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Compare and contrast the religious messages of evangelist Billy Graham and civil rights leader Martin Luther...

Question:

Compare and contrast the religious messages of evangelist Billy Graham and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in the context of American religious history. What aspects of those messages do you think still resonate today?


Answers

The issues of racism and civil rights remain one of the contentious topics in the American history. Martin Luther King delivered a prophetic speech titled Paul’s letter to the American churches in which he spoke against segregation in the church among other issues such as condemnations of the abuses of capitalism, greed, segregation and personal selfishness. Martin Luther King was a staunch advocate of the need for oneness especially in the church mainly because according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ all Christians are one body in him. In contrast to this stand, Billy Graham in his earlier crusades and gatherings hosted segregated meetings in some of the states where holding joint meetings were illegal. Billy Graham was a strong advocate of the fact that only a religious revival would shift the politics of the country and thus save the country from utterly destroying itself.

Martin Luther King, on the other hand, believed that equal rights as advocated for by the gospel were the key to peace and prosperity of the nation of America. Martin Luther King being a religious rights activist was more inclined towards a revival that would result in the freeing of the black men from the shackles of discrimination, racism and poverty. Billy Graham being an evangelical preacher focused on religious revival that would affect the politics of the nation by reaching to various politicians on various occasions to advance the message of the gospel in the nation (Films for the Humanities & Sciences et al. 2010).

In one of his sermons, Billy Graham stated that only Christ can meet the deepest needs of the world and bring lasting peace. This message evoked love, togetherness, and unity as he stated that Christ can bring peace among men and nations.

In agreement with this Martin Luther King, Jr. stated that God is not weak or incompetent but rather can beat back gigantic waves of opposition and save his people. Both preachers share the common message that the body of Jesus Christ that is the Church can by no means be divided thus both using different approaches tried to unify the black and white populace more so in the church (Films for the Humanities & Sciences et al. 2010).

What aspects of those messages do you think still resonate today?

It is helpful to understand and appreciate just how much has remained the same and how much has changed on race issues since the Civil Rights era. Martin Luther King, speaking at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama declared it evil for segregation to have found its way into the church.

These words still resonate amongst the Christian community today. The fight for equal rights, justice and love amongst different races championed by Martin Luther King and Billy Graham act as a constant reminder today for the need for unity and oneness in the church and the nation as a whole. Another matter that comes out clear in both preachers messages and is thus remembered to the present day is that fact that as long as one is born again, they are absorbed into the family of Jesus Christ and thus irrespective of the color of their skin they all constitute one body in Jesus Christ (Films for the Humanities & Sciences et al. 2010).

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