Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
September 11th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Which Christ did Gandhi like? And is that even a real quote?

How many times have you seen this quote by Gandhi:

I love your Christ, but I dislike your Christianity.

You think, “oh, that sounds nice. Yes, me too.” Guess what? He didn’t say it.

Rather, it comes from a review of E. Stanley Jones‘ work on Christ in India (missions, not that crazy stuff from Deepak)

A 1926 review by the Reverend W.P. King (then pastor of the First Methodist Church of Gainesville, Georgia) of E. Stanley Jones’s The Christ of the Indian Road (published in 1925 by The Abington Press, New York City) includes the following,

Quote:
Dr. Jones says that the greatest hindrance to the Christian gospel in India is a dislike for western domination, western snobbery, the western theological system, western militarism and western race prejudice. Gandhi, the great prophet of India, said, “I love your Christ, but I dislike your Christianity.” The embarrassing fact is that India judges us by our own professed standard. In reply to a question of Dr. Jones as to how it would be possible to bring India to Christ, Gandhi replied: First, I would suggest that all of you Christians live more like Jesus Christ. Second, I would suggest that you practice your Christianity without adulterating it. The anomalous situation is that most of us would be equally shocked to see Christianity doubted or put into practice. Third, I would suggest that you put more emphasis on love, for love is the soul and center of Christianity. Fourth, I would suggest that you study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically in order to find the good that is in them, so that you might have a more sympathetic approach to the people.

Well now… But there is more. There is this image:

gandhi

And I would encourage you to read his words on Christ and Christianity here.

What was his thoughts of Jesus? His Jesus, like many modern Jesuses, was a creation of his own, compared to his own beliefs and shaped in such a way so as to not have a Jesus that conflicted with his Hinduism.

Further, I have a major issue with the views of Gandhi.

He was racist — and anti-semitic, not to mention his colonialism, support of the caste system, and his views of women have kept women oppressed in India. Indeed, would have supported Apartheid. You can find the information here and here.

So, dear Christian, why are you taking the advice about the Church — not even really uttered — of someone like that?

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

5 Responses to “Which Christ did Gandhi like? And is that even a real quote?”
  1. Because Jones felt Ghandi’s advice was essentially good advice on how Christians can / should relate to other cultures and religions. A man does not have to be flawless to give good advice.

  2. I don’t know much about the subject, but me-thinks I smell a rat (questionable sources). Maybe I’m wrong, and I promise I won’t comment beyond this, since I don’t care one way or the other about the subject, but:

    First “anti-Semitic” link, “In a 1938 essay, Mohandas (“Mahatma”) Gandhi, the spiritual and political leader of the Indian independence movement, counseled Jews in Nazi Germany to neither flee nor resist”…

    In 1938, did anyone know the extent of Jewish extermination on the horizon outside Germany? The article then goes on to slam Gandi’s Grandson’s comments, which have nothing to do with Gandi himself.

    Second article, Gandi’s comments while in South Africa about “native Africans”… Made when he was extremely young, and surrounded/immersed in the middle of apartheid. I guess if I were a Martian in South Africa in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, trying to work as a lawyer, I would want to say Martians were better than Native Africans, considering how Native Africans were treated there. So everything has to be taken in context. Personally, I would be more interested in how Gandi felt about Thomas Christians in India, since there were native Indians, were there for maybe some thousand years, and did not carry the White Man baggage of British colonial Christianity. Remember the Maine, and the Acts of Thomas. One blew up by accident; one no-one knows how the heck it got to where it is.

    • Ok, promised I wouldn’t reply again. But I already broke my promise. But I forgot something. About sex…I think Gandhi would have LOVED the Acts of Thomas in that regard. Wedding night, Jesus/Thomas, shows up to counsel the newly weds to not have sex. Right down Gandhi’s alley. Actually, if more Indians practiced restraint in having kids starting 2000 years ago, maybe there would not have been so much abject poverty in India.

      • So, I break my promise again. But from the first link of Gandhi, “For all I had then been given to understand was that to be a Chris- tian was to have a brandy bottle in one hand and beef in the other”…
        So Gandhi’s original view of Christianity was a proper colonial British Beefeater Christian from British India, or maybe a Dutch version in South Africa. Neither would be good examples of Christianity. So I, personally, would give him a little slack.

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