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Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rev. King is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.  The purpose of this post is to celebrate a particular aspect of the teachings of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  And that aspect is how his Christian beliefs influenced what he did and taught. 

Religion 
 
As a Christian minister, Martin Luther 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 non-violent 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). In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, King urged action consistent with what he describes as Jesus' "extremist" love, and also quoted numerous other Christian pacifist authors, which was very usual for him. In his speech I've Been to the Mountaintop, he stated that he just wanted to do God's will.

Some Quotes from Rev. King

"I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow, but to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'"

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."

"Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."

"And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"


Conclusion

The point of this post is not to show that Rev. King was a great man.  Anyone who studies him will find this to be the case.

My point is to show that Rev. King was a great man because he choose to follow Christ's teachings to love one another, and that we are all children of God.  From these core assumptions, his beliefs, as given in the quotes above, are expressed beautifully. 

If we do not adhere to Christ's admonitions that we all are children of God, and that we are to love one another, our great country will suffer the consequences and will cease to be a great country.  


If we do adhere to Christs' teachings, our country will grow toward God, and prosper in many ways - in more ways that we can possibly imagine.
____________________________________ 
Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at Dallas. You are welcome to comment upon this blog entry and/or to contact him at
tfarage@hotmail.com.

Comments

Walter Cox said…
Enjoyed the piece, Tim, especially the comments regarding "extremist Christianity." It would be interesting to trace the history of Tolstoy's extremist Christianity, especially his influence on Gandhi, and the planting of extremist seeds in the fertile soil of MLK's faith. A related topic might be the difference between extremist Islam and extremist Christianity, along with a discussion of Muhammad's status as a "prophet."
MaryAnn Blaha said…
Well said! MLK's quote on education is so timely today: "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."
Tim Farage said…
Good point. Getting our kids to think critically is essential.
Walter Cox said…
I truly think that MLK was the greatest American to have lived during our lifetimes. No one else really compares.
Tim Farage said…
I hadn't thought about that, Walter, but I think I would agree.

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