Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Henry Nelson Wieman

American Philosopher and Theologian

"He who prays must commit himself and his wants to the transforming power of God. He must seek what is genuinely the greatest good and not merely the specific things which will satisfy his present wants."

"To say that God exceeds the powers of our comprehension is not to say that we do not know God. We know empirically the actual, present, dynamic working of creativity in our midst, progressively creating, saving and transforming the personality of man when required conditions are present. Therefore we know God and know him more intimately than any other, because he is so deeply involved in our existence. But to know God thus does not mean that we can construct in our imagination a picture of him or comprehend the depth and fullness of his being."

"If by prayer I mean the power of words to persuade God to do things, then prayer is futile and foolish. One might utter the words of the most devout prayer that was ever breathed and yet not be praying at all. It is the attitude of the personality which is the prayer, not the words."

"What operates in human life with such character and power that it will transform man as he cannot transform himself, saving him from evil and leading him to the best that human life can ever reach?"

"To get the viewpoint of the other person appreciatively and profoundly and reconcile it with his own so far as possible is the supreme achievement of man and his highest vocation. "

" The church is a vast institution with roots reaching wide and deep into the social order that now is. It is so integral to society as a whole that any social reconstruction would mean a reconstruction of the church. It would have to reconstruct itself in order to reconstruct society. But it cannot reconstruct itself until society is reconstructed. So it is caught in a vicious circle so far as concerns leadership in achieving any change in the basic institutions of society."