“When he (Martin Luther King) went back to Ebeneezer Baptist his Father set him over Christian Education in order to teach the congregants biblical orthodoxy and the essentials of our faith and so he would not have been able to function in that traditional setting unless he believed in conversion, and in salvation, and in justification and the kind of traditional understandings that we have of salvation in Christ…. King never repudiated the Gospel.”
Rev. Mika Edmonsond
OPC Pastor — Grand Rapids Michigan
Start approximately 16 minute mark
Rev. Edmonsond here goes beyond revisionist history and begins to bump into fairy tale history.
The claim that Martin Luther King (MLK) was ever orthodox is past dubious and to claim otherwise means either that the person making the claim is ignorant of the subject matter or that they themselves have some questions to answer when it comes to the meaning of the term “orthodox Christian Faith.”
Somewhere between the end of 1949 and the beginning of 1950 MLK wrote a paper on the Divinity of Christ while attending Crozer Theological Seminary. King would have been somewhere around 21 years old at this time. This paper would’ve been written prior to the reference that Rev. Edmondson makes mentioning MLK’s return to Ebenezer. I reproduce a portion of that paper that proves indisputably that King was most certainly not orthodox during this time. I have not changed any of King’s spelling mistakes.
Begin MLK quote,
“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.9 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.”
End MLK quote
If MLK was not orthodox on the divinity of Christ then he could not have been orthodox on any other issue from conversion to salvation to justification. An attestation of belief in a non-divine Christ means the person making such a profession is wrong all the way down the line in their soteriological orthodoxy, which is the orthodoxy that Rev. Edmonsond is referencing.
Now, to be fair, seemingly MLK would have affirmed the divinity of Christ but that affirmation, by dint of how MLK is defining the divinity of Christ, is a affirmation that no orthodox Christian for 1900 years prior to the rise of F. C. Baur and the Tubingen school of divinity with their Higher Criticism methodology would have recognized. King’s assertions certainly has never been considered orthodox by the OPC, the denomination that credentials Rev. Edmondson.
Note that MLK denies that Jesus is,
1.) The Pre-existent Logos
2.) The Word made flesh
3.) The 2nd person of the trinity
4.) Very God of Very God
5.) Of one substance with the Father
6.) Incarnated by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary
7.) Of two natures, yet one person
8.) Is anything but a prototype of many humans who will follow in his divine steps
In other words MLK denies Christian orthodoxy and exchanges it for Humanist (Barthian neo-orthodoxy) orthodoxy. Rev. Edmondson tells us that believing that the divinity of Jesus was comprised,
“in his filial consciousness and in his unique dependence upon God. It was his felling [sic] of absolute dependence on God, as Schleiermaker [sic] would say, that made him divine. Yes it was the warmnest [sic] of his devotion to God and the intimatcy [sic] of his trust in God that accounts for his being the supreme revelation of God.”
is Gospel orthodoxy.
I suppose facts no longer matter. It no longer matters what MLK actually believed. It no longer matters that a minister in the OPC says things that are just not true, while also calling into question the very definition of orthodoxy. It no longer matters that large numbers of people will believe podcast assertions that have no anchor in facts.
Just call me old fashioned.
And orthodox to boot.