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Thanking God for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 17, 2023, 2:00 PM

What God did through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deserves our affirmation, celebration, and appreciation.  God used him to prophetically call a nation to follow their own ideals of equal justice under the law for every person, regardless of color or creed.  Standing in the tradition of Old Testament prophets like Amos, Dr. Martin Luther King, pointed out the sins of bigotry and the dehumanization of people of color since the formation of the United States.  The sins of the country were a giant blot on the fabric of America.  These sins were manifested through slavery, Jim Crow laws, poverty, sub-standard housing, police brutality, injustices in the Courts, unfair economic practices, inadequate resources in Schools, subservient depictions of Black people, and lack of opportunities in the social arena.  Through Dr. King’s efforts and those of countless others, these barriers of unjust practices were slowly chipped away. 

Unfortunately, there are some who attempt to minimize or marginalize the contributions of Dr. King, particularly as it related to their view of clear doctrinal expression.  Many of whom are prominent theologians and ecclesiastical leaders within the evangelical camp.  Some question Dr. King’s stances on historically orthodox Christian tenets and use it as fodder to accuse him of heterodox positions.  Moreover, some even question his moral authority to speak at all, due to alleged moral failures. 

Many of these dismissive detractors utilize a flawed criteria to assess Dr. King’s theology. This standard of analysis only involves the articulation of doctrinal statements but reject the ethical dimension of theological formation. In other words, many who decry Dr. King’s theology miss the fact that his theology was more clearly seen in its ethical appropriation than by his articulated doctrinal orthodoxy. 

Interestingly, some who argue that Dr. King lost his moral authority because of alleged moral failures simultaneously celebrated heroes of the faith such as Jonathan Edwards, John Newton, and George Whitefield.  All of whom were slaveowners of Black people.  This is a glaring inconsistency that reflected intellectual misappropriation and dishonesty at best or moral hypocrisy at worse.  In short, the vices of their heroes are dispensed, and their virtues are celebrated.  Yet, somehow, when it came to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this same criterion did not or does not apply. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. should be celebrated. Certainly, we should all be able to agree to thank God for how God used Dr. King to call the United States and the world to repentance, particularly as it concerned the issues of equal opportunity and equal justice under the law.   


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