index
Index of Names
Index of Organizations and Publications