The Preacher King

The Preacher King : Martin Luther King Jr. and the Word that Moved America

4.15 (57 ratings by Goodreads)
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It is a commonplace that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a spellbinding orator, and it is evident that he honed these skills in the pulpit, in his capacity as a Baptist minister. Until now, however, there has been no full-scale study of King as a preacher. This long-awaited study, drawing on tape-recordings and transcriptions of unpublished sermons, and interviews with King's parishioners and colleagues, promises to remedy that lack. Preaching to congregations was never something King had "on the side," or dabbled in when he wasn't busy being a "civil rights activist," Lischer shows. Not only was preaching integral to King's identity, but the material of his Sunday morning sermons found its way into his mass-meeting speeches and civil addresses. When King spoke in civil settings, he transposed the Judeo-Christian themes of love, suffering, deliverance, and reconciliation from the shelter of the pulpit into the arena of public policy and behaviour. King's religiously informed rhetoric, argues Lischer, helped create a fragile and temporary consensus among white and black Americans and contributed to legislation that has changed the fabric of daily life in this country. King's Sunday morning sermons were far from identical with his civil addresses, however, and, in Lischer's view, the more intimate, unpublished "private" sermons necessarily tell us far more about what King "really" believed about his God and the ills of the nation - from issues of personal morality to the massive problems of racism and war. The Preacher King thus opens a new window on the heart and mind of one of the great figures of 20th-century American history, and on the well-spring of his greatness.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 124.46 x 203.2 x 25.4mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 019511132X
  • 9780195111323
  • 1,191,079

About Richard Lischer

Richard Lischer is Professor of Homiletics, the Divinity School, Duke University. He is the author of Theories of Preaching and co-editor of the Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching.show more

Review quote

He is fascinating on the background from which King emerged as a Preacher's Kid at Ebenezer Baptist Church ... a significant book about the influences, strategies, style, characteristics, theology and persona that made Martin Luther King, Jr into one of the monumental preachers and orators of all time. * Fellowship * Carefully researched and stimulating study. * The Expository Times * Lischer's analysis is sparkling and addresses not only King's sermons but also preaching history. * Joe Collins *show more

Back cover copy

Today it seems extraordinary that a nation the size of the United States could have been so profoundly affected by the minister of a little Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama. But at a turning point in American history, Martin Luther King, Jr., had an incalculable effect on the fabric of daily life and the laws of the nation. As no other preacher in living memory and no politician since Lincoln, he transposed the themes of love, suffering, deliverance, and justice from the sacred shelter of the pulpit into the arena of public policy. He was the last great religious reformer in America. How the man who always saw himself as "fundamentally a clergyman, a Baptist preacher" crafted his strategic vision and moved a nation to renewal is the subject of this remarkable new book.show more

Rating details

57 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 40% (23)
4 37% (21)
3 21% (12)
2 2% (1)
1 0% (0)
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