America’s Greatest Theologian, His Impact and Relevance for Today—Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
If he was alive today, we would be hearing much from Reinhold Niebuhr. He did not hold back his thoughts on religion and politics. The author of the “Serenity Prayer”, a piece he scribbled out for worship at Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit, where he served from 1915-1928, was not always as ‘serene’ as this pastoral prayer indicates.
Reinhold Niebuhr became the most influential American theologian of the twentieth century by vigorously addressing every social and political crisis of his time. He began his career as a pro-war interventionist during World War I, converted to Social Gospel pacifism in the early 1920s, embraced Norman Thomas Socialism in the late 1920s, dropped pacifism for Marxist reasons in the early 1930s, implored Americans to fight fascism in 1940, dropped Socialism in the mid-1940s, joined the Democratic Party establishment in the late-1940s, mythologized the Cold War in the late 1940s and early 1950s, reconsidered the Cold War in the late 1950s, and stunned many Niebuhrians, in the mid-1960s, by opposing the Vietnam War.
Niebuhr is particularly relevant today. His work embraces a perennial quandary: How should one hold together the things of Jesus and the things of Machiavelli? More broadly, how can any morally responsible citizen or political leader hold fast to moral principles while safeguarding the interests of the nation?
Join us for a brief video viewing (from a film by Martin Doblmeier), presentation and conversation… “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” ~The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness
About Our Adult Seminar
Our Adult Sunday School takes place on Sunday mornings during the 10 AM -11 AM Christian Education hour in the Westcott Room from September through May. Come at 9:45 AM for coffee and a chance to catch up with friends or make new acquaintances. Then at 10 AM we settle in for discussions on a range of Biblical, religious, and contemporary topics over the course of the year. It’s a format that draws on the gifts not only of lay leaders but of listeners who contribute to the discussion. We all are learners.