Fortress Press

The Arc of Truth: The Thinking of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Arc of Truth

The Thinking of Martin Luther King Jr.

Lewis V. Baldwin (Author), Beverly J. Lanzetta (Foreword by)


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Martin Luther King Jr. said and wrote as much or more about the meaning, nature, and power of truth as any other prominent figure in the 1950s and '60s. King was not only vastly influential as an advocate for and defender of truth; he also did more than anyone in his time to organize truth into a movement for the liberation, uplift, and empowerment of humanity, efforts that ultimately resulted in the loss of his life. Drawing on King's published and unpublished sermons, speeches, and writings, The Arc of Truth explores King's lifelong pilgrimage in pursuit of truth.

Lewis Baldwin explores King's quest for truth from his inquisitive childhood to the influence of family and church, to Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, Boston University, and other academic institutions in the Northeast. Continuing on, the book follows King's sense that he was involved in experiments of truth within the context of the struggle to liberate and empower humanity, to his understanding of the civil rights movement as unfolding truth, to his persistent challenge to America around its need to engage in a serious reckoning with truth regarding its history and heritage. Baldwin investigates King's determination to speak truth to power, and his untiring efforts to actualize what he envisioned as the truthful ends of the beloved community through the truthful means of nonviolent direct action. King believed, taught, and demonstrated by example that truth derives from a revolution in the heart, mind, and soul before it can be translated into institutions and structures that guarantee freedom, justice, human dignity, equality of opportunity, and peace.

Ultimately, King's significance for humanity cannot be considered only his contributions as a preacher, pastor, civil rights leader, and world figure--he was and remains equally impactful as a theologian, philosopher, and ethicist whose life and thought evince an enduring search for and commitment to truth.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506484761
  • eBook ISBN 9781506484778
  • Dimensions 6.25 x 9.25
  • Pages 384
  • Publication Date October 4, 2022


"Dr. King was a prophet who came to save our country, and Baldwin captures his spirit and his voice, ringing loud and clear, to arouse, inspire, and unite us. He brings Dr. King to our present era, speaking truth to us in the here and now, as we face rising white nationalism and cope with ongoing systemic racism and government mendacity. This book is extraordinary!"

Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College, and author of The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany

"Dr. King's prophetic wisdom speaks in this much-needed volume, especially in an age when truth is the victim of cultural biases and toxic political distortions. Baldwin not only highlights King's understanding of and commitment to 'the blazing light of truth' but brings to the surface the deep well of King's thought concerning the essence of beauty, goodness, love, and the rule of justice. A tour de force on the thinking of Dr. King!"

Forrest E. Harris Sr., president, American Baptist College, and author of Ministry for Social Crisis: Theology and Praxis in the Black Church Tradition

"Baldwin has discovered in Dr. King's books, sermons, speeches, and conversations an enduring and clearly articulated trope regarding truth, not as a supplement but as the central thesis of his life. The Arc of Truth is more timely now than at any other period in modern history because politicians, preachers, and conservative talk-show hosts have elevated lying to a new art form. The depth and scope of Baldwin's understanding of King are simply unmatched, and this text uniquely fills a long-standing void in King scholarship. A must-read about a modern Black prophet who is as eloquent and substantive as Amos, Jeremiah, and Micah!"

James H. Harris, Virginia Union School of Theology, and author of Black Suffering: Silent Pain, Hidden Hope

"At a moment when truth is under assault in our public life, Lewis V. Baldwin--one of our foremost experts on Martin Luther King Jr.--shows us why King should be our lodestar. The Arc of Truth eloquently lays bare the depth and complexity of King's devotion to this ideal."

Sophia Rosenfeld, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Democracy and Truth: A Short History