MLK at the Lincoln Memorial

With the recent 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, many evangelical Christians have been celebrating his life. The Gospel Coalition hosted the MLK50: Gospel Reflections from the Mountaintop conference, lauding his life and work, and calling on the church to reflect on racial unity then and now.

Unorthodox Theology
Martin Luther King Jr’s theology was very liberal. In papers he wrote during his time at Crozer Theological Seminary he made his views clear. He said that the evidence for the Virgin Birth is “is too shallow to convince any objective thinker.” He stripped the doctrines of the divine sonship of Christ, the virgin birth and bodily resurrection of all literal meaning, saying, “we [could] argue with all degrees of logic that these doctrines are historically and [philosophically] untenable.” In another paper he wrote:

[A] supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominent in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is oppose[d] to theological adaption to social and cultural change. … Amid change all around he is willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science.

He did not believe these doctrines even though the Bible taught them. Instead he rejected them as superstition because they did not fit his notions of modern science. The doctrines he was rejecting are fundamental to Biblical Christianity.

After graduating from college, we do not see a radical change in King’s theology, or a repudiation of his former unorthodox views. Although he did not explicitly preach these liberal beliefs, his messages were still consistent with them. His message would fall under the banner of black liberation theology – he preached a form of Christianity that was reworked to apply to physical freedom of the slaves. The central theme of his Christianity was not Jesus Christ, the son of God coming to earth, it was the deliverance of the Israel from their slavery in Egypt. In his famous “mountaintop” speech, when he was listing the seminal events of history, he mentioned the Exodus, not Christ’s death and resurrection.

Liberation theology is a secularization of Christianity, using the Bible as a framework to speak to people’s longing for freedom. It is an abandonment of the message of the Bible. Instead of applying the full breath of scriptural to the hearers, it constructs a new theology to appeal to your worldly needs. This fits perfect with King’s denial of fundamental beliefs in the supernatural events scripture records. He didn’t need to believe them if he was just repurposing a few events from scripture to construct his own story of the world.

MLK at the University of Minnesota

Immoral Life
There is substantial evidence that Martin Luther King Jr.’s private life and character was unworthy of a minister of the Gospel, or even of a Christian. The FBI monitored him for many years, wrongly and unconstitutionally using their surveillance powers to get damaging information to discredit him for political purposes. This monitoring included following him on his travels around the country and placing recording devices in his hotel rooms. The FBI claimed to have evidence, both anecdotal and on audio recording of King committing adulteries on many occasions. They even went to the point of sending him an anonymous letter threatening him with the release of this information and encouraging him to commit suicide. The FBI records on King will remain sealed until at least 2027.

We do not have to take the word of the FBI to believe that MLK was not a man who lived a righteous life. Dr. Ralph Abernathy, a close friend of King’s, admitted as much in his book, And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. He wrote that even the night before his assassination, King had committed adultery with multiple women. The consensus among historians is that Martin Luther King Jr. was repeatedly unfaithful to his wife.


It is right to commend and remember King for what he got right, including the equality of all nationalities and non violent protests against injustice. But we must not ignore his failings. As with any other historical figure, we must be honest about King, complementing and emulating what he did well, and condemning him where he was wrong. Christians must not forget, in their rush to crown him their hero, that he lived a wicked life and denied the very basics of orthodox Christianity. It is deceptive and wrong for evangelical Christians to claim King as a brother in Christ, when all the evidence suggests that he was not.

MLK meets with President Lyndon Johnson


  1. Well, if he did not accept the divinity of Christ nor accepted Him as His savior, then MLK would probably be experiencing an eternal separation from God in a place called Hell.

    1. Are you sure beyond measure of doubt that such a place called hell exists. Yes the Bible may say so but are these really God’s own words or men’s interpretation of God?

      1. The existence of hell is clear from the words of Jesus concerning the narrow path. Matthew 7:13-14 ” Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

        The reference to destruction is talking about spiritual destruction (eternal spiritual death) in hell while the narrow gate that leads to life is referring to eternal life in heaven.

        If you do a study with an exhaustive concordance on the word hell, it is mentioned 54 times in the King James Version. Every word in the Bible is inspired by God. It is His word, not man’s. If you look at the original texts, you will find a similar number of times that hell is mentioned.

    2. Simple people … The Europeans STOLE / TWISTED / CREATED the stories in that FICTION BOOK called the BIBLE 2 control the masses!!!

  2. Sadly, this author only found what he was looking for because it took me only minutes to research evidence of what kind of faith Martin Luther King, Jr. had.

    I find that if many of us were judged by our childhood and early life we would also be found lacking in faith in word and in deed, but it is how we finish that should more accurately define us. In that context I don’t doubt that MLK Jr. was a follower of Christ in word and in deed. When he was older, although like all of us imperfect, he spoke of his hope being in eternity and in the Lord. He famously said:

    “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. 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. 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.”

    MLK Jr.’s submission was to God’s will and his faith was clearly in the Lord.

    Before today I had never heard that MLK Jr. wasn’t a Christian, although I heard of his infidelity towards his wife. I also recognize that even great men of God, such as David, failed in this way to be Godly. Even so, he was called a man after God’s own heart, David being a murderer and adulterer. Of course it’s because he repented before the Lord.

    God tells us that man looks at the outward but He looks at our hearts. Jesus says that if we confess Him before men He will confess us before His Father. Listen the video below and judge for yourself.

    In the audio to the following video MLK Jr.’s faith was in the Lord and in eternity. He clearly proclaims how he returned to the teaching of his father in the following video and talks about the Lord helping him, quotes Jesus from the NT and then names Him. I don’t doubt Martin Luther King, Jr. was a born again Christian. Please watch and see what you think. God bless.

  3. Clearly very little study was done on King for this article. Aside from googling his career in academia (which he largely renounced in 1955), and some searching in his potential infidelities (stories of which are denied by key figures in his life and are largely largely untenable as question of motive plays heavily in them), it seems the author does not have any familiarity with King or his faith. Do better. You’re attacking an important figure in Christian History. At least read a book or two of a dissenting opinion to get a full picture. I would not doubt that unconscious bias at best, or outright racism at worst, played as a key motivator in the research and undertaking of this project.

    1. I’ll be the first to admit that I am no expert on King and am not familiar with all of his writings and speeches. But I stand by everything written in this article. Before falsely accusing me of racism, at least post some evidence not just just assertions.

      I looked for evidence that King renounced his heretic beliefs and found nothing. If he actually did, please send me references and I’ll be happy to look at them.

      On the issue of his immorality a lot more evidence has come to light since this article was published. Everything I wrote was true, and it was far worse than we said. You can find details in this article:

  4. This is a badly written, poorly researched, and summarily awful piece of work. Further, the author’s definition of Christianity seems to be rooted in the bastardized white American corruption of a religious tradition that began in North Africa and them spread to the uncivilized peoples if modern day Europe. Further, this same bastardized Christianity evolved from people who committed genocide on Indigenous populations, instituted chattel slavery, raped and violated enslaved women, and who continue to advance racist theology.

    1. The definition is Christian used in this article is based in the Bible and nothing else. If there are factual errors please post them. Hurling insults doesn’t change the truth.

  5. Joshua, your article is well-written. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the first recipient of Planned Parenthood’s “Margaret Sanger Award.” She was the driving figure that gave birth to Planned Parenthood. She was also into eugenics and considered people of color “human weeds.”

    Thank you,
    Pastor Bill Fowler
    Church Without Walls

  6. Jose C. Not everyone who says Lord Lord will enter heaven. You can’t compare David to MLK. David loved the Lord and was chosen and Jesus bloodline came from David.MLK wasn’t chosen and never brought people closer to the Lord only his own teachings. It’s clear you only know how to quote scripture but have no possession of it. The way you die is the way you’re judged. If you die an adulterer you’ll be judged as one and God will have nothing to do with the carnal nature. Let me give you a detention of what God calls carnal nature. Being under the influence of the visible, the tangible and the temporal. There is no sin in heaven… Nothing is going to heaven that didn’t come from heaven

  7. Mr. Horn,

    Thank you for taking the time to write so eloquently on a subject upon which I believe far too many Christian may not be well-informed. I would like to share a few thoughts with you that I hope you will find constructive and insightful.

    I’ve previously researched the personal faith of Dr. King myself and was shocked to discover, as you have carefully articulated, that Dr. King had expressed very skeptical sentiments about foundational biblical beliefs in a paper he wrote while at Crozer Theological Seminary. While I myself don’t endorse a completely literal reading of every scripture, I do think that King’s apparent dismissal of the divinity of Christ as superstitious literalism casts serious doubts on his faith. The most surprising and concerning of all was his rejection of the resurrection of Christ because, like the Apostle, Paul himself stated, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17 NIV). This belief is the very backbone of the Christian faith and should provoke concern when treated disputably. This is why I think that, by bringing this issue to light, your article has provided the opportunity for a more sober reflection on Dr. King’s faith and legacy.

    In speaking of Dr. King’s legacy, though, it appears that your skepticism about his faith potentially produced a cynical perception of King’s application of scriptures in his combat against injustice. In your article, you suggested that using the Bible as a framework to speak to people’s longing for freedom is “an abandonment of the message of the Bible”. This claim prompts questions about (1) why you believe the Bible, as complex a work as it is, only has one message, (2) what you believe that message is, and (3) how you think it should be practically applied to engage injustice in the world. Now, I’m confident that you probably have great insights revolving around those questions, and I encourage you to lovingly engage them in robust discussions. But ultimately, unlike the divinity of Christ, the application of many scriptures- especially Old Testament (OT) stories- can be vast. I don’t know if there is always a single right way to view and practically apply the paradoxically unchanging, yet dynamic wisdom found in God’s word. I think this partly why Paul encouraged the Roman church to not argue over disputable matters when they were fighting over how Christians should deal with foods sacrificed to idols (Romans 14). Paul himself even uses OT scriptures as a framework to speak to the wrongness of Christians treating each other with contempt on that disputable matter (Romans 14:10-11). So, when it comes to how Christians should deal with social injustice, it may help to consider how Dr. King’s robust use of scriptural themes revolving slavery and freedom, though disputable, benefited his struggle against injustice. This may not have been your intention, but to deploy appropriate concerns about his lack of solid doctrine to undermine his application of scripture for advocacy has the effect of promoting a contemptuous and cynical view of Dr. King’s legacy.

    In summary, going back to the question of whether or not Dr. King was saved, I, like you, am very doubtful for the previously-stated reason above. And if he wasn’t really a Christian, it honestly wouldn’t be surprising if the accusations about his infidelity were really true. However, that being said, I encourage you to consider a couple things about this. The first is that every human being is just as fallible as Dr. King (Romans 3:23). And since only God knows the heart (Proverbs 21:2, Acts 15:8), I would encourage all Christians to reserve the final judgment to God and make no accusations about the intentions of those who would disagree with the position you and I take on Dr. King’s faith, even while calling out the negative effects of a potentially less informed opinion of Dr. King’s faith. Secondly, Dr. King’s faith, as flawed as it may have been, provoked him to fight social injustice with a moral courage that was either criticized for not being violent enough or threatened with harm and death by those who attempted to intimidate him into silence. In fact, it is shameful to admit as a Christian that this same moral courage was not present in the many other church leaders who, for all their better doctrine, chose to remain silent about the very issues Dr. King was willing to fight and die for. You and many others may not want to view him as a hero,- and understandably so. But I hope you reserve grace and understanding for our brothers and sisters who, despite his shortcomings, wish to still celebrate his influential legacy.

    1. Hi Benjamin,
      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t mean to imply that the scripture only has one singular message. The point of scripture is for God to bring Himself glory by revealing Himself to man. The central message is the sinfulness of man, and how Christ became flesh and was crucified to save a people for Himself. But it is still valid to apply the scriptures to many different areas of life and practice – to society, law, science, personal conduct, philosophy, etc, etc.

      My point in the article wasn’t that everything Dr. King or liberation theology said is wrong, or that every application of scripture was invalid, but that there was a fundamental flaw with the theological framework. It misses the message of the Bible by making it purely about man and man’s physical needs on earth instead of being ultimately about God, what He is doing in the world, and how He commands men to treat one another. Like any heresy or false gospel, it contains a lot of truth. (Otherwise it wouldn’t deceive anyone).

      At this point I can’t say I am well studied enough to either support or disagree with the timing of certain points of Dr. King’s message and the tactics he used. But insofar as anyone advocates the equality of all mankind as created in the image of God, I entirely agree.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  8. Your point? Khazars are not original Jews. They are converts and Constatine and Rome used the cross to conquer the world not live like Jesus instructed. White people have lied so much throughout recorded history that it is more reasonable to be a skeptic than a “believer”.

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