Reinhold Niebuhr Quotes
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Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
Ultimately evil is done not so much by evil people, but by good people who do not know themselves and who do not probe deeply.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Every experience proves that the real problem of our existence lies in the fact that we ought to love one another, but do not.
There was a time when I had all the answers. My real growth began when I discovered that the questions to which I had the answers were not the important questions.
It's always wise to seek the truth in our opponents' error, and the error in our own truth.
Nationalism: One of the effective ways in which the modern man escapes life's ethical problems.
Forgiveness is the final form of love.
Religion is so frequently a source of confusion in political life, and so frequently dangerous to democracy, precisely because it introduces absolutes into the realm of relative values.
Humor is a prelude to faith and laughter is the beginning of prayer.
Evil is not to be traced back to the individual but to the collective behavior of humanity.
All men are naturally included to obscure the morally ambiguous element in their political cause by investing it with religious sanctity.
There are historic situations in which refusal to defend the inheritance of a civilization, however imperfect, against tyranny and aggression may result in consequences even worse than war.
The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan value and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism.
Whether the man is an atheist or a Christian, I would judge him by his fruits, and I have therefore many agnostic friends.
All men who live with any degree of serenity live by some assurance of grace.
If you equate God's judgment with your judgment, you have a wrong religion.
The final wisdom of life requires not the annulment of incongruity but the achievement of serenity within and above it.
[There is] an increasing tendency among modern men to imagine themselves ethical because they have delegated their vices to larger and larger groups.
The cross symbolizes a cosmic as well as historic truth. Love conquers the world, but its victory is not an easy one.
The will-to-live becomes the will-to-power.
The prophet himself stands under the judgment which he preaches. If he does not know that, he is a false prophet.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.
If we survive danger it steels our courage more than anything else.
Life is a battle between faith and reason in which each feeds upon the other, drawing sustenance from it and destroying it.
The significance of the law of love is precisely that it is not just another law, but a law which transcends all law.
Cheese, wine, and a friend must be old to be good.
Our age knows nothing but reaction, and leaps from one extreme to another.
Religion, declares the modern man, is consciousness of our highest social values. Nothing could be further from the truth. True religion is a profound uneasiness about our highest social values.
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed.
Goodness, armed with power, is corrupted; and pure love without power is destroyed.
All human sin seems so much worse in its consequences than in its intentions.
Self-righteousness is the inevitable fruit of simple moral judgments.
The chief source of man's inhumanity to man seems to be the tribal limits of his sense of obligation to other men.
Love is the motive, but justice is the instrument.
The old prose writers wrote as if they were speaking to an audience; while, among us, prose is invariably written for the eye alone.
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
It is the evil in man that makes democracy necessary, and man's belief in justice that makes democracy possible.
Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are unsure that we are doubly sure.
Family life is too intimate to be preserved by the spirit of justice. It can be sustained by a spirit of love which goes beyond justice.
Man is endowed by nature with organic relations to his fellow men; and natural impulse prompts him to consider the needs of others even when they compete with his own.
The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world.
Change what cannot be accepted and accept what cannot be changed.
The mastery of nature is vainly believed to be an adequate substitute for self mastery.
Democracies are indeed slow to make war, but once embarked upon a martial venture are equally slow to make peace and reluctant to make a tolerable, rather than a vindictive, peace.
Marxism is the modern form of Jewish prophecy.
Men have never been individually self-sufficient.
It is significant that it is as difficult to get charity out of piety as to get reasonableness out of rationalism.
Life has no meaning except in terms of responsibility.
Original sin is that thing about man which makes him capable of conceiving of his own perfection and incapable of achieving it.