Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892 - 1971

portrait of Reinhold Niebuhr

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Born: 21 June 1892, Wright City, Missouri
Died: 1 June 1971, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Born to German immigrants, his father was a pastor in a Calvinist tradition associated with the Prussian Church Union in Germany. He graduated from Elmhurst College in Illinois in 1910, went on to Eden Theological Seminary at Webster Groves, Missouri, and then earned a Bachelor of Divinity (1914) and a Master of Arts (1915) from Yale Divinity. He was ordained that year and sent to Bethel Evangelical Church at Detroit, Michigan. He served that church until 1928, the congregation grew from 65 to almost 700 during his tenure. During World War I he called on his German-speaking flock to be loyal to the US and gained national attention for his patriotic appeals. Seeing the effects of unbridled capitalism in the car industry he became a socialist but by the end of World War II had become a liberal Democrat and co-founder of Americans for Democratic Action. In 1928 he became a professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary at New York City where he taught until his retirement in 1960. He became strongly anti-Communist after Stalin signed his pact with Hitler and spoke out in favor of the War, breaking with many of his fellow liberals. There has been much research into the origin of the "Serenity Prayer", we think Niebuhr is the original source.

Biography from Wikipedia and Speaking of Faith

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