Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

Exactly 50 years ago today, on Wednesday, August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–an evangelical Southern Baptist, a democratic socialist, a troublemaker, an agitator, an idealist, a patriot, a sinner, a saint, and, in the words of the announcer, “the moral leader of our nation”–gave the climactic address to a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people who had marched on Washington DC to demand the end to all those obstacles which stood in the way of both the equal rights and the full employment of African-Americans. Like all prophets, his voice that day was only heard and heeded partially. Thankfully, that doesn’t stop us from hearing and reading his words again today, his words which call us again to equality and forgiveness and justice and community and peace, and honoring them: honoring them with our hearts and our minds and our votes and our taxes and our democratic activities. That’s the good thing about dreams.

Comments

  1. RAF, thank you for sharing this today.
    BBC Radio 4 prepared this quite interesting version of the speech.

  2. The I Have a Dream speech always gives me chills and moves me to tears.

  3. Thanks, Russell. This truly was a prophetic message that needs to be heard and internalized.

  4. Amen!!! Praise Jesus!!! Thank God for our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters!

  5. Thanks. Glad to see I’m not the only Mormon who considers MLK Jr. a prophet.

  6. John Taber says:

    I just wish more people would acknowledge the progress we’ve made in the last fifty years instead of harping on the perceived shortcomings. (For instance, the Voting Rights Act was not “gutted” by the Supreme Court recently.) There are too many folks out there whose hearts are in the right place, but think it’s still 1963 out there.

  7. “The ‘Dream’ sequence took him from Amos to Isaiah, ending ‘I have a dream that one day, every valley shall be exalted…’ Then he spoke a few sentences from the prepared conclusion, but within seconds he was off again, reciting the first stanza of ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee,’ ending, ‘from every mountainside, let freedom ring.’ By then Mahalia Jackson was happy, chanting ‘My Lord! My Lord!’ As King tolled the the freedom bells from New Hampshire to California and back across the Mississippi, his solid, square frame shook and his stateliness barely contained the push to an end that was old to King but new to the world: ‘And when THIS happens…we will be able to speed up that day when ALL God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’” Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963, pp. 882-883.

  8. John,

    For instance, the Voting Rights Act was not “gutted” by the Supreme Court recently.

    No, John, you’re right, it was not gutted–only the means by which it has been successfully adjudicated and enforced, with tremendous benefits to the voting power of racial minorities, over the past 50 years has been gutted. Totally different thing.

  9. John Taber says:

    “Successfully adjucated and enforced” by holding areas that had problems in 1963 to a higher standard? Those standards were hopelessly out of date. Except for BYU and mission, I’ve lived in former slave states since I was two. Again and again, we’ve been presumed guilty as a result. Race is a national problem, not a southern one. Congress has the right – and the obligation – to identify problem areas. Meanwhile the Justice Department is using the general principles of the Act to go after the current problem areas. (Thanks to that higher standard I spent way too much time on a school bus because the courts pushed “remedies” that treated symptoms but perpetuated problems.)

    We have made so much progress in the past fifty years. Dr. King even recognized less than five years later with his “Mountaintop” speech that we were moving in the right direction. True, the road has been a rocky one, and there have been some setbacks. But why is it in the last week I’ve seen more complaints online about those setbacks (real and perceived), than acknowledging that progress?

    Besides the complaints about the SCOTUS ruling, I’m also reminded of the gnashing of teeth (including right here on BCC) that resulted from the 2007 decision banning the direct use of race in making school assignments – so many said it overturned Brown v. Board of Education (1954). It did not – the Louisville plaintiff’s attorney began and ended his oral argument to the Supreme Court with words to the effect of “My client’s son was not allowed to attend the school closest to his home because of the color of his skin.” That’s the sort of thing Brown wanted to put an end to – why did the fact that her son is white mean that he wasn’t discriminated against in that?

    Part of the problem is so many Americans out there – including a few Supreme Court justices – have their hearts in the right place, but think it’s still 1963 or something. Things are different now, thanks in large part to those who were in the trenches then, and Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t the only one who gave his life for that. We need to acknowledge the progress of the past fifty (and 150) years and move forward. We can and should recognize how things were then, but we do not need to dwell on it. We need to keep moving forward based on how things are now.

  10. I wasn’t around 50 years ago, but I’ve seen enough to know that we still have a long ways to go.

    I’ve seen the results of white flight. I’ve seen neighborhoods, churches, and schools segregated into black and white. I’ve had married friends who have trouble finding a place to live because one of them is black and one is white, and 95% of the neighborhoods in the area are either all-black and all-white. I’ve had classmates in their 20′s tell stories about being trailed by store personnel when out shopping with their well-educated, well-dressed mothers–just because they were black.

    I’m not saying that these problems occur everywhere in the U.S. But they certainly occur in much of the South and Midwest. Have we made a lot of progress in the past 50 years? Sure. But not nearly enough.

  11. John, I don’t think anyone here denies we’ve made great progress – but highlighting areas where we still need to improve does not negate the progress we’ve made.

    For a religious example, the LDS Church now is far more racially integrated than many of the Protestant churches I experienced first-hand when I lived in the Deep South – but we can recognize that and, simultaneously, acknowledge we still have a lot of room to improve. As Elder Holland said, at the very least we can let go of the justifications that were created before the lifting of the Priesthood ban and stop perpetuating them. That is the very least we can do, but I still hear those justifications occasionally from members – and it is sad, to say the least.

  12. RAF, thanks for this post. Just right.

  13. John Taber says:

    Ray – that’s what I was trying to say in my last paragraph. I never said we should just rest on our laurels. (I want Congress to put teeth back in the Voting Rights Act based on present problems, for instance.)

  14. Thanks for the clarification, John.

  15. We have come a long way, but we still have some distance to go. A survey taken just 2 years ago in Seattle found approximately half of the housing rentals examined for the study exhibited discriminatory practices aimed at minorities. The biggest obstacle may just be assuming we live in a post-racial society, but in fact we do not. I used a video of Dr. King’s speech in teaching an EQ lesson back in the 80′s, and got mixed reviews. Even after fifty years, listening to this still is extremely moving.

  16. John Taber says:

    I know we don’t live in a post-racial society. But we do live in a different kind of racial society than we did then, just like it was different in 1963 than in, say, 1913. Eugene Robinson and John McWhorter have written several books on the subject of where things stand right now and what we can learn from the past. The most targeted for me is Robinson’s _Disintegration: the splintering of black America_. He isn’t saying there aren’t problems – just that they’re different problems.

  17. The Dream speech is indeed an inspiration, outlining a utopian society free from racial barriers and blatant discrimination, where people implicitly trust each other–a zion society we certainly should all aspire to. Unfortunately, for me, his speech is marred by the fact that MLK himself was a womanizer and adulterer. Not mud-slinging here, but it is a fact. It’s hard to reconcile the inspiration behind a man who was not true to his wife or family, don’t you think?

  18. In other words, he can hardly be called a prophet.

  19. Tiger: No. If God quit calling flawed men to serve Him, there wouldn’t be anybody to do His work.

  20. MikeInWeHo says:

    Tiger: You might want to read Rough Stone Rolling and then reconsider your comments. (Assuming you’re LDS, or course….)

  21. Context matters here. You’re talking to a Mormon audience.

    There’s a difference between being a man who stands and speaks the truth and a man who stands and speaks the truth and lives it thoroughly in his life. Tiger has a point.

    We are all flawed, but a man who denigrates his wife and the mother of his children and fails to be faithful to her does not deserve to be elevated to the level of being a prophet as the term is used in the context of our faith.

    My assumption here though is that RAF is using the term in its more generic context as one who speaks for God or with divine inspiration. King’s message is divine. Not all of his actions were.

  22. Amen to this, RAF. And, more specifically, as to each and every word of Dr. King’s speech, “so say we all”.

  23. Amen, Mike.

    Once of my favorite aspects of the D&C is that the most chastised person in it is Joseph Smith – and it’s not close. I also look at the OT prophets and am grateful God can work with and through people like them. It means I can believe He can work with and through me – and MLK, Jr.

  24. I hate the sort of baiting done here. Did you really have to start a debate (that you knew would occur) by calling MLK a prophet, in which one sanctimonious side insist that he’s a prophet and the other self-righteous side points out his flaws? What was the point? Why can’t we just have a peaceful discussion in which we all appreciate MLK’s speech? Why did you have to start a stupid argument today (that again, YOU KNEW WOULD OCCUR)?

  25. Because unfortunately we were on the wrong side of this as a people at that time and MLK still needs rehabilitation among our people as voicing a prophetic message.

  26. john f., Then why not make the post about that, instead of baiting a stupid argument that we all knew which direction it was going the minute we read the title?

  27. RobL,

    hate the sort of baiting done here. Did you really have to start a debate (that you knew would occur) by calling MLK a prophet, in which one sanctimonious side insist that he’s a prophet and the other self-righteous side points out his flaws? What was the point? Why can’t we just have a peaceful discussion in which we all appreciate MLK’s speech?

    Because his speech was prophetic, that’s why. It was, in the strictest and purest sense of the term, a prophetic message: one which called for repentance and change, one which carried both a condemnation and promise of a greater reward, one which challenged those in power. And people who speak prophecy are, obviously, prophets. Don’t blame me if our own local definition of “prophet” is restricted solely to those, no matter what they said or when they said it, who never violated the seventh commandment.

  28. Or in other words, what John Fowles just said.

  29. From my perspective, that is what RAF has done. Those who denigrate King or who suppose that he can’t have been a prophet for our grandparents’ generation because of dirt in his personal life have to make those arguments in the face of the obvious moral necessity and superiority of his message in this and other speeches.

    He is a prophet. It is unfortunate that anyone with access to the Holy Ghost could deny it.

  30. I agree with everything you’re saying about MLK Russell. I just think it’s unfortunate that you decided to bait those who don’t understand the word “prophet” like you do instead of explaining why he qualifies as a prophet, which might have actually changed a few minds.

  31. There was no baiting involved, RobL – except for those who see it. It was a prophetic message, and not to label it as such would have been more wrong than to call it what it was and let ignorance manifest itself.

    Let’s please let this drop now. It’s not furthering the message in any way.

  32. “I used a video of Dr. King’s speech in teaching an EQ lesson back in the 80′s, and got mixed reviews.”

    Suddenly, I don’t feel so angry about my 90′s EQ starting out each lesson with a Bill Clinton joke.

  33. “We are all flawed, but a man who denigrates his wife and the mother of his children and fails to be faithful to her does not deserve to be elevated to the level of being a prophet as the term is used in the context of our faith.”

    I hear the writings of a man who committed murder to have sex with the dead man’s wife spoken of with praise all of the time in church.

  34. I love baiting and watching people take that bait. It is the only reason I read the comments! Though Kristine’s response above may have been worth it alone. I do not come to BCC much anymore, but it is nice to be reminded why I love this blog!

  35. @the narrator, funny how David is never identified as a prophet but instead as a King. ;)

  36. How about calling MLK a Wise man with flaws? There were assurances of the US Civil Rights movement being a communist front, even some in GC. Yet, when the KGB archives were declassified in the 1990′s, nothing show that MLK was an agent of theirs, but, Julius Rosenberg was confirmed to be working for them.

    People freak out that MLK, and JFK, were womanizers, they were, for sure, yet, Benjamin Franklin was also a womanizer. Where’s all the contempt for old Ben Franklin by those who hate MLK & JFK? Prophet may be too strong a term for them, but, Wise men with flaws seems right for those 3.

    It’s also interesting that Nelson Mandela was considered a communist, that needed to be hung in the South African Apartheid days. Apartheid later fell, Mandela became President there, yet, no communist revolution there, no mass executions of whites there, etc. Oops. So, the “communist” moniker is rather easy to apply to those you don’t like, as with MLK, but karma bites back, when the truth comes out.

  37. MLK spoke prophetically and, in my opinion, under the influence of God and the Holy Ghost.

  38. “…Wise men with flaws…”

    Sounds like the prophets to me.

  39. it's a series of tubes says:

    It is unfortunate that anyone with access to the Holy Ghost could deny it.

    It’s unfortunate that you stoop to ad hominems like this, because it detracts from great points elsewhere in your comments.

  40. Too bad we can’t listen to the entire speech because of the family’ effort to keep it from the public domain ( that happens in 2040!). I don’t think Dr King would smile about that.

  41. Hearing a Mormon say a womanizer can’t be a prophet just Cracks. Me. Up.

  42. Jack Hughes says:

    Prophetic? You bet. It is quite likely that the words and work of Dr. King contributed in some way to the agitation and questions that eventually brought to pass the Revelation of 1978.

  43. If a prophet is someone who has a testimony of Christ, MLK, Jr. is a prophet. Beyond that, I can’t and won’t speculate. It is a great, prophetic speech, more powerful and evocative of the spirit than 72% of the things I’ve heard in conference. Ya’ll hush! Whatever happened to accepting truth wherever we find it?

  44. Putting the greats in some kind of special category that allows them to commit any wrong with impunity seems to me the same category of error that assumes that the greats are not great if they commit wrongs. Both fail to understand that every person is heartbreakingly human, and so often that will manifest in tragic ways that disappoint those who love them most–intimate relations or adoring followers in the public. Learning to cope with this sad fact is part of having a healthy attitude towards authority, and simply having a heart full of charity for all.

  45. That’s my problem. How do you separate the message from the messenger? MLK’s message is inspired but, as some responders have stated, he was deeply flawed. Certainly the Reformers, Christopher Columbus, and even the Founding Fathers were flawed men but they were inspired to further the Lord’s work. MLK moved forward an agenda in a way no one else could. Call his non-violent message “prophetic”–a speech he had given previously on a couple occasions–but I would stop far short from calling any of those men a prophet, certainly not as we understand the title.

    I know a Branch President who was called to be involved in Church videos but then he committed adultery (after being released as BP) and eventually ex’ed. Because of his actions, the Church removed him from the videos, found a replacement and refilmed. One should be a true follower in both word and deed.

    Don’t get me wrong. I heartily applaud MLK’s grand vision, but at the same time I’m a little disappointed. Nevertheless, onward and upward!

  46. @Tiger, time to edit out of our manuals any mention of David. No more David and Goliath stories, dump the Psalms and any other mention of that adulterer and, much worse, murderer. Cull the primary and youth manuals. Scrub the GC talks which speak approvingly of anything he ever did or taught.

  47. Nothing quite as predictable as white American Mormons going on about King’s adultery. Of all Americans, Mormons really ought to be the last to be seen knocking his legacy. And yet so many of you just can’t help yourselves. Says it all, sadly.

  48. Seriously, Ronan? Nothing as predicable? The last time I heard this objection raised was by an eccentric at BYU in 1990. It was so strange then that I still remember it 23 years later.

    Tiger’s comments are out of line, and how sad to be unfamiliar with the prophetic voice or the exercise of spiritual gifts outside of one’s own faith culture, but is this objection raised frequently? Not in my experience. Of course I have lived outside the Mormon Corridor much of the time since 1990 and don’t tend to discuss the topic of civil rights besides women’s rights and slavery, so your mileage may vary.

  49. “It is unfortunate that anyone with access to the Holy Ghost could deny it.”

    Poor choice of words, especially considering that’s not how the revelation works. It’s in poor taste to bash a man martyred for a just cause. But that doesn’t excuse using the gift of the Holy Ghost as a rhetorical weapon to bash others with in order to win a comment debate or demonstrate ones righteous indignation.

    MLK was a great leader who raised the hope and sights for a generation. Unfortunately, his legacy is often squandered in petty squabbles, especially like this one. It does him no honor to give more attention to his detractors or those who misunderstand him than to his words.

    Why not ignore those who misunderstand and focus on his pursuit of equality before God, his fellow man, and the law. If there is to be agitation let it be for those things which will lift us up rather than tear down.

  50. Doug Hudson says:

    It is sad that anyone could watch that video and then come in this friend and start complaining that MLK could not possibly be a prophet. Although, perhaps, those people did not view the video…

    Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Christianity knows that the chosen servants of God are not required to be (or capable of being) perfect, or even close to perfect. Peter, the rock of the Church, betrayed his Lord three times!

    Arguments that MLK could not be a prophet because of his unfortunate personal weaknesses are disingenious, a cover for racism that is no longer acceptable to express openly.

    If you don’t want to believe that MLK couldn’t be a prophet because he was black, well, that’s unfortunate, but that’s your choice. But at least be honest about it; don’t hide behind the “womanizer” excuse, which even a cursory study of the Bible demonstrates is certainly not a bar to being a servant of the Lord.

  51. “Seriously, Ronan? Nothing as predicable? The last time I heard this objection raised was by an eccentric at BYU in 1990. It was so strange then that I still remember it 23 years later.”

    Amy, you must not follow Dan Peterson’s blog.

  52. Christian J says:

    Tiger, I’ve been invited to believe that a man called Joseph Smith was a prophet, warts and all. That’s why accepting Dr. King as a great man of God and one of the best humans to walk the earth is no great stretch.

  53. There was a Sunstone presentation a few years back on MLK as a 20th Century Prophet. It was very good, I wish that every Later-day Saint had a chance to have heard it.

  54. This whole debate seems to be more about the differing definitions of a prophet than about MLK, sort of like the debate about whether Mormons are Christians.

  55. In 500 years (or 100 years, or now, if you have ears to hear) the voice in that speech (especially when reading it) will be indistinguishable from the voice of any Old Testament or Book of Mormon prophet you can name. It is the Holy Ghost that testifies of Truth, and that is what you will hear or see when listening to or reading the speech. There are no qualifications. And the evil against which he is preaching is as serious as anything against which any Old Testament or Book of Mormon prophet ever testified (and, in fact, is closely related if not identical).

  56. If you want to truly narrow your view to one only relevant to Mormons, i.e. the Church at that time, then at the very least you would have to see him as a “Samuel the Lamanite” figure sent by God to preach to those who should be his Church about the wicked traditions of their fathers and how they must turn away from such or be utterly desolated.

  57. “A cover for racism”? That is so beside the point.

    Moses said, “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” But few of us are prophets because we don’t measure up, we don’t qualify. Those who are and were prophets (and prophetesses) qualify/qualified for that title by virtue of their righteousness and faith, even before those few fell away (David, Oliver Cowdery, Jonah) for whatever reason. My point is prophets are held to a much higher standard of morality and behavior.

    MLK broke the 7th commandment—repeatedly. In my book that is willful rebellion, especially for a Christian preacher. It’s not akin to denying Christ in a moment of panic, viewing a bathing woman from a rooftop, or harshly criticizing church leaders. Repeated adultery are very serious transgressions. Did MLK ever repent? We don’t know. But If you want to call MLK a prophet, fine, you can have him. You can also have Solomon, Jim Bakker, and James J. Strang. I’ll take Joseph Smith, Nathan, David Patten, and Zenock. (I’m kiddng! I just couldn’t resist…!) : )
    Sure, MLK was a wise man, but I will reserve that title for those who consistently follow the higher law.

    BTW, my father was a tour guide at the Conference Center a few years ago. My dad had the opportunity to guide MLK III and his wife through the Center and he said it was a wonderful experience. He was impressed by their intelligence and curiosity, and they walked away impressed with the Church.

  58. Christian J says:

    King as Samuel on a high wall? I like it very much.

  59. Tiger, I think it’s dangerous to put prophets on that kind of pedestal. When you discover that they too were (and are) human, you might encounter difficulties with your testimony if it is built on such expectations.

    MLK surely did not have priesthood authority — he could not have because of his skin color, even if he had been born Mormon, unfortunately. So he can’t have been a “prophet” if you are making that a condition. But I don’t think that Numbers or Revelation require that in the definition. The fact is that someone needed to preach this urgent message against the evils of racism, segregation, and poverty that were afflicting the country; unfortunately, history implies that it wasn’t going to be a Mormon General Authority. MLK, however, was prepared, and “the Lord put his spirit upon [him]” to do this work. And he sealed his testimony with his blood.

  60. it's a series of tubes says:

    It’s not akin to… viewing a bathing woman from a rooftop…

    Yeah, because that’s all David did. He didn’t murder her husband or anything.

    It’s difficult to contest that MLK’s speech contains Truth with a capital T. We’d probably all be well served to primarily consider the merits of the message rather than the merits of the messenger.

  61. Tiger, I have no authority on this blog, but please stop commenting on this topic. You’ve said what you want to say, and there is nothing else for you to say.

    That is all.

  62. john f., No, it’s not dangerous to put them on a pedestal. Every church member should expect and demand that level of integrity from our prophets if we are to accept them as spokesmen of His church. Having complete faith in our prophet signifies that we know what the Lord is doing. My personal heroes are Joseph Smith and Pres. Hinckley–warts and all.

    There’s a big difference between a prophet standing on a wall as a witness for Christ and a preacher standing at the Mall pushing a social agenda. I greatly admire MLK’s message and bravery but I’m not the one putting him on a pedestal.

  63. Tiger, you’re pretty inconsistent here – demanding intense levels of integrity out of prophets is sketchy business. If you held Joseph Smith up to that standard he’d fail.

    BTW, lip service to Dr King aside, it’s obvious that you don’t really admire his message or bravery very much at all; you’re more than willing to cast aside the failings of your favorite persons but somehow a black preacher with a “social agenda” doesn’t pass the test. I hope you can see how muddy those waters are that you’re jumping into headfirst.

    PS – Ray is right – he has no administrative authority here – but he’s also right that you’re digging your own grave with your comments. Facepalms a plenty.

  64. Objective morality isn’t a “social agenda.” By designating the Truth that Dr, King was preaching on August 28, 1963 as merely a “social agenda” as opposed to eternal Truth, you are engaging in the moral relativism that Ralph Hancock was preaching against in his recent controversial FAIR speech (http://www.fairlds.org/fair-conferences/2013-fair-conference/2013-mormonism-and-the-new-liberalism-the-inescapability-of-political-apologetics).

    Of course, from all appearances, Hancock’s polemic seemed directed solely at sex and sexuality issues relevant to his view of the decline of the moral order since approximately 1968 (this date picked simply to communicate his apparent status as a “culture warrior” from that era) and does not seem to account for the evils of racism, segregation, discrimination, anti-miscegenation, and other objectively immoral abuses that thrived throughout the entire period of “classical liberalism” based, as he describes, on “traditional morality,” which he exalts.

    Perhaps an adherence to such “classical liberalism,” as he defines it, based as it is on a “traditional morality” that, yes, included Hancock’s preferred order in terms of sexual behavior (though manifestly did not value both sexes equally whether before the law or philosophically), but that also upheld these abuses, requires subordination of the mighty wrongs against which MLK was preaching (which by their nature implicate violation of numerous commandments including the First, Second, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Commandments, not to mention the Second Great Commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself) to the apparently greater evils deriving from the Seventh Commandment?

  65. Mark Brown says:

    One of the reasons the Nephites rejected Samuel was because they thought he was just another dark-skinned preacher complaining about neglect of the underclass and the rise of militarism. You know, all the ‘social agenda on a wall’ stuff.

  66. Big Head Dave says:

    I believe Sixto Rodriguez is a prophet

  67. Doug Hudson says:

    How is a cover for racism “beside the point”? You are holding MLK to a much higher standard than the biblical prophets or the Mormon prophets. The only difference is the color of their skin (maybe–some of the biblical prophets were probably dark skinned.)

    Racism is entirely the point, and denying it just makes you look worse.

    On a more pleasant note, thank you for posting this speech. The blog where I normally listen it is on hiatus this year, and I had forgotten. This speech brings tears to my eyes.

    Also, for anyone who hasn’t listened to the last part of the last speech MLK gave before his assassination, I highly recommend it. He knew he was in great danger (it didn’t take a prophet to know that, although his speech has an eerie certainty to it), and he faces it with amazing courage and grace.

  68. Um, let’s see, what standard am I holding him to….? Oh, how about keeping the 7th commandment God gave to Moses 4,000 years ago? Is that too high a standard? (Come to think of it, he probably couldn’t get a temple recommend, if he tried.) Your ad hominem branding of me as a racist is too simplistic and a cop out. You’ll have to get more creative than that.

    Look, all I’m saying is a man or woman may speak the truth, as MLK did, but that doesn’t make him/her a prophet. Having said that, a person’s private actions and behaviors are important too, they don’t just exist in a vacuum. But God will be our judge.

    I wasn’t even born when he gave that beautiful and eloquent speech. So maybe some of you feel it more strongly in your bones, having witnessed the many atrocities and evils of that period.
    Calling it a mere “social agenda” was a gross inaccuracy on my part, so I own up to that. But if you want to apply the prophet label to MLK, fine. I just don’t agree.

    Let freedom ring! Peace out.

  69. Tiger, it’s obvious you have no clue what everyone has tried to say very carefully to you. When you finally understand what they are saying, I hope you can understand and be charitable toward a great prophet I love deeply who, as a human like the rest of us, was flawed but accomplished amazing, wonderful, world-changing things. You need to come to this understanding on your own, so . . .

    May God bless you on your journey.

  70. Doug Hudson says:

    I could point out that Moses disobeyed a direct order from God, and that Aaron was the one who set up the golden calf, yet both are recognized as great prophets and men of God…

    But I am humbled by Ray’s charity and call for peace, so I will desist.

    (Ray, do you remember when Jason Wharton “dusted off his feet” at BCC a few years ago? Your response to Tiger is like the exact opposite of “dusting off one’s feet.”)

  71. Disappointed in Ray.

  72. I do that quite regularly, Kris, to the people who know me best. I try, but I fail regularly. I hope it doesn’t happen regularly here for you – and I mean that sincerely.

  73. I’m disappointed in Ray too, but probably for different reasons. Mine are passionate, even carnal reasons.

  74. John Hancock says:

    King’s dream speech is stirring, but his mountaintop speech is otherworldly. King would probably rebuke us for revering him as a prophet while misunderstanding his dream and neglecting the mountaintop. While King certainly saw himself as a modern day Moses, the promised land that he saw was not Washington, D.C. with Obama on the steps of the Lincoln memorial. In spite of his transgressions, it is interesting to consider that like Joseph Smith, King was martyred at age 39, and like Joseph Smith, King did not fear death:

    “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. 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 there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!”

  75. Nobody could forget Wharton’s feet dusting! Although not rising quite to that level, I feel that Tiger’s performance here is also a memorable one just for sheer dramatic irony.

  76. Why wouldn’t MLK be pleased to see President Obama?

  77. Tiger, is breaking the Seventh Commandment worse than the noxious cocktail of breaking the First, Second, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Commandments (not to mention the Second Great Commandment) inherent in racism, segregation, and discrimination?

    If breaking a commandment is breaking a commandment, then the latter would also disqualify a person from being a prophet. Following your logic, someone who is living with that noxious cocktail of broken commandments (i.e. someone who is racist, supports segregation, either directly or indirectly discriminates or supports discrimination in legislation and daily life based on race, ethnicity, national origin, etc.) is just as disqualified from being God’s divinely appointed messenger carrying a prophetic message (i.e., a prophet) as someone who has succumbed to sexual temptations and broken the Seventh Commandment.

    It makes me uncomfortable, therefore, for you to imply that our General Authorities of the period were not prophets to the extent that this noxious cocktail of broken commandments was part of their lives.

    But I suppose you are saying something different — that breaking the Seventh Commandment is a worse sin than breaking any of the other commandments, even when breaking multiple commandments at once as occurs in acts of racism, segregation, discrimination, etc. If so, that’s a philosophy that you’ll need to unpack to be persuasive, as it doesn’t seem, on its face, that one of the Ten Commandments is more important than the others or that breaking one is a worse offense than breaking others.

  78. I can see that I have approached this all wrong. So I’ll try a different approach. All prejudices–political, racial, etc—aside, there must be means whereby we can objectively know if one is a prophet of God or not. After all, it is one of our most basic doctrines and one of the first things God did in calling JS to open this final dispensation. But can we agree on two things? First, no human being is infallible; second, there are varying degrees of sins/transgressions, that is, not all commandments are on equal footing. (For instance, breaking the Sabbath or taking the Lord’s name in vain are not tantamount to committing murder or adultery.) I raise these questions as a measuring stick to determine one’s calling as a prophet:

    1–Does the person claim to be a prophet and/or to receive special knowledge from and communication with God? (To my knowledge MLK never made this claim, nor did members of his Baptist congregation. If they had heard him say it, I’m sure we would know about it. Now, is it possible that he was a prophet but himself didn’t know? Highly dubious. (Isn’t it interesting that only LDS members are making this claim for him…?) Whereas, the Prophet JS never shied away from this claim, “Otherwise,” he said, “I would be a liar.”)

    2—Is the person a consistent witness of the living Christ and the message of the Restoration in this dispensation? (Having a testimony of Jesus is not a guarantee that one has the spirit of prophecy. After all, we have many Christians but only a few are prophets. (A cursory examination on the internet–an unreliable source, we all know—reveals there’s really no consensus on what MLK believed, though you can find a comprehensive listing of his sermons and speeches here.) Prophets are notorious for quoting each other, so isn’t it also interesting that MLK is never quoted in GC? Not that that proves anything, just saying…)

    3—Is the person a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? (Recall that God revealed to JS that all the sects were “an abomination” to Him. According to Elder McConkie, true prophets will not be found in sects which are running counter to the established church order.)

    4—Is the person’s life in conformity with the revealed laws of God? (Obedience being the first law of heaven, prophets, however talented they may be, are required to live their lives harmoniously with His laws, and if they transgress, they are to immediately repent (which Saul of Tarsus and Alma did). However, the greater their sin, the greater their consequence, for God will not tolerate disobedience nor hypocrisy.)

    5—Has anyone prayed specifically to know and received confirmation from the Holy Ghost that MLK is a prophet of God (James 1:5)? (This is not a tongue-in-cheek question; I’m sincerely asking. I have felt the Holy Ghost when non-members speak the truth, or give a touchingly eloquent speech, but that in itself proves nothing. We have to ask to know. Lest you pose this question back at me, I will say I have asked, and haven’t received a confirmation… But if anyone has done so, I would love to hear it.)

    Equally worth looking at is the criteria for detecting a false prophet, linked here.

    My conclusion: MLK was neither a true nor a false prophet. He did not raise his voice in opposition to the teachings of the Church or modern prophets nor “attempt to fashion new interpretations of the scriptures.” He was, I believe, an inspired, though flawed, preacher/leader/social reformer, much like the European reformers (Luther, Calvin, Wycliffe, etc.), Founding Fathers, and other greats, who passionately spoke the truth and did a great work that ultimately prepared the way for the Lord to provide salvation to all his children.

  79. “Prophets are notorious for quoting each other, so isn’t it also interesting that MLK is never quoted in GC?”

    “Has anyone prayed specifically to know and received confirmation from the Holy Ghost that MLK is a prophet of God?”

    The thread that keeps on giving.

  80. “Recall that God revealed to JS that all the sects were “an abomination” to Him.”

    Just to be precise, that is not what Joseph was told. I’m not going to try to address everything else, but the quote above is incorrect and totally changes and misconstrues the actual message Joseph was given.

    I’ll only address one more thing:

    Tiger, just as we can speak of Priesthood (of ordinance-performance authority) and priesthood (of believers), we also can speak of Prophet (of organizational position) and prophet (of conduit for revelation). Look in our own Bible Dictionary. Mormonism posits a very expansive definition of “prophet” and “revelation” – and I don’t think anyone here is claiming MLK, Jr. was a Prophet in the way Mormons now view the capitalized definition. However, if you and I can be prophets in the lowercase definition (which is bedrock Mormon doctrine), and if that definition is not limited to LDS Church membership (which also is bedrock Mormon doctrine), I can’t see any reason why MLK, Jr. can’t be a prophet in the same way you and I can. In fact, I think it’s hard to say he wasn’t a prophet in that sense FAR more than I am.

  81. I realize this thread is essentially done, but I had the opportunity of attending the 50th anniversary of the speech on the Mall in DC, where presidents, past and present, spoke and commemorated the prophetic words of MLK 50 on that same spot 50 years ago. It was a gratifying experience for me to be there.

    While waiting in the security line, we talked with a man who said he had the opportunity to come to hear the original speech 50 years ago, but he declined, fearing race riots. He said that was one of the greatest regrets of his life. He was a white man who had been invited to attend by a black friend. He had been invited because he had recently promoted a black man within the ranks of the Army, much to the consternation of others in the Army. Listening to this man talk, I could tell he was both proud of his record on race relationships, and sad that he had not done more. He finished by saying, “I guess attending the 50th anniversary is a decent second-best option to hearing the original speech, to come commemorate the moment and listen to the nation’s first black president speak. Not bad at all.”

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