Below are brief notes, again written as play-by-play commentary, on the T4G18 Panel on Martin Luther King Jr.
As a student of history, I found parts of the panel discussion enjoyable and informative. What is a summary of my critique? While MLK is certainly a fascinating and important historical figure in America, he was not a Christian, by doctrinal measurements or moral measurements. While I appreciate the man, and do wish his dream of a nation in which a man is judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin would come to fruition, I find it confusing that there would be a main-stage panel discussion about him at a conference for pastors on Christian holiness. It would seem to be an inappropriate context for such a discussion.
It seems, at about the 6:30 mark, that the panel (Mika Edmondson) cites protestant liberalism as the driving ideology leading to MLK becoming a minister, and speaks of this as him having a revival of faith. This would certainly seem to be unhelpfully vague at best. Protestant liberalism, no matter what its agenda culturally, is always against Jesus. No man can have a true revival of saving faith holding to Protestant liberalism.
At about 8:30, the leader of the Kentucky Baptist Association has identified MLK as primarily a social justice advocate who had not forgotten “his grandmother’s religion”. This again functionally affirms the man as a Christian, though his Protestant liberalism included Christological, damnable heresy.
At 10:30, the viewer is again reminded that Mika Edmondson really wants us to remember MLK as a Baptist, theologically driven pastor. The context of the panel, I would argue, makes this sound like an affirmation of him as a true pastor, which evangelicals would be right to deny.
A clarification for the viewer is needed at the 12-minute mark. MLK had no Christian thoughts on engaging justice in the midst of suffering, because he wasn’t a Christian, based on the information we can actually know at this point.
Citing MLK as Arian or Socinian is not a smokescreen to distract from the main thing. Adultery and fornication have never been accepted by a large number of Christians. Slavery was accepted as fine by a large number of Christians. So a man who is an adulterer and fornicator throughout his ministry is certainly to be doubted when he makes a profession of faith. But a man who owned slaves when slavery was so common should be seen as a product of his time. That is not a shocking or inconsistent point. You cannot say, “I don’t think Edwards or Boyce or Whitefield were Christians because they had slaves.” You ought to say, “I don’t think MLK was a Christian because he was a fornicator right up to the night of his murder.”