Martin Luther King Jr. graduated from the Morehouse University of Atlanta, at the time a distinguished college for Negros. He then received his doctorate from Boston University and went on to pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Though a Baptist minister, King did not believe that the Bible was to be interpreted literally, but rather metaphorically. He did not believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead, but that it was a spiritual resurrection. While these points are indeed arguable, Dr. King was deeply influenced by tenants of the Bible and other religions, which caused him to rise up on behalf his brothers and sisters. He believed God created man equal and that we are all linked together with a common Father. It was this belief that drove him to birth the Civil Rights Movement. Though faulty in many of his other Christian beliefs, God used him to become the father of this just cause.
Martin Luther King Jr. also believed that Jesus was not born divine, but that He became divine. Through His righteous acts, Jesus obtained divinity. This belief shaped Dr. King's life and motivated him. While his cause was indeed noble, nothing but the blood of Jesus could make him righteous. King's belief was shaped by tenants of Eastern religions, in which one needs to work up the ladder to divinity. It is a concept today that has influenced both the church and society at large. If we do good deeds and work our way up the spiritual scale, then God approves of us and we can go to heaven. While doing good deeds, helping the oppressed and aiding the poor are certainly espoused by Jesus, that did not make Him righteous. Jesus was born divine and therefore free of sin. We on the other hand are not. While good deeds are evidence of our faith, they do not exonerate us from being unholy. We can only be made righteous by the blood of Jesus.
While Dr. King believed in Jesus as an example to be followed, he was also an admirer of Gandhi. His principles of non-violent action for social change shaped Dr. King's civil rights movement more than any other. Dr. King saw how successful Gandhi was with his sit-ins and peaceful demonstrations and adapted this to his cause. He believed that social change could only come through non-violent means in transforming people's belief system. This too was Jesus' way as Gandhi was also an admirer of Jesus, though not necessarily a believer. It is evident by the changes in America and India that both Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were successful in helping the oppressed, but at the center of their cause is the Christian belief that all men are created equal and God is the Father of all. Though faulty in some of their beliefs, God used both of these men to help set "the captives free." However, the freedom Jesus spoke of was a freedom of soul that can only be attained by being free from sin. Only Jesus can set those captives free.