"Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness... " (Martin Luther King, Jr., April 3, 1968)
The day before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached these words in Memphis, Tennessee. In a powerful and urgent message for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee that's come to be known "I've Been to the Mountaintop," he considers the parable of the Good Samaritan, going on to speak prophetically and presciently of the dangers he himself faced, not knowing how very true his words were.
"We've got some difficult days ahead, but it really doesn't matter with me now because I've been to the mountain top. like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place, but I'm not concerned about that. I just want to do God's will, and he's allowed me to go up to the mountain and I've looked over and I've seen the promised land. I may not get that. But I want you to know the night that we will get to the promised land tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not feeling as have seen the glory of."
And on Monday as the collective consciousness of the world and the media turns its eyes to the legacy of of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, it's important to remember that he was not only a civil right activist and a pastor. He was also a theologian whose spiritual logic has profoundly impacted the church, the United States, and the world. That's why today as we commemerate the legacy of Dr. King, we ask the question: How should we do theology? What is the future of theology? And how should theology impact real human life? An impact that might even cultivate the dangerous unselfishness Jesus lived, the Good Samaritan lived, and Dr King lived.
In today's episode, theologians, Keri Day and Willie Jennings reflect on these questions. Keri is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African-American Religion at Princeton Theological Seminary, and Willie is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School. As they talk about the prospects and perils of how theology is being done today, they both share the vision that theology should touch the lives and hearts of people, a public endeavor motivated by a love for the world. They stress that theology should be inherently practical, transformative, and life-giving.
And as a celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his distinctive, influential theological perspective, we're honored to have been given permission by the King Estate to feature a very moving passage from "I Have Been to the Mountaintop," in which he displays a deep and courageous and prophetic understanding of what should be at stake for the theology he preached. it's a theology of life and justice, a theology of profound and emanating love, a theology that envisions the promised land of flourishing that all God's children should be able to enjoy.
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