In this handwritten sermon outline, King reflects on the human tendency, for better or worse, to support causes based on personalities rather than ideologies. As he explores the impact of others on his life, King refers to Morehouse professor George D. Kelsey, who influenced his decision to attend seminary and his approach to pastoral ministry.
We humans inevitably believes at last not in isms but in incarnations.
But when we look further we discover that it is persons that most deeply influence our lives.
What does all of this have to do with our central theme.
This is the ringing affirmation of Christmas—that a personality has come in the world to split history into A.D. and B.C.
1. King’s inclusion of Eisenhower at the end of a list of presidents suggests that he prepared this sermon after January 1953. It is also likely that he composed it before the Montgomery bus boycott began in December 1955, since afterwards he spoke of his own leadership in more humble terms: “I want you to know that if M. L. King had never been born this movement would have taken place” (Willie Mae Lee, Notes on Montgomery Improvement Association [MIA] Mass Meeting at First Baptist Church, 30 January 1956, in Papers 3:114).
2. Regarding Kelsey’s influence, King later noted: “Two men, Dr. Benjamin Mays, president of Morehouse, and Dr. George Kelsey, professor of philosophy and religion, made me stop and think. Both were ministers, both deeply religious, and yet both were learned men, aware of all the trends of modern thinking. I could see in their lives the ideal of what I wanted a minister to be” (William Peters, “Our Weapon is Love,” Redbook [August 1956]: 72).
3. Cf. Revelation 17:14, 19:16.
CSKC-INP, Coretta Scott King Collection, In Private Hands, Sermon file, folder 70, "Christ the Center of Our Faith" / "How to Believe in a Good God in the Midst of Glaring Evil."