Martin Luther King Day, marks the release of a new book highlighting King, his legacy, and the Christian faith that animated him. Birmingham Revolution (IVP) by Edward Gilbreath, offers an intimate exploration of the modern church's role in challenging issues of our time.
I worked with Ed for several years where we both served as editors at Christianity Today magazine and where we cut our teeth learning and exercising the importance of religious reporting and writing.
Below are excerpts from a longer interview I shared with Ed on the occasion of the release of his book:
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On King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail'
I decided to use Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a way of looking at his whole life and ministry. I wanted to plainly connect King’s life and work to the church, since I believe it was the church and King’s Christian convictions that inspired and empowered the movement he would lead. And I contend that the events of Birmingham in the spring of 1963 represent the defining moment of King’s ministry, where he fully embraced his prophetic call.
On King's Moral Failings
Despite his failings as a human being, he was operating out of a God-inspired, Christian ethic of justice and reconciliation. I’m hoping Birmingham Revolution can help folks see King in a new light. I wanted to shed light on other aspects of King and, above all, show today’s church that everything he did was driven by his Christian faith and values.
On King's Sense of Christian Mission
In Birmingham, Dr. King went to jail to help make the point that the pursuit of racial unity and justice is an essential part of the Christian mission. . . .What we do know about him is that he was a believer in the dignity and humanity of all men, women, and children. In “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he wrote,
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality... Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”On MLK and Social Media
I've got to believe the man who wrote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and “The time is always right to do the right thing” was a guy who would get a thrill out of the immediacy and wide reach of today’s social media.
Buy Ed's book