Agape is at best a regulative social norm.

It sets the outside definition of ideal justice as well as tempering whatever realistic means must be employed to dynamite recalcitrant centers of pride and injustice. Love remains a leaven in society, permeating the whole and giving texture and consistency to life. The balanced Christian, therefore, must be both loving and realistic. As an individual who in moments of prayerful self-transcendence has been justified by faith, he given final allegiance to Christ; but as an individual in complex social relations he must realistically meet mind with mind and power with power. — MLK, “Reinhold Niebuhr’s Ethical Dualism,” 1952

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Above all I see the preaching ministry as a dual process.

On the one hand I must attempt to change the soul of individuals so that their societies may be changed. On the other I must attempt to change the societies so that the individual soul will have a change. Therefore, I must be concerned about unemployment, slums, and economic insecurity. I am a profound advocator of the social gospel. — MLK, from an outline for “Preaching Ministry,” 1948

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I think that preaching should grow out of the experiences of the people.

Therefore, I, as a minister, must know the problems of the people that I am pastoring. Too often do educated ministers leave the people lost in the fog of theological abstractions, rather than presenting that theology in the light of the people’s experiences. It is my conviction that the minister must somehow take profound theological and philosophical views and place them in a concrete framework. I must forever make the complex, the simple. — MLK, from an outline for “Preaching Ministry,” 1948

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One of the great weaknesses of liberal theology is that it to often loses itself in “higher criticism.” In other words, the liberal theologian, in many instances, becomes so involved in “higher criticism that he unconsciously stops there. This is certainly a weakness that the liberal theologian should attempt to avoid. After the Bible has been stripped of all of its mythological and non-historical content, the liberal theologian must be able to answer the question-what then?’ It is certainly justifiable to be as scientific as possible in proving that the Pentateuch was written by more then one author, that the whale did not swallow Jonah, that Jesus was not born a virgin, or that Jesus never met John the Baptist. But after all of this, what relevance do these scriptures have? What moral implications do we find growing out of the Bible? What relevance does Jesus have in 1948 A.D.?

— MLK, The Weaknesses of Liberal Theology

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Liberal Theology

Personally I think this is the best, or at least the most logical system of theology in existence.~ But at the same time I must admit that there are certain weaknesses found in liberal theology which are well worth our attention.

— MLK, The Weaknesses of Liberal Theology

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Liberal theology insists that truth is not a one-act drama…

… that appeared once and for all on the Biblical stage, but it is a drama of many acts continually appearing as the curtain of history continues to open. The liberal believes that the light of God is forever shining through history as the blossom shines through the bud.’ Therefore, there can be no set theology. Liberal theology can never be static. It must forever adjust itself to the changing conditions of history.

— MLK, The Weaknesses of Liberal Theology

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Liberal Theology

For the last few years we have heard a great deal of talk about liberal theology.  Ever since the turn of the century this system of theology has been gaining great recognition. This theology grew out of an attempt to wed theology to the dominant thought pattern of the day, which is science. It insists that the real theologian must be as open-minded, as unbaked, and as disinterested as the scientist. Therefore, he can never speak in terms of the absolute.  — MLK, The Weaknesses of Liberal Theology

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