Cornel West, delineating the principal intellectual and existential sources that shaped [Martin Luther] King, aptly cites four, in order of importance: prophetic black church Christianity, prophetic liberal Christianity, prophetic Gandhian nonviolence, and prophetic American civil religion. King heard the gospel and committed himself to it in the only institution owned by black Americans. His training in liberal Christianity provided intellectual and social ethical ballast for his religious faith. His commitment to Gandhian resistance provided a method for his racial justice activism and an extra-Gandhian language for the way of nonviolence. His believe in U.S. American ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality enabled him to call the nation to fulfill these ideals. West rightly says that King embodied “the best of American Christendom” by synthesizing these sources.
Gary Dorrien, Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Social Gospel, 21-22.