Jul 4, 2014

Christian Realism for the Fourth of July

Moralists who have observed and animadverted upon the hypocrisy of nations have usually assumed that a more perfect social intelligence, which could penetrate and analyze these evasions and deceptions, would make them ultimately impossible. But here again they are counting on moral and rational resources which will never be fully available. What was not possible in 1914-1918, when the world was submerged in dishonesties and hypocrisies . . . will hardly become possible in a decade or in a century, or in many centuries.
-- Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society
It must be understood that the children of light are foolish not merely because they underestimate the power of self-interest among the children of darkness. They underestimate this power among themselves. 
 -- Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; there we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.
-- Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History