The Pulpit Power of Martin Luther King Jr.

Selections from his sermons.

Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been off the stage and away from the pulpit for more than three decades, his sermons are just as topical and timely today, Mervyn A. Warren writes in his book "King Came Preaching." Here is how King addressed several common themes and subject matters, according to Warren's research:

"On Being a Good Neighbor"
(The theme of brotherhood/sisterhood)

"The real tragedy--is that we see people as entities or merely as things. Too seldom do we see people in their true humanness. A spiritual myopia limits our vision to external accidents. We see men as Jews or Gentiles, Catholics or Protestants, Chinese or American, Negroes or whites. We fail to think of them as fellow human beings made from the same basic stuff as we, molded in the same divine image. The priest and the Levite saw only a bleeding body, not a human being like themselves. But the Good Samaritan will always remind us to remove the cataracts of provincialism from our spiritual eyes and see men as men."

"The Death of Evil Upon the Seashore"
(On the theme of God)

"We must be reminded anew that God is at work in his universe. He is not outside the world looking on with a sort of cold indifference. Here on all the roads of life, he is striving in our striving. Like an ever-loving Father, he is working through history for the salvation of his children. As we struggle to defeat the forces of evil, the God of the universe struggles with us."

"A Knock at Midnight"


(On the church)

The church must be reminded once again that it is not to be the master or the servant of the state, but the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state--never its tool. As long as the church is a tool of the state it will be unable to provide even a modicum of bread for men at midnight."

"A Knock at Midnight"
(On the church's position about war)

"In the terrible midnight of war men have knocked on the door of the church to ask for the bread of peace, but the church has often disappointed them. What more pathetically reveals the irrelevancy of the church in present-day world affairs than its witness regarding war? In a world gone mad with arms buildup, chauvinistic passions and imperialistic exploitation, the church has either endorsed these activities or remained appallingly silent. ...A weary world, pleading desperately for peace, has often found the church morally sanctioning war."

"A Knock at Midnight"
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