Zitate von Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr Foto
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Reinhold Niebuhr

Geburtstag: 21. Juni 1892
Todesdatum: 1. Juni 1971

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Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr war ein einflussreicher amerikanischer Theologe, Philosoph und Politikwissenschaftler.

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Zitate Reinhold Niebuhr

„Gott gebe mir die Gelassenheit, Dinge hinzunehmen, die ich nicht ändern kann, den Mut, Dinge zu ändern, die ich ändern kann, und die Weisheit, das eine vom anderen zu unterscheiden.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Gelassenheitsgebet in einer verbreiteten deutschsprachigen Version, oftmals fälschlich Friedrich Christoph Oetinger zugeschrieben, siehe Referat von Dr. Eberhard Zwink, Württembergische Landesbibliothek Stuttgart, 19. Februar 2007; abgerufen 15. April 2011

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„The redemption of mankind, by whatever means, was assured for the future. It was, in fact, assured by the future.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: The fact that the prevailing mood of modern culture was able to transmute the original pessimism of romanticism into an optimistic creed proves the power of this mood. Only occasionally the original pessimism erupts in full vigor, as in the thought of a Schopenhauer or Nietzsche. The subjugation of romantic pessimism, together with the transmutation of Marxist catastrophism establishes historical optimism far beyond the confines of modern rationalism. Though there are minor dissonances the whole chorus of modern culture learned to sing the new song of hope in remarkable harmony. The redemption of mankind, by whatever means, was assured for the future. It was, in fact, assured by the future.

„If the man of power were to take a message of absolute honesty and absolute love seriously he would lose his power, or would divest himself of it.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: In the simple and decadent individualism of the Oxford group movement there is no understanding of the fact that the man of power is always to a certain degree an anti-Christ. "All power," said Lord Acton with cynical realism, "corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely." If the man of power were to take a message of absolute honesty and absolute love seriously he would lose his power, or would divest himself of it. This is not to imply that the world can get along without power and that it is not preferable that men of conscience should wield it rather than scoundrels. But if men of power had not only conscience but also something of the gospel's insight into the intricacies of social sin in the world, they would know that they could never extricate themselves completely from the sinfulness of power, even while they were wielding it ostensibly for the common good. (Chapter 29: "Hitler and Buchman")

„The fact that the prevailing mood of modern culture was able to transmute the original pessimism of romanticism into an optimistic creed proves the power of this mood.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: The fact that the prevailing mood of modern culture was able to transmute the original pessimism of romanticism into an optimistic creed proves the power of this mood. Only occasionally the original pessimism erupts in full vigor, as in the thought of a Schopenhauer or Nietzsche. The subjugation of romantic pessimism, together with the transmutation of Marxist catastrophism establishes historical optimism far beyond the confines of modern rationalism. Though there are minor dissonances the whole chorus of modern culture learned to sing the new song of hope in remarkable harmony. The redemption of mankind, by whatever means, was assured for the future. It was, in fact, assured by the future.

„I wouldn't judge a man by the presuppositions of his life, but only by the fruits of his life.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: My personal attitude toward atheists is the same attitude that I have toward Christians, and would be governed by a very orthodox text: "By their fruits shall ye know them." I wouldn't judge a man by the presuppositions of his life, but only by the fruits of his life. And the fruits — the relevant fruits — are, I'd say, a sense of charity, a sense of proportion, a sense of justice. And whether the man is an atheist or a Christian, I would judge him by his fruits, and I have therefore many agnostic friends.

„As individuals, men believe they ought to love and serve each other and establish justice between each other. As racial, economic and national groups they take for themselves, whatever their power can command.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with the all the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience. They therefore invent romantic and moral interpretations of the real facts, preferring to obscure rather than reveal the true character of their collective behavior. Sometimes they are as anxious to offer moral justifications for the brutalities from which they suffer as for those which they commit. The fact that the hypocrisy of man's group behavior... expresses itself not only in terms of self-justification but in terms of moral justification of human behavior in general, symbolizes one of the tragedies of the human spirit: its inability to conform its collective life to its individual ideals. As individuals, men believe they ought to love and serve each other and establish justice between each other. As racial, economic and national groups they take for themselves, whatever their power can command. pp. 8-9

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„Every society will have to maintain methods of arbitrating conflicting needs to the end of history; and in that process those who are shrewder will gain some advantage over the simple, even if they should lack special instruments of power.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: The hope that the internal enemies will all be destroyed and that the new society will create only men who will be in perfect accord with the collective will of society, and will not seek personal advantage in the social process, is romantic in its interpretation of the possibilities of human nature and in its mystical glorification of the anticipated automatic mutuality in the communist society.... In all these prophecies pure sentimentality obscures the fact that there can never be a perfect mutuality of interest between individuals who perform different functions in society... Man will always be imaginative enough to enlarge his needs beyond minimum requirements and selfish enough to feel the pressure of his needs more than the needs of others. Every society will have to maintain methods of arbitrating conflicting needs to the end of history; and in that process those who are shrewder will gain some advantage over the simple, even if they should lack special instruments of power. pp. 194-196

„Sometimes they are as anxious to offer moral justifications for the brutalities from which they suffer as for those which they commit.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with the all the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience. They therefore invent romantic and moral interpretations of the real facts, preferring to obscure rather than reveal the true character of their collective behavior. Sometimes they are as anxious to offer moral justifications for the brutalities from which they suffer as for those which they commit. The fact that the hypocrisy of man's group behavior... expresses itself not only in terms of self-justification but in terms of moral justification of human behavior in general, symbolizes one of the tragedies of the human spirit: its inability to conform its collective life to its individual ideals. As individuals, men believe they ought to love and serve each other and establish justice between each other. As racial, economic and national groups they take for themselves, whatever their power can command. pp. 8-9

„Human existence is obviously distinguished from animal life by its qualified participation in creation. Within limits it breaks the forms of nature and creates new configurations of vitality.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: Human existence is obviously distinguished from animal life by its qualified participation in creation. Within limits it breaks the forms of nature and creates new configurations of vitality. Its transcendence over natural process offers it the opportunity of interfering with the established forms and unities of vitality as nature knows them.

„Freedom is necessary for two reasons. It's necessary for the individual, because the individual, no matter how good the society is, every individual has hopes, fears, ambitions, creative urges, that transcend the purposes of his society.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: Freedom is necessary for two reasons. It's necessary for the individual, because the individual, no matter how good the society is, every individual has hopes, fears, ambitions, creative urges, that transcend the purposes of his society. Therefore we have a long history of freedom, where people try to extricate themselves from tyranny for the sake of art, for the sake of science, for the sake of religion, for the sake of the conscience of the individual — this freedom is necessary for the individual.

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„The nuclear age has refuted the idea of progress and Marxism has been refuted by Stalinism. Therefore people have returned to the historic religion.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: The people that weren't traditionally religious, conventionally religious, had a religion of their own in my youth. These were liberals who believed in the idea of progress or they were Marxists. Both of these secular religions have broken down. The nuclear age has refuted the idea of progress and Marxism has been refuted by Stalinism. Therefore people have returned to the historic religion. But now when the historic religions give trivial answers to these very tragic questions of our day, when an evangelist says, for instance, we mustn't hope for a summit meeting, we must hope in Christ without spelling out what this could mean in our particular nuclear age. This is the irrelevant answer, when another Evangelist says if America doesn't stop being selfish, it will be doomed. This is also a childish answer because nations are selfish and the question about America isn't whether we will be selfish or unselfish, but will we be sufficiently imaginative to pass the Reciprocal Trade Acts.

„Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness. p. 63

„It is significant that it is as difficult to get charity out of piety as to get reasonableness out of .“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: It is significant that it is as difficult to get charity out of piety as to get reasonableness out of. On the conceits of pious theists and rationalistic atheists.

„The separation of church and state is necessary partly because if religion is good then the state shouldn't interfere with the religious vision or with the religious prophet.“

—  Reinhold Niebuhr
Context: The separation of church and state is necessary partly because if religion is good then the state shouldn't interfere with the religious vision or with the religious prophet. There must be a realm of truth beyond political competence, that's why there must be a separation of churches, but if religion is bad and a bad religion is one that gives an ultimate sanctity to some particular cause. Then religion mustn't interfere with the state — so one of the basic Democratic principles as we know it in America is the separation of church and state. … A church has the right to set its own standards within its community. I don't think it has a right to prohibit birth control or to enforce upon a secular society its conception of divorce and the indissolubility of the marriage tie.

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