VerMeer's Geographer

VerMeer's Geographer
The Geographer, by Vermeer, c. 1669


About Egypt...

Well said: "The unhappy fact is, however, that in Egypt and Tunisia and elsewhere in the Arab world where ferment is growing against the tyranny of their regimes, the crucial infrastructure of the rule of law, independent judges and police, free press and so on that are the necessary precondition of democracy just don’t exist."
As a result, when tyrants there fall the outcome is generally not the emergence of a free society but a tyranny far worse even than the one that has fallen – an Islamic theocracy.

From: Melanie Phillips of the (UK) Spectator


Luther's Prayer at Worms

37 year old reformer, Dr. Martin Luther was tried for heresy in the German city of Worms by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, in an imperial council meeting, called a "Diet", on April 17, 18, 1521.  The penalty for heresy at this time was well known, and not infrequently applied--death by burning at the stake.

The first day of his trial saw the court demand he recant of all his writings--and Luther equivocated--and asked the Emperor's court for a day to think it over.  That night he allegedly said this prayer:

“Almighty, eternal God, what a contemptible thing this world is! Yet how it causes men to gape and stare at it! How small and slight is the trust of men in God. How frail and sensitive is the flesh of men, and the devil so powerful and active through his apostles and the ‘wise’ of the world! How soon men become disheartened and hurry on, running the common cause, the broad way to hell, where the godless belong! Their gazes fixed on what is splendid and powerful, great, and mighty! If I too were to turn my eyes to such things, I would be undone! The verdict would already have been passed against me, and the bell that is to toll my doom would already have been cast.
O God, O God, O Thou my God, my God, help me against the reason and wisdom of all the world! Do this! Thou must do it, Thou alone, for this cause is not mine, but Thine! For myself, I have no business here with these great lords of the world! Indeed, I too desire to enjoy days of peace and quiet and to be undisturbed. But Thine, O Lord, is this cause, and it is righteous and of eternal importance! Stand by me, Thou faithful eternal God. I rely on no man! Futile and vain is all; lame and halting all that is carnal and smacks of the flesh. God, O God, dost Thou not hear me, my God? Art Thou dead? Nay, Thou canst not die! Thou art merely hiding Thyself. Hast Thou chosen me for this task? I ask Thee!
I am sure Thou hast. Were so, let it be, then. Thy will be done. For never in my life did I intend to oppose such great lords. Never had I resolved to do this! O God, stand by me in the Name of Thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, Who shall be my protector and defender, yea, my mighty fortress, through the might and the strengthening of Thy Holy Spirit. Lord, where tarriest Thou? O Thou my God, where art Thou? Come, O come! I am ready to lay down my life for this cause, meek as a lamb, for the cause is righteous and it is Thine. I will not separate myself from Thee forever. Be that decision made, in Thy Name!
The world must leave my conscience unconquered even though it were full of devils and though my body, the work and creation of Thy hands, should be utterly ruined! But Thy Word and Spirit are a good compensation to me, and after all, only the body is concerned. The soul is Thine, and belongs to Thee, and willingly it will remain eternally. Amen. God help me. Amen.”

The next day, Luther gave his earth-shaking "Here I stand" speech (apparently in a quavering voice...) where he refused to recant--three times stating he stood on the authority of Scripture, and would not be convinced without Scripture.  He left the assembly (a "safe conduct" pass had previously been arranged), to ride back to Wittenberg.  The Diet of Worms convicted Luther, and put him and his followers under a ban--which meant they should be arrested and handed over to Roman Catholic authorities as heretics ASAP.

On his way home, soldiers for Luther's feudal ruler, the Elector Frederick the Wise, kidnapped him (for his own safety--as an assasination plot had been discovered) and squirreled him secretly away to an unused castle called the Wartburg.  He spent most of a year there, where, during one 11 week period he translated the entire New Testament into German (this was the first original-Greek-to-German translation). (This has to be one of the greatest academic accomplishments in history.  Even using the latest computer technology, it would be difficult to come up with a readable new translation in 11 weeks.... ) In the mean time Wittenberg got taken over by a radical, hyper-charismatic group of religious fanatics from another German town, and Luther quickly returned to use his influence there to put things back into order.  The rest of Martin Luther's life he lived under a death sentence--which would of most assuredly been carried out had he ventured into Roman Catholic-controlled lands.

Nearly forty years later, Charles V, in his will, listed his biggest regret as having not killed Martin Luther.

The Reason for Civility

By Michael Gerson


"We are not enemies, but friends."
-- Abraham Lincoln
WASHINGTON -- With Americans shocked into reflection on the desperate, divisive tone of their politics, it is worth asking: Why, other than upbringing, should we be civil in the first place?
In the Western tradition, one answer has been rooted in epistemology -- the limits of knowledge. Citizens, in this view, should not be arrogant or intolerant about their political, moral and religious views because no one has the right to be certain of his or her views. What our public life needs is more ambiguity, agnosticism and detachment. The humble are less strident, more peaceful.
This argument is made by a certain kind of campus relativist, who views the purpose of education as the systematic cultivation of doubt. But it is also reflected in the conservative tradition, which is suspicious of ideological certainties that lead to radical social experiments. Both the liberal and conservative variants of this epistemological modesty can be traced back to classical liberal thinkers such as John Locke, whose overriding concern was to prevent wars of opinion, particularly religious wars. If no one believed their opinions were absolutely true, there would be less incentive to attack or coerce others. In the absence of harmful certainty, society would operate by barter and compromise.
But there is a second, very different argument for civility -- this one rooted in anthropology. The Christian and natural law traditions assert that human beings are equal and valuable, not because of what they think but because of who they are. Even when badly mistaken, their dignity requires respect for their freedom and conscience. A society becomes more just and civil as more people are converted to this moral belief in human dignity and reflect that conviction in their lives and laws.
Without a doubt, doubt is useful and needed at the margins of any ideology. The world is too complex to know completely. Many of our judgments are, by nature, provisional. Those who are immune to evidence, who claim infallibility on debatable matters, are known as bores -- or maybe columnists.
Yet doubt becomes destructive as it reaches the center of a belief and becomes its substitute. A systematic skepticism may keep us from bothering our neighbor. It does not motivate a passion to fight for his or her dignity and rights. How do ambiguity and agnosticism result in dreams of justice, in altruism and honor, in sacrifices for the common good? What great reformers of American history can be explained by their elegant ambivalence?
The holiday just past demonstrates the limits of a political philosophy founded on doubt. Martin Luther King Jr. did not oppose segregation because its supporters were too doctrinaire. He opposed segregation because it was an insult to the nature of human beings. He did not seek to lessen passions by exposing ambiguity. He sought to persuade Americans of a superior moral belief -- to convert them to the ideals of their own founding. The intensity of his convictions led him to be a firebrand, a leader, a martyr. Yet he argued for peaceful, civil methods because even oppressors had dignity and value, and thus the hope of redemption.
Moral conviction is not a synonym for arrogance. Both of the paths to civility call for humility. A civility based on doubt demands an appreciation for our own ignorance. A civility grounded in human dignity requires us to bow before a principle greater than ourselves -- the belief that others count and matter as much as ourselves. The latter is more difficult to cultivate, but more lasting and important.
So what is the source of America's current civility problem? Is there too much immodest conviction? Or is there too little regard for the value and dignity of others?
There is no reason that both answers can't be "yes." But the second challenge is primary. We need a robust civility that allows for deep and honest disagreements instead of explaining those differences away. In the long run, this is only achievable if Americans believe that their fellow citizens deserve respect, even when they hold absurd political beliefs.
It is not a coincidence that the first draft of the American ideal begins with a statement of anthropology, asserted without epistemological modesty. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." It is this belief -- not the absence of belief -- that provides the most compelling reason for civility. We are not enemies, but friends.

Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson writes a twice-weekly column for The Post on issues that include politics, global health, development, religion and foreign policy. Michael Gerson is the author of the book "Heroic Conservatism" and a contributor to Newsweek magazine.

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King’s God: The Unknown Faith of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As a young man,Martin Luther King Jr. rejected many of the orthodox views of Jesus’s divinity, resurrection, and return. The author shows how King flatly rejected “a literal interpretation of biblical stories, claiming such a reading would be ‘absurd’ in a Copernican world.” On these issues, Scofield argues, King did not change his mind in later years. IMAGE CREDIT: Library of Congress
As a young man,Martin Luther King Jr. rejected many of the orthodox views of Jesus’s divinity, resurrection, and return. The author shows how King flatly rejected “a literal interpretation of biblical stories, claiming such a reading would be ‘absurd’ in a Copernican world.” On these issues, Scofield argues, King did not change his mind in later years. IMAGE CREDIT: Library of Congress

King’s God: The Unknown Faith of  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

by Robert James “Be” Scofield

You undoubtedly know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a progressive Christian and champion of civil rights and the social gospel. You may also know that he spoke out against the Vietnam War, harshly criticized U.S. foreign policy, and questioned the capitalist system that produced poverty. But do you know his theology?
Right up until Dr. King's assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had traveled to support striking sanitation workers, the civil rights leader worked—not as a secular activist but as a Baptist minister—to awaken the conscience of the nation. What was the meaning of Jesus for Dr. King? Did he see Jesus as divine? How did he interpret the Bible?
Biographies describe King as a liberal Protestant, but what does this mean? What was his understanding of Christian doctrines and why are they important to us? A number of academic papers written during his seminary years (1948-1951) provide an intimate look at the young King as he struggled to reconcile religion with a changing, dynamic, and modern world.
Prior to entering the liberal Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, King had developed only a tenuous relationship with Christianity. Despite being raised in a lineage of orthodox Baptist ministers, King at a young age demonstrated skepticism of the irrational claims of religion, and embarrassment at the emotionalism of his father's preaching. His entrance into Christianity at the age of six came from neither a genuine religious conviction nor a crisis moment; rather, he saw his sister make the altar call during a local religious revival and quickly followed suit. He claimed that during his baptism he had no idea what was occurring. Perhaps most striking was his denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school at the age of thirteen. From this point he stated, "doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly."[i]
King carried these suspicions with him when he entered Morehouse College in Atlanta at the age of fifteen. He had originally planned on being a doctor or lawyer. At Morehouse, under the guidance of President Benjamin E. Mays and professor George D. Kelsey, he began to believe that religion could be both "intellectually respectful and emotionally satisfying." Mays's weekly talks on the social gospel enchanted King, while Kelsey's Bible course taught him to see the Bible metaphorically, leading him to conclude the Bible has "many profound truths which one cannot escape."[ii]
While the "shackles of fundamentalism" broke off during these years at Morehouse, it was at Crozer that King discovered the insights and potential of liberal theology and began to articulate his opinions about Christianity. It was here that he found his calling, graduating first in his class and delivering the commencement address. He would go on to study the twentieth-century giants of theology -- Tillich, Wieman, Niebuhr, and Barth -- while pursuing a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University. But by the end of his seminary years at Crozer he had already laid out his understanding of the core doctrines of the Christian faith. And it is here that we now direct our focus.
How did Dr. King understand Jesus? Did he see him as the Son of God? In "The Humanity and Divinity of Jesus," a paper written for a class called "Christian Theology Today," King clearly lays out his view on the divinity of Jesus:

The orthodox attempt to explain the divinity of Jesus in terms of an inherent metaphysical substance within him seems to me quite inadequate. To say that the Christ, whose example of living we are bid to follow, is divine in an ontological sense is actually harmful and detrimental. To invest this Christ with such supernatural qualities makes the rejoinder: "Oh, well, he had a better chance for that kind of life than we can possibly have ..." So that the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied. The significance of the divinity of Christ lies in the fact that his achievement is prophetic and promissory for every other true son of man who is willing to submit his will to the will and spirit of God. Christ was to be only the prototype of one among many brothers. The appearance of such a person, more divine and more human than any other, and in closest unity at once with God and man, is the most significant and hopeful event in human history. This divine quality or this unity with God was not something thrust upon Jesus from above, but it was a definite achievement through the process of moral struggle and self-abnegation. [iii]

The question King answered was not whether Jesus was divine but rather how he became divine. This approach allowed him to deal with the "insuperable difficulties" of the orthodox position while still explaining why Jesus was unique and different from other people.
In line with his metaphorical interpretation of Jesus, King searched for the deeper significance of the history and context in which the Christian doctrines were created. He suggests, "We should delve into the deeper meaning ... and somehow strip them of their literal interpretation," and when we do this "we will find they are based on a profound foundation."[iv]
In a paper discussing the creation of orthodox beliefs, King argues that the virgin birth story represents a pre-scientific worldview: Christ's followers believed that Jesus's uniqueness could only be explained biologically. According to King, Jesus's early disciples saw his "spiritual life so far beyond theirs" that any attempt to explain his existence as human was inadequate. He concludes, "We of this scientific age will not explain the birth of Jesus in such unscientific terms."[v] This same type of thinking led Christ's followers to externalize their inner experience of his lasting power through the story of the bodily resurrection. Those who knew Jesus "had been captivated by the magnetic power of his personality," King writes, which led them to believe that he "could never die."[vi] The living and eternal presence they experienced was then transferred into the story of a bodily resurrection.
In "The Christian Pertinence of Eschatological Hope," a paper King wrote for Christian Theology Today, he explores the core doctrines. The one he denounces most directly is that of the second coming, writing, "It is obvious that most twentieth century Christians must frankly and flatly reject any view of a physical return of Christ."[vii] What were the early Christians trying to convey in predicting the return of Jesus? King states:

Actually we are celebrating the Second Advent every time we open our hearts to Jesus, every time we turn our backs to the low road and accept the high road, every time we say no to self that we may say yes to Jesus Christ, every time a man or wom[a]n turns from ugliness to beauty and is able to forgive even their enemies. Jesus stands at the door of our hearts if we are willing to admit him.... The final doctrine of the second coming is that whenever we turn our lives to the highest and best there for us is the Christ.[viii]

This is in effect the continual return of Jesus.
In addressing the orthodox notion of the Day of Judgment, King suggests that we "set aside the spectacular paraphernalia of the judgment scene and the literal throne."[ix] Jesus has already come to judge the world. When we judge ourselves against the life of Christ or experience closeness to him we are experiencing the Day of Judgment. King also denies the traditional notion that some are destined for eternal communion with God while others are destined for hell. In "The Christian Pertinence of Eschatological Hope," he writes, "A physical heaven and a physical hell are inconceivable in a Copernican world ... for us immortality will mean a spiritual existence."[x] And in "Why Religion?" he says, "In reality I know nothing about heaven ... personally I don't believe in hell in the conventional sense."[xi] In the end King interprets the kingdom of God not as some cataclysmic end time or a theocratic kingdom that triumphs over "satanically inspired regimes."[xii] Rather he associates the kingdom of God with the eternal love of God on earth, writing, "When we see social relationships controlled everywhere by the principles which Jesus illustrated in life -- trust, love, mercy, and altruism -- then we shall know that the kingdom of God is here."[xiii]
In a paper entitled "A View of the Cross Possessing Biblical and Spiritual Justification," King describes the various different views of the meaning of the cross throughout history and then concludes: "Any doctrine which finds the meaning of atonement in the triumph of Christ over such cosmic powers as sin, death and Satan is inadequate.... If Christ by his life and death paid the full penalty of sin, there is no valid ground for repentance or moral obedience as a condition of forgiveness. The debt is paid; the penalty exacted, and there is, consequently, nothing to forgive."[xiv]
Dr. King's understanding of the Bible is quite simple: he believed it was written in a pre-scientific world and used language that was representative of its era. He flatly rejects a literal interpretation of biblical stories, claiming such a reading would be "absurd" in a Copernican world. The pre-scientific worldview that informed the authors of the Bible is clearly inadequate for modern Christians. Written by men trying to understand their social environment and place in the cosmos, the Bible is filled with "mankind's deepest devotional thoughts and aspirations."[xv] Readers who accept the Bible literally are faced with impossibilities and deep contradictions, but those who read it as myth encounter "many profound truths which one cannot escape."[xvi]
For Dr. King, the value of biblical stories is not diminished by their mythological nature. Rather, the myth serves to take the reader beyond the idea or thought within the mind. In short, he accepts the standard methods for critically examining the Bible. In "How to Use the Bible in Modern Theological Construction," he explains that this modern method "sees the Bible not as a textbook written with divine hands, but as a portrayal of the experiences of men written in particular historical situations."[xvii] Textual and literary criticism, archaeology, and history revealed to King the inadequacy of a literal biblical interpretation. He claimed that this critical approach to the Bible was "the best or at least the most logical system of theology in existence."[xviii] He also believed that biblical criticism and biblical archaeology "will serve to justify the church in modern culture."[xix] However, King was keenly aware of liberal theologians' ability to get caught up in abstract theory. In "The Weaknesses of Liberal Theology," he expressed his understanding that his role as a religious leader was to reconcile theory with concrete meaning:

It is certainly justifiable to be as scientific as possible in proving that the Pentateuch was written by more than one author, that the whale did not swallow Jonah, that Jesus was not born a virgin, or that Jesus never met John the Baptist. But after all of this, what relevance do the scriptures have? What moral implications do we find growing out of the Bible? What relevance does Jesus have in 1948 A.D.? These are questions which the liberal theologian must of necessity answer if he expects to influence the average mind. Too often do we find many of the liberals dodging these vital questions. [xx]

King also wrote at this time that "to discuss Christianity without mentioning other religions would be like discussing the greatness of the Atlantic Ocean without the slightest mention of the many tributaries that keep it flowing."[xxi] During his first semester at Crozer, writing on the Hebrew Bible, he compared the creation accounts, flood stories, and theologies of Babylonia, Egypt, and Sumer with those in the Bible and concluded that biblical stories are rooted in the surrounding cultures. He concluded that the Hebrew authors of the flood story were "producing from Babylonian mythology an almost verbatim story."[xxii] While most Christians of his time would have seen both Judaism and Christianity as contradicting and rejecting pagan religion, King argued that they gave a more "profound and spiritual meaning" to the pagan views to which they must be indebted,[xxiii] adding that these traditions even prepared people "mentally and emotionally to understand the type of religion which Christianity represented."[xxiv] For King, the only reason Christianity triumphed was the particular historical and social circumstances. He even went on to suggest that Christianity might end up like those other cults, religions, and pagan practices that didn't survive. In The Influence of Mystery Religions on Christianity, he wrote: "The staggering question that now arises is, what will be the next stage of man's religious progress? Is Christianity the crowning achievement in the development of religious thought or will there be another religion more advanced?"[xxv]
The purpose of the church for King is not to create dogma, theology, or creeds but rather "to produce living witnesses and testimonies to the power of God in human experience," and to commit to action. From a young age, King understood the importance of combining his religion with social justice. From this perspective King viewed the church's role as promoting a way of life rather than a belief system, saying, "Jesus always recognized that there is a danger of having a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds."[xxvi] He stated that Christ is more concerned with how we treat our neighbors, our attitudes toward racial justice, and living a high ethical life than he is with long processionals, knowledge of creeds, or the beautiful architecture of a church.[xxvii] According to King, the church had strayed from Christ.
In "Is the Church the Hope of the World?" he asserted that "nothing has so persistently and effectively blocked the way of salvation as the church," due to the church's condoning of evils such as slavery and monopoly capitalism.[xxviii] He went on to say, "On the other hand, the church can become the hope of the world, but only when it returns to Christ."[xxix]
By his senior year, King had developed a strong belief in the liberalism that defined the social gospel movement and progressive theology in his era. However, his encounter with Reinhold Niebuhr and the Neo-Orthodoxy movement led him to "recognize the illusions of a superficial optimism concerning human nature and the dangers of a false idealism."[xxx] Thus, he sought a middle ground and rejected original sin as "preposterous" while acknowledging that sin is a real choice we make, albeit far too often.       
Like the great mystics, King viewed God as an experience not limited to any religion or restricted by any creed, stating, "Of course the true seeker will realize that there is no one way to find God"[xxxi] and "No theology is needed to tell us that love is the law of life and to disobey it means to suffer the consequences; we see it everyday in human experience."[xxxii] King meditated for an hour a day, prayed, and discovered God through nature. It was through this sort of devotional life that he believed our souls can be united with God, bringing our will in line with his.
For King, God is always near. In "Mastering Our Evil Selves," he writes: "God is not a process projected somewhere in the lofty blue. God is not a divine hermit hiding himself in a cosmic cave. But God is forever present with us."[xxxiii] Despite his liberal theology, he did, however, maintain the belief in a personal God that is both transcendent and immanent. In his dissertation King compared and contrasted his particular theology of personalism with the theology of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman, two leading voices in the process theology movement, which viewed God as an impersonal force. King also viewed God as synonymous with justice. He believed God was right there with him and others during the civil rights movement: "The God that we worship is ... but an other-loving God who forever works through history for the establishment of His Kingdom."[xxxiv]
On the issue of evolution and creation, King sought to reconcile the advances of science with his religious belief in God. He claims that the scientific origin of the beginning of the world "might be right in seeing the invalidity of the older view of a first creation."[xxxv] However, instead of denying any creation, he advocates the view of "emergent evolution," which suggests that God is "an intelligent conscious mind working out its purpose through the evolutionary process."[xxxvi] According to King, it is "here that we find creation and evolution working together."[xxxvii]
At this point a few important questions can be asked. Did King's views on the Christian doctrines while in seminary change later in his life? He was ordained as a Baptist minister. Would he not have chosen a different denomination if his views were so liberal? Dr. Clayborne Carson, a world-renowned King scholar and director of the King Papers Project at Stanford, told me that he had not seen any documentary evidence of a later shift in King's thinking from his early views on Christian doctrines. He also said King may have found creative ways to avoid expressing his unorthodox views, as he was trained in a liberal seminary but served a Baptist congregation.
King had numerous opportunities to express his understanding of Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity with his many sermons, books, interviews, and writings. If at any point he changed his views and became an orthodox Christian, he might have at least once claimed that Jesus was his savior, the Bible was the literal word of God, or non-Christians would go to hell. But there are no statements either during his educational career or in his work as a civil rights leader and preacher that would suggest he ever changed his liberal views of the doctrines. King's metaphysical and philosophical understanding of God and human nature did grow and develop while at Boston University, though his approach to the Christian doctrines remained constant. It should not be surprising then that while Dr. King served a Baptist church, his first choice of religion was Unitarian Christian (which later merged with Universalism).[xxxviii] Dr. King's liberal faith resonated with the dynamic Unitarian Christian tradition because of his acknowledgment of the truth in all religions, his view of Jesus as an exemplary teacher, and his rejection of biblical literalism. Coretta Scott had been attending Unitarian churches for years before she met and married Martin, and they both attended Unitarian services while in Boston. He ultimately faced the reality that he would probably not be able to play a role in the civil rights movement in this tradition and thus he became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, shortly thereafter being elected to lead the Montgomery bus boycott.[xxxix]
God is bigger than any one religion, and King's theology is a pertinent reminder of this. King was able to express a vision of Christianity that was both meaningful and welcoming of others. In our present world, where fundamentalism is on the march, a look back at his reasoned and thoughtful approach to religion can serve the public well. And for the spiritual progressives working to establish the kingdom of heaven on earth, Dr. King's expression of faith offers a powerful synthesis of how justice, love, and peace can be manifest as paradise here and now. His theology is inclusive, tolerant, renewing, and life-sustaining—free from dogma and exclusionary views, which can lead to violence and separation. The history of religious intolerance within Christianity is, needless to say, troubling. A historical and metaphorical interpretation of Christianity is valid: it need not lack energy and conviction as some fear. Indeed, such an interpretation is held by many in today's vibrant "emergent church." Dr. King is a voice for this movement, as he promoted Christianity as a way of life based on an inner experience and rooted in a commitment to the social gospel. For those of us progressive Christians who have fought for a seat at the table, Dr. King politely pulls a chair out for us to sit on.

Robert James Scofield (aka "Be") is a spiritual activist and the founder of He is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. You can reach him at


[i]           King Jr., ed. Clayborne Carson. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. Warner
Books. 1998 p. 6.
[ii]           Ibid., p. 180.
[iii]          King Jr., "The Humanity and Divinity of Jesus," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol 1, p. 150.
[iv]          King Jr., "What Experiences of Christians Living in the Early Christian Century Led to the Christian Doctrines of the Divine Sonship of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, and the Bodily Resurrection," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol 1, p. 224.
[v]           Ibid., p. 229.
[vi]          Ibid.
[vii]         King Jr., "The Christian Pertinence of Eschatological Hope," in "The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr. Vol. 1," p. 269.
[viii]         Ibid., p. 270.
[ix]          Ibid., p. 271.
[x]           Ibid.
[xi]          King Jr., "Why Religion?" in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 6, p. 83.
[xii]         Ibid., p. 272.
[xiii]         Ibid.
[xiv]         King Jr., "A View of the Cross possessing Biblical and Spiritual Justification," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 1, p. 265.
[xv]          King Jr., "Light on the Old Testament from the Ancient Near East," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr. Vol. 1, p. 180.
[xvi]         Ibid.
[xvii]        King Jr., "How to Use the Bible in Modern Theological Construction," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 1, p. 253.
[xviii]       King Jr., "The Weaknesses of Liberal Theology," in the Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 6, p. 78.
[xix]         King Jr., "Light on the Old Testament from the Ancient Near East," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 1, p. 180.
[xx]          King Jr., "The Weaknesses of Liberal Theology," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 6, p. 78.
[xxi]         King Jr., "The Influence of Mystery Religions on Christianity," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 1, p. 311.
[xxii]        King Jr., "Light on the Old Testament from the Ancient Near East," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 1, p. 172.
[xxiii]       King Jr., "The Influence of Mystery Religions on Christianity," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 1, p. 311.
[xxiv]        Ibid.
[xxv]        Ibid.
[xxvi]        King Jr., "A Religion of Doing," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 6, p. 171.
[xxvii]       Ibid.
[xxviii]      King Jr., "Is the Church the Hope of the World?" in "The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 6, pp. 105-106.
[xxix]        Ibid.
[xxx]        Ibid., p. 27.
[xxxi]        Ibid., p. 232.
[xxxii]       Ibid., p. 234.
[xxxiii]      King Jr., "Mastering Our Evil Selves," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Vol. 6, p. 97.
[xxxiv]      Ansboro, John, Martin Luther King Jr., The Making of a Mind, p. 47.
[xxxv]       King Jr., "Examination Answers, Christian Theology for Today," in The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., p. 290.
[xxxvi]      Ibid.
[xxxvii]      Ibid.
[xxxviii]     Bray McNatt, Rosemary, "The Problem of Theology in the Work of Anti-racism: A Meditation," in Soul Work: Anti-racist Theologies in Dialogue. Skinner House, 2003.
[xxxix]      Ibid., p. 27.

A Note on Sources:
Most quotations in this article come from The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr.,
Volumes 1 and 6. A fully footnoted version of the article will be posted at on January 1, 2010. If you need a copy before that, please email


Geert Wilders’ Speech in Tel Aviv

Dec. 5, 2010 (during Hannukah)
Shalom chaveriem,

Let me start by saying that it is with great sadness that I share your grief over the deaths of more than 40 brave Israelis who lost their lives — many while trying to save others in the great fire near Haifa. My country, the Netherlands, is amongst other countries helping to put down this fire, which is threatening the lives and property of thousands of your compatriots. I offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who perished. My thoughts are with them.

Israel is an immense source of inspiration for me. When I came to your country for the first time as a teenager, I lived here for a year.

I am not ashamed to stand with Israel, but proud. I am grateful to Israel. I will always defend Israel. Your country is the cradle of Western civilization. We call it the Judeo-Christian civilization with good reason.

Israel is often being treated unfairly. The world looks at the plight of the Palestinians in refugee camps in Lebanon, Gaza, and other places, and many blame Israel. The UN claims that there are over 4.7 million Palestinian refugees, and many blame Israel. These voices say the Palestinians should be allowed to return to “Palestine.” But where is Palestine? Many say Israel must solve the problems of Palestine. But is Israel guilty of the plight of the Palestinian refugees?

My answer is “No.” The Arab leaders are to be blamed — and Islam is to be blamed. Let me first tell you why, and then I will tell you where Palestine can be found.

At the end of World War II, there were 50 million refugees. Today, all the refugee problems dating from before the 1950s have been solved. All, except one — the problem of the Palestinians.

Why did this problem not get solved? The reason is simple: Because the Arab countries did not allow it to get solved. And because Islam does not allow it to get solved.
In May 1948, the number of Jews in the Arab countries was estimated to be close to 1 million. Today, fewer than 8,000 Jews are left in the entire Arab world. In 1948, the Arab countries forced the Jews out and confiscated their properties. More Jews fled the Arab countries than Arabs fled Israel. Where are the Jewish refugee camps? There are none.

So, why are there refugee camps for Palestinians in areas surrounding Israel? Because the Palestinians were not welcomed in the neighboring Arab countries. There was no Arab solidarity; the refugees were forced into camps and slums, where many of their descendants still linger today.

Under international definitions the status of refugee or displaced person only applies to first generation refugees. However, the UN makes an exception for Palestinians. Descendants of Palestinian refugees are granted the same refugee status as their ancestors. Consequently, the number of so-called Palestinian refugees registered with the UN increased from 711,000 in 1950 to over 4.7 million in 2010. These refugees are being used as a demographic weapon against Israel.

Instead of blaming the inhospitable Arab regimes, many blame Israel.

My friends, the blame should be laid where it belongs: with the Arab world. The Jewish refugees built new lives for themselves. They did what millions of refugees have done in the course of history, including, in the 20th century, the Germans who had to leave Sudetenland and the lands east of the Oder and Neisse rivers, the Hungarians who fled Transsylvania, the Greeks who were ejected from the Aegean coast of Anatolia, the Hindus who fled the Punjab.

With each generation, the resentment of these refugees and their descendants slowly fades away. Time heals all wounds. Acceptance of the new situation is the norm.

Islam, however, conditions Muslims to hate Jews. It is a religious duty to do so. Israel must be destroyed because it is the homeland of the Jews.

Influential Islamic scholars, such as Muhammad Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Cairo, the most prestigious center of Muslim learning, call Jews “enemies of Allah.” Tantawi, who died last March, was generally considered a moderate by the Western media and policy makers. But how did this “moderate” address a delegation of Palestinian Muslims who visited him in 2002?

He urged them to intensify suicide attacks against Israelis, stating that every so-called “martyrdom operation” against — I quote — “any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act according to [Islamic] religious law, and an Islamic commandment, until the people of Palestine regain their land.” — end of quote.

Nizar Qabbani, one of the most revered poets in the Arab world, praised the madness of those who are blinded by an ideology of hatred. In his poem Ode to the Intifada, he wrote: “O mad people of Gaza, A thousand greetings to the mad. The age of political reason has long departed. So teach us madness.”

Thát is the nature of the Islamic enemies confronting the Jews — sheer madness.

Israel, on the other hand, is a beacon of light; it is like a Hanukkah menorah whose lights have been kindled in a region that until 1948 was engulfed by darkness.

Friends, Israel is not to blame for the situation in the Middle East. The problem is Islam’s rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Only last month, Fatah concluded its convention in Ramallah by declaring its blatant refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The problem is also our Western leaders’ refusal to understand that Israel is the West’s canary in the coalmine: If the Jews are denied the right to live in freedom and peace, soon we will all be denied this right. If the light of Israel is extinguished, we will all face darkness. If Israel falls, the West falls. That is why we are all Israel.

But as long as the West refuses to understand how the Palestinians are used as a weapon against Israel, it will not be able to see who is truly to blame; it will not be able to see that it is not Israel’s duty to provide a Palestinian state — for the simple reason that there already is a Palestinian state and that state is Jordan.
Indeed, my friends, Jordan is Palestine. Take a look at the map of this part of the world after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. Both contemporary Israel and contemporary Jordan were part of the British Mandate of Palestine.

In 1922, the British partitioned Palestine into Cisjordan and Transjordan — the latter comprising 78 per cent of the territory of Palestine. The British handed that territory over to their ally, the Hashemite strongman Abdallah ibn Hussein. Abdallah was the son of the emir Hussein bin Ali, guardian of the Islamic holy city of Mecca. The Hashemites belong to the Quraish tribe — the tribe of Islam founder Muhammad. They are a foreign body in Palestine.

In 1946, Transjordan became an independent state under Hashemite rule. In November 1947, the United Nations proposed to partition the remaining 22 per cent of Palestine. The territory between the Jordan River and the sea was divided into a Jewish and an Arab part. The Jewish representatives accepted the UN partition plan, but the Arab representatives refused. In an attempt to “drive all the Jews into the sea,” they began the 1948 war — which they lost.

They took revenge, however, on the Jews in East Jerusalem and the rest of Cisjordan — the ancient provinces of Judea and Samaria — held by the Arab forces. This entire region was ethnically cleansed of all Jews. Even the names of Judea and Samaria were wiped off the map and replaced by the ridiculous term “West Bank.” A river bank of over 40 kilometers wide. I come from a country full of rivers, and there the river banks are only a few dozen meters wide.

Israel, including Judea and Samaria, has been the land of the Jews since time immemorial. Judea means Land of the Jews. Never in the history of the world has there been an autonomous state in the area that was not Jewish. The Diaspora of the Jews, which began after their defeat by the Romans in AD 70, did not lead to the departure of all the Jews from their ancient homeland. Jews had been living in the Jordan Valley for centuries until the Arab invaders drove them out in 1948, when the provinces of Judea and Samaria were occupied by the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, which abbreviated its name to Jordan in 1950.

And until 1967, when Israel regained the ancient Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria, no-one, not a single Islamic scholar or Western politician, ever demanded that there be an independent Palestinian state in the so-called West Bank.
Must Israel trade land for peace? Should it assign Judea and Samaria to another Palestinian state — a second one, next to Jordan? My friends, let me be very clear: The conflict in the Middle East is not a conflict over territory, but rather an ideological battle.

People are mistaken when they assume that giving up Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem and letting the Palestinians have it, will end the conflict between Israel and the Arabs. In 2005, Israel sacrificed the settlements in Gaza for the sake of peace. Did it get peace?

On the contrary, because the conflict is essentially ideological, the situation worsened. Because the conflict is ideological, territorial concessions are counterproductive. Ideologies cannot be defeated by concessions. They are encouraged and emboldened by it.

Ideologies must be confronted with the iron will never to give in, “never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty.” That is the lesson which the world learned from Winston Churchill when he confronted the evil ideology of nazism.

This conflict here in the Middle East is not about land and borders, but about Islamic jihadism opposing Western liberty. From the moment that Israel was founded, the Arab leaders have rejected every partition plan and every initiative for a territorial settlement. The Islamic ideology simply does not accept the concept of a Jewish state. Neither Hamas nor Fatah are willing to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in their historic homeland. No territorial concession on Israel’s part can ever change that.

Israel’s ideological enemies want to wipe Israel out as a nation. They simply deny the Jewish state the right to exist and to live in peace, dignity and liberty.

For the sake of its own survival and security, Israel needs defendable borders. A country that is only 15 kilometers wide is impossible to defend. That is the strategic reason why Jews need to settle Judea and Samaria.

Therefore, the Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria are not an impediment to peace; they are an expression of the Jewish right to exist in this land. They are tiny outposts of freedom, defying ideological forces which deny not only Israel but the entire West the right to live in peace, dignity and liberty.

Let us never forget that Islam threatens not just Israel; Islam threatens the entire world. Without Judea and Samaria, Israel cannot protect Jerusalem. The future of the world depends on Jerusalem. If Jerusalem falls, Athens and Rome — and Paris, London and Washington — will be next.

Thus, Jerusalem is the main front protecting our common civilization. When the flag of Israel no longer flies over the walls of Jerusalem, the West will no longer be free.

However, a peaceful solution must also be found for the many Palestinians in the refugee camps in Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere. Each year, hundreds of millions of euros and dollars are spent on the Palestinian refugees in international aid.

The financial assistance, however, did not provide the refugees a new home, a place to live and build a future for their children and grandchildren. It is obvious where this place should be. It should be Palestine, just as, after the Second World War, the obvious place for the German refugees from the East to go to, was Germany. Since Jordan is Palestine, it is the duty of the Jordanian government to welcome all Palestinian refugees who voluntarily want to settle there.

Until the late 1980s, Jordan’s Hashemite rulers did not deny that their country was Palestine. They said so on numerous occasions. In 1965, King Hussein said: “Those organizations which seek to differentiate between Palestinians and Jordanians are traitors.” As late as 1981, Hussein repeated — I quote — “Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.”

In March 1971, The Palestine National Council, too, stated that — I quote — “what links Jordan to Palestine is a national bond […] formed, since time immemorial, by history and culture. The establishment of one political entity in Transjordan and another in Palestine is illegal.” — end of quote.

By the late 1970s, however, the Arab authorities began to differentiate between Jordanians and Palestinians. What was previously considered to be treason and illegality suddenly became the propaganda line.

In March 1977, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein admitted in a candid interview in the Dutch newspaper Trouw: — I quote —

“Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot lay claim to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.” — end of quote.

In 1988, as the first Intifada raged, Jordan officially renounced any claim of sovereignty to the so-called West Bank. In recent years, the Jordanian authorities have stripped thousands of Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship. They do so for two reasons.

First, because the alien Hashemite rulers fear that the Palestinians might one day take over their own country. And second, because stripping Palestinians of their Jordanian citizenship supports the falsehood that Jordan is not a part of Palestine. And that, consequently, the Palestinians must attack Israel if they want a place of their own.

By arbitrarily reducing thousands of their citizens to statelessness, the Jordanian authorities want to force the Palestinians to turn their aspirations towards the establishment of another Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. This decision is a great injustice committed by the Hashemite rulers of Jordan — this foreign clan which the British installed.

I am not naïve. I am not blind to the possibility that if Jordan were to be ruled by the Palestinians, this might lead to political radicalization in Jordan. However, a continuation of the present situation will most certainly lead to radicalization. We need a paradigm shift. If we keep thinking along the same lines as we have done so far, no peaceful solution of the Palestinian problem is possible without endangering the existence of Israel and disrupting the social and economic fabric in Judea and Samaria. Resettling millions of Palestinians in these small provinces is simply impossible and is not going to happen.

To the skeptics, I say: What is the alternative? Leaving the present situation as it is? No, my friends, the world must recognize that there has been an independent Palestinian state since 1946, and it is the Kingdom of Jordan.

Allowing all Palestinians to voluntarily settle in Jordan is a better way towards peace than the current so-called two-states-approach (in reality a three-states-approach) propagated by the United Nations, the U.S. administration, and governing elites all over the world. We only want a democratic non-violent solution for the Palestinian problem. This requires that the Palestinian people should be given the right to voluntarily settle in Jordan and freely elect their own government in Amman. If the present Hashemite King is still as popular as today, he can remain in power. That is for the people of Palestine to decide in real democratic elections.

My friends, let us adopt a totally new approach. Let us acknowledge that Jordan is Palestine.

And to the Western world I say: Let us stand with Israel because the Jews have no other state, while the Palestinians already have Jordan. Let us stand with Israel because the history of our civilization began here, in this land, the homeland of the Jews. Let us stand with Israel because the Jewish state needs defendable borders to secure its own survival. Let us stand with Israel because it is the frontline in the battle for the survival of the West.

We must speak the truth. The truth that Jordan is Palestine, the truth that Samaria and Judea are part of Israel, the truth that Jerusalem may not fall, the truth that Israel is the only democracy in a dark and tyrannical region, the truth that Israel is the linchpin of the West.

Of course, I am just a foreign guest and should be modest. Israel is a democracy and I respect every decision which its people and government will make. But I am proud to be here and grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and beliefs with you.

Because it is here that our civilization is under attack as we speak. It is here that we, men and women of the West, must show our resolve to defend ourselves. It is here that Israel has lit the light of freedom and that Europeans and Americans must help the Israelis to keep that light shining in the darkness. For Israel’s sake and for the sake of all of us.

Toda raba… And shalom to all of you.

copied from
9 Jan 2011