The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation : Human Nature

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Westminster John Knox Press, Jan 1, 1996 - Religion - 680 pages

The Nature and Destiny of Man issues a vigorous challenge to Western civilization to understand its roots in the faith of the Bible, particularly the Hebraic tradition. The growth, corruption, and purification of the important Western emphases on individuality are insightfully chronicled here. This book is arguably Reinhold Niebuhr's most important work. It offers a sustained articulation of Niebuhr's theological ethics and is considered a landmark in twentieth-century thought.

The Library of Theological Ethics series focuses on what it means to think theologically and ethically. It presents a selection of important and otherwise unavailable texts in easily accessible form. Volumes in this series will enable sustained dialogue with predecessors though reflection on classic works in the field.

 

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THE NATURE AND DESTINY OF MAN: A Christian Interpretation (2 Volume Set)

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Dr. Niebuhr's mentality, the Gifford Lectureship's importance, and the nature and destiny of man's scope put this volume beyond this critic. Volume II is to be published this year, and the set will ... Read full review

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Contents

MAN AS A PROBLEM TO HIMSELF
1
The Classical View of Man
4
The Christian View of Man
12
The Modern View of Man
18
THE PROBLEM OF VITALITY AND FORM IN HUMAN NATURE
26
The Rationalistic View of Human Nature
30
The Romantic Protest Against Rationalism
33
The Errors of Romanticism
39
Biblical Basis of the Doctrines
151
The Doctrine of Man as Creature
167
MAN AS SINNER
178
Temptation and Sin
179
The Sin of Pride
186
The Relation of Dishonesty to Pride
203
MAN AS SINNER CONTINUED
208
The Equality of Sin and the Inequality of Guilt
219

INDIVIDUALITY IN MODERN CULTURE
54
The Christian Sense of Individuality
57
The Idea of Individuality in the Renaissance
61
Bourgeois Civilization and Individuality
65
The Destruction of Individuality in Naturalism
68
The Loss of the Self in Idealism
74
The Lost of the Self in Romanticism
81
THE EASY CONSCIENCE OF MODERN MAN
93
The Effort to Derive Evil from Specific Historical Sources
96
Nature as a Source of Virtue
104
The Optimism of Idealism
112
THE RELEVANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF MAN
123
Individual and General Revelation
125
Creation as Revelation
131
Historical and Special Revelation
136
MAN AS IMAGE OF GOD AND AS CREATURE
150
Sin as Sensuality
228
ORIGINAL SIN AND MANS RESPONSIBILITY
241
Pelagian Doctrines
245
Augustinian Doctrines
248
Temptation and Inevitability of Sin
251
Responsibility Despite Inevitability
255
Literalistic Errors
260
JUSTITIA ORIGINALIS
265
Essential Nature and Original Righteousness
269
The Locus of Original Righteousness
276
The Content of Justitia Originalis as Law
280
The Transcendent Character of Justia Originalis
296
Index of Scriptural Passages
301
Index of Subjects
303
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About the author (1996)

Walter Lippmann once called Reinhold Niebuhr the greatest mind America had produced since Jonathan Edwards. It was fitting, then, that Niebuhr died at home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, in the town where Edwards had preached. He was born in Wright City, Missouri, and his father was a German immigrant who served those German-speaking churches that preserved both the Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) traditions and piety. After seminary in St. Louis, he studied for two years at Yale University, and the M.A. he received there was the highest degree he earned. Rather than work for a doctorate, he became a pastor in Detroit, where in his 13 years of service a tiny congregation grew to one of 800 members. Part of his diary from those years was published in 1929 as Leaves from the Notebook of a Tamed Cynic. During that time he began to attract attention through articles on social issues; as he said, he "cut [his] eyeteeth fighting [Henry] Ford." But the socialism to which he was attracted soon seemed naive to him: human problems could not be solved just by appealing to the good in people or by promulgating programs for change. Power, economic clout, was needed to change the systems set up by sinful groups, a position expressed in his 1932 book, Moral Man and Immoral Society. By this time Niebuhr was teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he spent the rest of his career. Niebuhr's theology always took second place to ethics. He ran for office as a socialist, rescued Paul Tillich from Germany, became a strong supporter of Israel, gave up pacifism, and was often too orthodox for the liberals, too liberal for the orthodox. His The Nature and Destiny of Man is one of the few seminal theological books written by an American. In it he reiterates a theme that led some to place him in the Barthian camp of Neo-orthodoxy: the radical sinfulness of the human creature. The human condition as illumined by the Christian tradition was always the arena in which he worked.

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