Was Ghandi a Christian?… It depends…

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By Ken Howard

Was Ghandi a Christian?… It depends…

If the definition of Christian is “One who becomes an official member of the ‘religion’ of Christianity,” the answer is most certainly “No” (though from his diaries we learn that he almost did, but turned away from Christianity as a religion after being turned away from a segregated church).

If the definition of Christian is “One who loves Christ, follows Christ, and strives to be a Christ-ian (lit. ‘little Christ’),” we may not know for sure whether the answer is “Yes,” but there is room to doubt that the answer is “No.”

As quoted in the attached Christianity Today article by Dibin Samuel, Gandhi’s good friend, theologian and evangelist E. Stanley Jones once asked him: “How can we make Christianity naturalized in India, not a foreign thing, identified with a foreign government and a foreign people, but a part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India’s uplift?”

Gandhi responded, “First, I would suggest that all Christians, missionaries begin to live more like Jesus Christ. Second, practice it without adulterating it or toning it down. Third, emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is central in Christianity. Fourth, study the non–Christian religions more sympathetically to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people.” (Decent principles of discipleship, I think.)

He was also once quoted as saying, “I love your Christ, it is your Christians I do not like because they are so unlike your Christ… If more of your Christian’s were like your Christ, all India would be Christian.”

Indeed, I am reminded of the words of Jesus, as he explains to his disciples the Parable of the Foolish Bridesmaids:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt 25:31-46)

Something to think about…

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