Saturday, March 3, 2018

1926 Gandhi letter on Jesus, accepting that he was a great teacher of mankind but not accepting that Jesus was "highest manifestation of the unseen reality"

This letter is put up here:

The letter was written by Milton Newberry Frantz, who is said by above website to have been a Christian religious elder who asked Mahatma Gandhi to read a book (of poetry) he (Frantz) had written/composed about Christianity.

The key text of Mahatma Gandhi's response is:

Dear Friend, I have your letter. I am afraid it is not possible for me to subscribe to the creed you have sent me. The subscriber is made to believe that the highest manifestation of the unseen reality was Jesus Christ. In spite of all my efforts, I have not been able to feel the truth of that statement. I have not been able to move beyond the belief that Jesus was one of the great teachers of mankind. Do you not think that religious unity is to be had not by a mechanical subscription to a common creed but by all respecting the creed of each? In my opinion, difference in creed there must be so long as there are different brains. But what does it matter if all these are hung upon the common thread of love and mutual esteem?

--- end key text of Mahatma Gandhi response ---

Ravi: I tried to get more info. on Milton Newberry Frantz on the Internet but did not get much. Here's one link to a 1925 book published by him titled Odd-Moment Verses, It states that the title page has the text "Nirvana, Evansburg Collegeville, Pennsylvania" at the bottom.

Mahatma (Great soul) Gandhi is a great man who I am very grateful to, for having led my country to freedom from British rule and to an independent democratic country with religious pluralism. I am also grateful to him for the example of his life, some aspects of which have been inspirational to me.

While I am a nobody, I do share two things with Mahatma Gandhi in that we both are Indians and Hindus. As a Hindu in 2018, I agree with the stand taken by Mahatma Gandhi in the above letter, written nearly a century ago. The Jesus Christ described in the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John comes across to me as one of the great teachers of mankind and a divine figure. But the view that Jesus Christ is the "highest manifestation of the unseen reality" is not acceptable to me and does not fit in with my Hindu beliefs in Hindu Avatars (divine figures) as well as in Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy (with belief in ONE ultimate formless divine power/God referred to as Brahman, Parabrahman).

In particular, I do not agree with the belief of Christian evangelical preachers like Rev. Franklin Graham (son of evangelical preacher Billy Graham) who say that the way to God is ONLY THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. But I believe very strongly in freedom of religious belief and so have no problem at all with Rev. Franklin Graham and others like him holding on to that belief and even preaching that belief so long as they do not impose it on me. I also expect that Rev. Franklin Graham and others like him. respect my right to have a different belief from theirs so long as I do not impose my belief on them. Of course, our actions guided by our beliefs should be within the laws of the land where we live (and preach or write).

I view Jesus Christ as ONE of the MANY WAYS to God and have great love, respect and admiration for Lord Jesus Christ as well as genuine Christians who try hard to follow the spirit of the teachings of Lord Jesus Christ. My understanding of that spirit of Christ's teachings is that it mainly involves love for fellow human beings, being truthful. valuing peace and having great love for God and faith in God including God's power to intervene in devotees' lives typically in response to prayer (miracles).

I am very happy to see that in 1926 when India was under foreign rule by the British most of whom were believers in the Christian faith, Mahatma Gandhi was so unambiguously direct in this letter about his views of Jesus Christ (great teacher but not the highest manifestation of unseen reality).

[I thank and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extract from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]

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