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Martin Luther King, Jr.

Both Allan R. Bevere and Scot McKnight have posted Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail on their blogs. It is always worth re-reading on the day that commemorates the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. His words were prophetic and speak loudly to the church of today — and its leadership.

In deep disappointment, I have wept over the laxity of the Church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the Church; I love her sacred walls. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson, and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the Church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the Church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the Church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.” But they went on with the conviction that they were a “colony of heaven” and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.

Things are different now. The contemporary Church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.

photo_141-600x486Also well worth reading: this story of the day Greek Orthodox Archbishop Iakovos marched with Dr. Martin Luther Jr. Professor Albert J. Raboteau at Fordham University writes: “”I am haunted by one detail of Archbishop Iakovos’ visit to Selma: the moment at Brown Chapel when that small black girl took his hand and told him not to worry. I wonder what the Archbishop thought. Did he perhaps recall Jesus’ words: “for of such as these is the kingdom of heaven”?”

And, Andrew Dragos writes about The Dream of Social Holiness on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He writes: “We cannot conceive of justice or holiness that isn’t inherently social. This was the stipulation of Yahweh under the old covenant, the proclamation of Jesus’s kingdom in the New Testament, the inspired insight given to John Wesley as he stood in solidarity with Wilberforce in 1791, and finally, the remarkable claim made by Dr. King in 1963. The God who justifies us from his judgment seat comes near by his Spirit and sanctifies us as well. Therefore we cannot love our neighbor from afar.”

We are now being told that: “The combined wealth of the world’s richest 85 people is now equivalent to that owned by half of the world’s population – or 3.5 billion of the poorest people – according to a new report from Oxfam” according to this report at NBC Business News.

Everyone’s favorite Metho-blogger, John Meunier interacts with William Birch’s post (which appeared here) on “The Modern Reductionist Gospel of Evangelicalism” here: ‘The’ gospel vs. their gospel. I appreciate the interaction — and the attempt to clarify what I think is being said by a lot of us about the need to recover the full gospel of Jesus Christ against a merely “soterian” gospel. (That is, it is not part of the mainline liberal vs. conservative drama — it is the attempt among evangelicals to recover the full meaning of the Christian Gospel.) I left some comments on John’s blog.

IFDerek Flood thinks the contradictions found in the Old Testament scriptures can be seen as a good thing. He says: ” Seeing the Old Testament from this perspective can be liberating. Rather than trying to make sense of and justify things that strike us as profoundly wrong (like genocide or slavery) we can instead see the Bible as a record of dispute, a witness to a struggle to understand who God is and who we are. Those contradictions we find are then not problems to argue away, but simply due to the fact that the Hebrew Bible allows for diversity, it allows for the voices of competing sides to an issue to stand side by side within the canon. Because there are these divergent views we are compelled to enter into that struggle too. The multiple conflicting views mean we must “pick and choose” as we read. The only question is, what do we pick and why?”

And, David F. Watson answers the question “What is a Liberal Christian?” — explaining well, I think, why some of us are unwilling to wear the labels “liberal” or “progressive.” It goes together well with Roger E. Olson’s post Why I Am Not a “Liberal Christian.”

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