Living Options in Protestant Theology: A Survey of Methods

By John B. Cobb | Go to book overview

11: H. Richard and Reinhold Niebuhr

THE TWO MEN WHO DID MOST TO INTRODUCE NEO-REFORMATION AND Existentialist themes into the American scene are the Niebuhr brothers, H. Richard and Reinhold. One major contribution to this end lay in bringing Paul Tillich to this country.1 Other contributions lay in mediating ideas that had been developed in Europe in the twenties in such a way that they became relevant to the American situation of the thirties. But neither man is to be understood primarily as a mediator of the ideas of others. Each has developed his own quite distinctive point of view deserving of independent attention.

One of the difficulties of treating the Niebuhrs in this book is that neither claims to be a systematic theologian. Both have given their professional lives to the field of Christian social ethics.2 The larger part of the publications of both men face away from the more technical questions of theological method toward the application of Christian insights to social issues.

Nevertheless, both men have made suggestions with respect to the basic questions that have guided our presentation of other theologians, and these suggestions have been widely influential in America. Furthermore, they are systematically distinctive and intrinsically of great interest. Hence, abstracting even more drastically than elsewhere in this book from the larger corpus of the writings of each, this chapter presents systematically

____________________
1
Reinhold Niebuhr invited Tillich to Union in 1933. ( Charles W. Kegley and Rob ert W. Bretall , eds., "The Theology of Paul Tillich", p. 16.) H. Richard Niebuhr published a translation of Tillich's The Religious Situation in 1932.
2
Cf. Charles W. Kegley and Robert W. Bretall eds., Reinhold Niebuhr, His Religious, Social, and Political Thought, p. xii. Among others treated in this book, Bultmann is the only one whose central professional interest is not systematic theology or philosophy of religion.

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Living Options in Protestant Theology: A Survey of Methods
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface 7
  • 1: the Historic Role of Natural Theology 17
  • 2: the Thomism of E. L. Mascall 33
  • 3: Boston Personalism 60
  • 4: Henry Nelson Wieman 91
  • 5: the Nineteenth-Century Background 121
  • 6: Emil Brunner 143
  • 7: Karl Barth 171
  • 8: What is Existentialism? 199
  • 9: Rudolf Bultmann 227
  • 10: Paul Tillich 259
  • 11: H. Richard and Reinhold Niebuhr 284
  • Personal Conclusions 312
  • Bibliography 324
  • Index 332
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