On a day when we honor a man committed to racial reconciliation, Fred Sanders offers this responsible analysis of Martin Luther’s theological tradition, strengths and weaknesses:
But mainly, MLK saw a big issue coming his way and knew to lean into it rather than avoiding it. From a conservative theological perspective, I could always wish he had received better teaching, and hadn’t felt the need to deny so much of what God has revealed about himself in his word. But I can also thank God that MLK had such a good grasp of a few crucial elements of Christianity: a personal God, the depth of sin, the possibility of transforming civic life. Compared to the fullness of a more robustly biblical variety of Christianity, what’s left for liberal theology doesn’t seem like much. It doesn’t seem like enough to build anything on. But see what Martin Luther King Jr. did with it! As Piper says, seeing it isn’t hard: “All you have to do to find some good word from MLK is Google his name.” Whatever he may have felt he had to give up from the fullness of the Christian faith, there’s still so much residual force left that it’s in every line of every speech. He did something with what he had. And since there’s still something to be done, MLK is still a resource. Don’t waste his words, his arguments, or his day.
Read the whole thing. It’s a balanced and sympathetic assessment of a man’s complex history.