Sin and Redemption in the Political Economy: Power, Love and Justice in Reinhold Niebuhr

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Abstract

The works of Reinhold Niebuhr contain invaluable examples of how Christian resources can be fruitfully exploited to address urgent economic and political issues. The ideas of sin and continuous redemption, which arguably belong to the core of the Christian religion, are creatively translated by Niebuhr, so that they can be included in public debates and interdisciplinary dialogues. In this article, his conception of sin as the perversion of the will-to-live into the will-to-power is endorsed. Its counterforce, it is argued, is human love infused with divine love. Love is therefore not a simple possibility, which can be applied to our economic and political problems. Instead, it is the impossible possibility, the ultimate and critical perspective from which prevailing forms of justice and philanthropy are judged. Through the public theology of Niebuhr, the ideal of love becomes a universally valid alternative to the rationalist and naturalist approaches to human morality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Public Theology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

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Redemption
Political Economy
Reinhold Niebuhr
Justice
Economics
Interdisciplinary Dialogue
Political Issues
Conception
Perversion
Divine Love
Resources
Christian Religion
Morality
Naturalists
Public Theology
Ideal
Philanthropy
Rationalist
Will to Power
Public Debate

Cite this

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title = "Sin and Redemption in the Political Economy: Power, Love and Justice in Reinhold Niebuhr",
abstract = "The works of Reinhold Niebuhr contain invaluable examples of how Christian resources can be fruitfully exploited to address urgent economic and political issues. The ideas of sin and continuous redemption, which arguably belong to the core of the Christian religion, are creatively translated by Niebuhr, so that they can be included in public debates and interdisciplinary dialogues. In this article, his conception of sin as the perversion of the will-to-live into the will-to-power is endorsed. Its counterforce, it is argued, is human love infused with divine love. Love is therefore not a simple possibility, which can be applied to our economic and political problems. Instead, it is the impossible possibility, the ultimate and critical perspective from which prevailing forms of justice and philanthropy are judged. Through the public theology of Niebuhr, the ideal of love becomes a universally valid alternative to the rationalist and naturalist approaches to human morality.",
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AB - The works of Reinhold Niebuhr contain invaluable examples of how Christian resources can be fruitfully exploited to address urgent economic and political issues. The ideas of sin and continuous redemption, which arguably belong to the core of the Christian religion, are creatively translated by Niebuhr, so that they can be included in public debates and interdisciplinary dialogues. In this article, his conception of sin as the perversion of the will-to-live into the will-to-power is endorsed. Its counterforce, it is argued, is human love infused with divine love. Love is therefore not a simple possibility, which can be applied to our economic and political problems. Instead, it is the impossible possibility, the ultimate and critical perspective from which prevailing forms of justice and philanthropy are judged. Through the public theology of Niebuhr, the ideal of love becomes a universally valid alternative to the rationalist and naturalist approaches to human morality.

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