...Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian. Despite all. As we are all, in the final analysis, Christians despite all. Many of his biographers, and the public school texts, tend to downplay that. Much is made of his having been enlightened by reading Gandhi, and he is frequently depicted as a forerunner of New Ageish spirituality. But King was emphatic in asserting, “This business of passive resistance and nonviolence is the gospel of Jesus. I went to Gandhi through Jesus.” Frady and others have recounted his telling of the time in Montgomery when he was first receiving death threats and wanted out. Frady tells it this way:
He was overwhelmed with woe over his own unworthiness, his life of bourgeois privilege even during this ordeal into which he had led the city’s black community, and finally about the superficiality of his “inherited” call into the ministry, although he “had never felt an experience with God in the way that you must . . . if you’re going to walk the lonely paths of this life.” As he later recalled that late night hour of desolation, “I couldn’t take it any longer” and “tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward.” Dropping his head into his hands, he suddenly realized he was praying aloud in the midnight hush of the kitchen: “Lord, I’m down here trying to do what’s right. . . . But Lord, I’m faltering, I’m losing my courage. And I can’t let the people see me like this. . . . But I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.” And at that moment, as King would tell it, he seemed to hear “an inner voice . . . the voice of Jesus,” answering him: “Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice, stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you, even until the end of the world.” That voice of Jesus, King recounted, “promised never to leave me, no, never to leave me alone.”...
...Marshall Frady and others are right: If everything was known then that is known now, Dr. King would early have been brought to public ruin, and there would almost certainly be no national holiday in his honor. But God writes straight with crooked lines, and he used his most unworthy servant Martin to create in our public life a luminous moment of moral truth about what Gunnar Myrdal rightly called “the America dilemma,” racial justice. It seems a long time ago now, but there is no decline in the frequency of my thanking God for his witness and for having been touched, however briefly, by his friendship, praying that he may rest in peace, and that his cause may yet be vindicated. (more)