Will Gandhi Burn?
photo © 2010 Vards Uzvards | more info (via: Wylio)I have wanted to write this post for a very long time, but was too afraid of the possible backlash from some segments of the Christian tradition. However, all the hype over, “whether Rob Bell is a Universalist or not”, finally gave me the courage to say what I have wanted to say for years: “No one knows the mind of God.”
Despite those who will claim with 100% certainty that Gandhi is burning in hell, the truth is that God is not limited and God’s grace knows no end. God is not even limited by the words we humans wrote down in a book we call the Bible. While I believe the words in our sacred scriptures are indeed sacred, I don’t think God is bound by them or our very narrow interpretations of them.
I also do not believe that those who believe God’s grace is big enough to rescue Gandhi should be labeled Universalist. I am not saying Gandhi is in heaven nor am I saying he is in hell, I am saying I am not arrogant enough to believe I know. I believe God is mysterious, unpredictable, loving and powerful. I believe as people of faith, we should walk humbly before our God. I think the Apostle Paul felt the same and says as much in 1 Corinthians 2:
When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Like the Apostle Paul it is with humility, fear, and trembling that I say to you that, “I know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” I choose to believe in God’s power. I will not place my faith in my own wisdom or that of those who claim to know the mind of God.
I don’t understand why some Christians find a stance of humility so threatening. Why is it so hard for some to admit that we do not know where others will spend eternity? I don’t find a God who is easily understood and whose actions I can predict with certainty all that appealing. If God can only do what I can explain, that is a pretty small God. I like that God’s wisdom is hidden, mysterious and beyond my very small finite mind’s ability to comprehend.
So, why are Christians so afraid of a God powerful enough to save Gandhi from hell?
Does our only power as Christians lie in our ability to condemn people who do not believe as we do? Do Christians really believe people choose Christ solely to avoid hell? What does that say about the power of the love of Christ? Does Christ become any less the savior of the world if God’s grace extends beyond our faith borders? Have we become the Pharisees of our day?
I hope I get to meet Gandhi in heaven someday. In debates like this I identify with his words, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”