African-American Religion Interpretive Essays In History And Culture

African-American Religion Interpretive Essays In History And Culture-38
In 1940, he revealed his commitment to social gospel Christianity in an address on "the true mission of the Church" delivered to the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association: Quite often we say the church has no place in politics, forgetting the words of the Lord, 'The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath [anointed] me to preach the Gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." ...God hasten the time when every minister will become a registered voter and a part of every movement for the betterment of our people.His student papers demonstrate that he adopted European-American theological ideas that ultimately reinforced rather than undermined the African-American social gospel tradition epitomized by his father and grandfather.

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His father, Martin Luther King, Sr., noted the way in which his son absorbed attitudes ("he loved church ...At the age of 13 I shocked my Sunday School class by denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus.From the age of thirteen on doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly.He reflected, "I had never given this matter a thought, and even at the time of [my] baptism I was unaware of what was taking place." King admitted that he "joined the church not out of any dynamic conviction, but out of a childhood desire to keep up with my sister." In the same sketch, he wrote that, although he accepted the teachings of his Sunday school teachers until he was about twelve, this uncritical attitude could not last long, for it was contrary to the very nature of my being.I had always been the questioning and precocious type.A guest evangelist from Virginia had come to talk about salvation and to seek recruits for the church.Having grown up in the church, King had never given much thought to joining it formally, but the emotion of the revival and the decision of his sister to step forward prompted an impulsive decision to accept conversion.While a theology student at Morehouse College, King, Sr., had been exposed to the liberal theological ideas of C. A year later he became chairman of the Committee on the Equalization of Teachers' Salaries, which was formed to protest against discriminatory policies that paid higher salaries to white teachers than to equally qualified blacks.In spite of receiving threatening hate letters, he played a leading role in the sustained struggle for pay equity.' King's firm insistence that the Christian church should participate in civil rights activities set him apart from politically conservative scriptural fundamentalists.King's recognition that he did not share some of' the religious convictions of other family members might have been emotionally devastating, but his inalienable sense of belonging to the church led him toward reconciliation rather than continued rebellion.Although his convictions removed him from the kind of fundamentalist faith that placed great importance on emotionalism and a conversion experience, he never considered abandoning his inherited faith.


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