God's Free Children
I wanted to share another book from my dissertation reading list. “A Gift of Love: Sermons from Strength to Love and Other Preachings” by Martin Luther King, Jr. (2012). King, the great civil rights leader, was first and foremost a pastor, and he states; “I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights, I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambition in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office, I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher.” (Forward X).
King’s theology, as it appears on page 88, “I do not pretend to understand all of the ways of God or his particular timetable for grappling with evil. Perhaps if God dealt with evil in the overbearing way that we wish, he would defeat his ultimate purpose. We are responsible human beings, not blind automatons; persons, not puppets. By endowing us with freedom, God relinquished a measure of his own sovereignty and imposed certain limitations upon himself. If his children are free, they must do his will by voluntary choice.” I noticed King speaks little to eternal life and focuses on what God’s children can do in the here and now, which makes perfect sense for social change and justice. King goes on to say that the Protestant Reformation “often emphasized as a purely otherworldly religion which stresses the hopelessness of this world and calls upon the individual to concentrate on preparing their soul for the world to come” (p. 133). This reminds me that eternal life (a place in God’s kingdom to come) needs to be properly balanced with social issues of the present so that we are thinking not only of our salvation (future), but of those around us in the present, and especially those hurting, disenfranchised, marginalized folks (which transitions beautifully into his mutuality theology).
“All men (people) are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.” (p. Forward XV, 73).