What does Martin Luther King, Jr., think the role of the church should be in addressing racial problems, and what theological arguments does he advance to support his position?

Expert Answers
Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his Letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. outlines several theological justifications for his actions in the south and his call for southern clerical support. He discusses the Apostle Paul's decision to support the oppressed Macedonians, even though the Roman Crown did not approve of his interfering in their conflict with the Macedonians. King points out that numerous other clergy helped Paul in his fight on behalf of the Macedonians. Like those other clergy, southern preachers and pastors should take up the mantle of justice by helping King in the fight against racial injustice. King also offers a theological justification for participating in civil disobedience. He discusses St. Augustine's conviction that: "an unjust law is no law at all." King argues that Augustinian Christianity not only permits, but also requires people of faith to disregard and resist unjust laws. This resistance, King argues, is a religious obligation among the truly pious.  

educate2016 | Student

Though Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher, he was more of an activist for civil rights.  If you'll think about it, how many times have we heard him make reference to anything scriptural? There was moreso, peaceful marches and sit-ins at dining counters, etc.  Even within the pulpit, his speeches were more political than religious.  I believe he was a Christian but his focus was more on fighting for the rights of the underprivileged than the saving of the souls of men.  He made reference to the Constitution that "All men are created equal," but no reference to Word of God.  However, I do believe that his stance of the role of the church in addressing racial problems was that the church, being the people of God, should represent the love of God in all circumstances.  The bible says that God so "loved" the WORLD...not just whites or blacks. He loves us all.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost...not just whites or blacks.  I believe Dr. King would want that love represented in order for those who were contrary to be drawn in by that love.  The bible says that "by this love shall all men know that you are my disciples."  God says, "with lovingkindness have I drawn you." I believe that would be the message of Dr. King.