By Aaron Weaver
This week at CBFblog, we will be celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and reflecting on his vision of a “Beloved Community.”
Theologian Charles Marsh, in his book titled The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice from the Civil Rights Movement to Today, described Dr. King’s theologically-specific vision of Beloved Community as “the realization of divine love in lived social relation.”
To be sure, King’s concept of love was surely not the platitudinous “all you need is love”; it was rather the passion to make human life and social existence a parable of God’s love for the world. It was agape: the outrageous venture of loving the other without conditions — a risk and a costly sacrifice.
“If I respond to hate with a reciprocal hate,” King said, “I do nothing but intensify the cleavage in broken community. I can only close the gap…by meeting hate with love.”
Indeed it was the [Civil Rights Movement’s] genius to illuminate with unforgettable beauty, and with the “fierce urgency of now,” the truth that beloved community is not self-generating; that behind it stands the event, and the power by which it lives and is nourished; that patient, passionate worldliness opens always onto larger vistas
Despite the rejection of white liberals, black militants, segregationists, and evangelicals, King held on tight to Christ-shaped love. No doubt, the pursuit of Beloved Community inhibited those visceral energies that would put some heat on the white man and offer the catharsis of a much-deserved payback. But King accepted this inhibition and made it a spiritual discipline; the discipline of bearing peaceful witness to the cross of Jesus Christ in a violent nation. The pursuit of beloved community gave the Civil Rights Movement its sustaining spiritual vision.
The posts in this CBFblog series will reflect on Dr. King’s “outrageous venture of loving the other without conditions” and the continued and necessary “discipline of bearing peaceful witness to the cross of Jesus Christ.” And in doing so, this series will highlight that the vision of a Beloved Community — a Kingdom vision of God’s love lived out in the world; rooted in the powerful belief that God is Love and Love is of God — stands behind an event, the “theological drama” that was the Civil Rights Movement.
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Part 1 — ”Dr. King and Beloved Community — A CBFblog series” (by Aaron Weaver, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship)
Part 2 — “The The Spiritual Discipline of Martin Luther King Jr.” (by Doug Weaver, Baylor University)
Part 3 — “Celebrating Dr. King and the Separation of Church and State” (by Charles Watson Jr., Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty)
Part 4 — “‘Tell Them About the Dream, Martin!’” (by Patrick Anderson, Christian Ethics Today)
Part 5 — “Little boxes on the hillside — Dr. King’s Dream as part of God’s Dream” (by Lanta Cooper, Park Avenue Baptist Church)
Part 6 — “MLK Day of Service at First Baptist Church, Decatur Ga. (by Sharyn Dowd, FBC Decatur)
Part 7 — “Disturbers of the Peace: Living into Dr. King’s Dream (by Jim Holladay of Lyndon Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.)