The Niebuhr Brothers’ Debate and the Ethics of Just War vs. Pacifism: Progressivism and the Social Gospel

  • Cecelia Lynch
Chapter
Part of the The Palgrave Macmillan History of International Thought book series (PMHIT)

Abstract

The turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries witnessed not only the burgeoning of the Progressive Era in American and British social and political thought but also the heyday of the Social Gospel as Progressivism’s theological companion. Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, brothers, academics, and theologians who wielded enormous influence on twentieth-century Christianity and international relations, each embraced aspects of both Progressivism and the Social Gospel, but also distanced themselves from these movements in important ways. This chapter discusses both their rapprochements with and distancing from the progressivism of their times, focusing on their public debate in 1932 over the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. While H. Richard and Reinhold demonstrate significant positions in pacifist and just war/Christian realist thinking, the chapter also briefly examines the thought of other important theologians and activists of the period, in order to demonstrate the Niebuhr brothers’ limitations as well as their insights.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecelia Lynch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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