Reinhold Neibhur

“Nothing worth doing can be achieved in a lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing that is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing that we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love.”
Reinhold Neibhur

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  1. I’ve not been keeping up with your blog as i was before – sidelined by Iran protest but just wanted to say that quote is beautiful. Needs to be 140 characters lol.

    if you want you could help Iran by posting this website
    it’s to bypass Iran’s internet censorship – and it’s working in it’s beta form.

  2. Love, Faith and Hope ~ As in context the three parts of knowledge is set by how we view information and how we put that information to a set of understandings. It is the word “Therefore” that we must view and look to for answers, to the questions. The Conjunctions and reason or resuit from the consequesnce or as stated of Love due to a given reason or of no complete sense. We brake down Ideas in sets of three because of a complexty of manner and system of order but this for things not always people centered. The set concepts are Theoretical, Physical and applied, so we think that moving the words around Love, Faith and Hope gives us a view of reality. Love has all three and Faith has all three as Hope but we could let one rule our self and let that idea control our will, that would be out faith that this would happen or Hope that Love would be something to have faith in than you could have Faith in Love and hope that everything would be fine. We Love to have Faith in our Hope for a better understanding in Life but words fail us more times than not. Look not to words for our faith but to the hope in a better Love of understanding of ourself and others.

  3. Beautiful thoughts, and looks like they agree with the Bible, the love chapter about faith, hope and love. And of course, to be real we have to be full of faith and love, and life without hope is a dreadful sort of thing. I like this, and can see why you do too.

  4. Many of Neibhur’s quotes are great; this one? Not so great. The value of love, hope, and faith is limitless but to give value to the idea that nothing great can be achieved in a lifetime – not so great.

    Even in lifetime’s cut short, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, and his brother John gave many of us a lifetime of inspiration that has made a great difference in a single lifetime.

  5. JSF:
    I disagree with Mr. Neibhur’s limiting assessment, and I submit that you do also.
    Each day we can enact a worthy deed simply by compassionate action to aid others. This is the foundation of hope here on Earth – that we resolve to implement God’s love (or as the Greeks called it, “Agape”) among humanity, all living creatures, and this planet bequeathed to us. Often we must commit to doing what we deem worthy and right even in the face of utter hopelessness. That is the essence of moral courage.
    Almost everything true, good, and beautiful makes complete sense within the immediate context of each fleeting moment of history if we simply accept the natural bounty Providence daily provides to us. God’s goodness abounds and we are called to be its advocates and caretakers, intent not merely to appreciate such blessings, but to in fact “leave the world a bit better” (as Emerson once advised) “whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or redeemed social condition.” This is the basis of human decency. Faith factors in via the ability of such action to not only benefit others but our own sense of moral purpose: “to know one life has breathed easier because you have lived.”
    Lastly, I firmly believe that virtuous deeds can indeed be accomplished by individual action. Jack Kennedy once advised: “One man can make a difference – and every man should try.” Even when scorned or spurned by others, courageous individuals – rebels, believing in the righteousness of a cause – have managed to effect great change. This resolve to advance against whatever odds is rooted not simply in courage, but in love – which lies at the heart of every great revolution.
    Jane, your life has been a sterling testimonial to belief in action despite despair, a commitment to the complete sense of seeking the good within the immediate context of history, and the courage to do what is virtuous even if acting alone. Therefore, you demonstrate your own willingness to reject certain of Mr. Neibhur’s views even while accepting his advocacy of hope, faith, and love – and I commend you for your diversity of character.

  6. Those who reject Niebuhr’s writing on the basis of one well-lived life miss the point that it is only in the fullness of time and the subsequent choices of others that the original acts of faith, hope and love become manifest. Preaching the Sermon on the Mount or relating a parable to a group is powerful but dependent on the hope that the listeners will take the message to heart and faith that such understanding will in turn be relayed to others. Those men noted to have had inspirational lives moved others to acts which manifest and enlarge the original message. The message of non-violence and civil justice was advanced by MLK, but clearly will take more than one lifetime to achieve. Does that diminish the contribution of each life toward a greater good? Not at all; it recognizes that the things I can do now are acts of hope and faith toward a greater outcome than I might even imagine.

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