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Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Image of God$
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Richard W. Wills

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195308990

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195308990.001.0001

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The Historical Context

The Historical Context

(p.3) 1 The Historical Context
Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Image of God

Richard Wayne Wills Sr

Oxford University Press

This chapter recognizes that King’s understanding of image of God existed on the edge of a historical 18th- and 19th-century dialogue regarding the quest for human and civil rights. As such, this chapter substantiates and considers the extent to which King’s use of image of God language paralleled that of his abolitionist and black church predecessors. It then contrasts this earlier usage of image of God language with that of King’s appropriation and call to justice during the 1950s and 1960s, and considers the ways in which this kind of theological framework became foundational in the development of his ethical appeal for civil rights as well.

Keywords:   historical, abolitionist, black church, appropriation, civil rights appeal

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