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Zitat

No, Mahatma Gandhi Did Not Like Our Christ

We've all heard the famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.

Typically, it's thrown at us whenever someone wants to play the "Don't Judge!" card.




"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."


Normally, you'll also hear this quote from non-believers who use it as an opportunity to attack our cherished faith and deflect any attempts by us to confess Christ crucified for the sins of all mankind to them.

Still, it's when we find other Christians -- our dear brothers and sisters in Christ (who should know better) -- attempting to use this quote as well, which always breaks my heart.

Before I explain why that is, let's see how Gandhi's quote prompted this awesome response from Josiah Terrence Prezkuta that actually gets to the heart of the matter.


"If you like our Christ but not our Christians, then follow our Christ and not our Christians."


See, this is why we believers need to be ready to counter such ridiculous statements instead of letting them hang out there as though they were true (2 Timothy 4:2; Jude 1:3).

Here's a brief commentary that expands upon Gandhi's absurd, and yet, famous quote often parroted by so many (both Christians and non-Christians alike).


Gandhi Didn’t Like Our Christ

There is a famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. It is, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I say attributed because there are no primary sources for him actually saying or writing this, but rather it has been attributed to him by secondary sources. But assuming he did say it, this quote has been tossed around with reckless abandon as a way to point out the hypocrisy that we believers struggle against as we wrestle with our desire to live as Christ did, and our seemingly inability to. We’re told by Gandhi that our failure to be consistent in our outward moral actions and inward spiritual intent is one of the primary reasons why he himself and so many people don’t take us seriously, and that a failure to practice what we preach is what is driving the masses away.

We need to stop using this quote and we need to be far more discerning when we voluntary subject ourselves to this man’s criticism of our faith and spiritual walk.

Why? Because Gandhi did not like our Christ. When he said that he likes our Christ, he was not referring to the deep affections he had for the Biblical, historical Jesus as revealed in his entirety in both the Old and New Testament. He was not referring to the whole and sum of the blessed hypostatic union- our God who came in the flesh to seek and save the lost by bringing salvation and reconciliation to his people. He was not referring to the Christ of scriptures who made radically exclusive about how through him alone was the only way to the Father and to everlasting peace and life. He was not referring to the immaculately conceived son of God who died for the sins of the world and then rose again after three days for our justification, sanctification and glorification.

No. Gandhi did not like that Christ. Instead what Gandhi did is something that people have been doing since the beginning of time- he changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things… Gandhi spent his life fabricating a Jesus of his own invention-one who acted and behaved like he wanted him to. He sliced through the scriptures with his metaphorical scalpel and created a cut-and-paste collage of theological agglomeration- a homage to idolatry and absurdity. In this, Gandhi picked out and lauded all the teachings that he liked and which agreed with his Hinduism, particularly his belief in Jesus’ non-violence and teachings on turning the other cheek. For Gandhi these were the highest and best manifestations of who Jesus was- a moral teacher who served as our highest example of principled ethics and exemplary friend to all mankind.

At the same time he categorically rejected any of Jesus’ claims to divinity and salvific exclusivity. He did not like our Christ; he liked his own caricatured version of Christ. Jesus was a good man. A good teacher. A good moralist. But he was not God, and his goodness only went so far as his inclusive claims extended. His Jesus was kind and tolerant of all religions and spiritual persuasions, having understood that there was truth in all religions and that they all led to the same place. If he had been asked by Jesus “who do you say that I am?” he would never have responded “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” There was no place in his concept of Jesus as one who came not to bring peace, but rather a sword, who came to divide and set a son against his father, and a daughter against her mother. There is no place in his worldview of Jesus as one who “is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” or “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

To offer just three quotes from Gandhi

I regard Jesus as a great teacher of humanity, but I do not regard him as the only begotten son of God. That epithet in its material interpretation is quite unacceptable. Metaphorically we are all sons of God, but for each of us there may be different sons of God in a special sense. Thus for me Chaitanya may be the only begotten son of God … God cannot be the exclusive Father and I cannot ascribe exclusive divinity to Jesus.”
[Harijan: June 3, 1937]

It was more than I could believe that Jesus was the only incarnate son of God, and that only he who believed in Him, would have everlasting life. If God could have sons, all of us were His sons. If Jesus was like God, or God Himself, then all men were like God and could be God Himself. My reason was not ready to believe literally that Jesus by his death and by his blood redeemed the sins of the world. Metaphorically there might be some truth in it. Again, according to Christianity only human beings had souls, and not other living beings, for whom death meant complete extinction; while I held a contrary belief. I could accept Jesus as a martyr, an embodiment of sacrifice, and a divine teacher, but not as the most perfect man ever born. His death on the Cross was a great example to the world, but that there was anything like a mysterious or miraculous virtue in it my heart could not accept. [His Own Story. Page 141.]

For, he [Jesus] was certainly the highest example of one who wished to give everything, asking nothing in return, and not caring what creed might happen to be professed by the recipient. I am sure that if he were living here now among men, he would bless the lives of many who perhaps have never even heard his name, if only their lives embodied the virtues of which he was a living example on earth; the virtues of loving one’s neighbor as oneself and of doing good and charitable works among one’s fellowmen.
[The Modern Review, October 1941]


Did Gandhi like our Christ? No, he didn’t. Did he like his fabricated version of Christ? Very much so, apparently. For that reason we don’t need to quote this man as if he were in any way any kind of authority over us or as if he had any idea what he was talking about. He was no profound commentator on Christianity. He was hardly an authority on Jesus, had fundamental misunderstandings of himself and the rest of humanity, and he denied the very essence of what made Jesus our Lord. Why should we care if we do not attain to this falsified version of Jesus?

I do believe we need to be more like Christ, but I want to become like the real Christ, not this fabricated version of Gandhi’s imagination. So next time someone uses this quote on you, don’t accept the premise. It’s important that we hear the message that we ought to be more Christ-like, but I’d rather take an exhortation from John or Paul or anybody who knows who the real Jesus is, than Mahatma Gandhi. That is where I want my rebuke and chastisement and encouragement to come from- from the scriptures, and not a morally reprehensible, Christ-hating man who denied our great God and Savior and thereby showed himself to have the spirit of the antichrist.


Now, I know that wasn't a Lutheran writing that, but I believe he's spot on, isn't he?

Don't you just love it when other Christians quote Gandhi though? We've allowed the culture to inform our thinking about things rather than allowing the Word of God and our Confessions to do so.

Generally, we hear this from non-believers, but when professing believers use it against their brothers and sisters it's downright tragic. That's because it's usually an opening gambit move that comes before a tirade (at least, in my experience that's been the case).

In other words, it's really just a direct assault on our cherished faith. Whenever you hear or read this opening gambit, the best counter-move is to simply reply by asking them, "Well if you love Jesus so much, then why aren't you willing to act more like Him yourself?"

The fact that they don't follow Christ at all (or even seem to care to) just goes to show you that their remark isn't sincere in the first place and they're just using it as a figurative Judo move to assault you and your Lord and Savior, or to try and put an end to the conversation all together.

Of course, we also want to make sure that we keep such a statement within the context of the discussion and let them know that we're only asking to prove a point.

Truth is, we want to be careful to make it crystal clear that it's not about some type of "What Would Jesus Do?" type of approach and mentality to the Christian life either since that's just as dangerous (we already discussed why that is the case at length). We're simply trying to get them to think about what they're saying.

Ultimately, let's not hide from our sins against our neighbor, but let's make sure we communicate that we acknowledge them, that we feel badly about them, and that we are eternally grateful for the grace of Jesus Christ and the perfect and righteous life that He lived on our behalf, which is more than enough to cover all the ways we (and others) have sinned against our (their) neighbors.

Emphasize that we are not "good" because of any "good behavior" or "good works" done in this life (Isaiah 64:6). We are made "good" only by the righteousness of Jesus that was imputed to us through His saving work upon the cross when He atoned for our sins (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So, in a Lutheran Layman's terms, no, Mahatma Gandhi did not like our Christ, because he never believed in or knew Who the real Jesus Christ is.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

14 comments

  1. to all that want the truth.

    Mohandas Gandhi was a follower of the teachings of Jesus, was he himself a Christian? no, he was not officially a member of any organized religion. Did he believe Jesus was the Lord in the flesh? No, but many Christians debate this everyday going back 2000 years. The quote "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians" is taken out of context. When Gandhi saw the brutality, bloodshed and violence being carried out in his country and much of it being done by people calling themselves "Christians" he knew these acts were outside the teachings of Jesus.
    The ones that subjugated and controlled India in those days, many called themselves Christians, did what they did in the name of Christianity. the truth is they were motivated by greed, wealth and corruption. they cared about no one but themselves. no love, no compassion.
    The message of Jesus was love and forgiveness, not hate. We should remember, Jesus loved the rich ruler as much as the poor widow....

    ReplyDelete
  2. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ESV) "18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.' 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'"

    God's Word is truth and Jesus Christ is the Word became flesh and the Truth Himself.

    Grace And Peace,
    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mr. Gandhi, did you ever say that you were God in human form, or did you still a storm with your voice, walk on water, raise the dead, and perfectly predict the future? Were you morally perfect--in thought, in word, and in deed? Did you warn that you would raise all humanity from the dead and judge them? Did you raise your body three days after your death, and ascend into Heaven?
    Unless I'm dreadfully mistaken, you did not. Then you too, sir, were so unlike our Jesus. You too were a sinner, desperately needing God's mercy. I hope you were trusting in Jesus on that fateful day when death suddenly came to you. We will find out on Judgment Day.

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    Replies
    1. He never said that he was like Jesus. He said he liked Jesus. Wow did you go of the deep in.

      Delete
  4. HOLLA HOLLA bill yall

    ReplyDelete
  5. It is a terrible arrogance to assume you can speak for another human being. Ghandi said what he meant. Putting half a page of your own biased words into a dead man's mouth in order to make yourself feel better better about something he actually did say is goes a bit beyond simple arrogance.

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  6. No, Mahatma Gandhi did not like Martin Luther's Christ...and neither do I...and I was born Lutheran and remained one until I realized what an evil, hateful man he was.

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  7. Jesus Christ in no way belongs to Martin Luther just as He does not belong to any other denomination. More importantly, Luther also never said or wrote the words, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). That was Jesus Christ talking about Himself.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Perhaps ask yourselves why you spend so much time and energy defending your faith.

    Does God need defending?

    Does Christ?

    Are all the poor, old and sick taken care of, so that you can spend your time on this?

    Go and do as Christ commanded.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Interesting that a Lutheran can be so narrow and dogmatic.

    ReplyDelete
  10. If one were to criticize Ghandi for having his own interpretation of Christ and the Bible, then one should start with criticizing the current state of the church, both Protestant and Catholic, for interpreting the Bible for their own purpose. It has become a tool of politics and greed, and Christians confuse numerical majority with inherent superiority. Their image has been irreversibly transformed; instead of being one of preaching the love and kindness of Jesus Christ, western Christians are widely seen as bigoted and hateful, and who can blame them? Ghandi was correct, Jesus would never have approved of such vehement hate for liars, non-believers, gays, and other sinners. But church no longer concerns itself with God and now focuses on the sins of people.

    Ghandi was not incorrect. He liked Christ and what he stood for, which is more than most Christians in the west can say.

    ReplyDelete
  11. If one were to criticize Ghandi for having his own interpretation of Christ and the Bible, then one should start with criticizing the current state of the church, both Protestant and Catholic, for interpreting the Bible for their own purpose. It has become a tool of politics and greed, and Christians confuse numerical majority with inherent superiority. Their image has been irreversibly transformed; instead of being one of preaching the love and kindness of Jesus Christ, western Christians are widely seen as bigoted and hateful, and who can blame them? Ghandi was correct, Jesus would never have approved of such vehement hate for liars, non-believers, gays, and other sinners. But church no longer concerns itself with God and now focuses on the sins of people.

    Ghandi was not incorrect. He liked Christ and what he stood for, which is more than most Christians in the west can say.

    ReplyDelete
  12. From the Note in bold italics at the end:

    "I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments."

    That was obvious.

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  13. I'm sorry but I disagree with some of the comments. Mahatma Gandhi did like the figure, but not his followers, the Christians. Several times he called British Christians "Hypocrites" and "Two-Faced People", for not following the teachings of Jesus Christ. And, in my opinion, nothing has changed much since then.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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