An Experiment in Love: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Re-imagining of American Democracy

Thompson, William, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Marsh, Charles, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

The basic argument of this work is that Martin Luther King’s public ministry is best understood as an act of public theology in which he sought to re-imagine American democracy on the basis of a Christian theology of love. Embedded in this thesis are three distinct but related—and also contested—claims. First, this is a claim about the source of King’s public ministry—that it was fundamentally an expression of an encounter between King's Christian theological tradition and his American democratic moment. Secondly, this is a claim about scope of King’s public ministry—that in it, King sought to re-imagine not merely an aspect of American democratic life—race, economics, or military policy—but the whole. Thirdly, it is claim about the substance of King’s public ministry—that when Martin Luther King, Jr. set out to theologically re-imagine American democracy, he did so specifically and unwaveringly in terms of an unapologetically Christian theology of love.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Martin Luther King Jr., American democracy, democr, civil rights movement, public theology
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