Gandhi was not an authority on Jesus. He refers to a Jesus he created, one he drew from Scripture. It is a mythological Jesus. He has chosen popular ideas to suit his worldview. He was certainly not referring to Jesus, the true and complete Jesus as revealed from the first page to the last.
He was not referring to the Jesus with the sword of judgement, the Jesus who made unwavering claims about his deity and eternal nature and declared that he is and will be the only way to make right with God. He was referring to Jesus the good, Jesus the teacher, Jesus Jesus the moralist, but not the Jesus who is and will be.
Sargent Major Gandhi was a man who had fundamental misunderstood himself and the rest of humanity. He loved Jesus’s approach to the poor and downtrodden. He believed he was one of them. Jesus, however, rebuked him for being more like the Pharisees.
Jesus spoke loving words and did great works; he healed, comforted, and gave hope for the future. Not everyone. Jesus reserved harsh words for religious elite who claimed to be holy and that they understand God’s nature, and that they have some form of enlightenment. Jesus did not love such people. They were the ones who got the harshest of his rebukes, and the most severe of his “Woes!” They were whitewashed tombs and the broods full of vipers.
Such men did not love Jesus.
While they may have loved Gandhi’s fake Christ, they didn’t love the real one. This Jesus, the Jesus in the Bible, would have rebuked Gandhi just as he rebuked Jewish leaders of his time, who had led people down the wrong way. Gandhi, like the Pharisees was convinced of his goodness and worthiness.
Frans du Plessis seems to be right. I acknowledge Gandhi’s point. For the most part, Gandhi’s “cultural Christians” were racists and those who suffered from economic injustice. They took it as a given; it was what they had grown up with and carried with them wherever they went. Many of them never stopped to think about what it was like to be the one receiving it. It encouraged inequities and inadvertently supported poverty, as well as enabling and supporting all types of brutality and other evils. It is essential that Christians recognize and oppose hypocrisy wherever they find it, especially within themselves. They didn’t.
Gandhi’s excuse, however, is a lie. Hypocrites are everywhere.
We don’t quit going to the gym just because people lie about how many reps we do. We don’t ignore politics, even though we know that it is full of hypocrites. We take action and try to help solve the problems.
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It’s just an excuse to use other people’s problems. I have to make soup, I have to wash my hair, it’s Tuesday–whatever–when you need an excuse, any excuse will do, and this one shifts the blame nicely back onto the Christian, which is right where he wanted it. He wanted them to feel ashamed. He wanted them to feel ashamed. This is in the context of what was actually occurring and the real world. Gandhi was an Indian leader who had one goal: to be a brilliant, manipulative political canny son of a gun and to achieve that goal. He understood that white guilt would bring down opposition to his cause.
All belief, Christian or not, must be accepted or rejected on its merit, and not due to human error or fallibility. Simply because we are all fallible. Our faith cannot be hung on a fallen human, whether it’s in science or religion or math or Physics. Either the idea has merit, or it doesn’t. Truth must be true, even when people make mistakes–or it’s not truth.
This must be confronted and tested separately.
As long as it is tied to “what you did”, it will never be a true test of truth. He should have–probably would’ve–replied to Jesus if he was honest about his love for Jesus.
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Every Christian’s life has a point when they must face ridicule, condemnation and opposition. Gandhi could have made the same choice as many others–as many people have–but he did not. Not for Jesus’ sake anyway. He made that choice. He was free to make that decision. That doesn’t mean that it should be on someone else’s plate. This tells me that his answer is not about Jesus.