"The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
Ministry of John the Baptist
3 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “ Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven! ” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “ You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. 9 And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. 11 I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out. ”
The importance of Toward a Theology of Radical Involvement lies in its focus on the theological and ethical perspective of Martin Luther King, Jr. By examining the multiple, competing images of King in both academia and the public square, Ivory argues that mass public confusion and ambiguity exist today about King's identity. Consequently, the more radical and prophetic thrust of his legacy of thought and action has been blunted.
Seeking to resolve the public identity crisis about King, Ivory offers the provocative thesis that King is best understood as a creative theological thinker whose activist rhetoric and emancipatory praxis were thoroughly informed and undergirded by an understanding of God and God's will for history and humanity. Hence the prophetic focus and radical character of King's thought and action culminate in a "theology of radical involvement," which gives rise to an ethic of community. King's perspective raises permanent, generative tensions in the contemporary church, academy, and culture. Ivory thus promotes a re-reading of King that gives due credence to the too-often overlooked but profound level of critical analysis, proactive revolutionary challenge, and the bold transformative vision King inspired.