The Measure of a Man

Front Cover Publishing, 2020 M09 19 - 24 pages

First published in 1959, "The Measure of a Man" is a collection of two influential sermons given by Martin Luther King, Jr. at the first National Conference on Christian Education of the United Church of Christ at Purdue University in August 1958. The two sermons, "What is Man?" and "The Dimensions of a Complete Life", were printed together and published as "The Measure of a Man" by the Christian Education Press with the consent of King the following year. These sermons reflect ideas that King first began to develop during his days in the seminary and address what King believed to be "one of the most important questions confronting any generation". He argued that the answer to what precisely made us human and different from other animals was complicated as we are biological beings, but also beings of spirit and thought. King argued that while we are made in the image of God and thus have a connection to the divine and perfect, we are also sinners in need of divine grace from God, our Creator. King's sermons are as thought-provoking and inspiring now as when he gave them and remain an important addition to his body of work. This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper.

Other editions - View all

About the author (2020)

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 into a middle-class black family in Atlanta, Georgia. He received a degree from Morehouse College. While there his early concerns for social justice for African Americans were deepened by reading Henry David Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience." He enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary and there became acquainted with the Social Gospel movement and the works of its chief spokesman, Walter Rauschenbusch. Mohandas Gandhi's practice of nonviolent resistance (ahimsaahimsa) later became a tactic for transforming love into social change. After seminary, he postponed his ministry vocation by first earning a doctorate at Boston University School of Theology. There he discovered the works of Reinhold Niebuhr and was especially struck by Niebuhr's insistence that the powerless must somehow gain power if they are to achieve what is theirs by right. In the Montgomery bus boycott, it was by economic clout that African Americans broke down the walls separating the races, for without African American riders, the city's transportation system nearly collapsed. The bus boycott took place in 1954, the year King and his bride, Coretta Scott, went to Montgomery, where he had been called to serve as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Following the boycott, he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to coordinate civil rights organizations. Working through African American churches, activists led demonstrations all over the South and drew attention, through television and newspaper reports, to the fact that nonviolent demonstrations by blacks were being suppressed violently by white police and state troopers. The federal government was finally forced to intervene and pass legislation protecting the right of African Americans to vote and desegregating public accommodations. For his nonviolent activism, King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. While organizing a "poor people's campaign" to persuade Congress to take action against poverty, King accepted an invitation to visit Memphis, Tennessee, where sanitation workers were on strike. There, on April 4, 1968, he was gunned down while standing on the balcony of his hotel.

Bibliographic information