Mahatma Gandhi on Christianity

In my message, “Teacher,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I referenced a quotation from noted 20th century missionary and author, E. Stanley Jones. The reference was from his book The Christ of the Indian Road (1925) in which he reflects on his missionary experience, including conversations with Mahatma Gandhi. Later, Jones wrote a biography of Gandhi, which Martin Luther King, Jr., said strongly influenced his non-violent methods in the civil rights movement. Below I have included a little longer passage than what I used in the message.

Mahatma Gandhi I am very anxious to see Christianity naturalized in India so that it shall no longer be a foreign thing identified with a foreign people and a foreign government, but a part of the national life of India and contributing its power to India’s uplift and redemption. What would you suggest we do to make that possible?” He very gravely and thoughtfully replied:

I would suggest first of all that all of you Christians, missionaries and all begin to live more like Jesus Christ”. He needn’t have said any more – that was quite enough. I knew that looking through his eyes were the three hundred millions of India and speaking through his voice the millions of the East saying to me, a representative of the West itself “If you will come to us in the spirit of your master we will not be able to resist you”. Never was there a greater challenge to the West than that, and never was it more sincerely given. “Second” he said “I would suggest that you must practice your religion without adulterating or toning it down”. This is just as remarkable as the first. The greatest living non-Christian asks us not to adulterate or tone it down, not to meet them with an emasculated gospel but to take it in its rugged simplicity and high demand. But what are we doing? As someone has suggested we are inoculating the world with a mild form of Christianity, so that it is now practically immune to the real thing…

Third I would suggest that you must put your emphasis upon love, for love is the center and soul of Christianity”. He did not mean love as a sentiment, but love as a working force, the one real power in a moral universe and he wanted it applied between individuals and groups, and races and nations, the one cement and salvation of the world….

Fourth I would suggest that you study the non-Christian religions and culture more sympathetically in order to find the good that is in them, so that you might have a more sympathetic approach to the people.

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