Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

“Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful 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.”

“Goodness, armed with power, is corrupted; and pure love without power is destroyed”

“God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that can be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other”

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.”

“Family life is too intimate to be preserved by the spirit of justice. It can be sustained by a spirit of love which goes beyond justice.”

“There are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization, however imperfect, against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war.”

“The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan value and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism.”

“The Christian doctrine of sin in its classical form offends both rationalists and moralists by maintaining the seemingly absurd position that man sins inevitably and by a fateful necessity but that he is nevertheless to be held responsible for actions which are prompted by an ineluctable [inescapable] fate.”

“Evil is not to be traced back to the individual but to the collective behavior of humanity.”

“Original sin is that thing about man which makes him capable of conceiving of his own perfection and incapable of achieving it.”

“All human sin seems so much worse in its consequences than in its intentions”

“The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world.”

“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 that is worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.”

“Democracy is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.”

“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

“Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.”

“Our age knows nothing but reaction, and leaps from one extreme to another.”

“The final test of religious faith is whether it will enable men to endure insecurity without complacency or despair, whether it can so interpret the ancient verities that they will not become mere escape hatches from responsibilities but instruments of insights into what civilization means.”

“The whole art of politics consists in directing rationally the irrationalities of men”

“I think there ought to be a club in which preachers and journalists could come together and have the sentimentalism of the one matched with the cynicism of the other. That ought to bring them pretty close to the truth.”

“Life is a battle between faith and reason in which each feeds upon the other, drawing sustenance from it and destroying it.”

“There is no cure for the pride of a virtuous nation but pure religion.”

“A wise architect observed that you could break the laws of architectural art provided you had mastered them first. That would apply to religion as well as to art. Ignorance of the past does not guarantee freedom from its imperfections.”

“Democracies are indeed slow to make war, but once embarked upon a martial venture are equally slow to make peace and reluctant to make a tolerable, rather than a vindictive, peace.”

“If we can find God only as he is revealed in nature we have no moral God.”

“The final wisdom of life requires not the annulment of incongruity but the achievement of serenity within and above it.”

“There are evidently limits to the achievements of science; and there are irresolvable contradictions both between prosperity and virtue, and between happiness and “the good life,” which had not been anticipated in our philosophy.”

“The mastery of nature is vainly believed to be an adequate substitute for self mastery.”

“If we survive danger it steels our courage more than anything else.”

 

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