Martin Luther vs. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Welcome back to Lent Madness! We trust everyone survived early onset Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW) over the weekend and is ready for another full week of  voting. Thanks to Lent Madness more people than ever before now look forward to both Lent and Mondays. A Monday in Lent? Pure Nirvana.

In one of the most diabolical match-ups in the history of Lent Madness, we pit two heavyweights up against one another: Martin Luther and Martin Luther King, Jr. This ranks up there with last year’s Great Oedipal Battle between St. Augustine and his mother Monnica (which mom won). If you’re looking to blame someone for this, why not focus your attention on MLK’s parents rather than on the SEC? We wouldn’t have this problem if they’d named him Bob King or Gregory of Nyssa King.

You’ll be glad to know that PBS evidently foresaw this match-up and posted a quiz titled “Who Said What?” Quotes are presented and participants then guess which one said it — Martin Luther or Martin Luther King. Test your knowledge!

And finally, it’s worth noting that at this point we are precisely halfway through the first round of Lent Madness. Four match-ups for the Round of the Saintly Sixteen have already been decided: Jonathan Daniels vs. Janani Luwum; Oscar Romero vs. Lucy; Ignatius of Antioch vs. Hilda of Whitby; and Luke vs. John Donne. Yowza!

martin_lutherMartin Luther

“In any century in which he was born, Luther would have guaranteed a richly memorable night out, whether hilariously entertaining or infuriatingly quarrelsome.” – Diarmaid MacCulloch

Martin Luther (1483-1546) didn’t need to worry about his career since his father had already decided it would be practicing law. But when he feared he might die in a severe thunderstorm, Luther the law student vowed to become Luther the monk. He entered Erfurt’s Augustinian monastery in 1505 and was ordained a priest in 1507.

Luther’s visit to Rome wasn’t the spiritual highlight he expected. He ascended the Santa Scala on his knees, saying the Lord’s Prayer on each step to release his grandfather from purgatory. Afterwards, he asked himself, “Who knows if it is really true?”

He began to question whether these things could indeed bring him closer to God. He started going to confession frequently (and anxiously). He tried to be the perfect monk, yet his conscience remained troubled. Finally, Luther was sent to the Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg in 1511 and earned his doctorate in 1512. At the newly established University of Wittenberg, he began to teach the Bible, going beyond the official Latin texts to study the Hebrew and Greek texts. Several years later he came to understand the “righteousness of God” in the Letter to the Romans to refer to a gift of God’s grace rather than a humanly impossible demand.

Pope Leo X issued an indulgence to shorten time in purgatory for faithful Catholics and, more practically, to finance an unfinished building project –- St. Peter’s Basilica. Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar, was the salesman for these indulgences in Germany. Luther’s anger at Tetzel’s theology and business practices led to his nailing of 95 theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenberg on the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, 1517 (or at the very least he sent a copy of them to his bishop – yes, there is a nailing vs. “mailing” only dispute). Here’s number 27: “They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.” Words such as these made Luther into a bestselling author thanks to the newly invented Gutenberg printing press.

Several months after he was excommunicated in 1521, Luther appeared at the Diet of Worms before the Holy Roman Emperor. Luther refused to recant his writings. He was “abducted” on his return home and hidden in a remote castle, the Wartburg, for his own protection. Alone, he sank into a depression but began his greatest project – a translation of the Bible into the German language. The rest, as they say, is history (i.e., The Protestant Reformation).

Collect for Martin Luther
O God, our refuge and our strength: You raised up your servant Martin Luther to reform and renew your Church in the light of your word. Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of your grace which you have made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Neil Alan Willard

Martin-Luther-King-1964-leaning-on-a-lecternMartin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was, to quote the man who presented him with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, “the first person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence.”

Born Michael King, Jr., on January 15, 1929, his father, a Baptist minister, changed both their names to Martin Luther King in honor of the Protestant reformer.

At age 26 Martin, Jr., by then a Baptist minister himself, was chosen to lead the Montgomery (Alabama) bus boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. King’s strategy for this and all of his continuing efforts in the struggle for civil rights for blacks in the segregated South was to meld the precepts of non-violent resistance he admired in Gandhi with the Gospel of love espoused by Jesus Christ and the tenets of the Christian social gospel of Rauschenbusch with the strategy of civil disobedience championed by Thoreau. The result was a twelve-year career leading non-violent social protest against racial inequality through boycotts, sit-ins, and marches — which led to the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, ending legal segregation in America.

For his efforts, he was vilified from every side. White clergymen told him that Jesus had nothing to do with civil rights and ministers shouldn’t get involved in politics. The young Black Power and Black Nationalist leaders repudiated King’s dream of (and struggle for) a non-segregated, non-violent world and obedience to Jesus’ command to love his enemies. A black woman stabbed him with a letter opener at a Harlem book signing, and a white man shot him in Memphis. His house was bombed, and he was arrested thirty times — the first time for driving five miles-per-hour over the speed limit. The FBI wiretapped his phones.

But he also inspired young blacks to occupy a segregated lunch counter and endure without retaliation white patrons putting out cigarettes on their necks, black citizens of all ages to walk everywhere for 381 days to protest segregated busses, and a white President Johnson to call out the brutality of the white response to Civil Rights efforts and push through the legislation that would end segregation.

And he did it all for the love of Jesus Christ and for the love of neighbor.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He was 39 years old.

Collect for Martin Luther King, Jr.
Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your Church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Martin Luther vs. Martin Luther King

  • Martin Luther King (55%, 2,682 Votes)
  • Martin Luther (45%, 2,177 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,857

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181 Comments to "Martin Luther vs. Martin Luther King, Jr."

  1. Steve Harris's Gravatar Steve Harris
    February 25, 2013 - 8:08 am | Permalink

    I was raised Lutheran and survived three years of study of Luther’s (so-called)
    small catechism. How could I not vote for Martin Luther after that?

    • February 25, 2013 - 8:56 am | Permalink

      Read the Large Catechism…much better!

    • Alysha Collins's Gravatar Alysha Collins
      February 25, 2013 - 11:53 am | Permalink

      Same here Steve…Enough already.

    • Linda Simmons's Gravatar Linda Simmons
      February 25, 2013 - 1:43 pm | Permalink

      We always had a yearly movie to watch about the life of Martin Luther in Luther League. I remember the 3 yrs of confirmation classes and a big part was to study about the Monk. .It would be sacreligious not to vote for him. They both took on making changes but Martin Luther made big changes for the church as a whole. MLK took on changes for the colored race.

      • Bill's Gravatar Bill
        February 25, 2013 - 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Wrong, Linda! MLKJr. took on changes for all of us.

      • Just Us's Gravatar Just Us
        February 25, 2013 - 4:48 pm | Permalink

        The “colored race”? How old/racist ARE you?

        • Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
          February 25, 2013 - 7:28 pm | Permalink

          Thank you Just Us

        • Robert's Gravatar Robert
          February 26, 2013 - 11:07 pm | Permalink

          I second that question!

      • February 25, 2013 - 7:05 pm | Permalink

        MLKing’s vision was bigger than any one race, gender, country, Linda. When I visited him in his home he was recovering from that so-near-fatal stab wound by a black woman — just one, he said, of the many blacks who feared. opposed and hated him. His dream included all oppressed, unfairly treated people everywhere. (I love Martin Luther as you do, too: tough choice!)

      • Leslie's Gravatar Leslie
        February 26, 2013 - 12:57 am | Permalink

        Seriously Linda! Your comment on the “colored race” was cringe worthy (and I’m guessing revealed more than you intended about your personal biases and general cluelessness). Fortunately for you participants in Lent Madness seem to be a sophisticated and fairly tolerant bunch who will probably go easy on you. My suggestion: Have someone else read/edit your comments before you submit.

        Thank you Just Us

    • Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
      February 25, 2013 - 2:54 pm | Permalink


    • Martha Watson's Gravatar Martha Watson
      February 25, 2013 - 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Although I was raised Anglican, I’m with you on this. I greatly admire MLK, Jr. and his accomplishments, but Luther opened the door for the common person to read scripture in his/her own language. His courage in opposing the church hierarchy was amazing. He may not have been completely lovable….King wasn’t either…..but he did a great service to all of us who are influenced by the Reformation.

    • February 25, 2013 - 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Thank you everyone for helping me think more about both of these saints. I did vote for Luther – as I felt he took great personal risks to strive for change. (MLK did also).
      We all “win” because of both of them.

  2. Laurie Atwater's Gravatar Laurie Atwater
    February 25, 2013 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    Gotta go with Mr. Reformation. All reverence to Dr. King, however. He is a modern martyr indeed.

  3. kevans's Gravatar kevans
    February 25, 2013 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    “It’s worth nothing that at this point” … or worth noting?

  4. February 25, 2013 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    As deeply grateful as I am for Martin Luther’s courageous contribution to reforms in Christianity, I am voting for Martin Luther King, Jr. today in Lent Madness because MLK, Jr. refused to vilify his enemies even as they struck him, and he taught others very effectively to also love their enemies. (Martin Luther, on the other hand, wrote in unloving terms about his enemies and the other, especially Roman Catholics and Jews.) One of the images I always carry of MLK in my head is of his marching with others–not just by himself. And those others included women and men, Christians and Jews, Northerners and Southerners. We hold MLK, Jr. up as a saint, but he was surrounded by a cloud of saints (such as Rosa Parks), and they fed one another. And he’s a good reminder that our country has far, far to go in addressing racism.

    • February 25, 2013 - 8:30 am | Permalink

      Of course, there is something to said for #embracingthejerk , Martin Luther.

      • February 26, 2013 - 8:49 am | Permalink

        I know, Lou. You are right to promote Martin Luther’s many, many gifts, not just to Lutherans, but to the whole world! I didn’t NOT vote for ML due to his jerkdom. It’s just that the SEC gave us an absolutely impossible choice yesterday. Today, the CHOICE IS CLEAR: Florence Li-Tim OI!!!

    • Nancy Grear's Gravatar Nancy Grear
      February 25, 2013 - 9:58 am | Permalink


    • Anna's Gravatar Anna
      February 25, 2013 - 6:01 pm | Permalink

      I have ruminated and I come up with: equality, inclusion, love, non-violence, immense positive social change, tolerance, courage…the list is too long – the effects too great in my life to ignore – MLK Jr. all the way.

  5. February 25, 2013 - 8:15 am | Permalink

    This was the first one where it was hard because both men, while great achievers, also had very problematic sides: anti-Semitism and sexism for ML, and plagiarism and affairs (hence also sexism) for MLK. Ultimately went with the modern martyr and person of color–both because the former redeems some of his sins and because the latter helps vindicate Absalom Jones whose serious loss shocked and disappointed me.

    • Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
      February 25, 2013 - 8:25 am | Permalink

      One of the things which impresses me most about Dr. King was his expansion from the civil rights platform to an embrace of the downtrodden in general, which you see in his opposition to the VietNam War and his support for the Memphis garbage workers. It’s not that he was a greater saint than Martin Luther, but rather that I think his focus more closely follows the directions of Jesus.

    • Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
      February 25, 2013 - 8:28 am | Permalink

      I was also saddened by Absalom Jones’ showing. I have long been greatly impressed by Absalom Jones, but Luke is a very tough opponent. I hope the match up explains a large part of the loss.

    • T.Wheeler's Gravatar T.Wheeler
      February 25, 2013 - 1:01 pm | Permalink

      I too was a bit disappointed by the large gap of the loss for Absalom Jones, but unfortunately it reminded me that though I find the Episcopal church a wonderful home base for my faith walk, it still carries the face – a least for a little while longer – of the majority of mainline Christians. I would suggest that few lovers of Lenten Maddness holds an appreciation for how much Absalom Jones a d his friend Richard Allen ment to the “African” community of the early eighteen hundreds. Thank you for noticing.

      • Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
        February 25, 2013 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

        There is a big time lag in education. You will notice that many people who are voting for Martin Luther are doing so on the basis of education which they presumable received decades ago, when all of American history and literature were white boys clubs. Let’s be honest. Education is the work of years, with many repetitions. Still looking for that long arc towards justice. Do not despair my friend.

  6. Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
    February 25, 2013 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    It’s gonna be a long day here at LM. I am going for ML the first. MLK’s witness and influence is indisputable, but ML’s is wider, deeper, and longer still. And: kitsch is koming!

    • February 25, 2013 - 8:57 am | Permalink

      I own a Martin Luther Bobble Head. It’s awesome.

      I do think the earlier Martin paved the way for the later Martin (and others like him) to stand before the powers of this world, speaking the truth and challenging them.

    • Susan Chacon's Gravatar Susan Chacon
      February 25, 2013 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Glad to know I’m not the only one konsidering the kitsch factor.

  7. Natalie's Gravatar Natalie
    February 25, 2013 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    I have to vote for Martin Luther. If it wasn’t for studying his teachings on grace, I wouldn’t be a Christian today.

  8. MammaK1947's Gravatar MammaK1947
    February 25, 2013 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    Although I now attend an Episcopal church I was and raised in the Lutheran faith and once had to memorize Luther’s small catechism to prove it! Much as I like Dr King it is a no brainer for me to vote for Luther. His concepts of salvation through faith and grace color every aspect of contemporary theology.

  9. Sarah Pope's Gravatar Sarah Pope
    February 25, 2013 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    I agree with Mother Laura. Today was a hard one. Both men were leaders of reformations, and MLK would not have been the man he was without ML. Still, I went with MLK.

  10. February 25, 2013 - 8:27 am | Permalink

    I expect a long, uphill battle for old Marty (aka Martin Luther) today based upon the precedent of voter madness within Lent Madness. (They have tended to like modern martyrs and more sharply critique people of the past than those of more recent times, placing modern standards upon them.) Still, his theology was life changing for me, and like him or not, he helped change the world for the better; sinner-saint that he most admittedly is. I voted for Martin Luther. Here I vote. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.

    • February 25, 2013 - 8:43 am | Permalink

      When modern standards include justice for women, people of color, disabled people, and/or LGBT persons they are eternally relevant Gospel values and those who speak up for them– whether members or allies of the relevant oppressed group–deserve respect and not criticism.

      • February 25, 2013 - 10:12 am | Permalink

        Oh, my. No offense was intended, and you seem to misread my statement. Luther’s work – in my opinion – had more international and long term impact than MLK at least at this time in history. Yet some won’t even read his works because of his failings (which are certainly many, but often consistent with his time – very Dark Ages). Still, one shouldn’t deny his influence or willfully ignore it. This is most certainly true and the intended target of my true criticism, not any of the moral and ethical ideals MLK fought for.

        • Katie's Gravatar Katie
          February 25, 2013 - 2:31 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you, Lou. If you look at what ML had to overcome, his progress and influence was incredible. In many ways his greatest strengths were his greatest weaknesses. His refusal to compromise his beliefs on grace and faith are key to the reformation. But his refusal to compromise meant that he wouldn’t work with Zwingli. It also meant that he refused to listen to others, but that refusal is what got him where he was. I love ML because God used him because and in spite of his weaknesses. It reminds me of 2 Cor 12:9-10, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

        • February 25, 2013 - 10:03 pm | Permalink

          I am a historical theologian so definitely love and read all the greats (and not-so-greats), but also believe in honestly assessing their strengths and weaknesses and the positive and negative aspects of their legacy.

  11. Nancy Baillie Strong's Gravatar Nancy Baillie Strong
    February 25, 2013 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    ACK! Reformation Studies was my undergraduate focus, but I remember the night MLK Jr. was gunned down, and the reactions of some Christians to that tragedy would have been the sort of thing that Martin Luther might have uttered…and di not do much credit to themor their profession of faith. I think I have to go with MLK Jr. in spite of the Luther’s contributions to reforming the Church ever in need of reform!

  12. Judy's Gravatar Judy
    February 25, 2013 - 8:28 am | Permalink

    MLK for me. His American revolution not only opened doors for African Americans, but for other ethnic groups, women and those in the GLBT community.

  13. David Jakes's Gravatar David Jakes
    February 25, 2013 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Gotta dance with who brung me! Go Martin Luther! LCMS.

  14. Carol Sullivan's Gravatar Carol Sullivan
    February 25, 2013 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    MLK’s parents did not name him Martin Luther, but Michael. He decided himself to change his name to that of his father. I am going to vote for MLK largely because seeing a play (On Top of the Mountain – or similiar name) based on his last day. It was very moving and established beyond doubt that God is feminine. Logically, I should vote for ML, as his ministry has had a larger effect on my faith life, but “madness” defies logic!

  15. Roxie's Gravatar Roxie
    February 25, 2013 - 8:33 am | Permalink

    This is most painful and I will have to ruminate all day before voting. I was most aggrevated with the SEC when I saw the match up for today.

  16. Dorothee's Gravatar Dorothee
    February 25, 2013 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    Loved the Diet of Worms, but had to vote for the contemporary, non-violent saint. MLK all the way…

  17. Brendan's Gravatar Brendan
    February 25, 2013 - 8:44 am | Permalink

    The name change story says it all — could you have had Martin Luther King without Martin Luther? Both are immensely admirable men. I could be happy with either winning. But for the sake of my bracket, MLK, Jr. is a must-win, so he gets my vote.

    As penance for voting against the great reformer, perhaps I will actually crack one of the volumes of Luther’s Works that have been gathering dust in my basement since I inherited them from the library of my grandfather, an ELCA minister.

    • February 25, 2013 - 9:05 am | Permalink

      You don’t have to do penance, Brendan! That’s the whole point! Voting for Martin Luther and then doing penance is like voting for MLKjr and then segregating something. lol

    • February 25, 2013 - 10:15 am | Permalink

      Sin boldly. Vote boldly.

  18. Bonnee's Gravatar Bonnee
    February 25, 2013 - 8:45 am | Permalink

    As a Luther College (Iowa) graduate I voted for ML in this diabolical match-up– after agonizing. His translation achievement influenced my vote.

  19. slfiore's Gravatar slfiore
    February 25, 2013 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    Ach, du lieber! This match-up reminds me of Solomon suggesting slicing up the baby! MLK, JR is one of my heroes (heroes are, by definition, flawed but exceptional human beings). But without ML, could there have been a MLK, JR.? I have to go with ML as one of the first and most influential figures in teaching Christians to think for ourselves and use our God-given reason.

  20. Manuel Torres's Gravatar Manuel Torres
    February 25, 2013 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Surely Martin Luther supporters have cast plenty of votes for him in Lent Madness-like brackets of centuries past. Repeat after me, folks: MLK! MLK! MLK! (to the tune of the SEC! SEC! chants in that other bracket-like substance known as March Madness.)

  21. Joy's Gravatar Joy
    February 25, 2013 - 8:52 am | Permalink

    Went with MLK, Jr. today. My life transformed, my decisions influenced, my understanding of Gospel, what it looks like to live into what you believe, all too greatly revealed by him to do anything else. Here I stand, with thanks nonetheless for the incomparable ML.

  22. Cricket Cooper's Gravatar Cricket Cooper
    February 25, 2013 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    Breathtaking, the audacity of this forced choice.

    I had to go with ML 1.0
    Born and partially raised RC, this Episcopal priest is grateful that he asked the questions that made so much more outside the box thinking possible.


  23. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    February 25, 2013 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    I had planned to vote for ML, but realized MLK did equally as much to transform and reform his world as did ML.

  24. February 25, 2013 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    Tough match, but I’m going to have to go with Dr. Luther over Dr. King.

  25. Lera's Gravatar Lera
    February 25, 2013 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    These two both deserve at least a semi-finals slot! Nevertheless, because my formative teenage years were spent in the midst of the segregation-integration tension and “re-formed” me, I vote for MLK.

  26. jon rinnander's Gravatar jon rinnander
    February 25, 2013 - 9:06 am | Permalink

    I was there the day of the “I have a dream” speech and was deeply affected by the next five years. Partly because those emotions are still raw and partly because i think that “peace and justice” churches are walking on one unsteady leg of american ameliorism and cultural arrogance, i voted for luther because his reforms are still desperately needed in rc, orthodox, and anglican circles. Without luther, no calvin, no free churches, no primacy of conscience. Without luther, mumbo jumbo. When i sang for ratzinger in istanbul, all present in the cathedtal were granted a plenary indulgence nearly 500 years after the Reformation. Not sure where or how to cash it in. So, voted for ML because only a cleansed and repentent church can honestly be in dialogue with the many persons of good will among whom we live.

  27. MaterC's Gravatar MaterC
    February 25, 2013 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    In spite of remembering all the “what does this mean” phrases I have
    to go w mlk. Luther was scared of God but was courageous Mlk loved God
    and was courageous

  28. February 25, 2013 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Unbelievable match-up again, especially with current events in the Vatican really putting Martin Luther’s work in relief. But my vote goes to MLK, largely due to his proximity in time and space; as a former elementary teacher who taught every January and February about MLK’s work, I was always amazed by what he said and did, and I have found nobody closer to a modern-day saint whose example of a life of nonviolence and Christian love should be followed. We still need his teachings in our still racially segregated nation today.

  29. jon rinnander's Gravatar jon rinnander
    February 25, 2013 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Have you noticed? In the Lutheran communion service, the minister is the last to take the elements, after everyone has been served…….and then, of course, we have to note that without ML, there is no J S Bach…….

    • slfiore's Gravatar slfiore
      February 25, 2013 - 9:46 am | Permalink

      Good point!

    • murray's Gravatar murray
      February 25, 2013 - 10:40 am | Permalink

      JS Bach=God.

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      February 25, 2013 - 11:56 am | Permalink

      Well, maybe not the great cantatas, but surely the orchestral works, the Two- and Three-Part Inventions, the Mass in B minor, and of course The Coffee Cantata. (I don’t know about the Lutheran Church, but for us Episcopalians, coffee is the eighth sacrament!)

    • William Loring's Gravatar William Loring
      February 25, 2013 - 12:25 pm | Permalink

      “without ML, there is no J S Bach” — really? All the texts of the B Minor mass are used both by Lutherans and RC’s.

  30. Mary W.'s Gravatar Mary W.
    February 25, 2013 - 9:17 am | Permalink

    An impossibly difficult decision. It’s true that without ML’s courage we probably wouldn’t have had MLK’s. However, I think MLK’s theology was more evolved and inclusive, although that is a natural thing when one follows the other by four centuries. I’m going with MLK by a micron.

  31. Gwin Hanahan's Gravatar Gwin Hanahan
    February 25, 2013 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    I choose Martin Luther. Hier stehe ich. The father of the great MLK chose him. Ich kan nicht anders.

  32. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    February 25, 2013 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    Terrible, terrible choice. Almost awful, in the original sense. But while MLK had a huge impact on me, I don’t see him having the continuing impact of his namesake. Luther’s insistence on reading scripture, and the importance of grace over works, continues to have an impact on Christian thought. I don’t always like it, but it’s there. For this Calvinist historian of the 16th and 17th centuries, it’s a natural choice.

  33. Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
    February 25, 2013 - 9:24 am | Permalink

    MLK all the way! Junior, that is. A good A.M. to you Jane Papa…..etc…..etc…..etc.! Well, I don’t know what happened here but I need coffee…NOW!

  34. Karin's Gravatar Karin
    February 25, 2013 - 9:28 am | Permalink

    This was the toughest one so far. Please, PLEASE let me vote for both!

  35. Janet's Gravatar Janet
    February 25, 2013 - 9:29 am | Permalink

    All set to vote for the first ML but the comments swayed me to vote MLK …. Inclusion for all & reflection on how powerful MLK’s message was but not an easy choice. Somehow I think all of choices will be nailbiters -kind of like the weather in the Plains today.

  36. Sara P. Howrey's Gravatar Sara P. Howrey
    February 25, 2013 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    Matchup not fair: wish I could have split my vote. But I went with the first rebel . . . .

  37. February 25, 2013 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Toughest choice yet! Hoped reading comments would help me decide…. yet I’m still on the fence… come on voters… leave your most persuasive arguments and help this fence sitter make a decision!

  38. Steve P's Gravatar Steve P
    February 25, 2013 - 9:41 am | Permalink

    Despite my appreciation for his remark, “It is much better to think of the church in the ale house, than to think of the ale house in the church,” I will go with my status quo “martyr ticket” approach to Lent Madness.

  39. Anne Rein's Gravatar Anne Rein
    February 25, 2013 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    I grew up in Atlanta during the Civil Rights movement. Observing the movement–because I was too young to participate–was a crucial aspect of my spiritual formation. I voted for MLK, Jr. because his life (and death) touched me directly and gave me the courage to reject the racism of my white family and culture.

  40. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    February 25, 2013 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    MLK for inclusion. BUT truly wanted to split my vote. This one is too difficult —

  41. Edgar Wallace's Gravatar Edgar Wallace
    February 25, 2013 - 9:45 am | Permalink

    Martin Luther gave us some good theology and had great influence on the church, but for me MLK truly lived the Gospel and changed the world. It was a rather easy decision for me today.

  42. February 25, 2013 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    I’m going with MLK JR because he influenced my life by making Jesus’s commandment to love my enemies real in my time.

  43. Jerry Rankin's Gravatar Jerry Rankin
    February 25, 2013 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    With full acknowledgement and veneration to Martin Luther for his wisdom, insights, and courage in speaking the truth of the gospel to power, there is, for me, the massive problem of his “Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants”. The witness of MLK seems to me for congruous and consistent and his flaws much less egregious. Voting for MLK.

    • February 25, 2013 - 11:13 am | Permalink

      Out of the many things I dislike Luther for this one is at the top of the list. I remember how angry and horrified I was after I read it in seminary.

  44. Lauren's Gravatar Lauren
    February 25, 2013 - 9:48 am | Permalink

    voting for MLK Jr—steadfastedly calling for inclusion of all persons in the realm of God –not re-interpreting dogma and making it more palatable for some. MLK Jr called for a revolution of the Heart very much needed today.

  45. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    February 25, 2013 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    I think I shall abstain today; I truly can’t decide.

    May I just say, though, to the SEC: Truly, I never imagined, and at the same time was shocked, to see how deeply you still cling to your errors. *

    (* Via the Lutheran Insulter: )

  46. Marty Garwood's Gravatar Marty Garwood
    February 25, 2013 - 9:50 am | Permalink

    It grieves my heart to think of my wonderful sister-in-law Rhonda having to sit at the back of the bus or not being allowed to use a drinking fountain. While we are still not a perfect world, we are closer than we would have been without people like Martin Luther King Jr. showing us what God’s kingdom is all about. Love Wins!

  47. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 25, 2013 - 9:52 am | Permalink

    A pox on you, SEC. I am torn apart here. The Protestants Reformation was the greatest event since the Resurrection. However, MLK spoke of God to me when I would not hear such a message from any other source. What to do? What to do?

    Surrounded by Lutherans here in Minnesota, though lacking a Luther bobblehead, he is something of a homey.

    Truly, I may cast no vote but just thank God for both witnesses.

  48. Carla's Gravatar Carla
    February 25, 2013 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Can not get passed King the Intolerant Smug…Dr. King gets my vote

  49. February 25, 2013 - 10:03 am | Permalink

    MLK all the way. In my life, so many people I love and admire have shared “walking with Dr. King” stories. In my life and ministry…Dr. King has been a HUGE influence. Gotta go with MLK. But huge respect and bowed head for those of you voting Dr. Luther. Tough choice…this is a good thing SEC.

  50. Sal Barreca's Gravatar Sal Barreca
    February 25, 2013 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    I have MLK winning the Golden Halo… MLK all the way!!!

  51. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    February 25, 2013 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    Dr. King for me today. He walked the walk. I spent time in seminary truly trying to understand Dr. Luther, but could never wrap my head around the fact that whilst he wanted to preach a Gospel of love, he was hateful to Jews … and peasants … and others with whom he disagreed. Dr. King is one of my heroes because he has shown me a way to live that is Gospel. Dr. Luther? Not so much.

    • February 25, 2013 - 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Lauren, as one who was in Selma in ’65, I agree however, MLK could not have done what he did if ML hadn’t done what he had done. I served as an ELCA pastor for 3 years and agree with you on his theology, but I didn’t live at his time or in the German states. I just can’t mix apples and oranges.

  52. Karen's Gravatar Karen
    February 25, 2013 - 10:14 am | Permalink

    Asmuch as I admire MLK, I voted for Martin Luther. It was his introduction to book of Romans that John Wesley responded to with his heart warming experience, and as a United Methodist, felt I had to vote for Martin Luther and his contribution to my faith story.

  53. Danny Tapp's Gravatar Danny Tapp
    February 25, 2013 - 10:18 am | Permalink


  54. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    February 25, 2013 - 10:18 am | Permalink

    Dr. King all the way!

  55. February 25, 2013 - 10:19 am | Permalink

    Both men were men As is the wont of men, both did remarkably brave, remarkably stupid stuff. Both lived their lives working for reformation; a reformation that is and always shall be on-going. I went with the Intolerant Smug. (Would we have had the second minus the first?)

  56. February 25, 2013 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    Today will prove the bias towards the martyr and the modern. Meanwhile, I’ve got 95 thesis but the pope ain’t one.

  57. February 25, 2013 - 10:21 am | Permalink

    The Archbishop’s weekly video is out for any who are interested:

  58. Allison Askins's Gravatar Allison Askins
    February 25, 2013 - 10:22 am | Permalink

    As a child of the Deep South who still sees so many vestiges of that era alive today (though not just in the Deep South, mind you), I have to vote for MLK. I am deeply grateful that Luther spoke his mind and did the work he did, but my heart still soars for what is possible when I hear King’s speeches, read his words or remember the tears on the faces of the two black children in my second-grade Virginia classroom the day after Dr. King’s assassination.

  59. February 25, 2013 - 10:24 am | Permalink
    • Edna's Gravatar Edna
      February 25, 2013 - 1:38 pm | Permalink

      Well THAT was enlightening!

    • Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
      February 25, 2013 - 8:24 pm | Permalink

      Bob this was a great video. I found other I thought was good too.

      • Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
        February 25, 2013 - 8:25 pm | Permalink

        Let’s try that again. Here is the page I was referring too before.

        • Lynda's Gravatar Lynda
          February 25, 2013 - 10:30 pm | Permalink

          Watched both rap videos (not really my kind of music) however a very clever way to present ML s story. Thanks for the videos.

  60. February 25, 2013 - 10:27 am | Permalink

    This is definitely one very whacky match up, and my vote could have gone either way because I admire both Martin Luther, and MLK, Jr. I knew one of the priests in Birmingham who received Dr. King’s letter from jail, and know how much King, and his mission for justice, changed the hearts and minds of those Southern whites with eyes to see and ears to hear. One thing missing from the MLK, Jr. write-up was any mention of the man who mentored him in non-violence: Bayard Rustin, a Quaker and gay African-American and architect of the famous 1963 March on Washington. Rustin went to India to learn from Gandhi’s disciples and to strengthen his own practice of non-violence. He met with Dr. King, and became part of his inner circle, but was pushed aside because of fear that his “known” homosexuality was going to undermine the movement. Please see the documentary film, “Brother Outsider” to get this side of the story. I love and admire the work of Dr. King, especially knowing Rustin’s role in it. I voted for Martin Luther because he saw through the corruption that was being done in the name of Christ. And, boy, that’s still needed today!

  61. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    February 25, 2013 - 10:33 am | Permalink

    My mother died suddenly only hours after the Rev. Dr. King was assassinated. I like to imagine them talking together on the Heavenly Transport. A Caucasian couple living in the southern U.S. in the days of segregation, my parents taught us to “respect the dignity of every human being” years before the phrase was written into the rite of Holy Baptism in the 1079 BCP. I think that Mother and Dr. King must have had a rich discussion and enjoyed each other’s company.

  62. William Cooper's Gravatar William Cooper
    February 25, 2013 - 10:34 am | Permalink

    I expect MLK to win; I voted for ML because of the insult generator :0

  63. Anne Wrider's Gravatar Anne Wrider
    February 25, 2013 - 10:35 am | Permalink

    This was very, very hard. Luther is responsible for a good deal of who I am as a Christian, but MLK is the person who forced me to take Christianity seriously in the first place. The “I Have a Dream” speech was a transformative moment for me. So MLK gets the vote.

  64. PriestK's Gravatar PriestK
    February 25, 2013 - 10:36 am | Permalink

    Segregated “busses” made me laugh out loud. I realize that his passion for equality included the equality in all relationships, but perhaps segregated “buses” would be more appropriate to note in terms of his inspiration for black citizens walking everywhere for 361 days. Innocent typo, of course.

    I voted for MLK, even though I spent yesterday morning teaching about the Protestant Reformation in Inquirers’ Class, focusing much of the conversation around Martin Luther. Good stuff!

    • February 25, 2013 - 11:58 am | Permalink

      As a Star Trek fan, I know some stations in the South believed in segregated busses, too.

    • February 25, 2013 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Either spelling for the plural of bus is correct: buses or busses.

    • February 25, 2013 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I’m afraid I’ve always been a sucker for secondary spellings.

  65. Jenny Brake's Gravatar Jenny Brake
    February 25, 2013 - 10:38 am | Permalink

    I voted for Martin Luther King because he presented to the world the stark evil of denying others human rights.

  66. February 25, 2013 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    Martin Luther is an historical mistake. The reforms were needed and necessary but Protestantism has become a very big error in Christian life. Once a body begins to split there is no stopping further fracture. Had Luther sought to keep the Church, the Body of Christ, together the Church would likely be stronger today. Of course, the papal response to Luther did not help. However, some sort of method short of schism and ultimate bloody war could have been found. Luther remains the base case of the problem and does not deserve sainthood in the context of selecting people for special Christian recognition.

    • February 25, 2013 - 10:52 am | Permalink

      I think you are sadly mistaken, but God loves you and so do I.

    • February 25, 2013 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

      Luther did not want to start another church–he wanted a discussion and reform within The Church. Unfortunately, that’s not what the hierarchy wanted.

      Another way to look at the “fracture” though: cell division. A body cannot grow if cells do not divide and multiply.

      • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
        February 25, 2013 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, Teri. People within the church had been attempting necessary reforms and corrections for literally hundreds of years before Luther, with little progress. God’s Blunt Instrument was the church’s reward for refusing to self-correct. And blunt he was…always know where you stand with ML…and where he stands.

        It is too bad some of ML’s more regrettable (understatement) heated statements are swaying people away from his corner. His fury at the peasants was because they were behaving violently and he felt they needed to be stopped. Both ML and MLK had government princes on side with military support for keeping order at times in their respective campaigns for reform.

        • Relling Westfall's Gravatar Relling Westfall
          February 25, 2013 - 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Yes and that government support was so very effective in MLKing’s case wasn’t it. It was all those guards at the Lorraine that kept him from being killed.

  67. George Werner's Gravatar George Werner
    February 25, 2013 - 10:46 am | Permalink

    MLK was faced with strong opposition from both sides in his final years…he clearly knew that his life was in danger but preached peace with strength and non violence with courage…I am too deeply marked by the memories of his witness during his last ten years to abandon him now.

  68. February 25, 2013 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Martin Luther as we just ‘did’ him in our year 3 EFM lesson last week. Anyone surviving the ‘Diet of Worms’ has to be vote worthy.

    All plays on words aside, Luther was lucky to be whisked away and have the charges against him ‘forgotten’. Others were not so Lucky.

    I’m surprised not to see a link above to ‘The Ninety-Five Lent Madness Theses – Why vote for Luther?’

  69. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    February 25, 2013 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    This matchup has the potential to be a “bracker-buster” for those trying to plot the course to the “Golden Halo. My vote today has to go with Dr. King. Both men in today’s matchup performed great works for humanity while at the same time having serious flaws in their personal lives. However I am deeply drawn to Dr. King’s overall message of inclusion and that put him over the top in my book.

  70. Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
    February 25, 2013 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    (I did vote for Dr. King, it turns out, although I really do admire Luther, and very much appreciate his taking on the hypocrisy of the church hierarchy of his day, and its manipulations and deceit. I’m very big on “Ecclesia semper reformanda est.” He’s top-tier in snark, too, of course….)

  71. The Holy Fool's Gravatar The Holy Fool
    February 25, 2013 - 11:05 am | Permalink

    The Holy Fool has stated his disbelief with this matchup. However, the show must go on.
    I am voting for Dr. Martin Luther King. Albeit, I am still playing this tournament under
    protest. I am a contemporary of Dr. King, and studied, admired, and was in awe of his journey. “I have a dream” Dr King, and you inspired it.

  72. February 25, 2013 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    No struggle with this one today. I’ve never been a fan of Martin Luther in college, seminary, or now. I’m voting for MLK Jr.

  73. February 25, 2013 - 11:14 am | Permalink

    It was a tough decision, but I decided to go for MLK, Jr., by far the snazzier dresser of the two.

  74. February 25, 2013 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    MLK,Jr all the way! This Atlanta girl was alive when he was asassinated. I remember being told that whites were not to leave their nieghborhoods or we would be killed for not honoring Dr. King the day of his funeral. From that time forward I experienced the turmoils of our society making strides toward racial equality. We sure aren’t there yet butI am grateful for the struggle, no matter how painful.
    God’s grace was there with Martin Luther to give he and his followers the hunger for Reformation. God grant that we continue with even more graceful hunger, to not sit complacent and fight for what might not be what society want’s but what all God’s children deserves.

  75. Richard's Gravatar Richard
    February 25, 2013 - 11:21 am | Permalink

    This was the most difficult choice so far in Lent Madness. One could make a case for either Martin Luther going to the finals. By a hair I had to go with MLK because as a result of his contribution, life here in the present day USA was changed for the better. If I lived in another country or at another time I would have voted for ML.

    • Catherine Hughes's Gravatar Catherine Hughes
      February 25, 2013 - 1:07 pm | Permalink

      I do live in another country which was not greatly affected by the work of MLK and so I voted for ML.

  76. Johannas Jordan's Gravatar Johannas Jordan
    February 25, 2013 - 11:54 am | Permalink

    Both, as was said int he into are “heavy weights”, Martin Luther focused our eyes on the scriptures and what they mean and MLK lived them in a non-violent way.
    My vote for the non-violence of MLK paired with the message of the scriptures.

  77. February 25, 2013 - 11:58 am | Permalink

    Gotta go with Martin Luther. Whether it was right or wrong, Luther made more of an impact on the future of the Universal Church than has Martin Luther King (yet). I was a part of MLK’s lobby back in the 60’s and know the measure of his sanctity. The theology of the 16th century doesn’t cut it for today, but ML’s contribution to the freeing of Christianity from the domination of Rome has helped the message of Christ to be spread.

  78. Catherine Hughes's Gravatar Catherine Hughes
    February 25, 2013 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

    This was indeed a hard one, but since this excercise is designed to choose “The Saintly Sixteen” I decided to vote for ML. MLK’s personal life was not always saintly and his fame was mostly in the secular world. That said, I won’t be upset if the untlimate choice is MLK>

  79. Skip's Gravatar Skip
    February 25, 2013 - 12:06 pm | Permalink

    This is truly one of the most difficult choices in the first round. I believe the SEC did not accurately examine the ferret’s sayings. This should have been a match-up in the Saintly 16 or Elate 8 but who am I to question the wisdom of the ferrets and the SEC.
    Martin Luther did more to spread the gospel to the common man than anyone. History has judged him and has placed him on the pantheon of saints already. I grew up in Mississippi and saw the ignorance and hatred of segregation. I also saw the passion and power of non-violence from Dr. King. While both men changed the world I have to go with my contemporary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

  80. February 25, 2013 - 12:10 pm | Permalink

    this was a hard one! But ultimately I had to go with ML1.0, the man who brought us the scripture in the vernacular, who used the printing press to his advantage, and who began the sea change in the church’s understanding of itself and its mission. Always Being Reformed!
    (and, as for his anti-many-things-ways, remember that a: he is a product of his time, like many others, and b: the idea of Always Being Reformed may very well have led him to change his mind about many of those things if he had lived through different times…the Protestant church certainly has, unlike those who stuck fast to the old ways…)

  81. February 25, 2013 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Anglicanism probably doesn’t happen without Luther in some sort of roundabout way. Luther’s theology of Grace personally freed me from a uberly conservative baptist understanding of Salvation to a deeper sense of Christ’s compassion and Grace. That being said, I’m more of a faith by works guy than I am a Grace and Scripture along guy. I also find Luther’s prejudice against Jews very difficult to comprehend. Dr. M.LK. Jr’s life is also more than complicated but his reformations reside more closely to my personal experience. His non-violence and the willingness of his followers to suffer extraordinary levels of hatred and pain are far different from the techniques the German Princes of Luther’s day used to bring reformation into being.

  82. Tom Cox's Gravatar Tom Cox
    February 25, 2013 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

    MLK gets my vote. Luther was obviously of monumental importance, but his whole deal about being terrified of God and constantly anxious about his own salvation just does not resonate with me like MLK’s vision of non-violence and love.

  83. Jill's Gravatar Jill
    February 25, 2013 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m a Methodist and was a denominational minority at my Lutheran undergrad college. There’s now a huge statue Luther in the plaza outside of the student union. I think that would have freaked me out if it had been there when I was in school. I’d yell at him about how I liked how John Wesley’s theology was a corrective on his, i.e., it’s because of our faith we do works, etc., or something like that. In my two years of theological studies of grad school, in my work as a research assistant, I read through a whole stack of Martin Luther King’s sermons for one of my Old Testament professors and became more acquainted with him than I had before. Even after covering the local MLK service in the town where I wrote for the local newspaper for 3 years prior to my grad school experience. It’s through MLK I am more familiar with Micah 6:8 and other Old Testament minor prophets.

  84. Sam Sessions's Gravatar Sam Sessions
    February 25, 2013 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to have to go with Martin Luther instead of Dr. King Jr on this one only because I grew up Lutheran, and I feel like he’s the underdog in a contest against Dr. King Jr. Lol

  85. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 25, 2013 - 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I got 95 theses but the Pope ain’t one. LOVEIT!

  86. Alec Clement's Gravatar Alec Clement
    February 25, 2013 - 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I love them both–waarts and all but MLK had such an enormous impact on our lives here in the US that I could not desert him.. Martyrdom was his lot.

  87. Heather C's Gravatar Heather C
    February 25, 2013 - 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I had to go with ML on this – if we still lived under the thumb of one great universal church hierarchy, would any of MLK’s actions been possible?

  88. William Loring's Gravatar William Loring
    February 25, 2013 - 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Certainly MLK’s broad acceptance is more appealing and, I suspect, more Christian, than ML’s Antisemitism, but then I followed the link to and was so taken by ML’s turn of phrase that I had to vote for him anyway. Not really a good reason, but sometimes one needs a single straw to break a tie!

  89. Beth's Gravatar Beth
    February 25, 2013 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Very difficult choice. Having listened to all of MLK,s speeches, and hope that they are taught in every school, I have to go with Martin Luther. His actions created a much need reform in the church.

  90. Mary-Elise's Gravatar Mary-Elise
    February 25, 2013 - 1:20 pm | Permalink

    The uplifting spirit of I have a dream vs the insulting words of Luther (see hmm…

  91. February 25, 2013 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

    This was a hard one. I chortled my way through the 95 Theses and adore ML’s biting sarcasm. I also resonate with his grappling to be a perfect monk. But MLK got my vote in the end because of his choice to make change through non-violence.

  92. February 25, 2013 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much Jon Rinnander for your insights. You go right to the center of my choice for Martin Luther. His reforms ARE still desperately needed in several religious circles. I wish that someone of his courage was around today to speak the truth of reform. And his impact on Christianity is certain to be much deeper and last longer than that of Martin Luther King Jr.

  93. JAG's Gravatar JAG
    February 25, 2013 - 1:54 pm | Permalink

    I had to go with MLK, Jr. This what he said the night he was killed ” I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Do God’s will and you will get to the mountaintop!

  94. Joan Cesare's Gravatar Joan Cesare
    February 25, 2013 - 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Martin Luther led a freedom movement within the RCC, but he expected his followers to be of one narrow and often bigotted mind with him. Dr. King led a freedom movement into which people of many colors and religions were counted, marched, toiled and died.

  95. Father Rico's Gravatar Father Rico
    February 25, 2013 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    ML’s work affected a greater amount of people over a longer period of time. But, for me, MLK’s message is the more immediate. Our world, and our church, cannot seem to internalize the message that we are all beloved equally by God. The resultant exclusion of others, in favor of those who look and act more like us; the consequent struggles for self respect among those whose lives are circumscribed by restrictions of the soul imposed by those with more money or power; this is where modern sin is located. Not only does grace not let us off the hook, it also convicts us to do more to address this sinfulness. Sorry, Episcopalians, that means us, too. MLK’s demands are direct descendants of Christ’s, and just about as hard to enact.

    • Anne Rein's Gravatar Anne Rein
      February 25, 2013 - 4:52 pm | Permalink

      What a beautiful and moving comment, Father Rico. Thank you.

    • Tom Cox's Gravatar Tom Cox
      February 25, 2013 - 5:08 pm | Permalink

      Bravo, Father Rico!

    • February 25, 2013 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

      I agree with the needs you point out 100%t, Fr. Rico, and thank you for your shared incites. Yet, I voted for Luther because many still see God as far away and distant or believe “even if God is love, God surely still couldn’t love me.” This was how I was when young. As an ex-troubled youth who seeks to help troubled youth, I hear it again and again. I suggest (at least for me) that much of Luther’s theology is very immediate as well.

      • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
        February 25, 2013 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

        “Incites” is a great word for comments that come from a person’s “angry place”. : )
        Doesn’t apply in this thread, thank heavens!
        …but I’d say Luther had a lot of incites…as he himself would freely admit.
        Love him anyways…and God does too. And I know that from ML’s hard won and beautifully expressed insights on grace, which I wish were getting more press here than his occasional hard words.

        • February 25, 2013 - 9:20 pm | Permalink

          Good catch with both my spelling error and your main point – Luther was more about a loving God and grace than anything else. If more people would read further than the well known obnoxious writings, that might be more clear.

          • February 25, 2013 - 9:33 pm | Permalink

            Hi, Lou. I’ve read Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians, and I agree that he writes beautifully and copiously about a loving God and grace more than anything else. You are so right. Every holy person has their foibles, too. (Embrace the jerk!). But I voted for MLK, Jr. because he achieved so much with nonviolence and love of enemy, and that is hard to find in Christendom. But don’t worry: I put in a good word for Martin Luther’s writings wherever I can.

  96. don cardwell's Gravatar don cardwell
    February 25, 2013 - 2:52 pm | Permalink

    The trick to thinking outside the box is… there is no box.

    MLKjr for the WIN

  97. Rob's Gravatar Rob
    February 25, 2013 - 3:12 pm | Permalink

    King wrote a Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Luther wrote, “Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants” and “Against the Jews and their Lies.” Both made amazing contributions to the church. One makes a better saint.

  98. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    February 25, 2013 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

    So difficult, as the struggles that both men represent still continue and will continue as we live in a broken world – yet they both fought the good fight as Jesus calls us all to do. Martin Luther, by the margin of time that continues to demonstrate the breadth and depth of his message still resonating in the places of power. in 300 years, who knows?

  99. February 25, 2013 - 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Luther admited he deserves sin and hell, what of it? Vote for him anyway! (Although, I’m not sure there is such a thing as a better saint.) [youtube

  100. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    February 25, 2013 - 3:43 pm | Permalink

    I was very upset when I fist saw this pairing. As a lifelong Lutheran (including Lutheran grade school, Lutheran high school, and Valparaiso University, employed by 2 different Lutheran churches, attend an ELCA church that holds a “Lutherfest” each year, etc, etc), how can I not vote for ML???? Despite how much I admire MLK, I have to vote for ML. Normally, I vote 1st and then read the comments. This time I read all the comments first. Now I’m ready to vote for ML. Am sure I’ll get the chance to vote for MLK in the next round. I agree with a previous poster, this should have been a matchup for later in the rounds. As an old song I learned in my youth says, “Good old Marty Luther, good old Marty Luther, he sure made the Reformation swing. With his 95 theses, he tore the pope to pieces, I think the Reformation’s grand.”

  101. Terry's Gravatar Terry
    February 25, 2013 - 3:59 pm | Permalink

    The “If there had not been ‘e’, there would not be ‘f'” argument is getting tired. Who knows ‘if there had not been ‘f’, what even greater saint ‘g’ will yet not be? And can ‘z’ ever wear the golden halo? The oldies, the shoulders we stand on, yes! But without ML or even Luke there would still be ‘saints’ for us to vote on in this wonderful lent madness.

  102. Lilah Asmussen's Gravatar Lilah Asmussen
    February 25, 2013 - 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Each contributed greatly. One for a church, one for a country. Both were attuned to God’s word. Sacrifices were made for the good of all people. How to say one is better that the other is very difficult. Lent Madness could drive a person crazy.

  103. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 25, 2013 - 4:13 pm | Permalink

    To avoid these kinds of match-ups and the consequent exit from a competition of top contestants, those in charge of major tournaments like, oh, Wimbledon or the World Cup, use a method called “seeding” which I humbly recommend to the SEC for the future to prevent future heartbreak.

    I voted for the reformer. Head won over heart and not for the first time.

  104. Deakswan's Gravatar Deakswan
    February 25, 2013 - 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Whiole teaching the Reformation as part of my World History course in NYC, one of my students gleefully pointed out that I got it wrong whne I put the name martin Luther onthe board…she yelled from the back of the room,” You forgot the ‘King’!”, to which I replied, ” No, Elvis has left the building.” The rest of the class laughed.

  105. February 25, 2013 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

    The Seminarians released their second video of Week in Review. We have a special segment on this match. To quote Chris, he’s a drunk.

  106. Christine's Gravatar Christine
    February 25, 2013 - 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Tough draw for both men. Just not fair. They both could be finalists. I went with Dr. King. In this time we need modern examples to help question and fight for what is right for our fellow person.

  107. Hope and Skye's Gravatar Hope and Skye
    February 25, 2013 - 5:23 pm | Permalink

    This is straight from Hope’s mouth with Mommy typing: “Martin Luther King, Jr. helped it so that when Sissy and I walk into our third grade classes we can sit by lots of other kids without anyone saying “hey, you can’t sit there.” We don’t care anything about the color of our skin. All we care about is being together. We are all God’s children no matter what we look like.” Mom is high-fiving Hope after this one. Thank you Lent Madness for encouraging these special moments by these silly match-ups.!.

    • Jane Knight's Gravatar Jane Knight
      February 25, 2013 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Hope, for your insights. I also voted for Dr. King — Mr. Knight and I were privileged to hear him speak at our college when we were students.

  108. Alice's Gravatar Alice
    February 25, 2013 - 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to say, I cannot vote today. As much as I appreciate both of their huge contributions in their own spheres they each had traits which even in my loosest understanding of saint they do not qualify. Ml wrote and apparently believed in horrendous attitudes towards the serfs and Jews. MLK because of his continuous, blatant and admitted moral lapses. None of us are perfect, but unfortunately they cross the “saintly” line for me.

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      February 25, 2013 - 7:53 pm | Permalink

      Well if I were looking for perfection in the saints I know (which in the loosest and most ancient definition simply means “God’s people”), including myself, I’d be in deep despair and about ready to pack it in. Thank the merciful heavens I’m a Lutheran Christian, so I CAN get out of bed every morning and face what the world has to offer…by the grace of God! : )

      • Barbara's Gravatar Barbara
        February 26, 2013 - 10:01 am | Permalink

        And that’s why we love the Lutherans….



  109. Cheribum's Gravatar Cheribum
    February 25, 2013 - 6:50 pm | Permalink

    This turns out to be very easy. If Luther really chose the monastery during a really scary thunderstorm then there is no way that he would have challenged the racists of the South. The Catholic Church was so mean that they- hid Luther away in a castle? King had no such castle.

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      February 25, 2013 - 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Luther’s savvier political friends — not the Roman church — kidnapped him and held him on the QT in the castle, to keep him from being arrested, tried for heresy, and burned. Luther had crossed (if I may use the term) arguably the most powerful institution in the Western world, so make no mistake – his life was under serious threat. Considering the forces he was up against, it is a frank miracle he survived to die of more natural causes. His refusal to back down from his God-given path to challenge and reform the church of the day must be considered an act of extreme courage, no less than MLK’s determination to also persist despite death threats and persecution.

  110. Elizabeth's Gravatar Elizabeth
    February 25, 2013 - 6:55 pm | Permalink

    I was born in 1968. My mother drank from the whites only fountain in her small Southern town. In contrast, my daughter, a proper white Episcopalian chorister, is at this very moment giggling in the living room with her best friend, whose parents are black Baptist ministers. “We have so much in common!” The girls squeal. They occasionally attend church with one other, sometimes at a very affluent church rich in sacred tradition, and sometimes at a very poor church, rich in soulful spontaneity. “It’s really about the same thing–Jesus,” they tell anyone who will listen. This was a tough vote today, but I’m moved to vote for the one whose dream came true between my mother and my daughter’s generation. Reform is necessary, but if we can do it with peace and love, embracing each other’s uniqueness, and listening for Jesus in each others’ spaces, we can change the world.

    • February 26, 2013 - 12:42 am | Permalink

      In light of some of the comments on this thread, I thought I would recommend Diarmaid MacCulloch’s history of The Reformation. As an Anglican historian standing firmly in the via media, I thought he did a truly excellent job of presuming the sincerity and good intentions of all parties, and wondering at various points in the history what, if anything, could have been done differently that might have averted the schism.

      (I confess, I’ve only read up to the Council of Trent in this massive tome, but it is on my list to finish someday!)

      All affectionate joking about “separated brethren and sistren” aside, it was MLK’s lived commitment to nonviolence in the place of shame, in the face of incredible provocation, that clinched it for me. MLK more clearly shines forth the image of the Crucified Christ.

      • February 26, 2013 - 12:44 am | Permalink

        Ack! That comment ended up in the wrong place — it was meant to be a comment on the main thread, not a reply.

        Elizabeth, I was very touched by the story of your white Episcopalian daughter and her black Baptist friend. Thanks for sharing it.

  111. Rosemarie's Gravatar Rosemarie
    February 25, 2013 - 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I am tripped up on the question someone posed about whether, without ML, there could have been an MLK. When things get this tough only my spreadsheet can save me. I came up with 9 criteria: love of God, love of neighbor, endurance, theological insight, societal impact, mystical communion, leadership/inspiration, moral courage, and living as Jesus asked. There is also an extra credit category. For each criteria a saint can get up to 10 points. I had to give ML negative points for love of neighbor because I read an article about how Hitler used his anti-semitic writings to justify the Holocost to get Christians to buy into it. That also diminished his Christian impact score because while he may have had incalculable positive influence, his influence in the Holocost may have been as great. MLK also got some diminishment of points for love of neighbor because of his reputed extra-marital affairs but it was minor. Though ML’s influence was great, MLK’s may, 500 years from now, be just as great when you trace the impact of his liberating theology throughout the US to other countries where people are finding the courage to stand up for freedom – as women are in India today. MLK got my vote.

  112. February 25, 2013 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

    If MIK, Jr’s father renamed himself and his son in honor of the great Reformer, how could I do less than vote for him? Luther gets my vote!

  113. Nancy Evans's Gravatar Nancy Evans
    February 25, 2013 - 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I have to admit to some shock thinking that ML may not win over MLK. Both were great men. Men for their times. Both fought against the injustices of their era. I was only 9 when Dr. King was martyred and I have never really studied Martin Luther in detail. I did feel that my vote needed to be cast for ML. If he had not paved the way none of us would be have this debate in my mind. The comments today have been insightful and I have learned a lot.

  114. February 25, 2013 - 9:37 pm | Permalink

    a matchup like this illustrates how prone we are to read our 21st century values back on earlier times. Both ML and MLK had seriously flawed characters, and both made an incredible impact on the world around them. But it’s unfair to read our post-MLK sensibilities back onto ML’s 1500s life. Unless we also plan to castigate the apostles, and the prophets, and maybe even Jesus, we need to be aware of the historical context and then think about the longer-term effect of their good works, not think only about our contemporary experience.

    (says the girl who’s still lobbying for Luther!)

  115. Lynda's Gravatar Lynda
    February 25, 2013 - 10:14 pm | Permalink

    As inspiring as Martin Luther is as a courageous historical figure, I am voting for Martin Luther King. His story brings me close to tears. His courage, tenacity and persistence by non-violent protest is testament to a man’s beliefs in Jesus as well as people to stand up for what is good and socially just. He respected all, stood up for the dispossessed and encouraged others to stand with him. An amazing, inspiring and talented individual. I give thanks to God for both of these men who literally changed history by their courage and determination for change.

  116. February 25, 2013 - 11:12 pm | Permalink

    I find myself changing my own rules regarding my votes. I picked Luke over Absalom Jones with the logic that Absalom’s work was impossible without Luke’s Jesus and Gospel stories. I should have used that logic in this case too I suppose. I didn’t. I voted for MLK Jr. I think it’s because I was 11 years old when Dr. King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. I remember both of their deaths and recall wondering as a young man why both of them died because of the good works they were striving to achieve. There was another young peace-minded fellow who died under similar circumstances. The One that both M. Luther and M.L.K. Jr. both loved and followed with their lives.

  117. Harry W's Gravatar Harry W
    February 25, 2013 - 11:49 pm | Permalink

    Martin Luther King’s work reaches beyond religion; his caring was for every person in our world. He worked to help every man, woman and child who was without the money or position to have the life God wanted for him. The rich and one precenters are still keeping God’s people from their just life. One need only look at today’s USA headlines to see the great need for MLK today.

  118. Michael's Gravatar Michael
    February 25, 2013 - 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Great men have always stood up for Christ. In a sense they had no choice. Both Martins stood for Christ. They could do no other. But, without Martin Luther could there have been a Martin Luther King. Even if the names had been changed to protect the innocent could one have been without the other?

  119. Diane Amison-Loring's Gravatar Diane Amison-Loring
    February 26, 2013 - 12:07 am | Permalink

    The problem with this match up is that Martin Luther King, JR. hasn’t been dead long enough. I think that there definitely should be at least a fifty year time frame between the death of the individual and any promotion to a “golden halo”. Many of us, I suspect were around when MLK, JR, died and we are prejudiced as a result. This was history for us. We lived it.

    • Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
      February 26, 2013 - 7:22 am | Permalink

      Good point. Isn’t there some sort of “waiting period” for capital-S saints?

  120. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    February 26, 2013 - 12:42 am | Permalink

    I remember exactly where I was standing when someone announced theat Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot. I was stunned. (Oh, that Good man! I hope he’s only wounded and will be okay. Oh, his poor wife…his little children.)
    Our high school drama teacher said something like, “That’s enough work for today. We’ll do something about the make-up and costures later. I don’t think any of us can think about our play production right now.”
    Sadly, Dr. King’s passing left a void in the civil rights movement. A void that was filled by some rather violent people who had opposed Dr. King’s non-violent stance. Perhaps it is too much to say the movement stalled, but it surely was not moving forward, until Mrs. Corretta Scott King and others stepped forward to remind people of peaceful protest.
    Five centuries before Dr. King, Father Martin Luther encountered his own enemies and friends. His friends (probably with the help of a highly placed relative) hid Luther from his enemies, thus sparing him from certain torture and death.
    I vote for Martin Luther because of his 95 thesis and my Huegonaut ancestors .

  121. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    February 26, 2013 - 4:15 am | Permalink

    Really tough decision today. I would vote for MLK but as he is ahead, I am going for ML on the basis of him smuggling young ladies in herring barrels… (It may be an apocryphal story but it’s a good one!)

  122. Verdery's Gravatar Verdery
    February 26, 2013 - 7:20 am | Permalink

    A really hard choice, but in the wee hours of the morning, I had to go with the Martin of my own time, even if his martyrdom was more political than religious.

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