Overview Of Christianity And Crisis By Reinhold Niebuhr
In the initial issue of Christianity and Crisis, Reinhold Niebuhr dedicates the fledgling journal to the clarification and defense of a Christian thought process that recognizes the lesser evil of war compared with unrestricted tyranny. He separates this from the more common ideal of stoic principled pacifism- which, if accounted for in all societies, would end, or at least minimize, all human violence. Niebuhr refers to this utopia-seeking group as “perfectionists.” Despite finding common ground with the perfectionists on a number of issues and principles, Niebuhr ultimately rejects the ideology of morally pure pacifism.
Niebuhr concedes that several claims by the pacifist group remain inerrant. He states …show more content…
Niebuhr feels that the problem of human evil is more treacherous than modern Christianity yields, and as such requires justice in the form of this atoning sacrifice. Christians fall short when seeking to emulate this justice. The duty of a Christian to admit comparable guilt with his enemy, and to respond by showing Christ-like mercy, interferes with the ethical responsibility to seek justice for oneself and for one’s dependents. The righteousness that is required to carry out sinless and impartial justice is unattainable by the sinful individual.
Ethical Issues: The balance between reliance on divine mercy and the unrealistic aim for perfect Christian love is, as Niebuhr highlights, rather precarious. Leaning too heavily on God’s perfect love and mercy allows man to normalize and accept his own sinfulness. Yet reaching to embody the perfection of Christ necessitates an abundance of self-deception and eventually self-righteousness. Somewhere between these extremes of Christian understanding lies an intermediate ideology that allows for justice to be realized. Niebuhr lists three criteria of justice. Justice:
a) “ contains elements of injustice that stand in contradiction to the law of love”
b) “contains higher possibilities of justice that must be realized in terms of institutions and