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Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Paperback – April 1, 2014
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This important book addresses an issue many assume resides outside of evangelical concerns: racial reconciliation in America. Reigniting Martin Luther King’s challenge to do the hard work of racial justice now, the articles in this volume boldly consider what might be done to effectively respond to a still “racialized” country. An overriding theme of fellowship is woven within this timely volume, encouraging the eager reader, evangelical or not, to imagine anew a beloved community of racial inclusion at the looming sunset of the Obama era. In a most brilliant move, this book calls for evangelicals to carry on the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement while expanding its limitations. It acknowledges that changing legislation is but one step toward racial reconciliation for a people with, as W.E.B. DuBois once eloquently put it, “unreconciled strivings” and “warring ideals.” This volume offers the Bible as a potent tonic to change and cure the depraved heart regarding racial equality.
Derek S. Hicks, Assistant Professor, School of Divinity, Wake Forest University
This collection of personal narratives by gifted Christian leaders—black and white—strikes a blow against indifference to racism and advances the cause of Christ-exalting diversity in the church. Letters to a Birmingham Jail looks forward as well as back, addressing the ethnic conflicts of a new generation. It does not seek answers from culture but from the gospel, which transforms both our vertical relationship (with God) and our horizontal relationships (with one another).
Dr. Philip G. Ryken, President, Wheaton College
If it were within my means, I'd buy 100,000 copies of Letters to a Birmingham Jail and give them away to pastors and Christians all across America. This book is just that important to the future of Christianity in America. Be warned though:the borders of your present reality will breached by the flood of truth that overflows out of every page. You will be called into a deeper, more beautiful, gospel story that births missional, gospel-centered, multiethnic churches.
Derwin L. Gray, Lead Pastor, Transformation Church Author of Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future
Letters to a Birmingham Jail provides a thermostatic rather than a thermometeristic approach to the church's response to inequity and injustice within the world it serves to adjust rather than to acknowledge the social temperature. It is bathed in a Christo-conciliatory solution that fosters authentic racial reconciliation within the church, thus serving as a headlight rather than a taillight to the world.
This book advocates gospelizing the social—that is, letting the gospel subversively address the social problems within our world rather than socializing the gospel—making the gospel subservient to the social methodologies employed to address the problems within our world. The soil of this volume carries within it the seeds of the ministry of Jesus that must be cultivated if the church is to lead the way to a true and biblical revolution that engages this world's dilemma. I enthusiastically endorse this work.
Dr. Robert Smith, Professor of Divinity, Samford University
Bryan Loritts has assembled a wonderful group of ethnically diverse church leaders to respond to the now famous letter from the pen of Martin Luther King Jr., which, though written from a Birmingham jail in 1963, continues to appear timeless and relevant today. In response to King's well-known letter, these influential leaders seek to advance the issues raised in that letter by addressing both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of themes such as gospel, church, race, diversity, and racial reconciliation. Each chapter in the volume offers insightful guidance, providing a beautifully harmonized chorus that will challenge readers to think, live, and serve Christianly in a more faithful way in whatever context they may find themselves. The result is a powerful, probing, prophetic, convicting, biblically grounded, gospel-centered, culturally sensitive, interculturally competent, illuminating, helpful, and hopeful book, which I gladly and heartily recommend.
David S. Dockery, President, Union University
In the spirit of King's iconic Letter fifty years ago, Letters to a Birmingham Jail calls us to contend with the slow, hard work of building a Christ-centered church—one that challenges us to do continual battle with the earthly divisions that diminish all who profess the name of Christ. This book is essential reading.
Charles W. McKinney, Jr., Associate Professor of History, Director, African American Studies, Rhodes College
From the Back Cover
More than fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Much has transpired in the half-century since, and progress has been made in the issues that were close to Dr. King’s heart. Thankfully, the burning crosses, biting police dogs, and angry mobs of that day are long gone. But in their place, passivity has emerged. A passivity that must be addressed.
That’s the aim of Letters to a Birmingham Jail. A collection of essays written by men of various ethnicities and ages, this book encourages us to pursue Christ exalting diversity. Each contribution recognizes that only the cross and empty tomb of Christ can bring true unity, and each notes that the gospel demands justice in all its forms. This was a truth that Dr. King fought and gave his life for, and this is a truth that these modern day "drum majors for justice" continue to beat.
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Top Customer Reviews
I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a desire to be a positive force in combating segregation.
These words open a letter by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, a man who’s name is now synonymous with civil rights. His “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is insightful and challenging in so many ways, but I’m struck by the thought, now that we can review it in hindsight, of the “what if.” What if Dr. King hadn’t been so unwise and so untimely? Where would we be today? Would we still have separate drinking fountains?
Dr. King knew that knew that “wise” and “timely” would never come and so what was called for was a bit of “holy impatience.”
Why does the book exist?
“The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.” – Dr. King
Letters to a Birmingham Jail is a response to Dr. King. Not a refutation, but instead an examination of what he was doing, how it impacted these particular writers, and a call for the Church to continue what Dr. King started; an end to apathetic passivity.
The book features the full letter from Dr. King and ten essays from black, white and Asian pastors who have been impacted by what Dr. King did, or felt motivated to continue what Dr. King started.
What’s it all about?
“A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising that law.” – Dr. King
King’s letter is powerful and I found it to be the most powerful part of the book. The essays are fantastic as well, displaying a great deal of emotion, tragedy, perseverance, and triumph. It’s the words of Dr.Read more ›
Before reading the book, I first read Dr. King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” two times and listened to him read it once (there are audio recordings of Dr. King reading his letter online). His letter stands as a beautiful and horrible picture of the time in which he lived. It is beautiful, sad, true and prophetic all at the same time. This book, Letters To A Birmingham Jail, is filled with stories and thoughts of thankfulness for our collective progress and remorse over our collective failure in regards to Dr. King’s mission of racial justice and reconciliation.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter From a Birmingham Jail
The book consists of ten chapters, each written by a different person.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
NOPLAGERISM IN VOLVED BUT IT DID GIVE A WEALTH OF NEW IDEASPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent reading, and very encouraging. It even served as an inspiration for an article I wrote.Published 4 months ago by Paul Lewis
Letters To A Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a compilation of ten different essay/letters written in response to the words... Read morePublished 5 months ago by lovemykidz316
Great collection of moving and poignant letters responding to King's original letter (which is included in the book) from varied leaders in the states today.Published 7 months ago by J. Bailey
Great collection of American pastors speaking as practitioners of different generations, denominational traditions, races, and contexts, unified by sound Biblical teaching and... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Benjamin Grizzle
Absolutely refreshing perspectives for diversity training groupsPublished 13 months ago by Linda in Ohio
Great book, received it quickly in time to read the first half before a group discussion just a few days later. Thank you!Published 13 months ago by C. Fischer
Wow, just a reminder of how far we have NOT come in so many years. A must read for anyone who has forgotten our history.Published 13 months ago by Marylyn Iannetta-Butkovic
Taking up Martin Luther King Jr.’s seminal Letter from a Birmingham Jail during contemporary events like the Ferguson shooting and the Eric Garner case along with others like it,... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Andrew Smith