Niebuhr was born in Missouri in 1892. He was fathered by a German minister who owned the parish of St. John’s in Lincoln, Illinois. His father placed only menial importance on doctrinal precision or denominational identity, focusing more on the inspirational power of the Bible, Jesus, and prayer. Reinhold was inspired by his father’s liberal and pietistic ministry and eventually decided to become a minister. He studied from 1907 to 1910 at Elmhurst College (a evangelical college in Chicago); Niebuhr then moved to Eden Seminary in St. Louis to follow in the footsteps of his father. In 1913, the same year of his ordination at the German Evangelical Synod, his father died and he was left with serious money problems. He was able to attend Yale Divinity School with a scholarship, and Reinhold received a Bachelor’s of Divinity in 1914. Soon after, he received a Master of Arts from Yale University. Niebuhr’s ministry began in 1915 when he was appointed minister of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit. There he witness inhumane treatment of workers in the car manufacturing industry; these terrible scenes lead him to challenge capitalism. When he left Detroit, he wrote Leaves from the Notebook of A Tamed Cynic (1929). This book contains passionate sermons pleading for people to realize the plight of the capitalist system and be responsible. He became even more vocal for socialism in very soon after his book and he founded “Neo-Orthodox” theological thought. After he left Detroit, he began a new journey as a professor; he taught Applied Christianity at Union Theological Seminary from 1928 to 1960. During his time there, he was very involved in the social and political worlds of New York; these activities included founding and editing various religious journals and the starting of organizations. He also wrote Moral Man and Immoral Society during the period of the Great Depression; Reinhold insists on the necessity of politics in...
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