In last week’s post on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I could have used a quote from Albert Einstein but decided it would be relevant also for this week.
“Having always been a partisan of freedom, I turned to the Universities, as soon as the revolution broke out in Germany, to find the Universities took refuge in silence. I then turned to the editors of powerful newspapers, who, but lately in flowing articles had claimed to be the faithful champions of liberty. These men, as well as the Universities, were reduced to silence in a few weeks. I then addressed myself to the authors, individually, to those to those who passed themselves off as the intellectual guides of Germany, and among whom many had frequently discussed the question of freedom and its place in modern life. They are in their turn very dumb. Only the Church opposed the fight which Hitler was waging against liberty. Till then I had no interest in the Church, but now I feel great admiration and am truly attracted to the Church which had the persistent courage to fight for spiritual truth and moral freedom. I feel obliged to confess that I now admire what I used to consider of little value.”
I use it this week to establish a framework by which another great leader challenged culture, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was named after a Christian reformer in the sixteenth century, Martin Luther. Like his namesake, Dr. King approached his life and the reforms he sought to make based on his Christian faith.
Allusions to the Bible
In his famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” Dr. King used Biblical allusions to reinforce his ideas: the prophet Amos’ demand for righteousness and justice (Amos 5:24); an allusion to Isaiah’s prophecy that God’s way would be made straight (Isaiah 40:3-4), a statement that Jesus also quoted in Luke 3:4-6. The teachings of the church formed much of King’s inspiration. My research paper (Weber_From-Left-to-Right.pdf (wordsdr.com) illustrates the same reason why Eugene Genovese rejected his leftist leanings to embrace the source of the western nations’ belief in the respect of and equality for the individual: Christianity.
Character Not Color
Dr. King’s legacy to treat all races the same is in sharp contrast to Critical Race Theory that seeks to classify and judge everyone by their race. King said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” He stood directly on the shoulders of former slave, Frederick Douglass, who said, “Races, like individuals, must stand or fall by their own merits.” According to left-leaning thinking, standing or falling by one’s own merits (Meritocracy) smacks of racism.
Critical Race Theory also demands that the color of one’s skin determines whether that person is an oppressor or an oppressed. Frederick Douglass challenges this as well. “When an unknown man is spoken of in their presence, the first question that arises in the average American mind concerning him and which must be answered is, Of what color is he? And he rises or falls in estimation by the answer given. It is not whether he is a good man or a bad man. That does not seem of primary importance.”
I could also go into King’s and Douglass’ belief that the Constitution provided our nation with the corrective for inequality. Both men sought to bring our nation into conformity with the “All men are created equal” notion so inherent in our laws. Equality of all men has always been inherent in the teachings of Christ. “In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all,” Colossians 3:11.
If we move further and further from the truths of the church, the only thing left will be right and wrong determined only by those in power and with money. Let “these truths [continue to] be self-evident.” Remember Dr. King’s legacy and bring the truths of Christianity to bear on your life.
© 2023 Robert T. Weber, The Lazarus Chronicles and Words Done Right LLC