If Dr. King had been alive, he could be completely amazed that the Southern Baptist Convention, this 12 months will probably be internet hosting a celebration in his honor in Memphis, Tennessee. When he penned “The Letter from The Birmingham Jail,” King had his “Christian and Jewish brothers” in thoughts, together with Southern Baptists, when he wrote the following phrases in April 1963:

While confined right here in the Birmingham metropolis jail, I got here throughout your latest assertion calling our current actions ‘unwise and untimely.’

I have to make two trustworthy confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I have to confess that over the previous few years I’ve been gravely dissatisfied with the white average. I’ve virtually reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s nice stumbling block in the stride towards freedom just isn’t the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner however the white average who’s extra dedicated to order than to justice; who prefers a detrimental peace which is the absence of pressure to a constructive peace which is the presence of justice; who consistently says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree together with your strategies of direct motion’; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for an additional man’s freedom; who lives by the fantasy of time; and who consistently advises the Negro to attend till a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from individuals of excellent will is extra irritating than absolute misunderstanding from individuals of unwell will. Lukewarm acceptance is rather more bewildering than outright rejection.’

The Clergyman in Birmingham additionally referred to King as an “outside agitator.”

In April 1961, Martin Luther King, Jr., was gaining nationwide fame and spoke in Chapel at the flagship theological seminary, amongst the Southern Baptists’ six seminaries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. As historian, Taylor Branch, wrote in his biography of King, regarding the response of highly effective Southern Baptists who opposed Martin Luther King’s go to and Southern Seminary’s invitation to Martin Luther King:

Within the church [SBC], this straightforward invitation was racial and theological heresy, such that church buildings throughout the South rescinded their common donations to the seminary.

During his lifetime, Dr. King skilled criticism, rejection and at greatest, “lukewarm acceptance” from the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fast ahead to in the present day. Over 3500 (primarily Southern Baptists) have registered in Memphis in 2018 to rejoice the life and legacy of Dr. King, who was assassinated by an Anglo son of the South on April Four, 1968. What a distinction 50 years make! The SBC angle towards King has gone by a metamorphosis over the previous 50 years, as the whole Convention has made substantial and measurable progress on the racial entrance.

In 50 years, the SBC has moved from castigating to celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. In 50 years, the SBC has moved from denying Blacks seats at the desk of management, to electing Fred Luter as the first African American President of the SBC in 2012 and H.B. Charles as President of the Pastors Conference in 2017. In 50 years, the SBC has moved from viewing Blacks virtually completely as a missions venture, to participating Blacks as mission companions and co-laborers. In 50 years, the SBC has moved from opposing the Civil Rights motion to passing resolutions overwhelmingly in favor of denouncing the Confederate Flag and the Alt-Right. Within 60 years, the SBC has moved from non-admittance of Blacks in Southern Baptist Seminaries, to appointing Walter Strickland as Vice President of Kingdom Diversity and Professor of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Within 50 years the SBC has shifted from the highest rating Black in the SBC Executive Building headquarters being the “head custodian” to, Ken Weathersby, serving as a Vice President of the Executive Committee. The SBC handed a decision acknowledging the historic election of President Barack Obama in 2009. Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Frank Page, Dr. Danny Akin, Dr. Fred Luter, Dr. Steve Gaines, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Dr. James Merritt and a number of others, have labored diligently to maneuver the ball down the street in advancing God’s Kingdom Agenda for racial inclusion and empowerment in the SBC. Yet, there’s a vocal minority in the SBC that has registered opposition to the 50 Years King Celebration, as did their forbearers, 50 years in the past, maybe for various causes although.

The SBC ERLC has spoken out in opposition to police brutality and in favor of complete immigration reform below the prophetic and transformative management of Dr. Russell Moore. Never would this sort of prophetic advocacy happen throughout King’s lifetime. The SBC has by phrase, deed and repentance, earned the proper to legitimately rejoice Martin Luther King, Jr.

The largest racial hurdle the SBC has but to beat is the exclusion of Blacks and different minorities serving as an entity head. Entity heads additionally represent the Great Commission Council of the SBC. How can you could have a Great Commission Council that displays just one ethnicity inside the Convention? Currently, with two entity head positions vacant, the all-White Great Commission Council ought to quickly change, in the spirit of Martin Luther King’s dream.

Doctrinal and ethical issues are the two commonest objections raised relating to causes to recommend that the SBC ERLC not honor and rejoice the 50th 12 months loss of life of Dr. King.

Many have known as consideration to some writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. recorded in his dissertation for his Ph.D. work at Boston University that displays liberal theological leanings.

Admittedly, Martin Luther King casts doubtful questions and doubts on orthodox views of the virgin start, deity of Christ, and the resurrection, mirrored in his graduate faculty writings. I even recall studying that whereas in Sunday School as a youth at his father’s church, he raised questions regarding the validity of the gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Even John the Baptist, whereas in jail, despatched phrase to Jesus, “Are you the Christ or shall we look for another?” Doubt and questioning normally happen at some level in the pilgrimage of each believer. Many of us merely haven’t recorded our ideas or spoken aloud when battling with doubt. John the Baptist skilled days of doubt, however he died dedicated to the perception that Christ was King of God’s Kingdom—so did Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Carl Ellis, experiences that Martin Luther King utilized to 2 conservative seminaries, and was rejected by each due to his colour. He matriculated in the M.Div. and Ph.D. packages at liberal theological colleges in the ‘40’s. Conservative colleges merely weren’t enrolling Black college students at the time. Dr. Ellis testifies that one in every of the colleges that rejected Martin Luther King as a graduate seminary scholar additionally rejected him for the identical cause. It’s actually smug to criticize a person for embracing liberal theology, while you refuse to permit him to enroll in theologically conservative establishments. SBC seminaries didn’t enroll Black college students till the ‘50’s, once they introduced they’d solely enroll “highly qualified Negroes.” Not permitting Blacks to enroll in SBC seminaries was a sensible denial of the religion, equally as problematic as King’s liberal theological leanings throughout his graduate work.

The excellent news after finishing his Ph.D. and whereas pastoring the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. King returned to the religion of his father—Martin Luther King, Sr. Dr. King testified that he was returning to the “God that would make a way, out of no way.” That’s frequent phrasing in the Black church to seek advice from The God of the Bible. Furthermore, King introduced that he was embracing his father’s God; once more, which was additionally one other means of expressing in Black theological circles that he was returning to orthodoxy. He made these statements on the heels of bombs being blasted at his residence in Montgomery, doubtlessly endangering the lives of his spouse and youngsters.

In one in every of his lesser identified sermons, preached at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on Easter Sunday, April 1957, in a message entitled “Questions That Easter Answers,” Dr. King made the following statements that ought to put to relaxation his beliefs in orthodoxy:

Easter is a day above all days. It surpasses the thriller and marvel of Christmas with all of the glory of the incarnation. (MLK believed in the incarnation, which would come with the virgin start and Christ’s Deity.)

Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ we now have match testimony that this earthly life just isn’t the finish…  (Martin Luther King’s confession of the resurrection in his personal phrases)

…males by the generations have discovered once they stay near Jesus Christ, that Easter can emerge, and that every one of the darkness of Good Friday can cross away. (You can’t stay near Jesus, except He is the dwelling Lord.)

And because of this life is significant, that life just isn’t doomed to frustration and futility however life can find yourself in achievement in the life and the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We thanks, this morning, to your Son, Jesus, who got here by to tell us that love is the most sturdy energy in the world, who got here by to tell us that loss of life can’t defeat us, to take the sting out of the grave and loss of life and make it potential for all of us to have everlasting life. We thanks, oh God. And God grant that we are going to be grateful recipients of thy everlasting blessings. In the identify and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen. (I’m baffled as to how anybody can learn Martin Luther King’s Easter 1957 sermon and prayer and conclude that he didn’t consider the gospel.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. shed his liberal views on Christology expressed throughout his graduate faculty years and preached the highly effective Easter message in 1957 (beforehand referenced) that affirms the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His Lordship. It would definitely be applicable for these claiming that Dr. King didn’t consider the Gospel of Jesus Christ to now acknowledge this misunderstanding.

Many are unaware that Al Mohler and Frank Page embraced liberal views on ladies in ministry whereas in graduate faculty learning below extra average/liberal professors at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Later, as did Martin Luther King, Jr., they shed their liberal views and embraced a view on ladies in ministry extra akin to the BF&M 2000.

The second objection to the King celebration has to do together with his “alleged immoral lifestyle.” The cause I say alleged is as a result of I’m unfamiliar with any feminine or male, or their descendants or kinfolk, who’ve testified to a private sexual encounter with Dr. King. That is to not say, a number of didn’t transpire, it’s merely to say, I discover it fascinating that nobody has come forth to say such a private encounter.

Nevertheless, my response to this objection will probably be comparatively temporary. I used to be just lately requested: how can the church reconcile Martin Luther King’s adultery, plagiarism and doctrinal deviancy with a celebration?

My reply: Whatever sins Martin Luther King was responsible of had been a matter between his God, his spouse and youngsters, his congregation and himself. The church doesn’t must reconcile King’s sins with any celebration of him. Just as the church doesn’t must reconcile the racism of W.A. and Betty Criswell, who’re each on file unrepentantly claiming Africans had been cursed and assigned to servitude. The Criswell’s should give an account to God for his or her racism. My father, figuring out Criswell was a racist, beloved to listen to him preach and had a number of of his books in our residence throughout my formative, ministerial years. I might rejoice Criswell in the present day, not due to his sin, however due to his good. And that’s the reason the SBC must rejoice Martin Luther King. I hope many others will be part of the celebration in Memphis as a sworn statement to the grace, goodness and redemption of God, in all our lives and as one other main step in the SBC towards racial therapeutic.

May the Spirit of God breathe upon The King Memphis Celebration! May Southern Baptists come from the North, South, East and West! Job properly finished SBC ERLC!


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