Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr

Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (June 21, 1892 – June 1, 1971) was an American theologian, ethicist, commentator on politics and public affairs, and professor at Union Theological Seminary for more than 30 years. Niebuhr was one of America's leading public intellectuals for several decades of the 20th century and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. 

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Goodness armed with power is corrupted, and pure love without power is destroyed.

Evil is not to be traced back to the individual but to the collective behavior of humanity.

Democracy is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.

If we survive danger, it steels our courage more than anything else.

There is no cure for the pride of a virtuous nation but pure religion.

Forgiveness is the final form of love.

The mastery of nature is vainly believed to be an adequate substitute for self mastery.

Original sin is that thing about man which makes him capable of conceiving of his own perfection and incapable of achieving it.

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history, therefore we must be saved by faith.

I think there ought to be a club in which preachers and journalists could come together and have the sentimentalism of the one matched with the cynicism of the other. That ought to bring them pretty close to the truth.

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime, therefore we must be saved by hope.

The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world.

The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan value and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism.

Nothing we do however virtuous can be accomplished alone, therefore we are saved by love.

Democracies are indeed slow to make war but once embarked upon a martial venture are equally slow to make peace and reluctant to make a tolerable rather than a vindictive peace.

God give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

There are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization however imperfect against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war.

The final wisdom of life requires not the annulment of incongruity but the achievement of serenity within and above it.

Our age knows nothing but reaction and leaps from one extreme to another.

Family life is too intimate to be preserved by the spirit of justice. It can be sustained by a spirit of love which goes beyond justice.

Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

If we can find God only as he is revealed in nature we have no moral God.

All human sin seems so much worse in its consequences than in its intentions.

Life is a battle between faith and reason in which each feeds upon the other drawing sustenance from it and destroying it.