Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
Print version ISSN 1017-0499
GOEDHALS, Mandy. Gandhi and his Christian friends: legacy of the South African years 1893-1914. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2014, vol.40, n.1, pp.1-20. ISSN 2412-4265.
The year 2014 marks the centenary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's departure from South Africa and his return to India. This article explores the history and historiography of Gandhi's relationships with those he called "my Christian friends" during his years in South Africa (1893-1914). James Hunt's Gandhi and the British Religions., published in 1986, is the major work on this topic, but this article seeks to explore aspects downplayed by Hunt and to offer a new synthesis, rather than original research. The article examines the influence of Christian contacts from a range of denominations and traditions on Gandhi's religious and political development, notably with reference to his understanding that religion and political commitment are profoundly interconnected, and specifically with reference to his philosophy of satyagraha. The second part of the article reviews Gandhi's influence within the Christian churches, and the controversial political legacies surrounding his relationship with the first ANC President, John Langalibelele Dube, who was a Congregational Church minister. This part of the article will also debate the use of nonviolence as a political strategy by ANC President Albert Luthuli, a Methodist lay preacher whose Christian faith shaped his political beliefs.