Martin Luther King, Jr and Christian Ethics (Jan-Feb 2005)

By Matt Dabbs

by Mike Cope
January – February, 2005

My insular world of Neosho, Missouri protected me from much of what was happening in 1968. That fall, I entered 7th grade at Neosho Junior High School and started my downtown paper route after school.

So much was happening in the world that year. The Tet offensive was launched in January. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April, and Robert Kennedy in June.

Only later did the impact of the My Lai Massacre begin to sink in as we heard news reports about Charlie Company and Lt. William Calley.

I couldn’t have known then how much impact those years, those people seeking justice and mercy in our culture, would have on me.

Recently, my wife and I listened again to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I love how, after so many times, it still touches Diane. And I marvel at how the speech and King’s message has touched millions right up to today, January 17, 2005, on a day that is now set aside to honor the man and his incredible accomplishments.

I like what Philip Yancey wrote about King and his influence:

I better understand now the pressures that King faced his entire adult life, pressures that surely contributed to his failures. King’s moral weaknesses provide a convenient excuse for anyone who wants to avoid his message, and because of those weaknesses some Christians still discount the genuineness of his faith. (These Christians might want to review the list of outstanding people of faith in Hebrews 11, a list which includes such moral deviants as Noah, Abraham, jacob, Rahab, Samson, and David.) I certainly once dismissed him. Yet now I can hardly read a page from King’s life, or a paragraph from his speeches, without sensing the centrality of his Christian conviction. I own a collection of his sermon tapes, and every time I listen to them I am swept up in the sheer power of his gospel-based message, delivered with an eloquence that has never been matched.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

We chose to begin this Christian Ethics issue on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day because of King’s remarkable impact on our world. His ethic of love, non-violence, social justice is a great place to begin our discussion of ethics.

Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, do yourself a favor: stop long enough to read (or watch) Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream speech,” and his other writings and speeches.

We’ve provided links to some of King’s most influencial writings and speeches below.

P.S. Tomorrow (January 18, 2005), we’ll have more on the Ethics issue, contents, and what to expect over the next six weeks. Bookmark Wineskins.org and come back daily – there’s a great line up of articles you won’t want to miss.New Wineskins


Resources

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Site

NPR’s coverage of MLK, Jr. Day
This includes audio and printed speeches.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project of Stanford University

Mike CopeMike Cope is preaching minister of Highland Church in Abilene, Texas. [Mike Cope’s blog – Check here for news about the Highland Church youth group accident Sunday in which one boy died and many were seriously injured, including Mike’s son, Christopher, 11.]

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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