Reinhold Niebuhr Attacks Danger of Absolute Truths

Citing recent statements of both Stalin and the Pope to back his thesis, Reinhold Niebuhr, noted professor at the Union Theological Seminary, cautioned a standing-room-only congregation at Memorial Church yesterday of the dangers of "spiritual wickedness in high places."

Stalin, said Niebuhr, has maintained that all communist actions are correct because they are founded on absolute truths derived from science. At the other extreme, Pope Plus XII stated two weeks ago that the actions of the Church had validity because they were based on spiritual and never on worldly considerations.

Niebuhr used these statements to illustrate his argument that man is not capable of defining an absolute truth. "Whenever he asserts such a truth categorically, he is assuming a power which lies beyond him."