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Title: The foundations of hope : an examination of Christian Realism as the basis for hope in the thought of Reinhold Niebuhr
Author: Burk, John Kenneth
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2008
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The theological virtue of hope is rarely associated with Reinhold Niebuhr’s Christian Realism, which was developed in during the twentieth century’s world conflicts. Because of their carefully constructed analyses of the problems of human sin, their understanding of God and the human and their interpretation of the place of Christian ethics in the midst of a chaotic existence, Niebuhr’s writings were indispensable to Christians of his time period. His profound influence on the fields of theology, ethics and Christian political thought has resulted in a revitalised interest in Niebuhrian realism in recent years. Most of this resurgent interest, however, has resulted in analysis of Niebuhr’s political thought. This doctoral thesis examines the philosophical and theological foundations of Niebuhr’s Christian realism and finds in that examination a basis for associating theological hope with Niebuhr’s thought. Attention is given primarily to Niebuhr’s formal writings, where his theology is most sharply defined. The first part of the thesis considers the association between twentieth-century moral philosophy and Christian realism; Niebuhr’s relationship to post-Vatican II Catholic moral theology; the social hermeneutics of Christian realism; and, a popular criticism of Niebuhr’s realism from one of the leading intellectuals of postmodern theology today. From these investigations, we are able to discern particular philosophical themes that serve key roles for interpreting Niebuhr’s realism. Part two explores how the themes determined in part one are carried over to help understand the basis of theological hope in Christian realism. Here the place of the “Christ of Faith” and the “Christ of History” are considered in light of previous investigations and placed within the context of Niebuhr’s overall theology. The thesis concludes that there is good reason to associate Niebuhr’s articulation of Christian realism with theological hope.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available