Graham and King on Civil Rights
Russell Moore is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He formerly served as Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. Dr. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective (Crossway, 2004) and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches (Crossway, May 2009).
- 2009 Apr 19
On my bedside nightstand is a book I’ve been anticipating for a long time, Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South by Steven P. Miller (University of Pennsylvania Press). I’ll be giving attention to it soon, but, in the meantime, I was interested to read a review by Ross Douthat in this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review.
Douthat notes the way Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. used the idea of the kingdom of God in different ways. “Where Martin Luther King used eschatological language as a spur to political change, Graham used eschatology to emphasize the limits of politics.”
Of course, a Christian eschatology ought to both spur change and limit the possibilities of such change. Of such is the biblical tension between the “already” and the “not yet” of the Kingdom of Christ.
Still, though, I think Douthat’s assessment of Graham (especially as it relates to personal regeneration) is perhaps less complex than the reality. For my thoughts on Graham (and others) on civil rights, see this article from the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology. For a different perspective, see this article by Duke University Divinity School theologian Curtis Freeman.
I’ll look forward to reading the book, to see how Miller fits Graham and his theology into the big questions of the twentieth century.