“The content of their character”

Today honors Martin Luther King, Jr., the man who said this:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That seems clear, doesn’t it?  But actually the statement is interpreted in all kinds of ways.  See Debate swirls over Martin Luther King’s monumental ‘content of their character’ quote – The Washington Post.

How does the debate over the meaning of that speech parallel other disputes over interpretation, such as the interpretation of the Bible?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • James Sarver

    Maybe he actually meant what he said. Simply laying out the acceptable (to him) criterion for judgement. Skin color = no. Content of character = yes.

    But that is problematic. Careful what you ask for. Thus the different interpretations.

    In honor of Dr. King I attempt to apply this judgement on his holiday but the results are too depressing. I generally have to stop by noon and return to not judging lest I be judged.

  • Paul Reed

    Something that is clear becomes “unclear” when we don’t want to follow it.

  • Sam

    This isn’t about the “content of their character” quote, but I love this quote from MLK:

    “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

    It sounds like MLK understood the Doctrine of Vocation, did he not? :)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X