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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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“In the Battle and Above It”: Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man and World War II

“In the Battle and Above It”: Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man and World War II

Chapter:
(p.53) 2 “In the Battle and Above It”: Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man and World War II
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/9780199678372.003.0003

This chapter explores the role that Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man played in the continued development of his theological outlook and reviews his mixed success in remaining in and above the battle during World War II. Published mere months prior to the Japanese surprise attack, the first volume, Human Nature, can be read as a theological justification for Niebuhr’s advocacy for the United States to enter the war, based on its insistence that humanity is required to make morally difficult distinctions in history. By the second year of American involvement in the war, however, Niebuhr focused primarily on remaining above the fray, or, on warning his country against its own self-righteousness and excessive demonization of the German population. To this end, the second volume, Human Destiny, makes a case for the common humanity of all combatants and the universal need for God’s grace.

Keywords:   reinhold niebuhr, the nature and destiny of man, christianity and crisis, world war II, john dewey, christian interpretation of history, sin, original sin, grace, anxiety

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