Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Theology of Resistance


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About the Book

It has been nearly fifty years since Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Appraisals of King’s contributions began almost immediately and continue to this day. The author explores a great many of King’s chief ideas and socio-ethical practices: his concept of a moral universe, his doctrine of human dignity, his belief that not all suffering is redemptive, his brand of personalism, his contribution to the development of social ethics, the inclusion of young people in the movement, sexism as a contradiction to his personalism, the problem of black-on-black violence, and others. The book reveals both the strengths and the limitations in King’s theological socio-ethical project, and shows him to have relentlessly applied personalist ideas to organized nonviolent resistance campaigns in order to change the world. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Rufus Burrow, Jr., is Indiana Professor of Christian Thought and Professor of Theological Social Ethics, Emeritus, at the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bibliographic Details

Rufus Burrow, Jr.

Foreword by Dwayne A. Tunstall
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 292
Bibliographic Info: frontispiece, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7786-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1732-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  ix
Foreword by Dwayne A. Tunstall  1
Introduction  5

Part I: Man of Ideas and Ideals
1. The Universe as Fundamentally Moral  17
2. The Church and a ­Value-Fused Universe  30
3. Doctrine of Human Dignity  41
4. Personalism and Moral Laws  58
5. The King Type of Personalism  71
6. Reflections on King as Theological Social Ethicist  90

Part II: Pursuing the Dream
7. The Humanity of King and the Continued Vigilance in Pursuing His Dream  111
8. Josiah Royce and the Beloved Community  120
9. Call to Establish the Beloved Community  134
10. When a King Dreamed in Public  150
11. Contributions of Children and Young People  168
12. Not All Suffering Is Redemptive  188

Part III: Where Do We Go from Here?
13. Sexism as Contradiction to King’s Personalism  199
14. King and ­Intra-Community Black Violence  215
15. White Moderates, White Liberals and King’s Dream  229

Chapter Notes  245
Bibliography  269
Index  275

Book Reviews & Awards

• “A helpful collection of essays on King’s social ethics…Burrow’s additions to the scholarship draw upon the life of King as a model for synthesizing social ethics and concrete social reform…it also stands as the fruit of a long career of scholarship…recommended”—Choice
• “Sheds light on King’s belief in the power of nonviolence and his philosophy of personalism, and Burrow weaves with finesse a historical biopic that shows the reader that the two go hand-in-hand—The Expository Times
• “Scholars of King and of the civil rights movement will surely benefit from Burrow’s work”—The Journal of Southern History