However, the Wall Street Journal published a recent review of a book written by a respected journalist about Ghandi -- the review questions not only Ghandi's demigod status, but also his relative 'sainthood' in popular thought. I'm going to post a short list of bullet points summarizing the article below if your interested.
And while some of the points listed below re: Ghandi's life surprised me (and, in some cases, disgusted me), I'm honestly don't write this in order to start a "Ghandi-bashing" session. Only that, in examining the less glorious details of his life, I'm reminded that Ghandi stands as one of many in a long line:
Another reason to hope for a better righteousness.
His life is worth examining, worth considering. But like all lives of our heroes, the glimmer of righteousness exemplified in their lives leaves us thirsting for a full-blown, "won't let us down" righteousness that we can put our faith & hope in.
Veiled Grace, Flawed Righteousness. In fact, this basic truth helps us understand the Old Testament better and how it all points Jesus. The Old Testament, from Genesis 3 to Malachi (good book), displays two major threads: Veiled Grace and Flawed Righteousness. The grace of God: but the kind of grace that comes and goes, through covenants that can't permanently change hearts, and generally God working in a way that was often in the shadows. I could write more on that, but I'd like to focus on the people we see in the Old Testament.
There are so many heroes of the Old Testament who are examples of Flawed Righteousness , including the sacred triumvirate -- the three most widely respected and admired OT figures by your average Jewish person. Abraham, Moses, and David. Great men of great faith, but deeply flawed. Abraham's rap sheet includes two potentially life-altering lies to his wife and commits adultery with a woman who is not his wife. Moses kills a man. David had a man killed in order to sleep with his wife and doesn't really admit to doing anything wrong for at least nine months. So, yeah, Abraham, Moses, and David would've been fired from your church.
How to benefit from lives of flawed righteousness. When observing lives of flawed righteousness (and I mean that in an admiring manner) whether in your everyday life, in recent history (see Ghandi), or in the Old Testament, ask yourself:
- Where do I see God's righteousness displayed, though flawed?
- What righteous aspect of this person's life do I see fully fulfilled and gloriously magnified in Jesus Christ?
In doing this, we can continue to read biographies, listen to stories, and watch uplifting accounts of real lives while letting such accounts deepen our thirst for a fuller righteousness and ultimately point us (and others) to Him who is and can freely give perfect righteousness:
17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man,
much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift
of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore,
as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness
leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's
disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience
the many will be made righteous (Romans 5: 17-19).
(If Interested) Bullet Points re: The Flaws in the righteousness of Ghandi.
- Although credited with leading India to independence from Britain, Gandhi also jeopardized this effort. Between 1900 and 1922, he suspended his civil disobedience at least three times, even though more than 15,000 supporters were in jail for the cause. (When Britain finally did withdraw from India, it was largely motivated by their anti-imperialist Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, and the fact that Britain was nearly bankrupt from the war.)
- Gandhi was dangerously unwise politically. He advised the Jews to adopt nonviolence toward the Nazis, and wrote a letter to Hitler starting with the words “My friend”. He also advised the Jews of Palestine to “rely on the goodwill of the Arabs”. Fortunately for their existence, the Jews ignored him.