How Michael Luther King Jr. became Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Site Search

Current events

How Michael Luther King Jr. became Martin Luther King Jr.

January 20, 2020 - Jim Denison, PhD


In 1934, an African American pastor from Georgia sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the Holy Land. Afterward, he traveled to Berlin, where he attended an international conference of Baptist pastors.

While in Germany, this man—who was named Michael King—became greatly inspired by what he learned about the great German reformer Martin Luther. So he did something remarkable: he changed his name to Martin Luther King.

His five-year-old son was also named Michael. Not long after the boy’s father changed his own name, he changed his son’s name as well. And Michael King Jr. became Martin Luther King Jr.

The similarities between Martin Luther and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. do not end with their names. Both saw the potential for greatness in the people they served. Both were willing to stand for truth at great personal risk. And both served their cause as a means to serving their Lord.

The message of the church

As a Christian, you bear and represent an even greater name.

Those who know you follow Jesus will measure your Lord by your life. This is only natural. We tend to judge Islam by Muslims and Buddhism by Buddhists. We measure a movement by its leaders and most committed followers.

The good news is that even in our secularized culture, those you know who will not attend a church service can see the message of the church in you. They may not listen to a sermon, but they will listen to your words.

Lest this fact discourage you, remember who and Whose you are. The same Holy Spirit who inspired Martin Luther and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lives in you (1 Corinthians 3:16). He is ready to empower and employ anyone who is fully submitted to his power (Ephesians 5:18). If you will seek to be obedient, he will use your life in ways you cannot measure on this side of eternity.

That’s why, in today’s reading from My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers urged us to “guard jealously your relationship to God.” If you will abide in Jesus, your life will bear “much fruit” (John 15:5).

And whether the world knows your name or not, your life will count for God’s eternal glory.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

What did you think of this article?

If what you’ve just read inspired, challenged, or encouraged you today, or if you have further questions or general feedback, please share your thoughts with us.

What did you think of today's article?

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Denison Forum Search


Denison Forum
17304 Preston Rd, Suite 1060
Dallas, TX 75252-5618