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MLK Sermon: The Dimensions of A Complete Life

Sunday, April 19, 1959

In this sermon given at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. King details the three dimensions of a complete life: length, breadth, and height.

MLK Sermon About Courage and Cowardice

The document is a single draft page from Dr. King's larger work "Strength to Love," with annotations handwritten by Dr. King. On this page, he discusses courage and self-affirmation.

Levels of Love

Sunday, May 21, 1967

Dr. King describes five levels of love, from lowest to highest: utilitarian love, friendship, romantic love, humanitarian love, and agape. The last he refers to as Christian love, the love of God operating in the human heart. The first four, he states, are love for one’s own sake. The fifth is love for another person for their sake. This sermon was delivered by Dr. King on May 21, 1967 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

Eulogy for Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Victims

This is Dr. King?s eulogy for three of the four young girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. God gives man the right to exercise good and evil, King says, but God wills that everything will happen for the good ? that out of tragedy comes redemption. Martyred in the struggle for freedom, the girls have become symbols of the crusade and of the faith that sustains it. King speaks of forgiving those who murdered the girls and the need to transform the system, the way of life, and the philosophy that led to the bombing.

On Being a Good Neighbor

Dr. King tells the Biblical story of the "Good Samaritan on the Road to Jericho," in which a traveler has been robbed, beaten and left for dead. Dr. King connects this story to the Declaration of Independence and offers an analysis of the modern era. Following the example of the "Good Samaritan," he encourages looking beyond "race, religion and nationality" to help those wounded by injustices.

New Wine in Old Bottles

Sunday, January 2, 1966

In a New Year's sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. King addresses Matthew 9:17. His explains that new ideas or inspiration cannot thrive in closed minds or old structures, such as the idea of equality in a segregated society. While Victor Hugo's "idea whose time has come" may be here, Dr. King says, we need to "help time" and overcome the initial resistance to new ideas with persistence and a transformation of the old structures.

Making the Best of A Bad Mess

Sunday, April 24, 1966

This text of Dr. King's "Making the Best of a Bad Mess" sermon encourages the congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church to remain faithful in times of destitution. He makes clear the point that happiness is not found, but is instead created.

Schleiermacher (The Religious Man)

Dr. King quotes Schleiermacher's views on man's identification with Religion.

Questions Which Easter Answers

Dr. King writes a sermon entitled, "Questions Which Easter Answers." King asserts that while many people attend church on Easter because of its value as it relates to Christ, the true significance in Easter is in the fact that is makes one think of immortality; as symbolized in Jesus Christ.

Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

Dr. King delivers a sermon that urges his listeners to search for their purpose in life. He requests that his younger listeners attend school and strive for higher education. He stresses to not let the color of their skin keep them from achieving their dreams.

A Christian Movement in a Revolutionary Age

Tuesday, September 28, 1965

In this address, Dr. King fuses the philosophies in the Old and New Testament regarding revolutionary social change. He argues that the most creative and constructive revolutionary force for change is one that combines the Old Testament’s “righteousness and justice that flow down like a mighty stream” with the New Testament’s call to love one’s enemies and bless those who persecute you. He asserts that God has been working actively since the time of Moses for the freedom and perfection of people and society. Dr.

A Tough Mind and A Tender Heart

Sunday, August 30, 1959

An early foreshadowing of his nonviolent philosophy, Dr. King advises Negroes of a particular course of action they should adhere to in order to properly equip themselves to combat racial injustice. Seeking to avoid both complacency and hostility, he challenges those who desire self-satisfaction, as well as those who seek to pacify their oppressors, by proposing the idea of one having both a tough mind and a tender heart.

Loving Your Enemies

Sunday, November 17, 1957

Dr. King interprets Jesus' command to "love your enemies" and outlines how to accomplish this goal. He closes this sermon by relating the philosophy of love to the use of nonviolence as a means to overcome oppression.

Beyond Condemnation

Dr. King outlines a sermon entitled "Beyond Condemnation." He references the biblical story about a woman condemned to death by the Pharisees for adultery. Jesus commands "the person without sin to cast the first stone" as a lesson that all sins are equal and that no one should judge the flaws of others.

Shattered Dreams

In a sermon entitled "Shattered Dreams", Dr. King opens with a passage from Romans 15:24. The Reverend continues with the expansion of hopes and the contrast of shattered dreams. Delivering this message from a theological vantage point, Dr. King closes with "Christian faith makes it possible for us nobly to accept that which cannot be changed, to meet disappointments and sorrow with an inner poise..."


Dr. King quotes Isaiah 9:17, a passage from the Bible concerning sin.

Sermon Notes: Christianity Explored

Dr. King discusses the various concepts of the religious body of Christianity. He specifically highlights the Christian perspective in relation to life, the Kingdom of God on Earth, and Jesus Christ.

God (Dewey)

According to Dr. King's understanding of Dewey's interpretation, God is the connection between the ideal and the actual.

The False God of Science

Sunday, July 5, 1953

In this manuscript the author addresses their belief on the validity of modern man making a god of science.

The Tension Between Life's Palm Sunday and Life's Good Friday

Dr. King delivered this sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in April of 1960. In this sermon he discussed two days of prime importance in the life of Jesus namely Palm Sunday, "the moment of fulfillment" and Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion.

God is Light

Dr. King prepares a sermon entitled, "God is Light." He refers to I John 1:5 during his preparation.

"Lost Sheep" or "The God of the Lost"

Sunday, September 18, 1966

Dr. King delivers a sermon about the parable of the lost sheep from the book of Luke. In this sermon, Dr. King poses the question that has pondered mankind for ages, "What is God Like?" He declares, "God is like a good shepherd" caring for his sheep. Dr. King commends the good done in America, but compares the nation to "a lost sheep" for failing to maintain equality for all men. He summarizes by describing good as a process, that everyone is significant and God is seeking to find the lost.

Outline for Why Does History Move?

Dr. King's sermon outline references Hegel and Marx in relation to questions surrounding the concept of history.

Facing the Challenge of a New Life

Dr. King uses Greek Philosophy, the Christian conception of agape love, and the need for nonviolent resistance as a guideline of "Facing the Challenge of a New Life" in America. Throughout the sermon, he encourages African Americans to remain committed to the nonviolent principles of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the precepts of Christian living to facilitate the birth of a new way of life in an America dealing with violent conflicts over social conditions.


Dr. King describes the power of God.

Tribute to Jimmy Lee Jackson

Friday, February 26, 1965

Dr. King edits a draft of a eulogy he wrote in the wake of four girls killed in a bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. King applauded these martyrs, for their brief yet powerful appearance on this Earth and their contribution to the "holy crusade for freedom and human dignity." Reiterating these sentiments, Dr. King edits the eulogy to fit the life story of Jimmy Lee Jackson.


Dr. King quotes Tertullian on the subject of love from “Adversus Marcionem.”

Note Cards on God

Dr. King's writes on the possibility of finding God from the First Book of Chronicles.

MLK Note Card - Schleiermacher, Theology and God-consciousness

The person to whom Dr. King is referring is the German philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher.

Old Bull, The Great Violinist

Dr. King relates the mishap of a great violinist, during a concert, to the general act of overcoming obstacles in life.