Reinhold Niebuhr


          Reinhold Niebuhr embodied many facets of the Christian man.  He worked for social change to improve the lives of the others, following Matthew 25:35-40:                       

‘For “I was hungry, and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink?  ‘And when did we see You a stranger and invite You

in, or naked and clothe You? “And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to

you?  “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you

did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

Niebuhr’s Christianity was one that demanded action as well as faith.  He worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the down trodden, and in so doing improved his corner of the world.  He held tightly to Christ and his belief that man could accomplish tremendous feats, discounting cynics who stated otherwise.  Niebuhr stated:

“The cynic who discounts the moral potentialities of human natures seems always to verify

his critical appraisal of human nature for the reason that his very skepticism lowers moral potentialities of the individual and groups with which he deals.  On the other hand, faith that assumes generosity in the fellow man is also verified because it tends to create what it assumes[1].”


          Niebuhr was a strong, Christian man who was dedicated to his goal of advancing the Kingdom of God and society.  When he found another way might be better to achieve his ends, he tried it.  He was not so static that he could not be changed.   He had the courage to change, as Bingham entitled his biography, to evolved to be his personal best.  Reinhold Niebuhr died in 1971, but his legacy lives on through his writing and in rational Christians who try to save to world for God.


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Works Cited

Sara Manning created this web page.  It was last updated April 15, 2001.  Please email any questions to

[1]Niebuhr, Reinhold, Makers of the Modern Theological Mind, Patterson, Bob E., World Books Publisher: Waco, 1977, 138.