The Thing about MLK’s Bible…

MLK preaching in church

He knew what it said.

Martin Luther King, Jr., had received a thoroughgoing education. His education began with the Scriptures, included extensive study of history and philosophy, and ended with the Scriptures. He followed the vocation of a churchman. He lived in church–reading, hearing, contemplating, and trying to explain the Bible.

He knew the contents of the Bible. When he thought, he thought about things that he had read in the Bible. When his prodigious imagination churned, and he envisioned the future and the path toward it, what was churning around in there? In his mind’s eye? All the things that he had read, and re-read, in the Holy Bible.

Below you will find extensive citations from his most famous speeches, by which I try to demonstrate the truth of what I have just asserted. Please read.

Before that, I hope you will forgive me for briefly pointing this out: Today I have read widespread comparisons between Barack Obama and Martin Luther King, Jr. I make no moral comparisons between the two. I simply point out this one fact:

When Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke, he expressed the contents of the Holy Bible. Simple fact. For good or ill, that’s what he did. And Dr. King himself would be the first to tell you that such was his mission in life. To know and to express the Bible.

MLK Time magazineBarack Obama does not do this. Simple fact. As I said, I make no moral judgment in pointing this out. It’s just a fact. Barack Obama can put his hand on any man’s Bible, as many times as he wants. But when he speaks, the Bible does not speak. Simple fact.

Ergo, the two men, MLK and the President, are not similar. Yes, they are both black. But in this all-important respect (ie., the “Biblicality” of their speech) they are not similar.

Before the quotations, let me add one more thing: Martin Luther King, Jr., succeeded enormously in his endeavor. Why?

He was a good-looking, charismatic man, with a voice of stunning clarity and power. He came along at the precise historic moment when television made it possible for everyone to see him and listen to him. And everyone could see how the people who followed his leadership suffered righteously and peaceably, and those who harmed them were violent villains.

All these factors, however, are externals. Martin Luther King never would have succeeded if he were solely a good-looking man who managed to get himself on television. What people saw when they saw him: that’s the heart of the matter. And they saw nonviolence. They saw peacefulness, love. The quiet confidence of genuine righteousness.

And where did this come from? Is the answer not as clear as day? From Jesus Christ. Martin Luther King loved the Scriptures because he loved Jesus Christ. If Martin Luther King is a great man, it is for one, single reason: because he lived as an eminent servant of Jesus Christ.

From “Birth of a New Nation” (Montgomery, Alabama, spring 1957)

Continue reading “The Thing about MLK’s Bible…”