New Books Network

Peter B. Josephson and R. Ward Holder

Reinhold Niebuhr in Theory and Practice

Christian Realism and Democracy in America in the Twenty-First Century

Lexington Books 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network May 15, 2019 Lilly Goren

Peter Josephson and Ward Holder collaborated on their second book on theologian and political theorist Reinhold Niebuhr in producing this new book, specifically focusing...

Peter Josephson and Ward Holder collaborated on their second book on theologian and political theorist Reinhold Niebuhr in producing this new book, specifically focusing on the questions of “why Niebuhr?” and “why Niebuhr now?” Josephson and Holder note that their “focus is Niebuhr himself and what the encounter between his own theology and his practical political experience might reveal in our contemporary situation.” Reinhold Niebuhr in Theory and Practice: Christian Realism and Democracy in America in the Twenty-First Century (Lexington Books, 2018) traces not only Niebuhr’s religious and theological training and considerations, but also his political engagement and the import he put on the need to be actively involved in the political world in which we find ourselves. Josephson and Holder also note that there had been a fairly recent Niebuhr renaissance, with many American politicians and intellectuals paying particular attention to Niebuhr’s work and thinking and acknowledging how his work had informed their approach to politics and civic responsibilities. This book carefully traces Niebuhr’s biography and intellectual training, highlighting his pastoral and theological thinking while also exploring how this intersected with his political encounters and contributed to his shifting views on foreign policy and intervention. Josephson and Holder explore Niebuhr’s work, particularly now, because it provides thoughtful guidance for how to think about political engagement, especially the humility that is required by constitutional democracy and the necessity of respecting other members of the community in which we live.


Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012).