Terrence Rynne is the founder of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking and a teacher of peace studies. In this scholarly book, he examines the life and work of Jesus and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi on nonviolence. The Indian leader never separated religion and politics. For Gandhi, working to relieve human suffering meant involvement in political action. He was deeply impressed with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and felt that Christians who espoused violence and war made a mockery of the man from Nazareth and his basic teaching of loving your enemies. Speaking of the nonviolent person, Gandhi wrote:
"He or she must have a living faith in nonviolence. This is impossible without a living faith in God. A nonviolent man can do nothing save by the power and grace of God. Without it he won't have the courage to die without anger, without fear and without retaliation. Such courage comes from the belief that God sits in the hearts of all and that there should be no fear in the presence of God."
Rynne explains the breadth and depth of Gandhi's satyagraha as "a life of dedicated nonviolent direct action in service of the oppressed and the poor that aims to change the relationship of power through a mutual discovery of truth." He then discusses the ways in which it differs from passive resistance, civil disobedience, and pacifism. Gandhi was very critical of violence and saw it as the surest way to murder the human spirit:
"What is happening today is disregard of the law of nonviolence and the enthronement of violence as if it were an eternal law. The democracies, therefore, that we see at work in England, America and France are only so called, because they are no less based on violence than Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy or even Soviet Russia."
Gandhi rejected the distinction between just and unjust wars and thought of satyagraha as the moral equivalent of war. But the myth of redemptive violence prevails all over the world despite the success of four nonviolent revolutions based on Gandhi's principles: the civil rights movement in the United States under Dr. Martin Luther King, the changes made in South Africa under the leadership of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, and the Solidarity revolution in Poland.
After assessing the Christian theologians who have espoused nonviolence (C. F. Andrews, John Howard Yoder, Bernard Haring, and Walter Wink), Rynne goes on to rethink Christian salvation in the light of Gandhi's satyagraha. Modern day disciples of Jesus are called to a path of nonviolence, of speaking truth to power, and of committing themselves to the pursuit of peace and justice.