The original letter of Mahatma Gandhi, where he explains why he cannot follow Jesus Christ alone, has been released to the public market for the first time ever, valued at $50,000.
The Raab Collection, which handles important historical documents that are put up for sale, revealed on Wednesday that it has not found a record of any other letter in which the Indian icon mentioned Jesus reaching the public market before.
In the letter dated April 6, 1926, Gandhi wrote, "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?" he asked, addressing Milton Newberry Frantz, a Christian elder in the United States.
"In my opinion, difference in creed there must be so long as there are different brains. But who does it matter if all these are hung upon the common thread of love and mutual esteem?"
The letter has apparently been in a private collection since the 1960s, when it was acquired from a New York City-based historical document dealer.
The eternal fate of Gandhi, who led India's independence movement through nonviolent campaigns, has been debated by evangelicals, and was posed as a question to former President Jimmy Carter in an April 2017 interview with The New York Times.
Carter, a Sunday school teacher, Democrat, and born-again evangelical, said that he could not say whether Gandhi is in Hell for not being a Christian and not trusting only in Christ.
"I do not feel qualified to make a judgment. I am inclined to give him (or others) the benefit of any doubt," Carter said at the time.
The former president's uncertainity was challeneged by megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress in a sermon later that month, when he argued that Gandhi is indeed going to Hell.
"It doesn't matter if someone is a sincere follower of another religion; they are sincerely wrong," Jeffress told his congregation at First Baptist Church in Dallas.
The pastor said of Carter's answer: "Now that sounds so good. That sounds so humble. 'Oh, who am I to judge, only God can judge.'"
He argued that God has already made the judgment.
"He (Jesus) has said 'Nobody comes to the Father except through me.' And when we stutter about that truth, and hesitate and try to be humble in front of people, we are responsible [for] leading people to Hell because we are suggesting there is another opening somewhere, and we have shirked our responsibility as ministers and proclaimers of the truth of God's word," Jeffress declared.