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The Theological Vision of Reinhold Niebuhr's The Irony of American History“In the Battle and Above It”$
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Scott R. Erwin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199678372

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678372.001.0001

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From Tragedy to Beyond Tragedy: The Development of Niebuhr’s Christian Understanding of History

From Tragedy to Beyond Tragedy: The Development of Niebuhr’s Christian Understanding of History

Chapter:
(p.24) 1 From Tragedy to Beyond Tragedy: The Development of Niebuhr’s Christian Understanding of History
Source:
The Theological Vision of Reinhold Niebuhr's The Irony of American History
Author(s):

Scott R. Erwin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678372.003.0002

This chapter traces Niebuhr’s theological development during the 1930s and the direct influence it had on the formation of his “in the battle and above it” disposition that emerged at the end of the decade. Specifically, this chapter focuses on Niebuhr’s maturing views of human nature, God’s role in history, and the interplay between the two. In this decade, Niebuhr begins to engage seriously in theological study, which leads him to focus on the fallen human condition and to accept a more active role for God in the historical realm. Critical to this transformation are Niebuhr’s personal relationships with his brother, Richard, and German theologian Paul Tillich, as well as historical developments such as the economic depression in the United States and the rise of fascism in Germany.

Keywords:   reinhold niebuhr, human nature, christian interpretation of history, great depression, myth, moral man and immoral society, beyond tragedy, sin, original sin, richard niebuhr, paul tillich

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