Analysis Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer And Dr. Martin Luther King

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Introduction

Upon attending a black church in Harlem, the young theologian remarked, “Here one can truly speak and hear about sin and grace and the love of God … the Black Christ is preached with rapturous passion and vision.” This same theologian left Harlem impacted by the cruelty of American segregation and set out for his German home, determined to trade theological platitudes for concrete action. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Dr. Martin Luther King shared the belief that God has given humanity certain natural rights, and they believed that each individual must be afford those rights to create what King called the beloved community. However, the two men differ on what rights merit concrete direct action and which should be left to the providence
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King. Bonhoeffer concludes “the destruction of the rights of the individual paves the way for the destruction of all rights without exception; this is the way to chaos.” The idea of communal chaos when an individual experiences the injustice of their positive rights is echoed in King’s Letter from A Birmingham Jail. King writes, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” The community is either moved toward a state of mutual justice or the chaos of injustice, for King there appears to be no alternative, Bonhoeffer, however has a different …show more content…
Bonhoeffer when making his case for God as the guarantor of natural rights seems to agree that some rights will not be obtained within a person’s lifetime due to the larger need for the preservation of humans as a species. He believes that God is intervening for humanity and those whose natural rights have not been obtained must, for the most part, wait so as to avoid unnecessary tension and to provide God with an opportunity to later overcome evil. This is why Bonhoeffer places so little confidence in a person’s ability to lay hold of their own rights, as if they would violating a higher law of natural life or the timing of a divine plan of justice. In many ways Bonhoeffer’s trust in Divine providence, despite his appreciateion for the social Gospel during his time in Harlem, comes across as the same “wait!” that King addresses in his writings. “We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persisten work of men

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