Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was "a man to be admired for his empowering speeches and his inspirational marches." Indeed. But as his writings unearthed by the King Papers Project in association with Stanford University now reveal, a man who also need not shy the company of the intellectual giants of the ages.
Of course one need not, as King did, to have read and admired Immanuel Kant -no friend of religion, even less so of Christianity, to, as King did, have "had doubts that religion was intellectually respectable".
Dr. King's recognition of the Christian Church as "the greatest preserver of the status quo" and so, "one of the chief exponents of racial bigotry" is no less lucid. It led him to write: "I can conclude that the church, in its present state, is not the hope of the world. I believe that nothing has so persistently and effectively blocked the way of salvation as the church."
Dr. King ended up going with Mahatma Gandhi's (everyone's favorite Christian honoris causa) methods. However, most erosive of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Christian credentials and at the same time perhaps elevating him to the august company of the likes of great deists such as Baruch Spinosa and Thomas Jefferson, is King's finding of the divinity, the virgin birth, and the resurrection of Christ as "historically and philosophically untenable", and "incompatible with all scientific knowledge". *
Had Dr. King had time to spend with contemporaries of his, say, like a Richard Feynman, an Albert Einstein or a Bertrand Russell, chances are that with his keen intellect and intellectual honesty he would have taken that final logical step and taken his leave of any remaining vestige of a god and the supernatural.
*Volume I, 13 September to 23 November 1949
"What Experiences of Christians Living in the Early Christian Century Led to the Christian Doctrines of the Divine Sonship of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, and the Bodily Resurrection"
[13 September-23 November 1949][Chester, Pa.]
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