Reinhold Niebuhr: The nature and implications of the relationship between his christology and anthropology
Coleman, Daniel Irvin
Master of Arts
Only an interpretation of Reinhold Niebuhr which consistently adheres to the ideal/real dialectical structure intrinsic to his hermeneutics of myth does justice to the tensions inherent in his thought. The failure to preserve this dialectical tension results in one group of scholars regarding his christology as determinative and a larger group giving his anthropology this position. Therefore, the structure of his thought is better illustrated as an ellipse having two foci rather than a single-centered circle. Niebuhr's characterization of the ideal/real nature of this dialectical tension, however, implies that the truth of the former member is perspectival and the latter established upon more empirical grounds. The absence of metaphysical assertions about the ideal member of the dialectic ultimately requires that Christianity be interpreted from a relativistic perspective without criteria for asserting Christianity as unique in any but a personal existential fashion.
Philosophy of Religion