Themes

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Note Cards

Education was essential in the development of the mind of Martin Luther King, Jr. From his matriculation at Morehouse College through his doctoral studies at Boston University, Dr. King took notes on various subjects and referenced some of the most important philosophers of all time. The note cards shown in this section give you a glimpse into the molding of one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers and orators. Religion, natural law, metaphysics and the meaning of wisdom are just a few of the topics highlighted. These subjects and many more helped Dr. King’s capacity to expand his intellectual and spiritual capacity three dimensionally.

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God

Dr. King elaborates on Thomas Aquinas' views on the existence of God.

Apologist

Dr. King cites information regarding the historical background of the Apologists and their role in defending Christianity.

Job

Dr. King reflects on the purpose of suffering in the Book of Job and how Job deals with it.

Schleiermacher (Dogmas & Creeds)

Dr. King references Friedrich Schleiermacher's notions of dogmas and creeds, stating that they are mere descriptions of feeling.

Ritschl (God)

Dr. King quotes Albrecht Ritschl’s “The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation.”

Berkeley, George

Dr. King notes Berkeley's views on metaphysics.

Social Ethics

Dr. King writes about "Social Ethics" as discussed in the second chapter of the Old Testament book, Malachi.

Liberalism

Dr. King notes a view of liberalism in Harry Emerson Fosdick’s “The Modern Use of the Bible.”

Spirit

Dr. King writes that there is no way of defining the essential nature of spirit because it is manifested only in the activities of intellect, sensibility and will.

The Third Level of Ontological Concepts

Dr. King writes notes regarding the third level of ontological concepts, which "expresses the characteristics of being which are conditions of existence."

Suffering (Illustration)

Dr. King uses a Lily Dougall story from “God and the Struggle for Existence” as an example of suffering.

Scientific Method (Definition)

Dr. King quotes Henry Nelson Wieman’s article “Authority and the Normative Approach” in the Journal of Religion for a definition of the scientific method. He used this quote in his doctoral dissertation, “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

Progress

Dr. King notes and comments on a quote from James H. Robinson's "The New History" on the eternal law of progress.

Trinitarianism

Dr. King discusses the doctrine trinitarianism, the belief that God is one being, existing in three equal persons.

Ritschl

Dr. King quotes Albrecht Ritschl on Christology regarding Jesus' relation to God.

Death

Dr. King quotes Nels Frederick Solomon Ferré on the subject of death from his book Evil and the Christian Faith.

Mysticism

Dr. King cites a passage from American philosopher William Ernest Hocking's "Meaning of God in Human Experience," in which he discusses various forms of mysticism.

Machiavelli

Dr. King disagrees with Machiavelli's notion that political morality should be separated from social morality. Dr. King uses a quote from Heinrich von Treitschke to further analyze the issue.

Faith

Dr. King quotes English author and priest William Ralph Inge's "Lay Thoughts of a Dean," as well as English soldier and essayist Donald Hankey.

God

Dr. King references God and quotes theologian Paul Tillich from "Systematic Theology: Reason and Revelation."

Tests of Great Music

Dr. King lists five criteria to use to evaluate whether a piece of music is great. Great music should hold its appeal over time, connect different experiences, foster a deeper life experience, unify history and integrate the individual personality.

Barth

Dr. King notes Karl Barth's views on Jesus.

Eisenhower - Views on the Racial Question

Dr. King notes General Dwight D. Eisenhower's justification of racial segregation during Eisenhower's 1948 testimony before a Senate subcommittee.

History: Ecclesiastes

Dr. King examines the "author's philosophy of history" recorded in the biblical text Ecclesiastes 1:9. He notes that Ecclesiastes' view of history as "a series of endless cycles which has no underlying theology" is in stark contrast to general Bible philosophy, and is more in line with a Greek view of history.

Materialism

Dr. King quotes Hugh Elliott’s “Modern Science and Materialism.”

Prayer (Definition)

Dr. King quotes William James' definition of Prayer.

Ethics

ISRAEL

Dr. King maintains the Prophet Amos was saying that Israel's privilege would be proportionate to its ethical responsibility. Failure to live up to this responsibility would result in retribution equal to the severity of the failure.

God

Dr. King references a quote from Proverbs regarding creation and God's wisdom.

Daniel

Dr. King discusses the meaning of the Book of Daniel, namely to reinforce the idea of the kingdom of God.

Evil

Dr. King references the religious philosopher William Ernest Hocking regarding the topic of evil.