Reinhold Niebuhr Timeline: Attends World Council of Churches commission in Amsterdam

Reinhold Niebuhr Timeline: Attends World Council of Churches commission in Amsterdam

Niebuhr Speaks at World Council of Churches Assembly

Click to enlarge image of Niebuhr talking with the Mayor of Darmstadt, Germany Prof. Ludwig Metzger (photo by Dmitri Kessel - Time Life Pictures / Getty Images)

LISTEN to Niebuhr's address

In the summer of 1948, Niebuhr delivers the main conference address in which he goes toe-to-toe with Swiss theologian Karl Barth, who says that the church's role is repentance and not social reconstruction. Niebuhr states, "It is true … repentance is always required even as evil always flourishes. But it is wrong to preach this Gospel sub specie aeternitatis as if there were no history with its time and seasons."

Audio used with permission of Union Theological Seminary and the estate of Reinhold Niebuhr

Voices on the Radio

Paul Elie

is senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux and author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage.

Jean Bethke Elshtain

is an author and Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Robin Lovin

is Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and the author of Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism.

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