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February 1948

The Persistence of Faith
by Reinhold Niebuhr

Mankind is always progressing, but the essential needs of man remain the same. Life continues to be fragmentary and to be challenged by death no matter how powerful men become. The fear of death prompts men to complete life falsely and to express their frustration in lust for power, envy of one another, and a sense of false security in material comfort and power. These corruptions are rooted in the very center of personality and can therefore be uprooted only by a radical change at the heart of personality. The renewal of life through repentance is therefore a message of hope and judgment for every age. It will yet prove its relevance and power to an age which imagined that intellectual progress would obviate the necessity of religious renewal.

Vol. 181, No. 2, pp. 57–62

For copyright reasons, the full text of this article is not available on The Atlantic's site.