From The Neo-Orthodox Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr [Archive.org] by Paul Foreman.
"The Fall conveys the fact that persons stand in the paradoxical relation of freedom and finitude. As spirit, persons transcend nature and so are free. But as creatures, they are part of nature's order and so are bound. For this Niebuhr depended heavily on Soren Kierkegaard's Concept of Dread. As those both free and bound, persons inevitably experience anxiety - the internal precondition for sin. In this state of anxiety Satan tempts persons to deny their limitations through pride or to violate their freedom through sensuality."
Niebuhr said this about anxiety (compare Horney):
"In short, man being both free and bound, both limited and limitless, is anxious. Anxiety is the inevitable concomitant of the paradox of freedom and finiteness in which man is involved. Anxiety is the internal precondition of sin. It is the inevitable spiritual state of man, standing in the paradoxical situation of freedom and finiteness. Anxiety is the internal description of the state of temptation. It must not be identified with sin because there is always the ideal possibility that faith would purge anxiety of the tendency toward sinful self-assertion. The ideal possibility is that faith in the ultimate security of God's love would overcome all immediate insecurities of nature and history. That is why Christian orthodoxy has consistently defined unbelief as the root of sin, or as the sin which precedes pride. It is significant that Jesus justifies his injunction, "Be not anxious" with the observation, "For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." The freedom from anxiety which he enjoins is a possibility only if perfect trust in divine security has been achieved. Whether such freedom from anxiety and such perfect trust are an actual possibility of historic existence must be considered later. For the present it is enough to observe that no life, even the most saintly, perfectly conforms to the injunction not to be anxious" (v. 1, pp. 182-83).
Relation of Anxiety and Pride
Idols of the Types
Terry D. Cooper (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Reinhold Niebuhr (1996, c. 1941, 1964). The Nature and Destiny of Man: a Christian Interpretation, 2 vols. Louisville: Westminster Charles Knox.
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