Niebuhr, Helmut Richard

Niebuhr, Helmut Richard,

1894–1962, American theologian, b. Wright City, Mo., grad. Elmhurst College (Ill.), 1912, and Eden Theological Seminary, 1915, M.A. Washington Univ., 1917, B.D. Yale Divinity School, 1923, Ph.D. Yale, 1924. He was the younger brother of Reinhold NiebuhrNiebuhr, Reinhold
, 1892–1971, American religious and social thinker, b. Wright City, Mo. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, he served (1915–28) as pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church in Detroit, where he became deeply interested in social problems.
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. He was ordained (1916) a minister in the Evangelical and Reformed Church and for a short time was a pastor in St. Louis. Niebuhr then taught (1919–22 and 1927–31) at Eden Theological Seminary and served (1924–27) as president of Elmhurst College. In 1931 he joined the faculty of Yale Divinity School and in 1954 was named Sterling professor of theology and Christian ethics at Yale Univ. Niebuhr was early influenced by the work of KierkegaardKierkegaard, Søren Aabye
, 1813–55, Danish philosopher and religious thinker. Kierkegaard's outwardly uneventful life in Copenhagen contrasted with his intensive inner examination of self and society, which resulted in various profound writings; their dominant theme is
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 and BarthBarth, Karl
, 1886–1968, Swiss Protestant theologian, one of the leading thinkers of 20th-century Protestantism. He helped to found the Confessing Church and his thinking formed the theological framework for the Barmen Declaration.
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; later, however, he turned his attention to the personal nature of human relationship to God and advocated a reworking of Christianity in the light of the 20th cent. Among his works are Social Sources of Denominationalism (1929), The Kingdom of God in America (1937), The Meaning of Revelation (1941), Christ and Culture (1951), The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (1956), and Radical Monotheism and Western Culture (1960).


See biography by J. Diefenthaler (1986); studies by J. D. Godsey (1970), L. Hoedermaker (1971), and J. W. Fowler (1974).

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