The reason I ask Protestants is because they have espoused Martin Luther's hermeneutics--that salvation is attained through faith alone. Or in other words, you could be one of the greatest peacemakers of all time and still go to perdition; just because you were born into a nation where Christianity has not permeated, in this particular instance, India as Ghandi was.
What I find interesting about this question is that, simply due to the fact that I am Roman Catholic, I am forbidden to answer. (I'm wondering if mountvernon wanted us to keep the concept of Purgatory out of the discussion? Very well, I will leave Purgatory out of it, then.) Still, I am happy to give the perspective from the Catechism for you. If you look up the Catholic teaching on salvation, the Catholic Church has a very interesting perspective. There is an infallible statement from the Pope that says (and I'm paraphrasing) that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church. HOWEVER, there is yet another infallible statement from a different Pope that says (and again I'm paraphrasing) that no one can determine salvation except for God. Here is a tiny bit of the research on this subject:
While affirming that "Outside the Church there is no salvation," (C.C.C. # 846), the Catechism of the Catholic Church further states, "This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:'Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.'" (C.C.C. # 847)
Even if someone is "told" the Gospel, does that mean he/she "knows" the Truth. No. Therefore WE DON'T KNOW whether Gandhi is in hell or not. There is no way we could know because we are not God. HOWEVER, what is most interesting is this story about Gandhi. Read it and then try and answer the question on your own. (And first, let me say that this story should make any Christian think TWICE about judging people by appearances, ... and it should make every Catholic absolutely CRINGE! There is no story that makes me more sad than this one.) :(
I am reminded of the story about Mahatma Gandhi when he was a student in South Africa. He had become deeply interested in the Bible and was particularly impressed with the Sermon on the Mount. He gradually became convinced that Christianity was the answer to the caste system he had experienced in India. So he decided he would seriously explore Christianity and perhaps even become a Christian. One day he went to Church to attend Mass and inquire about instructions in the Catholic faith. But he was stopped at the entrance of the church and gently told that if he desired to attend Mass he was certainly welcome to—in a church reserved for blacks. Gandhi left and never returned.
This is a great challenge to our conspiracy. It is not only to find room in our hearts for a Gandhi, but also to find room for the one who turned him away at that church door. Gandhi, of course, like the Canaanite woman in the Gospels, took the rejection and allowed it to fuel his passion for peace among all races and religions. Like Gandhi, like that Canannite woman, co-conspirators of compassion believe in creating community where all are welcome, where each one finds a home.
The Conspiracy of Compassion: Breathing Together for a Wounded World, Joseph Nassal, p. 97
One of Christianity's greatest apologists, C. S. Lewis, addresses this serious and weighty question in--of all ironic places--the last book of his Narnia stories, The Last Battle. In this story, the end of the last battle shows the Christian English children entering Paradise and passing one of the non-Narnian characters who seems in a dazed state of confused shock to be in the beautiful land on the far side of the stable door.
This was Lewis's apologetic for addressing this question, which truthfully has plagued every recent generation of Christians who possess a worldview. According to Lewis, then, the Apostle Paul's precept from Romans applies that says (in paraphrase) we are judged by what we know, not by what we don't know.
Therefore Lewis's answer is, yes, Gandhi will be in Paradise, as will Christians. I'm speculating that we'll all be surprised by what Paradise (Heaven) will be like, and this is another point Lewis taught the children and Puddleglum in Narnia while they were looking for the Lady of the Green Kirtle (The Silver Chair): nothing looks like what you think it's going to look like once you get there. It sounds simple when said in a children's story, but remember, Lewis was a renowned apologist and this was part of his apologetics (apologetics: the systematic defense and/or explanation through the use of rational information of a [religious] position against questions and attacks).
Post #5 presents the Biblical answer to the question very well.
As a believer in Christ, I believe that Jesus died on the cross as a sinless sacrifice for sinners of all ages and times. In the New Testament, Jesus tells the disciples:
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
No amount of personal goodness or contributions to humanity can change the fact that we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. Gandhi may have inspired many people, but good works alone cannot change a person's sinful nature. Ephesians 2:8-9 describes how believers in Christ are saved by grace:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
You definitely cannot assume that Ghandi is in Hell simply because he was not a Protestant. Maybe faith alone can get one into Heaven, but having a different faith should not prevent one from entering, assuming Ghandi would want to. Maybe he had other plans? What did he believe?
Mahatma Gandhi has come to be known as the Father of India and a beacon of light in the last decades of British colonial rule, promoting non-violence, justice and harmony between people of all faiths. (bbc.co.uk)
In the end, I think we need to recognize that each religion has different views on this, but that these views can coexist. To some, Ghandi is in Heaven. To others, he was reincarnated. If you look at it from a factual or rational standpoint they cannot both be true, but why can't we just allow each person to think as he or she wants?
While literal evangelicals may lean toward answering yes, many Protestants would respond no. Not all Protestant demonimantions even accept the existence of hell. The Quaker tradition rejects the notion of hell altogether, as does the Unitarian Church. Luther did in a sense found the Protestant Church, but there are now so many different branches that it's hard to make broad generalizations about Protestant dogma or theology.
Mahatma Gandhi was good person and lived a moral life. No one knows for sure what is in a person’s heart; therefore, it is difficult for someone to say whether a person will be in heaven or not. According to everything that one reads about Gandhi, he was a Hindu.
The Bible teaches only one way to eternal life. That way is through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The following verse from John 3:36 give the only way to Heaven. He that believeth in the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not in the son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I John 5:11 ...God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
I John 5:12: He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
According to the Christian beliefs, no matter how much “good” that a person does will not pay for the sins that he has already committed. Everyone at some point in his life sins against God’s law.
We all have sinned. Even a good person may sin when he include lies, steals, envies, disrespect parents, commits adultery whether in the heart or the actual act, shows pride, jealous, covets someone, and other sins that are mentioned in the Bible.
A person must accept Jesus Christ as his Savior to go to heaven according to Christian tenet. There are no good deeds that a person can do on his own that will erase the sins that a person commits.
When Jesus died on the cross, he shed his blood for man’s sins. All a person has to do is believe in Jesus and that he died for man ‘s sins, pray to him to forgive him his sins, and then accept him as savior. God wants man to have eternal life. He wants no one to go to hell.
Just because a person becomes a Christian does not mean that he will never commit a sin again. As human beings, we make mistakes. God gives man figurative armor that he wears to protect him from the devil and from sinning again. Still, man will err. If a person asks God for forgiveness, as long as he is honest in his belief in Jesus as his Savior, he will be forgiven.
In answer to the question, according to Christian teaching if Gandhi did not believe in Jesus Christ as his Savior, he will not be in Heaven.
As a confirmed and faithful Protestant, my simplest answer to the question is "I don't know." According to my view of the way in which the world and the afterlife are determined, God is the one who makes the decisions and/or rules determining what happens to any individual after the death of the physical body.
I struggle with how phrases such as those quoted in previous posts should be understood. My suspicion is that translations from Aramic to Greek to Latin to English, possibly with other languages mixed in, may have changed the content and meaning of the words, and I know that the culture in which the words are being heard has changed radically.
Jesus also said, "In My Father's house there are many rooms." For all I know, there may be provisions for persons who live in accordance with the designs of the Ultimate Power for respecting the Creation and all that is in it to achieve a higher level after their physical presence on Earth has ended. It may be that other faiths offer other pathways to the same end. It has not been given to any human to know the answer to such mysteries while we are still living here and now.
A person who takes Christian scripture at face value has to believe that Gandhi is in Hell. Jesus said that no one can come to God except through belief in him (Jesus). This is a pretty unequivocal statement.
The idea behind this is that people are inherently sinful. In fact, we are so sinful that even the best of us (Gandhi, perhaps, being one of the best of us) cannot deserve to go to Heaven on our own merits. Instead, we only get to Heaven through God's mercy, given to us through our faith.
Not all Protestants will accept a view of salvation that puts Gandhi in Hell. However, many will since they accept a literal reading of the Bible.
As to the point about India, Christianity may not pervade the country, but it was and is present there and Gandhi certainly would have had the chance to accept Christ. So if you are a Biblical literalist, that is not an acceptable excuse.
Protestants are Christians who differed with some of the Roman Catholic interpretations and implementations of the Bible, mainly hierarchical structures (see Martin Luther’s 95 theses). The interpretation of heaven and hell and the criteria to get into them is basically found in the sentence “Unless a man be born again, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is a centuries-old interpretation. Today, declaring Jesus of Nazareth as the only path to “salvation” is as outdated as keeping holy the Sabbath (Saturday) or “Thou shalt not kill” (or “the right to bear arms”). These phrases (how is your Aramaic?) are translations and therefore interpretations of God’s will, not modernized by strict Bible zealots, but certainly not prohibitive in their language. Mahatma Ghandi lived closer to Jesus’ teachings than any megachurch preacher (what about the moneylenders in the temple?) Anyone who takes the Bible literally has not seen God’s work in the last twenty centuries—did they think Jesus’ time on earth was the end of God’s work here? Ghandi is “in heaven” regardless of anyone’s narrow misinterpretation of how you get there.