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The literature on the life and legacy of the American Protestant thinker Reinhold Niebuhr has long been driven by questions about Niebuhr's continued relevance. Like other contributions to the recent “Niebuhr revival,” each of the three books under consideration here raises this question—John Patrick Diggins's Why Niebuhr Now? (2011) by offering a series of “sympathetic reflections” on Niebuhr's central claim that human beings are both creatures and creators of history (ix); Daniel F. Rice's edited volume Reinhold Niebuhr Revisited (2009) by inviting a cadre of top Niebuhr scholars to make the case for Niebuhr's relevance to a new generation; and Rice's own Reinhold Niebuhr and His Circle of Influence (2013) by contending that close attention to Niebuhr's formative relationships sheds light on his ongoing relevance.

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1 Other recent writings on Niebuhr have come from the pens of Carnahan Kevin, Cone James H., Cooper Terry D., Crouter Richard, Mark Thomas Edwards, Finstuen Andrew S., Halliwell Martin, Harries Richard, Hollinger David A., Holder R. Ward and Josephson Peter B., Lemert Charles C., Lovin Robin W., Stone Ronald H., Tjalve Vibeke Schou, and the contributors to Harries Richard and Platten Stephen, eds., Reinhold Niebuhr and Contemporary Politics: God and Power (New York, 2010), among others.

2 Gaston K. Healan, “The Cold War Romance of Religious Authenticity: Will Herberg, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Rise of the New Right,” Journal of American History, 99/4 (March 2013), 1109–32; Gaston, “‘A Bad Kind of Magic’: The Niebuhr Brothers on ‘Utilitarian Christianity’ and the Defense of Democracy,” Harvard Theological Review, 107/1 (forthcoming, Jan. 2014), 130.

3 Douglas Mark, Henson-Hasty Elizabeth, et al., “Fifty Years of Reflection on Valerie Saiving,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 28/1 (Spring 2012), 75131; Miles Rebekah, “Uncredited: Was Ursula Niebuhr Reinhold's Coauthor?Christian Century, 129/2 (25 Jan. 2012), 30–33.

4 Niebuhr Ursula M., ed., Remembering Reinhold Niebuhr: Letters of Reinhold & Ursula M. Niebuhr (San Francisco, 1991), 306.

5 Sifton Elizabeth, The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War (New York, 2003), 316.

6 Rice, Reinhold Niebuhr Revisited, 21–2.

7 Stephens Randall, “Beyond the Niebuhrs: A Conversation with Robert Orsi on Recent Trends in American Religious History,” Historically Speaking, 7/6 (July/Aug. 2006), 811.

8 Finstuen Andrew S., Original Sin and Everyday Protestants: The Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr, Billy Graham, and Paul Tillich in an Age of Anxiety (Chapel Hill, 2007); and Edwards Mark Thomas, The Right of the Protestant Left: God's Totalitarianism (New York, 2012), 67.

9 Hollinger David A., After Cloven Tongues of Fire: Protestant Liberalism in Modern American History (Princeton, 2013), 211, 218.

10 Ibid., 211.

11 Cornel West, “Foreword,” in Niebuhr Reinhold, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics (Louisville, KY, 2013), xi.

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Modern Intellectual History
  • ISSN: 1479-2443
  • EISSN: 1479-2451
  • URL: /core/journals/modern-intellectual-history
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