Martin Luther: The Reformer, The Civil Rights Leader, and The Work Unfinished

First, let me be clear: I love government holidays.

But secondly, let me add…. 

During this time of year, with the parades and media homages in memory of Martin Luther King Jr., I always like to cut through the common dialogue to find some of the more unique biographical facts about the civil rights leader. He was a very compelling man with a nuanced view of the world, America, and the civil rights movement.

Here are some of the gems I have found you may not hear from the typical mainstream media narrative this weekend. In no order:

1. In 1955, he received a PH.D in systematic theology from Boston University. He was not an empty-headed mega church pastor with a diploma from a degree mill like *insert flaky prosperity propagator here*. His flowery rhetoric had intellectual weight to back it up.

2. He was a Trekkie (a fan of the original “Star Trek” (1966) TV series). I don’t know why, but that is just awesome to me. If he would have not been assassinated, I’d like to think he and William Shatner could have done a cop comedy together in the ’80s.

3. He stated that he would not live to be 40. He died at age 39. I’m not saying the church should coronate him “prophet”, but rather he knew his message would have deranged opponents with murderous motivations. The church should take notes here, because the message of Jesus is guaranteed to bring enemies with it (John 15:18). If you don’t have some enemies then you are not a friend of Christ.

4. He was a registered Republican and opponent of communism with its “political totalitarianism” and “ethical relativism” (ah, he believed in moral absolutes!). In fact, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was made a federal holiday by Republican president and noted anti-communist, Ronald Reagan. I know there may be some truth that the contemporary Republican party is not the exact same party it was of the ’50s, but there may also be some truth that MLK would be wary of the full blown socialism being pumped out of Washington today. Again, he was a man of complexity.

5. He was a Protestant Christian pastor and his father named him after the great Protestant German reformer, Martin Luther. The civil rights movement sprung out of the Christian doctrine that all men are created in the image of God. In reality, almost every major worldwide civil rights and humanitarian movement in existence was first steeped in the rich soil of Christian theology and heritage. What charitable aid has the atheistic principles of nihilism and materialism produced?

In 16th century Europe, God used Martin Luther as a spark to change the face of Christendom forever, and over 400 years later God raised up another reformer to change the face of civil rights for ever.

There is still much more work to be done on the civil rights front. 

Grave injustices are still being performed against the most voiceless and helpless in our society. And one of the greatest atrocities in the modern world still has racial undertones attached to it. In New York city 40 % of pregnancies end in abortion. An overwhelming majority of those are African-American babies. According to the CDC, black women are three times more likely to get an abortion than white women. This should shock us out of our stupor: the leading cause of death in the African American Community since 1973 is not heart disease, aids, or violent crimes: It’s abortion. Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood have created a lucrative business off the ignorance of the uneducated and impoverished minorities in the poorest urban neighborhoods. And this all has more to do with the negative eugenics pseudo science movement of the ’30s and 40’s than we are comfortable to admit. In the past 40 years, how many more Martin Luther’s have we snuffed out before they take their first breath? Thankfully, there are many in the black community taking a stand on this issue, such as MLK’s niece, Alveda King.

The current rate of abortions in America is over 100,000 per month. More than 90% of these abortions occur not because of medical issues, but issues of mere inconvenience.

Being for an unborn baby’s rights is not synonymous with being against women’s rights. No, tragically, half of the 50 million American babies murdered since Roe V. Wade have been female. Roughly 25 million potential congresswomen, civil rights leaders, first ladies, nurses, teachers , mothers, and women’s rights leaders cheated of the basic right to life. Where is the feminist outcry for those precious female babies?

Black or white, male or female. Fellow images of God sacrificed at the demonic altar of expedience (Psalm 139). It’s not a political issue, it’s a justice issue. As MLK Jr used to say “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Yes, even in the womb.

May God raise up another reformer in the spirit of Martin Luther, to spark a revival among the inner cities and rural counties that reverses the unborn holocaust before it’s too late.  (Malachi 4:6)

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

6 thoughts on “Martin Luther: The Reformer, The Civil Rights Leader, and The Work Unfinished”

  1. I’ve been checking out this blog for awhile and you do an awesome job with it. I like how you do a bit of everything and still make it Christ-centered. Keep the good work and for kicks, Go Noles!!!

  2. Stanford posted his paper attacking the uniqueness and reality of Christ’s virgin birth, incarnation, and bodily resurrection here: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/kingpapers/article/volume_i_13_september_to_23_november_19491/

    Here he criticizes fundamentalism and praises liberalism: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/kingpapers/article/volume_i_13_september_23_november_1949c/

    When we as a group–and especially as Christians–celebrate the life of a single man, we ought to be very careful as to why.

    1. Interesting points Josh. Other than writing this article, I can’t say I’ve spent a ton of time studying the man. Given the info you’ve provided it seems he probably would be more comfortable in the Emergent Church than the SBC…He wasn’t a hero of orthodoxy, but he was at least a notable social reformer that should be remembered…

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