Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism, A Theology of Avarice


  • Noah Pardell



This paper takes a historical approach to describing theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s concept of Christian Realism, and its consequences for political thought in America. In the aftermath of World War I many people in America, especially Protestant clergy, became disillusioned with the idea of political intervention, focussing on domestic rather than international disputes. However, as National Socialism gained a foothold in Germany, culminating in the Second World War, the Protestant theology of Social Gospel Liberalism that gained popularity in the 1920’s would not suffice for explaining the conduct of the Nazi party, nor the political action that America should take towards it. Niebuhr’s Christian Realism, emphasizing the inevitability of sin in individuals and social institutions alike, provided a philosophy that emphasized action towards this political power, influencing American conduct and discourse as the war broke out across the Atlantic at the turn of the decade.




How to Cite

Pardell, N. (2018). Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism, A Theology of Avarice. Constellations, 9(1), 34–42.