Born in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pastor, activist, and leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. King rose to prominence during the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and orchestrated the 1963 March on Washington where King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was assassinated in 1968.
A Big Deal
Yet for all I’ve learned about King over the course of my education, I knew little about the origins of King’s thought. Aside from a passing mention of King as a Baptist minister, the facts I was taught regarding King sit mostly on the secular side.
|Photo by Scott Ableman|
A compilation of 15 separate sermons, Strength to Love follows a variety of topics. Loving neighbors and enemies represent a major theme. Contextual issues such as a Christian’s response to Communism also populate the pages.
If you have heard MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, you’ve heard his unparalleled eloquence. King’s possesses stolid and erudite prose. As such, you could underline every other sentence.
The Continual Journey
In his words,
“In my senior year in theological seminary, I engaged in the exciting reading of various theological theories. Having been raised in a rather strict fundamentalist tradition, I was occasionally shocked when my intellectual journey carried me through new and sometimes complex doctrinal lands, but the pilgrimage was always stimulating, gave me a new appreciation for objective appraisal and critical analysis, and knocked me out of my dogmatic slumber” (146).Having experienced theological study, such sentiments ring true with me. Reading King’s words about his time in preparatory study reminds me of the journey we all take in faith, in philosophy, and in life. Without King’s intellectual journey, we more than likely would not have seen such a powerful external representation of his beliefs.
The Foundations of Faith
“God has been profoundly real to me in recent years. In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm. In the midst of lonely days and dreary nights I have heard an inner voice saying, ‘Lo, I will be with you’” (153).
|Photo by Nathan Gibbs|
In Appreciation of the Man
But, reading King talk about faith in Jesus and the importance of the church in tender words all while admitting his intellectual journey gives me courage.
If you are a fan of Martin Luther King or are interested in hearing his positions from his voice, Strength to Love is a mandatory read.
Verdict: 5 out of 5
Posted by: Donovan Richards
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