In my earlier post about comparing religions, I introduced something I’ve pondered for a little while that I call the “problem of Gandhi.” Check the first post for an introduction for some context to that way of phrasing it (it’s near the end of the post). But here I think I’m articulating the “problem” as I see it a little more clearly.
For the “problem of Gandhi” I’m not really thinking of a problem of people thinking, “hey, there’s a guy who was really good. Why would God leave him out?” Christianity is not about being “good enough” for God or earning our salvation. But that is not where I’m going with the “problem.” I am talking, instead, of a problem of making the case for Christianity from its affects on its adherents.
Maybe I should put the question this way instead of how I worded it in the original post:
(1) God is good and created us good.
(2) We’re not good due to our rejection of God, the source of all goodness.
(3) A big part of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ is to reconcile us to him who is good (justification) and to restore us to being good as he is good (santification). We should add here that Wesley (whom I follow on this) taught that God in his grace (prevenient), does restore a measure of goodness to us (a) so that we may live together without total anarchy and (b) so that we may have the ability to respond to the gospel.
Given these statements, would we not be warranted in saying that whenever people live out goodness they are somehow reflecting or connecting with God, the source of all goodness? If so, when we find cases in which someone lived out goodness exceptionally well, would we not be warranted in thinking that the connection with God, the source of all goodness, would be exceptional as well?
I think that’s a logical move and a common and intuitive one for most people. The question is, if Christianity is true and Christ is both God’s full self-revelation and his only salvation for humanity, then how do we explain someone whose life seems to reflect, in their lived goodness, an exceptional connection to God, the source of all goodness?
One way people explain that is to move away from the exclusive claims of Christ’s person and saving work. I have a problem with that. So, I’m looking for other alternatives. The alternatives that have potential from my previous post that may align with this understanding of both Jesus as the exclusive Savior of the world and my “problem of Gandhi” would be soft exclusivism or inclusivism. Pluralism would not. Nor would strict exclusivism.
What say ye?