Friday, April 3rd, 7pm

Andrew Finstuen Talk

Finstuen, visiting assistant professor at the Department of Religion at Pacific Lutheran University, will speak on "Original Sin and the Prospects for Justice: Reinhold Niebuhr's Vision for the Kingdom of God in America". In the last several years, the mid-twentieth century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's prophetic Christian voice has been resurrected by journalists, pundits, and politicians on both the political left and the right to help make sense of the perilous twenty-first century. Indeed, both President Barrack Obama and former Republican presidential nominee John McCain have cited the influence of Niebuhr's work in shaping their views of policy. But what they have left out in their references to the theologian is precisely the prophetic and thoroughly Christian nature of Niebuhr's thought. When these core elements are returned to their rightful place at the center of Niebuhr's apologetic, the prophetic and pastoral dimensions of his concern for justice and the Kingdom of God are brought into sharp relief. From this perspective, Niebuhr emerges as one who deployed a specifically Christian gospel of "pessimistic-optimism" that brooked no compromise with individual and national claims to perfectionism that he argued suffused the culture of the United States and ignored the reality of human and social sin.

Andrew S. Finstuen teaches American religious history at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. He also serves as the director of PLU's International Honors Program. In the fall of 2009, his first book Original Sin and Everyday Protestants: The Popular Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr, Billy Graham, and Paul Tillich will be published by The University of North Carolina Press.

Cost / Admission

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King's Books
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politics, religion