chapter  7
17 Pages

Reinhold Niebuhr and the virtue of mutuality

WithDaniel A. Morris

Mutuality is vitally important, from the perspective of Niebuhrian political theology, for the success of democracy. Reinhold Niebuhr had much to say about democracy in America, and so it is fitting to turn to his work in search of answers to these enduring problems facing the people’s pursuit of self-governance. Niebuhr implied that the virtue of mutuality was a necessary quality of character in democratic society. The fact that Niebuhrian political theology imagines mutuality as a necessary democratic virtue has important ramifications for the conversation between Niebuhr and his black, Latinx, and feminist critics. Niebuhr characterizes the social reality in which people motivated by anxiety and excessive self-love dominate and oppress each other as “injustice.” Writers like Niebuhr have failed to notice these basic differences between men and women, and have proceeded as though their theological reflections are universally descriptive and app.