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FAITH AND HISTORY by Reinhold Niebuhr Kirkus Star



Pub Date: April 18th, 1949
ISBN: 1178617467
Publisher: Scribner

Such is the stature attained by Reinhold Niebuhr as a theologian and prophetic interpreter of the current scene that the appearance of a major work of his pen must be regarded as a significant event in the religious world. The present volume has a comprehensive sweep comparable to the works of Toynbee. Indeed, the book gives evidence of having been prompted, at least in part, by Toynbee's interpretation of history with which Niebuhr is at many points in sharp disagreement. The book also gives the historical as well as philosophical background of the realistic theology of which Niebuhr is the chief exponent in this country. Niebuhr is at pains in this volume to distinguish between the classical, the Biblical (or Christian) and the modern interpretation of history. He is particularly concerned to point out the fundamental errors of the point of view current in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century, which sees history as the record of inevitable progress onward and upward which progress has within itself the power to redeem mankind from all of the evils which beset mankind. He repudiates entirely the idea of evolutionary perfectionism and asserts that we must return to the Christian belief in the innate evil of man from which he can be redeemed only by the power of God. He repudiates not only the "soft utopianism" of those who believe that goodness will inevitably conquer and the "hard utopianism" of Marxism which identifies the ultimate goal in terms of a definite economic order. This is a book which will command wide attention from the clergy, theologians and philosophers and other serious minded Protestant Christians.