January 17 – A review of Martin Luther King Jr and his namesake, Martin Luther…Martin Luther King Jr, a Baptist minister, was a leader in the civil rights movement until he was assassinated in 1968. When he was born in 1929, his parents named him Michael Jr. Why the name change? His father, a pastor at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, traveled to Germany and became inspired by the Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. As a result, King Sr. changed his name as well as that of his 5-year-old son from Michael to Martin Luther!
By the time he became active in the civil rights movement, he had been put in jail 29 times! He was arrested because of “civil disobedience” and on made-up charges as people of his race at that time were not well accepted.
Along with his many walks for freedom, he also gave many speeches, some of which everyone has heard and been moved by. The I Have a Dream speech is probably the most well known.I will never forget an incident concerning that speech. In my classroom back in Pennsylvania, was the cutest little African American boy with a big smile and great abilities. At the end of that school year, he and his mother moved to Washington, D.C. Several times she wrote to me, feeling sad because in his class he was not finding anything new to learn. I suggested that she ask the new teacher or principal if it would be possible to have him tested and if he did well, he could move up to the next grade level. “I already did that,” she said, “but even after he did well on the test, he wasn’t allowed to move up.”
Our notes passed back and forth until one day she sent me a copy of a check—a check for $500! A check made out to that little boy, the boy who had memorized most of the I Have a Dream speech and had delivered it to a large audience of young people, their teachers, and some government workers! Maybe he couldn’t move up a grade, but many people were amazed at his memory, his ability, his expression, and his belief in himself as he gave of himself in that special speech of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now, what about Martin Luther, so well known through the years as a founder of the Protestant Reformation?Martin Luther was a German Christian, and a friar, priest, and a professor of Theology at the University of Wittenberg. As he continued to study, he began to feel that salvation and eternal life cannot be earned through good works or money but only as God’s gift and grace, through faith in Jesus. Through further study he felt that others should know of his thoughts and feelings.
Five hundred years this coming October, he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of the church. These words were translated into German and spread all over Germany, and then all over Europe in a few months.
He was soon declared an outlaw, his writings were banned, and his arrest was required wherever he could be found. In fact, it was a crime for anyone in Germany to give him food or shelter, and anyone was permitted to kill him without legal consequences. Talk about intolerance!
One of his memorable statements was the following:
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen.”Martin Luther was an author, not only of books, but of music. One of his better-known hymns is still sung in churches today – A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.
Another interesting statement of Martin Luther is this one:
“Do you know what the devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the gospel? He sits with folded arms behind the fire of hell, and says with malignant looks and frightful grin: “Ah, how wise these madmen are to play my game! Let them go on; I shall reap the benefit. I delight in it.”
Martin Luther was able to meet and talk with the common people, even though so many of his friends were prominent in many ways.
Martin Luther and Martin Luther King – both used by God to spread His Word, not just by preaching, but even more so in their characters and love for all men. – CHRIS