Presenter: Rev Dr David Pitman

Niebuhr’s theological methodology was grounded in his conviction that we live in an imperfect world where achieving the ideal outcome in any given situation is mostly an impossible dream. His “realism” reflects the practical implications of this principle applied consistently to the dominant issues of his own lifetime. This paper explores the way in which his application of the principle led to his rejection of pacifism and his decision to support armed intervention in certain circumstances. It was never an unqualified support and he faced stringent criticism from both pacifists and Just War advocates. We will reflect on his personal journey from World War I to the War in Vietnam, which ended only a few years before his death, and ask at the end, “what would Niebuhr have said about Isis”?

Image via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain


Forgan Smith Building (1),
St Lucia campus