The “Reverend” Martin Luther King, Jr. rejected Christianity as fact and twisted it into a tool of social justice.
Starting off at http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Writings-show-King-as-liberal-Christian-2623685.php dated January 15, 2007:
A decade before her death in 2006, King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, flew to San Francisco to ask Stanford Professor Clayborne Carson to examine and write about the box’s contents.A decade before her death in 2006, King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, flew to San Francisco to ask Stanford Professor Clayborne Carson to examine and write about the box’s contents.
The texts, which illuminate the theological foundations that America’s most celebrated social activist would repeatedly return to, are revealed in a book to be released today — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — by Stanford University’s King Papers Project.
The collection includes documents from 1948 to 1963 — the years covered by the book — and “gets us closer to King’s true identity” because they shed new light on how he viewed the Bible, Carson said.
“King used to say, ‘People think of me as a civil rights leader, but fundamentally, I’m a Baptist preacher,’ ” said Carson, editor of “Advocate of the Social Gospel,” which is based on the newly disclosed writings and is the sixth book produced by the King Papers Project.
The texts are triggering a discussion about how much King’s rejection of a literal reading of the Bible shaped his social activism.
King was not a conformist Christian. He not only eschewed literalism, he was a strident critic of how the Christian church perpetuated injustices such as slavery and segregation.
“Too often has the church talked about a future good ‘over yonder,’ totally forgetting the present evil over here,” King wrote in 1952 to Coretta Scott, his future wife.
Within a decade, King would lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott to protest legal segregation and numerous marches for voting rights. He returned repeatedly to the idea that true Christianity is practiced through the work for social justice.
“Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and not concerned about the city government that damns the soul, the economic conditions that corrupt the soul, the slum conditions, the social evils that cripple the soul, is a dry, dead, do-nothing religion in need of new blood,” King preached in 1962 to his congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
It wasn’t known until these papers were released how consistently King had been developing the social gospel. Nor was the extent to which King rejected a biblical literalism.
King didn’t believe the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale was true, for example, or that John the Baptist actually met Jesus, according to texts detailed in the King papers book. King once referred to the Bible as “mythological” and also doubted whether Jesus was born to a virgin, Carson said.
For some literalists, King’s belief that not every word of the Bible is true would mean he was not a Christian — even though many others would say no other 20th century figure more effectively used Christianity to shape society.
King “wanted to develop an intellectually respectable form of Christianity that did not require people to simply abandon their rational, critical abilities,” Carson said. The essential truth King saw, according to Carson, was the social gospel — “to see the Bible as a message of spiritual redemption and global social justice.”
“What relevance do these scriptures have?” King asked in a document included in “Advocate of the Social Gospel.” “What moral implications do we find growing out of the Bible?”
Carson also said King criticized the other extreme — the belief that the Bible is purely a political text, devoid of faith.
This is consistent with MLK’s earlier beliefs about Christianity. Excepted from https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/humanity-and-divinity-jesus , emphases mine:
As stated above, the conflict that Christians often have over the question of Jesus divinity is not over the validity of the fact of his divinity, but over the question of how and when he became divine. The more orthodox Christians have seen his divinity as an inherent quality metaphysically bestowed. Jesus, they have told us, is the Pre existent Logos. He is the word made flesh. He is the second person of the trinity. He is very God of very God, of one substance with the Father, who for our salvation came down from Heaven and was incarnate be the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary.
Certainly this view of the divinity of Christ presents many modern minds with insuperable difficulties. Most of us are not willing to see the union of the human and divine in a metaphysical incarnation. Yet amid all of our difficulty with the pre existent idea and the view of supernatural generation, we must come to some view of the divinity of Jesus. In order to remain in the orbid of the Christian religion we must have a Christology. As Dr. Baille has reminded us, we cannot have a good theology without a Christology. Where then can we in the liberal tradition find the divine dimension in Jesus? We may find the divinity of Christ not in his substantial unity with God, but in his filial consciousness and in his unique dependence upon God. It was his felling of absolute dependence on God, as Schleiermaker would say, that made him divine. Yes it was the warmnest of his devotion to God and the intimatcy of his trust in God that accounts for his being the supreme revelation of God. All of this reveals to us that one man has at last realized his true divine calling: That of becoming a true son of man by becoming a true son of God. It is the achievement of a man who has, as nearly as we can tell, completely opened his life to the influence of the divine spirit.
The orthodox attempt to explain the divinity of Jesus in terms of an inherent metaphysical substance within him seems to me quite inadaquate. To say that the Christ, whose example of living we are bid to follow, is divine in an ontological sense is actually harmful and detrimental. To invest this Christ with such supernatural qualities makes the rejoinder: “Oh, well, he had a better chance for that kind of life than we can possible have.” In other words, one could easily use this as a means to hide behind behind his failures. So that the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied. The true significance of the divinity of Christ lies in the fact that his achievement is prophetic and promissory for every other true son of man who is willing to submit his will to the will and spirit og God. Christ was to be only the prototype of one among many brothers.
The appearance of such a person, more divine and more human than any other, and standing in closest unity at once with God and man, is the most significant and hopeful event in human history. This divine quality or this unity with God was not something thrust upon Jesus from above, but it was a definite achievement through the process of moral struggle and self-abnegation.
We could simply stop at MLK’s rejection of Christ as being God Incarnate. His dismissal of us “more orthodox” believers is quite insulting when it is what Scripture emphatically and repeatedly states. Surely, only lunatics believe that a religion means what it teaches! But then we would miss the connection
As I emphasized in boldface above, King’s view is that Jesus bootstrapped himself into becoming God. This is the defining belief of humanism. Just as women simultaneously envy men for their strengths while seeking to usurp them, men seek to turn themselves into gods while rebelling forcefully against God. “You shall be as God,” hissed the serpent.
Christianity to King was a recipe for apotheosis. Use nonviolent tactics, gather followers, use religious-sounding memes and voila, you’re successful like Jesus! And funny thing, it actually worked for him. The source of that success, however, was not God. It was white sentimentalism & black greed.
With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that segregation was the only (or at minimum, the most successful) way for blacks to prosperously live inside the first-world United States. Forcing an end to segregation was an act of cultural sabotage comparable to forcing an end to distinctions between male & female today. Human life is sacred but not interchangeable. Blacks should have accepted the place they were given. Whites should not have played Utopia.
King was an ordained minister but never a Christian. He sought to use Christianity as a tool with which to shape the world as he wished. Only years after his death did his widow release the documents that proved “Reverend” King was as much a fraud in his later life as in his earlier life.