What Does God Mean to Us?

Man cannot speak of “God” except from the perspective of a particular faith; there is no neutral knowledge of deity with which one’s faith can be compared… We must not absolutize anything relative, and this includes our religion and revelation. We should not try to defend our faith; we cannot prove its superiority to other faiths. And we can only say what revelation means for Christians, not what it ought to mean for all men. We cannot say that revelation has not also taken place in other communities. Accordingly, we cannot “prescribe what form religious life must take in all places at all times.”

The Meaning of Revelation
The Meaning of Revelation

H. Richard Niebuhr

 

 


H. Richard Niebuhr
H. Richard Niebuhr
1894-1962

H. Richard Niebuhr is considered one of the most important Christian theological ethicists in 20th century America. He wrote many books, and is most known for The Meaning of RevelationChrist and Culture, and Radical Monotheism and Western Culture. The younger brother of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Richard Niebuhr taught for several decades at the Yale Divinity School. Both brothers were, in their day, important figures in the neo-orthodox theological school within American Protestantism. His theology has been one of the main sources of postliberal theology, sometimes called the “Yale school”.

Niebuhr illuminated from many perspectives the split between the oneness and absoluteness of God and the division and relativism in religion and culture. His way of mediating these polarities made him not only a prominent ecumenist, but also an ethicist of universality who recognized God as the value-center for every human being in the world. He promoted a theology of personal responsibility based on an existential faith in God.

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