cover image The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses

The Essential Reinhold Niebuhr: Selected Essays and Addresses

Robert M. Brown, Editor, Reinhold Niebuhr, Author Yale University Press $27.5 (264p) ISBN 978-0-300-03464-6

Although not a representative selection of Niebuhr's religious, political and social thought, this anthology offers a useful introduction to his work. Brown, a former friend and student of the influential theologian, has concentrated on Niebuhr's theological essays; most of those collected here had gone out of print. Niebuhr the ""pessimistic optimist'' points out that liberal faith in secular progress must be tempered by awareness of the universal tendency to abuse of power. There is a rousing essay urging the church to take a more active role in combating social justice and inequality, as well as a stinging attack on Christian anti-Semitism. What unites all religions, in Niebuhr's view, is a realization that ``love is the law of life,'' and this underlying belief informs these wise and humanistic essays. He writes about the limitations of rational knowing, the assurance of grace and the shortcomings in Augustine's recipe for leavening the earthly realm with love from the City of God. (March 19)