Why divine immanence mattered for the Civil Rights struggle

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Why divine immanence mattered for the Civil Rights struggle

Vaneesa Cook

Quote:‘I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid,’ King prayed at his kitchen table. ‘At that moment,’ he wrote in Stride Toward Freedom (1958), ‘I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced God before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: “Stand up for justice, stand up for truth; and God will be at your side forever.” Almost at once my fears began to go. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything.’

King’s faith in God helped him weather the storms of his calling. But his abiding beliefs in progress and the ideals of his nation also demanded faith in a certain kind of creator: an immanent God, working directly in the world through human beings, relying on them to carry out His will on Earth. Indeed, King’s belief in God’s immanence helped to strengthen his optimism about nonviolence and democracy, his ability to withstand disappointment, death threats, political setbacks and the seemingly irreversible condition of human sinfulness. God, he believed, was in the world, and His will would prevail, even when the evidence of moral victories seemed slim. The faithful need only stay the righteous course.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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