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Niebuhr, Reinhold

b. 1892 - d. 1971

Reinhold Niebuhr served as professor of practical theology at Union Theological Seminary from 1928 to 1960. He appeared on the March 1948 cover of Time magazine, wrote influential bestselling books, made regular television appearances, met with leading policymakers and influenced an entire generation of politicians and scholars through his Christian realism. During the 1940s and 1950s, Niebuhr promoted realism in foreign affairs and supported U.S. efforts to confront the Soviet Union. Although not active in the Civil Rights Movement, Niebuhr’s strong social and ethical positions had a profound influence on Dr. King. The semi-regular correspondence between Niebuhr and King reveals both tremendous respect and disagreement.

Associated Archive Content : 46 results

A Historian Looks at Our Political Morality

Liberal historian Henry Steele Commager writes on the political morality of the United States. He asserts that the United States is not above the historical tendency to become corrupt, and the issue will become more important as the United States grows more powerful. He argues that the United States must reconcile the "principles of law and of morality."

America

Dr. King quotes a statement from American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr regarding the country's "historic situation in which the paradise of domestic security is suspended in a hell of global insecurity."

American Influence in Vietnam

Dr. John C. Bennett, President of the Union Theological Seminary, expresses his political beliefs concerning the presence of American military in Vietnam.

Article: "MLK Writes Co-Religionists from Jail"

The Witness Magazine published the first of Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." The second part will appear in the next issue on June 27, 1963. The article describes Dr. King's letter as "one of those rare 'to-read-twice' documents."

Brunner & Niebuhr

Dr. King relates Swiss theologian Emil Brunner to American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, in that they both argue that reason is for adjusting to the material world, and faith is for dealing with God.

Conception of Man

Dr. King documents a passage from Reinhold Niebuhr's work "The Nature and Destiny of Man." He would later cite this work in his essay "The Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr," written during his career at Boston University.

Critique of the Social Gospel

Dr. King used this outline while studying at Crozer Theological Seminary. The topics listed include: Social Contribution to Christianity, Contribution to Christian Social Philosophy, and the Sore Points of the Social Gospel.

Democracy

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr's "The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness" on the subject of democracy.

Freedom

Dr. King summarizes theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and his conceptualization of "Freedom."

Freudianism

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr on the subject of Freudianism from "The Nature and Destiny of Man."

God (Niebuhr Conception)

Dr. King outlines Reinhold Niebuhr's views on God as outlined in "The Nature and Destiny of Man."

History

Dr. King cites Reinhold Niebuhr's definition of history and its relation to God.

How Modern Christians Should Think of Man

In the early 1950's, Dr. King writes a paper elaborating on how modern Christians should think about man. He discusses the difficulty of transition by idealizing the perception of man in a mild neo-orthodox or liberal view. Dr. King battles with having an optimistic view of man and the reality of his experiences in the south. He asserts that man is neither good nor bad by nature by has the potential for either. The objectivity of man as a finite child of nature is further expounded upon. He explains that man is rational, free, and a responsible being.

How My Mind has Changed in the Last Decade

Dr. King writes notes on how his mind has changed in recent years. King states that while his main focus was on theology and philosophy, he also focused on social ethics. According to Dr. King, segregation is a tool that exploits the Negro and poor whites. He saw similarities with the liberation of India's people from Britain and asserts that his trip to India cultivated his ideologies on nonviolence.

How My Mind Has Changed In the Last Decade

Dr. King discusses how his thoughts about theological theory have changed over the years. It is the only page of the document in the collection.

Idealism

Dr. King cites several statements regarding idealism.

Injustice

Here, Dr. King records Reinhold Niebuhr's thoughts on injustice as it relates to pride.

Jesus Christ

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr's understanding of viewing Christ in relation to God's character.

Jesus Christ (Two Natures)

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr's notion of the "two natures of Christ." Reinhold Niebuhr was a scholastic mentor of Dr. King and was therefore cited in several of his theological works.

Law of Love

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr's "The Nature and Destiny of Man" on the place of the "law of love" in relation to human history.

Letter from Joan Daves to MLK

Joan Daves, Literary Agent to Dr. King, addresses the correspondence, to Dr. King. The letter includes photostats of reviews for Dr. King's last book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" The Chicago Tribune, New York Times Daily and Washington Star are just a couple of the newspapers that published reviews for the book.

Letter from John to MLK

John discusses some points on religious ethics with Dr. King and offers gratitude for a Labor Day dinner with the King family.

Man

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr’s “The Nature and Destiny of Man,” noting that modern culture has come to understand more of nature and less of man.

Man (Cause of Sin)

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr’s “The Nature and Destiny of Man.”

Man (His Need for God)

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr’s “The Nature and Destiny of Man.”

Man (Why He Is Sinful)

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr’s “The Nature and Destiny of Man.”

Man The Christian View

Dr. King outlines Reinhold Niebuhr’s three ways in which the Christian view of man differs from all others, citing “The Nature and Destiny of Man.”

Marxism

Dr. King quotes Reinhold Niebuhr’s “The Nature and Destiny of Man.”

Memo from the American Lutheran Church to Denver Area Pastors

David Brown of the American Lutheran Church sends an article and copy of a letter from a pastor responding to the article to Denver area pastors. The article, published in "Common Sense," depicts Dr. King as a "Marxist tool" and agitator.

MLK Speaks on Vietnam War

This 32-page booklet was published by Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam shortly after Dr. King’s April 4, 1967 Riverside Church address on the Vietnam War. It features a foreword by Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, Dr. King’s speech, and remarks by Henry Steele Commager, Dr. John C. Bennett, and Rabbi Abraham Heschel. In addition, it includes a New York Times interview with Dr. King, King’s response to NAACP criticism on his opposition to the war, and letters to the editor of the New York Times.

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