Conquering Megalomania and Despair: a Niebuhrian Response To the Politico-Economic Impasse – International Journal of Public Theology – article

Conquering Megalomania and Despair: a Niebuhrian Response To the Politico-Economic Impasse

Roshnee Ossewaarde-Lowtoo | International Journal of Public Theology

2019-10-22

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 faith, 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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