Religious Thinker Martin Marty to Discuss the Influence of Theologian H. Richard Niebuhr

February 28, 2012 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Martin Marty, one of the most prominent commentators on religion and culture in our time, will visit Elmhurst College on Tuesday, March 6, to talk about one of the 20th century’s most influential theologians.

Marty will present “H. Richard Niebuhr: A Centennial Appreciation,” analyzing the influence of the scholar that Marty credits with “stretching the national mind” in the middle decades of the last century. The lecture marks the 100th anniversary of H. Richard Niebuhr’s graduation from Elmhurst College, where he later would serve as president from 1924 to 1927.

The Encyclopedia of Religion and Social Science calls Niebuhr “one of the truly creative American theologians.” Best known for his work in Christian ethics and American religious history, Niebuhr explored the ways Christian principles shaped the national culture. In a new foreword to the 50th anniversary edition of Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, Marty calls Niebuhr’s work “one of the most vital books of our time” and “a classic … a work of genius that a later culture must take into account once that work has had a chance to leave its mark.”

After leaving Elmhurst, Niebuhr taught theology at Yale University. He and his brother, Reinhold, also an Elmhurst graduate, rank among the pre-eminent American theologians. Marty has written that the pair “formed a tandem that towered in the middle of the 20th century.”

Marty is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, where he taught for 35 years. The author of more than 50 books, his honors include the National Humanities Medal and a National Book Award for his 1970 book Righteous Empire: The Protestant Experience in America.

Marty will speak at 7:00 p.m. in the Founders Lounge of the College’s Frick Center.. The lecture, part of the Rudolf G. Schade Lecture series, is free and the public is invited. The event is sponsored in part by BMO Harris Bank.

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