Sunday, January 17, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr.: the reading

The reading for today's service, found on the internet and posted by an anonymous author:

What made me question the salvation of Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Early this year (1998), my little sister asked me to look up some stuff on the 'net for a paper she was doing on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As I surfed, the Lord put a thought in my mind, "Did this man ever testify of Me?" I thought to myself, "Mmmmm. The world loved this man. If he was preaching the gospel, the world would have hated him." I started looking up Martin Luther King's writings. As I read, I realized that he was a stranger, a foreigner to me. Whenever he mentioned Jesus, it was along with mere mortals like Socrates or Ghandi. In his jailhouse letter, King lumped all religions into the same class. I could not find one "sermon" where he preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified. What I saw is that this man "preached" a social gospel using Black churches as his springboard.

King's philosophy is rather reminiscent of the Catholic Liberation Theology in South America. After several hours of reading of him on the 'net, I told my husband that this man was not our brother in Christ. Someone who called himself "Reverend" and preached in churches was obviously not saved. For 32 years, I'd heard great and favorable things about Martin Luther King, Jr. His name was, and is, synonymous with civil rights. But in 1998, the Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that "Reverend" Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was nothing short of an heretick. It was a strange revelation.

Well, all these months have passed and I thought my meditation on this was over--I was wrong. The Lord wanted me to see something else. Last night, my husband gave me some papers that my sister wanted me to have. It was the stuff that I had printed out for her on Martin Luther King, Jr. I didn't need that stuff back but the Lord wanted my mind to go back to this subject. Lo and behold, yesterday (it is about 3:30 am now) 10-7-98, I was surfing the 'net for information on King Charles I (son of King James VI & I) when I came upon an article for Martin Luther King, Jr. I clicked on the link, and amazingly, I was taken to Stanford University's repository for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s writings--they are on line. Their repository is a work in progress, but there is more than enough there for any human being to see that Martin Luther King, Jr. denied the most basic tenets of the Christian faith.

(Find the link to the entire article here.)


Joel said...

What I've read seems to indicate that his theology was orthodox Christianity. He focused on social justice, which is still orthodox as long as he kept his priorities straight where God was concerned. Thing is, we don't have enough basis to judge by, because the vast majority of what's recorded about him pertains to social justice. God heard the rest; we His subordinates don't need to.

If King were Catholic, he probably would be up for canonization, in spite of some of his personal failings. That's fairly high praise and I wouldn't say it lightly.

ms. kitty said...

It sounds like you haven't yet read the sermon.

Joel said...

No, I read your sermon. But I've also read other things that quote his theology very differently. I suppose it's a matter of where you look.

FWIW, the guy at has a much lower opinion of my own salvation than King's. I suspect he's going to be very surprised at what kinds of people he has to share a heaven with.

ms. kitty said...

I guess I trust the interview with Coretta Scott King pretty much. Did you read the whole article that I linked to? The author is female, by the way, and does have some interesting documents to quote from. I stand by my findings; I don't think he was an orthodox theologian. Have you ever read Fowler's Stages of Faith? King was advanced in his faith life, to the extent that he left behind orthodoxy in favor of committing himself to a higher cause. (As did Mother Teresa and Gandhi and others.) It's a well-respected reference in ecclesiastical literature.

Joel said...

Well, you certainly know more about King than I do. I saw your post just after I had read an article making a case for his orthodoxy from various quotes. In retrospect it was probably not a very reliable source to go on; it could all be cherry-picked and I wouldn't know the difference. I also didn't read your sermon as well as I thought I had. I'm sorry.

I wouldn't take the person at jesusislord too seriously. I've seen that website before and most of the material on it is cherry-picked as well and meant to discredit any but the writer's own teeny little circle. It's funny, I've read many of those articles and it didn't click with me that the writer was female. If her information about King is as accurate as her Catholic link list, I'm surprised you didn't simply laugh in her metaphorical face.

(I will disagree with you about Mother Teresa, by the way. I know there have been allegations of heresy about her, but I believe they've been pretty well addressed. She wouldn't be up for canonization if there were any serious doubt.)

From your sermon, it sounds like you think that Christian orthodoxy and social justice are necessarily incompatible. Do you really think that, or have I misunderstood completely?

ms. kitty said...

Good points, Joel. Thanks.

No, I certainly don't think that CHristian orthodoxy is incompatible with social justice. I see many, many examples of strong social justice witness within the evangelical community.

Miss Kitty said...

I just read that "article" and promptly bookmarked it under OMGWTF.

My question: Who TF cares? Crap like that article (along with the so-called creation-evolution "debate," or the various Ten Commandments-displayed-at-the-courthouse messes, etc.) just serve as distractions from the real injustice in the world. Forty-plus years after his death, we still have SO far to go, but instead of addressing those issues, we get a red herring. Sheesh.