Q: Which historical figure is more significant in human history to date — Martin Luther, or Martin Luther King, Jr.?
A:¹ Huh? Who is Martin Luther?
MLK, Jr. clearly espoused some important ideals and matched them with rhetoric and influence. At this point in history, however, it appears clear that ML has had more influence.² Could we be ignorant and/or blind and/or politically correct more than we are astute? Consider the following bits, which are lifted from the Wikipedia article on Luther (not King).
- Luther taught that salvation and subsequently eternity in heaven is not earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (Leaving alone certain exaggerations and runnings-amok of this doctrine, has it been theologically influential? -bc)
- His theology challenged the authority of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God. (Think that might have been courageous? A bit? -bc)
- He opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. (Biblically insightful?)
- He insisted on “Christian” as the only acceptable name for individuals who professed Christ. (Non-sectarian? -bc)
- His translation of the Bible into the vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible. (Missional? -bc)
- His hymns influenced the development of singing in churches. (Creative and far-sighted?)
- His marriage set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant priests to marry. (Again, courageous and biblically based? -bc)
Now, I’m no fan of current-day Lutheranism.³ It may be that Martin L. King’s ideals and legacy prove more effective in coming centuries, but I don’t think there’s any question as to who’s been more significant, to this point.
Two historical perspectives
Two (+) deli meats
¹ This might not be the actual answer given by the majority in the U.S.A., but the real answer would likely betray almost that level of ignorance.
² I doubt the moral issues raised over some of MLK, Jr.’s behaviors have contributed to his lesser influence. I am unaware of any suggestion of moral turpitude on the part of ML, however.
³ Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of Bach (a Lutheran composer who flourished about 175 years after Martin Luther’s Wittenberg “theses” event), either. I respect and appreciate Bach and even like many of his works, but I tired of him a few years back.