I have thought about answers to that question for quite some time. Many Bible quotes come to mind which could agree with that statement or disagree with it. Trouble is, no matter what I might say about it, “the world” would most likely still agree with Gandhi!
This is what got me thinking about that Gandhi quote. While driving in my car I often listen to an a.m. talk radio station. One advertiser on that station (“The Foundation for a Better Life”) often quotes the Hindu leader Gandhi. They end their segment by saying, “pass it on.”) However, I have noticed that one quote made by Gandhi doesn’t seem to ever be included in the commercial segment. It is this one:
“I like your Christ but do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Gandhi
I wonder…why don’t they play that one?
It’s quite cringe worthy…to say the least! Perhaps Gandhi did have a point when he made that statement. However, is it fair to lump all Christians into such a category?
Such a disparaging statement caused me to wonder…in what ways did Gandhi think that Christians are so unlike our Christ?
Was he expecting us to be perfect? Only Jesus is perfect!
Was he expecting us to be totally sanctified (which will only happen when resurrected to eternal life either at death or when the Rapture occurs) and never say the wrong thing or ever sin again?
It is difficult to counter what Gandhi said. So many people admire him for that particular quote as well as many others that he made in his lifetime!
Perhaps I could share the following graphic to start the conversation:
That graphic holds a verse from 2 Corinthians 4. I suggest reading the entire chapter.*
There is also the fact that many who claim to be Christians haven’t repented of their sins, become born again in Christ, invited the Holy Spirit into their lives and therefore, have rejected the mercy and grace afforded to those in Christ. These days, biblical Christian faith is often frowned upon and hated by those who reject the Bible as truth.
Jesus warned us that there would be false prophets who are “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
These are the pretend “Christians.” Jesus told us in Matthew 7 that we would “know them by their fruits,” and that “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
Further down in the same parable, Jesus describes who “will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” What’s worse is this part: “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Back to Gandhi.
So, maybe he encountered “foolish men who built their houses on the sand.” Or, maybe he encountered false prophets? Or, maybe he encountered “wolves in sheep’s clothing?” Or, maybe he encountered “the bad trees?”
“Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Gandhi claimed to “like Christ,” but he obviously didn’t actually believe in Him, love Him, nor worship Him.
How ironic it would be to think that Gandhi didn’t like “your Christians” because of the world’s so-called perceived “judgmental character” of Christians? In that particular quote, wasn’t Gandhi being judgmental against all of us?
Let’s begin the comparison of Gandhi’s religion vs. Christianity. The following is not a comprehensive comparison of Hinduism versus Jesus Christ, but it is a good summary.
Along with their rejection of God as sovereign creator of the world, Hindus also part company with Christianity on the critical issue of Jesus Christ as god’s incarnate Son. Hindu worshipers of Vishnu, for example, believe that God has become incarnate many times in the past.16 The Bible teaches that God became incarnate only once in human history (see John 1:14). Jesus came not to teach humanity various “ways” to salvation, but to be “the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) and “to take away the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).
The resurrection of Christ demonstrates His absolute uniqueness as God the Son, His victory over death and His divine approval from God the Father. It also refutes the Hindu teaching of continuous reincarnation and their belief that Christ is just another teacher-avatar (super-savior).
OK…so now we know why Gandhi, as a practicing Hindu leader, would say that he “likes (your) Christ.” He sees Christ as just one of the great teachers, but that is as far as he will go.
The next quoted section will reveal why the Hindu’s god is too small.
Actually, Hinduism is more a philosophy than a theology (a study of God). The Hindus try to make a tremendous case for the bigness of their impersonal god–Brahma–the “that” behind and beyond reality. But where does the Hindu seek Brahma? Within himself. For the Hindu, each person is “god” (or at least part of “god”).
Ah ha! That partially explains why Gandhi would make the claim that “I (he) do (does) not like your Christians!” He expects each Christian to be their own god, or at least part of “god.” Therefore, he most likely saw each Christian who had not become totally sanctified in this regard as a failure.
The Hindu’s god is too small. The biblical record (see 1 John 5:11,12) states that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. If we have the Son, we have eternal life (not a series of mythological, absolutely unproven reincarnations). As an Indian folksong put it: “How many births are passed, I can not tell. How many yet to come, no man can say; But this alone I know, and know full well, that pain and grief embitter all the way.”17
Christians, however, can rest in “the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
In conclusion, I will be summing up major differences between Hindus and Christians. But first, I wanted to mention in the more detailed text of the book that I am quoting from, we find out that “Hindus call sin “utter illusion” because they believe all material reality is illusory.”
The term “illusory” is often confused with elusive, so here is the dictionary definition of illusory from Dictionary.com as well as the word origin and details:
causing illusion; deceptive; misleading.
of the nature of an illusion; unreal.
1590-1600; < Late Latin ill ū s ō rius, equivalent to ill ū d (ere) to mock, ridicule (see illusion ) + – t ō rius -tory1
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. fallacious, specious, false. 2. imaginary; visionary, fancied.
Word Origin and History for il-lu-so-ry Expand
1590s, from French illusorie, from Late Latin illusorius “ironical, of a mocking character,” from illus-, past participle stem of Latin illudere “mock at,” literally “to play with,” from assimilated form of in- “at, upon” (see in- (2)) + ludere “to play” (see ludicrous ).
So, is it a stretch of the mind to conclude that Gandhi (and all Hindus) might regard Christ’s sacrificial death to atone for the sins of the world as something to mock, deceptive, imaginary, false, and ludicrous?
But Gandhi still claimed to like Christ!
Regarding God and Jesus Christ: Hindus do not believe in a personal, loving God, but in Brahma, a formless, abstract, eternal being without attributes, who was the beginning of all things.18 They believe that Jesus is not God but just one of many incarnations, or avatars, of Vishnu.19 Christians believe that God is an eternal, personal, spiritual Being in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (see Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). Jesus Christ is God as well as sinless man and He died for our redemption (see John 1:13,14; 1 Peter 2:24).
Regarding sin and salvation: Hindus call sin “utter illusion” because they believe all material reality is illusory. They seek deliverance from samsara, the endless cycle of death and rebirth, through union with Brahma, which is achieved through devotion, meditation, good works and self-control. 20 Christians believe that sin is prideful rebellion that leads to eternal separation from God after living only one life, not many (see Romans 3:23; Hebrews 9:27) and that salvation is gained only through believing in the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (see Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 15:3).
Gandhi, like other Hindus, could not accept the Christian answer to the problem of sin, het he felt a deep hunger for real salvation from sin. He wrote:
“For it is an unbroken torture to me that I am still so far from Him, who, as I fully know, governs every breath of my life, and whose offspring I am.” 15
Reference: So What’s the Difference by Fritz Ridenour, Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group Minneapolis, Minnesota. 2001 pp. 95-97.
15. Mahatma Gandhi Autobiography (Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1948). p. 170.
16. These incarnations (avatars) included a fish, a tortoise, a boar and a manlion, as well as different human forms, including Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism Kalki; the tenth avatar is yet to come. See Myrtle Langley, World Religions: A Guide to Faiths That Shaped the World (West Oxford: Lyon Publishing plc, 1993), p. 22.
17. Cited by S. H. Kellogg, A Handbook of Comparative Religions (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1899), p. 30.
18. Yamamoto, Hinduism, TM and Hare Krishna, pp. 55, 85.
19. Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi (Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1972), pp. 195, 196.
* 2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.
But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—
always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So then death is working in us, but life in you.
And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,”[fn] we also believe and therefore speak,
knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.
For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Hat tips to all links and graphics.