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Thread: Martin Luther King's Religious Beliefs

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Martin Luther King's Religious Beliefs

    This is the religious leader and civil-rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

    501122: An Autobiography of Religious Development
    The lessons which I was taught in Sunday School were quite in the fundamentalist line. None of my teachers ever doubted the infallibility of the Scriptures. Most of them were unlettered and had never heard of Biblical criticism. Naturally I accepted the teachings as they were being given to me. I never felt any need to doubt them, at least at that time I didn't. I guess I accepted Biblical studies uncritically until I was about twelve years old. But this uncritical attitude could not last long, for it was contrary to the very nature of my being. I had always been the questioning and precocious type. At the age of 13 I shocked my Sunday School class by denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus. From the age of thirteen on doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly. At the age of fifteen I entered college and more and more could I see a gap between what I had learned in Sunday School and what I was learning in college. This conflict continued until I studied a course in Bible in which I came to see that behind the legends and myths of the Book were many profound truths which one could not escape.
    From Wikipedia,
    The summer before his last year at Morehouse, in 1947, the 18-year-old King chose to enter the ministry. He had concluded that the church offered the most assuring way to answer "an inner urge to serve humanity." King's "inner urge" had begun developing, and he made peace with the Baptist Church, as he believed he would be a "rational" minister with sermons that were "a respectful force for ideas, even social protest."
    There ought to be better ways of doing so than promoting flim-flam and bullshit.
    As a Christian minister, King's main influence was Jesus Christ and the Christian gospels, which he would almost always quote in his religious meetings, speeches at church, and in public discourses. King's faith was strongly based in Jesus' commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself, loving God above all, and loving your enemies, praying for them and blessing them. His nonviolent thought was also based in the injunction to turn the other cheek in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus' teaching of putting the sword back into its place (Matthew 26:52).
    "Love your enemies" must be one of the most disregarded teachings in all of the history of Xianity. From how the Gospels present him, even Jesus Christ didn't follow that as much as one might want - consider his denunciations of scribes and Pharisees.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Writings show King as liberal Christian, rejecting literalism - SFGate
    "King used to say, 'People think of me as a civil rights leader, but fundamentally, I'm a Baptist preacher,' " said Carson, editor of "Advocate of the Social Gospel," which is based on the newly disclosed writings and is the sixth book produced by the King Papers Project.

    ...
    "Too often has the church talked about a future good 'over yonder,' totally forgetting the present evil over here," King wrote in 1952 to Coretta Scott, his future wife.
    In other words, pie in the sky when you die.
    ... He returned repeatedly to the idea that true Christianity is practiced through the work for social justice.

    "Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and not concerned about the city government that damns the soul, the economic conditions that corrupt the soul, the slum conditions, the social evils that cripple the soul, is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood," King preached in 1962 to his congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

    ...
    King didn't believe the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale was true, for example, or that John the Baptist actually met Jesus, according to texts detailed in the King papers book. King once referred to the Bible as "mythological" and also doubted whether Jesus was born to a virgin, Carson said.
    Something like what Galileo argued, that the Holy Spirit tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. That was part of his trying to make heliocentrism theologically acceptable to the Church, but that attempt ultimately failed.
    King "wanted to develop an intellectually respectable form of Christianity that did not require people to simply abandon their rational, critical abilities," Carson said. The essential truth King saw, according to Carson, was the social gospel -- "to see the Bible as a message of spiritual redemption and global social justice."

    "What relevance do these scriptures have?" King asked in a document included in "Advocate of the Social Gospel." "What moral implications do we find growing out of the Bible?"
    That seems rather hard to do without interpreting the Bible in the likeness of one's moral beliefs.
    Carson also said King criticized the other extreme -- the belief that the Bible is purely a political text, devoid of faith.
    In the later days of the civil-rights movement, with the death threats and the stress, he identified with the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Why Martin Luther King’s pledge of nonviolence matters today - Waging Nonviolence | Waging Nonviolence
    Author Stephanie Van Hook quoted it:

    1) meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
    2) remember always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation — not victory.
    3) walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
    4) pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
    5) sacrifice personal wishes in order that all men might be free.
    6) observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
    7) seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
    8) refrain from the violence of fist, tongue or heart.
    9) strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
    10) follow the directions of the movement and of the captain of a demonstration.

    SVH then proposed secular versions:
    For example, I truncate the first commitment from “Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus” to “Meditate daily.” I also offer five new commitments that I think capture the spirit of the campaign and carry us in this 21st century moment:
    Practice Forgiveness;
    Extend Compassion, Love, and Kindness to Those Who Express and Act with Ill Will;
    Reestablish a Connection to Earth;
    Strive to Be in Good Bodily Health;
    Cultivate Hope.

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    Was Martin Luther King Jr. a Christian? – Discerning History
    Martin Luther King Jr’s theology was very liberal. In papers he wrote during his time at Crozer Theological Seminary he made his views clear. He said that the evidence for the Virgin Birth is “is too shallow to convince any objective thinker.” He stripped the doctrines of the divine sonship of Christ, the virgin birth and bodily resurrection of all literal meaning, saying, “we [could] argue with all degrees of logic that these doctrines are historically and [philosophically] untenable.” In another paper he wrote:
    [A] supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominent in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is oppose[d] to theological adaption to social and cultural change. … Amid change all around he is willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science.
    Author Joshua Horn complained that MLK advocated "black liberation theology":
    The central theme of his Christianity was not Jesus Christ, the son of God coming to earth, it was the deliverance of the Israel from their slavery in Egypt. In his famous “mountaintop” speech, when he was listing the seminal events of history, he mentioned the Exodus, not Christ’s death and resurrection.

    Liberation theology is a secularization of Christianity, using the Bible as a framework to speak to people’s longing for freedom.
    Then on what an adulterous horndog he was.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a Christian?
    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 internet, 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 heretic. It was a strange revelation.
    The author then objected to some of his papers form his seminary days,

    #1: "What Experiences of Christians Living in the Early Christian Century Led to the Christian Doctrines of the Divine Sonship of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, and the Bodily Resurrection"
    But if we delve into the deeper meaning of these doctrines, and somehow strip them of their literal interpretation, we will find that they are based on a profound foundation. Although we may be able to argue with all degrees of logic that these doctrines are historically and philolophically untenable*, yet we can never undermind the foundation on which they are based.
    I note that Xian apologists dismiss out of hand similar stories about other religions' deities. In fact, they dismiss those deities as pure fiction. They believe that Attis's rising from the dead is pure fiction, like Attis himself, and also that Isis reassembling a chopped-up Osiris is pure fiction, like Isis and Osiris themselves.

    #2: "The Sources of Fundamentalism and Liberalism Considered Historically and Psychologically"
    ...doctrines such as a supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominant in fundamentalist thinking.
    #3: "A Study of Mithraism"
    It is not at all surprising in view of the wide and growing influence of these religions that when the disciples in Antioch and elsewhere preached a crucified and risen Jesus they should be regarded as the heralds of another mystery religion, and that Jesus himself should be taken for the divine Lord of the cult through whose death and resurrection salvation was to be had.
    Richard Carrier agrees, and he claims that Xianity ticks off the mystery-religion checkboxes as a Jewish one.

    #4: "I See The Promised Land" (speech on the night before he was assassinated)
    As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, 'Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?'-- I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn't stop there. I WOULD MOVE ON BY GREECE, AND TAKE MY MIND TO MOUNT OLYMPUS. AND I WOULD SEE PLATO, ARISTOTLE, SOCRATES, EURIPIDES AND ARISTOPHANES ASSEMBLED AROUND THE PARTHENON AS THEY DISCUSSED THE GREAT AND ETERNAL ISSUES OF REALITY
    The author continues
    You see what I mean? It is in line with his other speeches that puts King's humanistic "Christianity" in the same category as everything else. He USED "Christianity" as a springboard for his social gospel. The "promised land" for King was not the heaven of the Bible, it was more like social equality on this earth! Read this speech (it isn't a sermon) (at http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/Docs/promland.html).
    If the Book of Revelation is any guide, it's wearing a white robe and a halo and perpetually singing hymns of praise while playing a harp.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    I don't think you're ever going to come to an understanding of Dr King's theology by collecting numbered lists. He was a mystic; he met his faith "at the mountaintop", not in writings.

    And that last guy you're quoting is a complete turd-ball. REally? Wasting everyone's time trying to prove that a great man is burning in Hell for being the wrong species of Baptist? Who's got time for that? He's exactly the kind of death-minded Christian that King himself deplored, the kind who thinks you can have a gospel that is not a social gospel, love without compassion, a happy ending without a plot. It's no wonder he feels called out, but why should we care?

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    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    "Love your enemies" must be one of the most disregarded misunderstood teachings in all of the history...


    Fixed your post.

    I agree, disregarded.
    But also misunderstood and fraudulently quote-mined.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    "Love your enemies" must be one of the most disregarded teachings in all of the history of Xianity. From how the Gospels present him, even Jesus Christ didn't follow that as much as one might want - consider his denunciations of scribes and Pharisees.
    The dynamic of his relationship is different with the religious leaders than with the context of loving your enemies

    The scribes and Pharisees weren’t his enemies even though they contributed to his death.

    This is where the misunderstanding stems from

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yyr123 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    "Love your enemies" must be one of the most disregarded teachings in all of the history of Xianity. From how the Gospels present him, even Jesus Christ didn't follow that as much as one might want - consider his denunciations of scribes and Pharisees.
    The dynamic of his relationship is different with the religious leaders than with the context of loving your enemies

    The scribes and Pharisees weren’t his enemies even though they contributed to his death.
    Defining certain people as non-enemies so that they can be attacked. That's legalistic hairsplitting and not much more than conceptual gerrymandering.

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    Contributor skepticalbip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    ..... conceptual gerrymandering.
    I'm going to steal that one.


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