We explore the ideas and present-day relevance of 20th century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, an influential, boundary-crossing voice in American public life. Niebuhr created the term "Christian realism:" a middle path between religious idealism and arrogance. Exploring his wide appeal, three distinctive voices describe Niebuhr's legacy and ask what insights he brings to the political and religious dynamics of the early 21st century.
For the production of this program, Krista spoke with five people who are intimately acquainted with Reinhold Niebuhr's thought and work about how his ideas resonate in their life and work, including his daughter, Elisabeth Sifton, and Max Stackhouse. Here, you can access all the audio and transcripts.
Listen to archival audio of Niebuhr speaking and preaching on topics ranging from race relations to communism and human hope.
This is an edited transcript of one of a series of thirteen Mike Wallace Interviews, produced by the American Broadcasting Company in association with the Fund for the Republic for the purpose of stimulating public discussion of the basic issues of survival and freedom in America during the 1950s and 1960s.
by Ursula M. Niebuhr, delivered at the College of St. Benedict (May 16, 1983)
Niebuhr has been quoted and cited as an influence on this show more often than any other figure, on a wide range of topics, and by thinkers and activists on the right and left. And, whether on the right or the left, invoking Niebuhr invariably adds complexity, even struggle, to religious and political positions.
Developed for educators, college students, and advanced discussion groups, this study guide focuses on six selected topics of Niebuhr's life and thought pertinent to contemporary issues Americans face today.
About the Image
On New Year's Day 1951, Reinhold Niebuhr (center) sits with two theological heavyweights at Union Theological Seminary in New York: Paul Tillich (left) and and Henry P. Van Dusen, president of the seminary.
Voices on the Radio
Elie is senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage.
Elshtain is an author and Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Host/Producer: Krista Tippett
Executive Producer: Bill Buzenberg
Program Coordinator: Jody Abramson
Senior Producer: Kate Moos
Technical Producer: Mitch Hanley
Associate Producer: Colleen Scheck
Web Producer: Trent Gilliss