A few weeks ago I posted on whether Gandhi is in hell but the reverse question is also interesting. On what grounds would we have confidence to say that Gandhi is in heaven? Greg Koukl addresses this question in his book Tactics: A game plan for discussing your Christian convictions. Koukl deals with people’s ideas of good and bad (which is the basis most people have for heaven or hell).
“When I was in India, Christian apologist Prakesh Yesudian told me of a conversation he had with a Hindu about Gandhi, who is much revered there…
‘Is Gandhi in heaven?’ the Hindu asked. ‘Heaven would be a very poor place without Gandhi in it.’
‘Well sir,’ Prakesh answered, ‘you must at least believe in Heaven then. And apparently you have done some thinking about what would qualify someone for Heaven. Tell me, what kind of people go to Heaven?’
‘Good people go to heaven,’ he responded.
‘But this idea of what is a good person is very unclear to me. What is good?’
In typical Hindu fashion he replied, ‘Good and bad are relative, there is no clear definition.’
‘If that is true, sir, that goodness is relative and can’t be defined how is it that you assume Gandhi is good and should be in heaven?’
Either Gandhi fulfils some external standard of goodness, thus qualifying for heaven, or goodness is relative and therefore a meaningless term when applied to anyone, including Gandhi. Both cannot be true at the same time.”
Jesus teaches us that God alone is good (Mt 19:17), that the standard is set by His character and goodness. Goodness is indeed relative but it stands in relation to the goodness and holiness of God. So we must obtain somehow the goodness, the righteousness of God either by our own effort (which if we’re at all honest seems highly unlikely) or it seems that it is God alone that can qualify someone else as good and that comes through faith in Christ.
So the question of the whereabouts of Gandhi comes down to did he have faith in Christ because we know Gandhi knew about Christ. He doesn’t fall into the category of never heard, never knew, never lived long enough to find out. For Gandhi the question becomes much clearer, did he trust in Christ?
And the answer? Well ultimately we have no idea, but I’m not sure I have great grounds to be confident that he did. So is Gandhi in heaven? Actually, chances are, if I’m to take the Bible seriously at all (excluding for the moment the possibility of post-mortem chances to place faith in Christ), probably not.