Reinhold Niebuhr (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Reinhold Niebuhr rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most spellbinding preachers and influential theologians of his time. During the 1920’s, Niebuhr in many ways was to intellectuals what Billy Sunday was to the masses. Throughout his life, Niebuhr was a much sought-after preacher and was looked upon by many as the thinking man’s theologian.
Born in rural Wright City, Missouri, to a clergyman in the German Evangelical Synod and his wife, Niebuhr grew up speaking German more than English. The family moved to Logan County in Illinois when Niebuhr was a small child, and he grew up around simple farm folk. He learned a considerable amount about the evangelical style of preaching from hearing his father’s sermons.
Niebuhr attended Elmhurst College in Illinois and Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, before matriculating in the Yale Divinity School, from which he received a bachelor of divinity degree in 1914 and a master of arts degree in 1915. Niebuhr quickly became a rousing preacher with an ever-expanding following, first in Detroit, where he had a church in a middle-class neighborhood, and later, as his fame spread, across the entire nation. Niebuhr traveled from his base at Union Theological Seminary to churches throughout the country to bring his special brand of Christian socialism to the people.
Richard Fox, a professor of history at Reed College, has drawn from a broad range of primary sources in...
(The entire section is 1824 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
The Atlantic. CCLVII, January, 1968, p. 93.
Christian Century. CIII, January 1, 1986. p. 15.
Christianity and Crisis. XLVI, February 3, 1986. p. 5.
The New York Review of Books. XXXII, February 13, 1986, p. 7.
The New York Times Book Review. CXI, January 5, 1986, p. 1.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVIII, November 29, 1985, p. 41.
Time. CXXVII, January 20, 1986, p. 71.
The Wall Street Journal. LXVI, February 21, 1986, p. 21.
(The entire section is 50 words.)