Is Gandhi in hell?

That was the provocative question posed by Rob Bell in the video for Love Wins.

I guess the answer to that question depends on what you think should happen to racist, sexual pervert who believed in reincarnation. For that, according to a new biography of Gandhi is exactly what he was.

Gandhi the racist?

“Although Gandhi’s nonviolence made him an icon to the American civil-rights movement, Mr. Lelyveld shows how ­implacably racist he was toward the blacks of South Africa. “We were then marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs,” Gandhi complained during one of his campaigns for the rights of ­Indians settled there. “We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the ­Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live like animals.”

As Rob Bell says, ‘A racist would be miserable in the world to come’ (p34)

Gandhi the pervert?

“Yet he could also be vicious to Manu, whom he on one occasion forced to walk through a thick jungle where sexual assaults had occurred in order for her to retrieve a pumice stone that he liked to use on his feet. When she returned in tears, Gandhi “cackled” with laughter at her and said: “If some ruffian had carried you off and you had met your death courageously, my heart would have danced with joy.”

Gandhi on reincarnation

“To a Hindu who asked how his co-religionists could ever return to villages from which they had been ethnically cleansed, Gandhi blithely replied: “I do not mind if each and every one of the 500 families in your area is done to death.” What mattered for him was the principle of non-violence, and anyhow, as he told an orthodox Brahmin, he believed in re­incarnation.”

Now why post all of that? For a couple of reasons, firstly no person not even our great icons are perfect and therefore will face judgement – Gandhi included. Secondly, as Rob Bell insists we don’t know for sure what has happened to Gandhi so be wary of definitive statements as if we are the ones who judge. Thirdly, God’s grace can reach someone who is a racist, pervert and believes in reincarnation and save them to the uttermost. Whether it has or not, time will tell.

5 thoughts on “Is Gandhi in hell?”

  1. Mike Print says:

    Thanks for this post, really thought provoking. Is it worth saying something about the uniqueness of Christ and that if we reject Him we reject the Father? Whilst we can never be sure about anothers salvation surely we can say that if Ghandi had never accepted Christ in this life, then his works good or bad are irrelevant. As we talk to non-Christians about salvation, which is when such a question about Ghandi is likely to come up, we need to be clear and not give an impression that choosing Christ isn’t one option amoungst many.

    1. Simplepastor says:

      Hi Mike, thanks for the comment. Yes was coming to that but was leaving it until I’d finished Rob Bell’s book, as universalism is the issue at hand, this works as a bit of a test case. So stay tuned!

  2. Phil Groom says:

    Good to see you’ve got a handle on grace here, Phil, because that’s what it’s all about 🙂

  3. Colin says:

    In my opinion, I feel that this is mostly taken out of context, I dont think that he was being rascist but just stating that the group of people may have not been as civiliazed just when the christian protasents came over to the new world and forced the natives to their belifes was that making them rascist or did that make them horrble people, or because they were spreading the word of god does that make them ok and saved?

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