Today I watched Dr. King’s speech again, and was deeply moved by his powerful words. In some ways his dream has been realized and yet in other ways it is so far from being realized. So how can we go about seeing more of his dream come true? I believe the answer can be seen from an unlikely place. Andrew Fuller was an old white man from the country… who was a preacher. He lived 150 years before Dr. King. How could he and Dr. King have agreed on anything? Hear the words of Fuller:
“Such, I am ashamed to say, is that with which some have advocated the cause of negro slavery. It is necessary, forsooth, to the wealth of this country! No; if my country cannot prosper but at the expense of justice, humanity, and the happiness of mankind, let it be unprosperous!” (1803)
But why this agreement? Why this unity of heart concerning the issue of justice and humanity? The answer is that Fuller was a man who listened to God. He heard God’s heart on the issue because he was a man who listed to God’s word. He was a man who read, believed, and acted upon the Scriptures.
Certainly, there have been many who have sought to base their bigotry, racism, greed, and oppression on the Bible. I do not claim to deny that. But what I do claim is that they were not reading correctly, they were not being truthful to what God has revealed in his word. They manipulated God’s word to support their own wicked schemes.
So, how does an old white country preacher agree with Dr. King 150 years before his extraordinary speech? He was a man of God’s word. And how can we move forward today in the midst of our own struggles for justice, humanity, love, and compassion? We too, must be people of the book. That is the way forward. That is the way to see more of Dr. King’s glorious dream realized.