In the struggle for righteousness, man has cosmic companionship
I have been mostly absent from CADRE recently, as I have been devoting a lot of time to teaching and adjusting to life in a new community. I have some new posts in the works, including a review of Michael Licona's book on the resurrection. But as it is Martin Luther King day, I want to repost an excerpt from one of his essays that I find powerfully moving (it is from "My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence"). It is especially so in light of an astonishing fact I learned yesterday: according to the book by Arthur Raper, The Tragedy of Lynching, from 1889 to 1929 a black person was either hanged or burned alive every four days. MLK was undoubtedly aware of these facts. How could anyone in his position in their right mind want peaceful reconciliation with the white man? King gives the reason in this passage:
In recent months I have also become more and more convinced of the reality of a personal God. True, I have always believed in the personality of God. But in past years the idea of a personal God was little more than a metaphysical category which I found theologically and philosophically satisfying. Now it is a living reality that has been validated in the experiences of everyday life. Perhaps the suffering, frustration and agonizing moments which I have had to undergo occasionally as a result of my involvement in a difficult struggle have drawn me closer to God. Whatever the cause, God has been profoundly real to me in recent months. In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm and known resources of strength that only God could give. In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope. I am convinced that the universe is under the control of a loving purpose and that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship. Behind the harsh appearances of the world there is a benign power. To say God is personal is not to make him an object among objects or attribute to him the finiteness and limitations of human personality; it is to take what is finest and noblest in our consciousness and affirm its perfect existence in him. It is certainly true that human personality is limited, but personality as such knows no necessary limitations. It simply means self-consciousness and self-direction. So in the truest sense of the word, God is a living God. In him there is feeling and will, responsive to the deepest yearnings of the human heart: thus God both evokes and answers prayers.
In the struggle for righteousness, man has cosmic companionship. The power of God, which paradoxically often manifests itself in weakness and humility and love, not only empowers those who believe in Him to endure injustice but can transform even the worst oppressors and bring them into loving fellowship with Him (just take the apostle Paul as an example). King practiced nonviolent resistance, not only because He was confident that God was with Him in the struggle against injustice, but because he did not want to subdue and defeat his oppressors, but be reconciled with them and they with God.