Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gandhi's Errors Regarding Christ

Mohandas Gandhi is reputed to have said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” . . . If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.”
         By so arguing, Gandhi was wrong three ways.
         (1) Christianity is about Christ, not about the Christians.  It’s about Him, not them.  Even if it were about them, the Christians are like the adherents of all religions, including Gandhi’s.  They are noticeably imperfect.  On that count the Christians are like the adherents of all religions and all non-religions -- they are defective, and sometimes radically so.  Shortcomings of this sort are not a specifically Christian problem.  They are human problem.  We all have it.  It undermines all we do and all we say, no matter what religion, if any, we believe, and no matter if we are atheists and believe no religion at all.  To reject a religion, or a non-religion, because those hold it are clearly defective is a principle that leads to rejecting any and every notion whatever because those who hold it all fall short and are inconsistent.
         To reject Christianity because of the Christians is just Gandhi’s version of the old ad hominem fallacy, that of rejecting an idea because of its proponent and not because of the idea itself.  An arguer might be radically defective on many counts and yet the argument itself still be perfectly cogent and true.  By arguing as he does, Gandhi is simply being irrational and inconsistent -- irrational because the ad hominem argument is fallacious, and inconsistent because he does not apply his own rule to his own religion and therefore reject it because those who adhere to it are deeply and truly defective.  This is as lame a reason for rejecting Christ as one can imagine.
         (2) Relatedly, please notice that while Gandhi criticizes the conduct of others, he fails in this analysis to criticize himself, as if he were not a radically sinful human being, as if, somehow, he had escaped the evil that debilitates and the sin that beclouds all others; as if he himself were not the living refutation of his own religion and beliefs.  He argues as if, while the Christians are hypocrites, he is not.  To think, like Gandhi, that you have escaped the moral failings that engulf all other human beings is proof that you lack any serious self-knowledge, and that you are at least as bad, and perhaps more evil, than those you criticize.  Were Gandhi to use Gandhi’s rule on Gandhi, it would require him to reject himself and his own religion.  But, you'll notice, he does not.
         (3) While the followers of other religions are not demonstrably better than the Christians, the Founder of Christianity is demonstrably better than any and every founder of other religions.  For one thing, they all are dead.  He alone is alive.  The tomb is empty; the stone is rolled away; and the living Savior has conquered death.  Not only is the tomb empty, but indeed several hundred persons saw Him alive after death, and they sealed their witness with their blood.  From the first day onward, the Christians preached about the living Christ and His empty tomb.  He is risen; He has defeated death; He can defeat it for us too, as He did for his friend Lazarus and others.   From the beginning, the earliest Christians preached about the things they had seen with their own eyes, handled with their own hands, and heard with their own ears (1 John 1: 1-3), namely that He who was dead was now alive.
         Not so Moses; not so Mohammed; not so Buddha, not so any other founder of any religion.  If you pray, if you call upon your founder to save you, and if you have not Christ, you are in a hopeless condition.  The dead cannot deliver you from death or from the sin that gives rise to it.  To sin and death all of them but Christ have succumbed.  They themselves require deliverance.  They cannot provide for you what they could not provide even for themselves.
         But all this is lost on Gandhi and his fallacious, self-congratulatory, and inconsistent nonsense.

12 comments:

White Russian said...

I like this little essay a lot. It should be required reading to supplement Feminist Theory, Critical Theory, Marxism, Atheist theory...etc... at my current university.

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

I'm glad you like it, and I'm glad you think it might be of use. Thanks for your kind words.

Jonathan Vander Hout said...

I like this post too. I think many more Christians should learn to criticize ideas in this way, or at least be open to this kind of criticism, because the questions about which Christians and unbelievers can agree are ultimately far less important than the questions about which Christians and unbelievers can never agree.

Ilíon said...

Moreover, when one begins to learn some actual facts about Gandhi's life and conduct, in contrast to the fostered myth, one can only laugh at the moral audacity of rejecting Christianity on the grounds that Christians aren't perfect.

Ilíon said...

There is a forth way he's wrong.

When he says, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”, the "Christ he likes" isn't the actual Christ presented in the Bible. The "Christ he likes" is just a more clothed version of the (falsely) mythological image of himself he presented on the world stage.

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

I think you're spot on twice, Ilion. Gandhi was not the man he thought he was, or that much of the world thought the was. He critique of Christianity offered above is merely self-serving and self-congratulatory balderdash.

Ilíon said...

The Gandhi Nobody Knows

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

Ilion,

Thanks for providing this link. While I actually did know these things about Gandhi, I am glad you posted this because now anyone who wishes can learn straightaway what the man who made the fallacious comments with which this post begins was really like.

They could have (and should have) guessed such shortcomings had they an understanding of the Christian doctrine of depravity, which would have told them precisely these sorts of things, minus the details. The details of depravity differ with us all, but the fact of depravity does not.

No one among is good, not one, not even if he or she acts like Gandhi -- indeed especially if he or she acts like Gandhi.

Ilíon said...

Isn't it a strange irony that those persons who most freely admit their own depravity tend also to be those persons who least act-out that depravity, whereas those persons who most refuse to acknowledge the general depravity of all humans, and especially of themselves, tend to be amongst those who most more frequently behave depraved?

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

Exactly. I take that delicious irony to be the result of the self-knowledge and sanctification fostered by the truth of Christian theology, especially as it relates here to human nature. Once you know who you really are, you are more able to address the flaws you actually have, and not to wallow complacently in the imaginary sanctity you do not.

Dr. Michael Bauman said...

To be clear, any comment I make about human depravity I make in light of the fact that I am fully involved in it. All such comments are meant to be self-indictments.

Ilíon said...

"To be clear ..."

But, of course.