LOVE AND JUSTICE by REINHOLD NIEBUHR

***** (of 5)

The bottom line: An essential addition to any library. Details Christian ethical approaches to the myriad of dilemmas in the modern world.

 

The renowned theologian Reinhold Niebuhr has written prolifically on social ethics and this text is a collection of essays with a particular emphasis on the topics of love and justice. In Niebuhr’s formulation, perfect love equals perfect justice, an ideal where one embraces selflessness and relinquishes their rights for the sake of others. Generally, much of Niebuhr’s writings stem from his realization that although humans are innately unable to achieve perfect love, they still strive to fashion a society with the elusive goal of perfect justice. In reality, due to the pervasiveness of self-interest, the war against injustice can only achieve marginal victories at best.

Love and Justice is not a linear narrative but a collection of essays from the mid-twentieth century. This does not produce a disjointed text at all, but a cohesive arrangement of articles bound together with unifying themes.

Christians often are faced with the paradox that scriptures explicitly define moral guidelines, yet we all live in a world filled with grey areas where we must temper strict morality with an ethic of love for our neighbors as embodied by Christ. This is where this book shines: it succinctly provides the reader with an ethical roadmap to navigate such areas and discusses the practical application of theological principles to contemporary issues. Niebuhr’s book tackles these issues in four broad sections: I. General Essays on Love and Justice (Interpersonal Relations); II. Love and Justice on a National Level; III. Love and Justice in International Relations; IV. Love and Justice and the Pacifist Issue.

This book is a classic and should be on the shelf of anyone who has a commitment to justice, attempts to fully embrace the Christian ethic of love, or strives to understand how theology can be applied practically to the plethora of society’s ills. It is full of wisdom, is thought provoking, and is very insightful. Buy it, read it, and enjoy it.

 

Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal

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