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by Reinhold Niebuhr

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1953
Publisher: Scribner

Any book which comes from the pen of Reinhold Niebuhr is important. For the dynamic professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, New York, is not only recognized as one of America's leading theologians, but is being blocked looked to increasingly by the laity to provide a clear and incisive intellectual base for the consideration of the confused issues of our day. Many of his admirers have been hoping that he would some day produce a book which would clearly show the implications of his philosophy. This volume of essays approaches it, particularly as far as political and international issues are concerned. Even so, those who will expect to find a pat formula for the Christian solution to our problems will be disappointed. For Niebuhr ors nostrums, whether they be the utopian dreams of liberals, the status quo of conservatives, the Marxist doctrine of the communists, or the proposal for a World Government. His "realism" consists in realizing that every issue is confused, that no human proposal or program is all black or all white and that it is only as we approach each problem in the humble acknowledgment of our own sinful pride and irradicable lust for power that we have any hope of making of ourselves channels for the redemptive grace of God. Not easy reading. Many of its passages will have to be reread many times, but it will be worth it. The titles of the essays give some indication of the profundity and practicality of Niebuhr's thinking: "The Presuppositions of Faith and the Empirical Method in the Achievment of Realism", "Augustine's Political Realism", "The Foreign Policy of American Conservatism and Liberalism", "Democracy, Secularism and Christianity", "Why is Communism So Evil?", "Coherence, Incoherence and Christian Faith", "Love and Law in Protestantism and Catholicism", "The Illusion of World Government", "The Christian Witness in the Social and National Order", "The Anomaly of European Socialism", "Ideology and the Scientific Method". A book to be featured.