An Open Letter to a Christian Television Talk Show Host
(note: underlines are mostly hypertext links and not
necessarily for emphasis)
I watched your show last night after someone informed me that you were having a Baha’i “under fire.” (Episode #102--“Do all roads lead to God?”) Thank you for inviting feedback and thank you for creating your weekly program. I think it is so important to have the interfaith dialogue, especially in times like these. I was particularly appreciative of the friendly and gracious manner in which you hosted the show. I will skip past introducing myself, since you must have just read the email that I sent you just prior to this. Some of what I wrote you earlier is still here, in this unabridged response, but some of it is not.
In 1999, while I working as an
advisor for an international NGO in
“The unity of nations and peace on earth will never succeed without reconciliation among the world’s great religions. This is the next global challenge. Man-made ideologies have perverted the teachings of religion and divided humanity. Until humanity sees the essential unity of religion there will be no peace in the world.”
This was before September 11th. Now, today, people realize even more that
this need is even greater—especially given the perceived gulf between
and Christianity, because of the extremists and terrorism. Today, anti-Western
sentiment and religious extremism appears in the textbooks of
Madras schools, leaving many people of the Christian and Jewish
fearful that it generates hatred, indoctrinating future
course what is done in the name of religion, or under religious
not always religion.) Similarly, upon
discovering that textbooks in Bosnia-Herzegovina demonized the "other,"
the new government has systematically been eliminating them. If
seems strange to us in the United States, we need only remember that in
today, religious extremism invades school textbooks when world-views
(evolution vs. creationism), impacting local and state laws.
also the recent cultural conflicts between Anglo and Hispanic
Late 1990s: A sudden influx of 1500 Mexican workers into a predominantly white town (of 15,000) results in racial tensions, hate crimes & total polarization / segregation. A 22 year old Mexican migrant worker was lured and murdered by two whites, out of the racial tensions.
On CNN this coming Sunday, October 17 (): “Immigrant Nation, Divided Country” will air. Focus: Inside the lives of four families on the front lines of the debate over illegal immigration and ethnic segregation. I suspect this will illustrate much of this ongoing problem. The Harvard Civil Rights Project states that the United States "will become a thoroughly balkanized society [within the next 40 years] dominated by a declining white minority [if inequities do not change]. History and headlines worldwide provide ample evidence of the grievous consequences along that path.” see http://www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu/aboutus.php We are talking about man's tendency to discount and demonize other cultures and world views.
Differences often become points of disunity and conflict, and without the sense of tolerance and appreciation engender the opinion: “My view of the world is the only valid way to view the world.”
Two things I have learned in my studies of psychology and human nature:
(1) We humans find it difficult to let others be themselves. We want to control them, dominate them, or subordinate them in some way. Out of this comes the authoritarian personality and arrogance. We all face a great danger in our nature called pride (Proverbs ). This great danger in our lower nature gives us the tendency to want to control and dominate. Even Saint Peter, that blessed prince of the apostles, attempted to control Jesus. If this can happen to Peter, must we not all guard ourselves against this Satan inside us? (Holy Bible, Matthew 16:22) Maybe this tendency is innate, but its expression is exacerbated by the current culture of anger—which is evident to anyone who drives a car and sees “road-anger” surface, even without sufficient provocation. I think you will agree that we must not succumb to this culture of violence and cynicism if we are true Christians—if we are to transform ourselves into truly loving human beings.
humans have tendency to make others wrong in order to make ourselves
right. We do this, sometimes, even as a
way to shore up our own doubts—ergo, “If I can make others wrong, then
be right.” Sometimes it does not occur
to us that two different perspectives on the same thing can both be
right. Maybe it depends on whether we seek
division or exclusivity—whether we just want to fight with people or
peace. I am not talking about the
perspectives illustrated by the metaphor about the blind men attempting
describe an elephant. I am talking about
something we call a “spiral curriculum” in education. (The principle in
what Ken Bowers must have been alluding to also.) As we get older, and
through the grades of school, there is more that we can understand
elephant. It is not that young children
are blind, they are simply immature. Surely the things young children
about elephants are valid. This is like
Newtonian physics, when compared to later discoveries in physics.
Wouldn’t it be silly to put these different perspectives in competition with each other, when each of these theories in some way complements the other in understanding more about our world? Each has had its own special applicability to give us a better relationship to nature—and our own nature. It’s true that, as of yet, you cannot put these theories together easily, within a “unified field theory.” (We would need a new scientific revelation for that.) However, when it comes to religion it seems that Mr. Bowers is suggesting that something like a “unified theory” exists in this new revelation called Baha’i. Of course I cannot speak for him. I have never met him. Part of the unity, he seemed to say, depends on realizing that the perspectives of the different religions—however much they may present some universal and lasting principles—may differ simply because they were sent to different peoples at different times with different needs, and at different stages in the evolution of human history and culture.
There seem to be two kinds of people in the world: (1) those who insist that others must see the world the way they do, and (2) those who are willing to try and understand if there are other ways to see the same world. The difference is often a matter of ego, arrogance and pride, is it not? As loving human beings, we must not let any of our lower tendencies creep into our conversations about religion if our purpose is reconciliation and the discovery of truth, can we? Insistence is another form of arrogance is it not? Although we need not compromise our principles or the integrity of our faith, we cannot forgo our Christian virtue in our attempts to persuade others to our viewpoint. H.G. Wells made the following observation in his “History of the World,”
“We find all the Christian communities so agitated and exasperated by tortuous and elusive arguments about the nature of God [Christ and His relationship to God] as to be largely negligent of the simpler teachings of charity, service and brotherhood that Jesus had inculcated.”
Some Muslims are guilty of the same thing. Foolishly, some claim that the Qur’an teaches that Christ was not crucified. Consider how clearly the Qur’an advances the Revelation of Christ—and confirms the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (this is but one example):
"When God said, 'O Jesus! I will make Thee die and take Thee up again to Me and will clear thee of those who misbelieve, and will make those who follow thee above those who misbelieve, at the day of judgment, then to me is your return… And as for those who misbelieve, I will punish them with grievous punishment in this world and the next, and they shall have none to help them.' But as for those who believe and do what is right, He will pay them their reward, for God loves not the unjust." (The Qur'an, translated by E.H. Palmer, Sura 3 - Imran’s Family)
I have given my further understanding of how the perversion of Christianity by some Muslims has come about at http://watsongregory.homestead.com/files/Crucifixion_Trinity.html
Baha’u’llah defends the Holy Gospel to those Muslims who have not understood either the Qur’an or the Bible in words such as these:
“We have also heard a
number of the
foolish of the earth assert that the genuine text of the heavenly
not exist amongst the Christians, that it hath ascended unto heaven.
grievously they have erred! How oblivious of the fact that such a
statement imputeth the gravest injustice
and tyranny to a gracious
For the past couple of years, the news media has
that Saudi Arabian text books express hatred for Christians and Jews;
anti-western prejudice is being taught in the extremist schools
Religious prejudice has become a major barrier to resolving world conflict. The rise of religious fanaticism, as exemplified by increasing terrorist attacks, attacks on houses of worship, and civil wars spurred by religious differences, is becoming perhaps the dominant source of conflict in the world. So your show is very important, if it can help to reduce this conflict. I thought it commendable, for example, that you had the Muslim gentleman on your show, telling how so-called Muslims (terrorists) who violate the religious law against murder in the Qur’an will be punished in hell.
I have a sense that your show “Faith Under Fire” has two agendas: (1) to give wider perspectives in hope of some reconciliation among them; and (2) to present the Christian bias. Maybe it is to “reconcile” through attempted conversion to your version of the Christian view, I don’t know. Please correct me if I am wrong. Both agendas are OK with me as long as they are candid. From my first impression (I have seen your show only once) I do think folks could think that the latter is a bit tacit on Faith Under Fire,” and that you may wish to consider declaring this more openly. Granted, when you said you agreed more with Mr. Greg Koukl on the show this was an open declaration. (Again, I confess that this is the first time I have watched your show so I can speak only from this experience.) However, at the same time, your siding with the Christian before hearing out the Baha’i does show your bias in another way, and seems to contradict your claim to be an “investigative” reporter. Was your objective to make him wrong or find out what he believes? It wasn’t too bad. Overall, I thought you were pretty fair. However, others who watched the show might think you were ganging up on Mr. Bowers, hammering him with the Christian message that your viewers are already so familiar with, rather than attempting to really learn about his perspective. It’s unfortunate because you have such a wonderful opportunity to try and heal these unhealthy divisions between the religions…. but then maybe that is not your objective. On the other hand, if your objective is to weigh false doctrines in the fire of test, according to the just balance you possess (the Old and New Testament), then from my perspective that too is possible and legitimate. Every Faith (or religious perspective) should be able to stand the “fire” of a fair test if it is true.
Whatever the case, I felt that the format did not exactly work well since your purpose is to “put something to the test.” I realize there are constraints with time, but there are two things I feel you could have done more effectively. (1) Your conversation with Imam Mahdi Bray provided more of the kind of opportunity to engage in dialogue than the format for the exchange with the Baha’i. The “one-on-one” format I felt would have worked better than having Greg Koukl in the middle of your conversation with Ken Bowers. I don’t think you needed all that “help” to challenge Mr. Bowers. Moreover, as I mentioned earlier, your viewers did not need to hear another one of the 23,000 Christian denominations expound his view if your intent was to be an investigative reporter about Baha’i. Given your time constraints, that took too much time. (2) You might have had fewer guests on the show, so that you could have gotten into greater depth. Merely scratching the surface does not allow much dialogue. All in all, however, I do believe you have offered a wonderful service. The format just might need a little tweaking to improve it, in my humble opinion. I am sure there are things about the format I cannot know, and reasons why you have chosen to do it this way. It must take a tremendous effort to put together a weekly show with three or four different topics. Your viewers must appreciate getting exposed to lots of different issues, but it may leave them frustrated not to learn more at times. I cannot be critical, except with the aim of being constructive. My only hope is that this religious debate will eventually get to unity, since all are created by God. 2000 years ago Christ brought a sharp sword that divided between the just and the unjust, the true and the false, but His ultimate aim seems to have been unity. See how many different cultures were at one time united under His banner!!
In the gospel of John, chapter 17, Jesus, the Christ, prayed for the unity of the Church. (That too is the Baha’i prayer, by the way.) Of course the “Lord’s Prayer” (Luke 11:2 and Matthew 6:9) show us how we should pray for ourselves, but John 17 was the Lord ’s prayer. Except for His prayer on the cross, it was only prayer we have the words of in the Bible—His prayer for what He wanted most. However, Christianity is so divided that it is hard to know which perspective is the true Christian perspective. According to the World Christian Encyclopedia (editor: D. Barrrett), there are over 23,000 denominations—branches that have arisen mostly over the difficulty of interpreting the Bible. I was surprised that you chose to create such a limited polemical debate for your format, especially since Mr. Koukl represents perhaps only a few of these branches or perspectives. There must be at least a dozen other ways to argue with the Baha’i perspectives, and some that would almost completely agree with them. Why choose this one? In any case, I would like to point out, from my limited understanding, the short-comings I saw in a couple of the arguments put forth by Mr. Koukle.
One thing Mr. Koukle
said was that
you cannot have a God that is both personal and impersonal, both known
unknown. This is not a Biblically-based
argument. The Holy Bible says that
God is both known and unknown—knowable and unknowable. The Baha'i Wriitings teach that human beings can know God’s attributes, as reflected in the mirror of Christ (Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 2 Corinthians 3:18) but that we can never fathom His essence. That would make us equal to God. No one can comprehend Him except Himself. In this sense, He thus remains unknowable. Maybe this is the spiritual dimension recognized by the Jews in the metaphorical aspect of the “Holy of Holies.” (Also, metaphorically speaking, Moses saw only the back side of God.) Also consider this: “…the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting.” (1 Timothy 6:16) God is both the Seen and the Unseen. As stated, these labels are aspects that we attribute to God, and do not describe His essence. Even the attributes of God, which we have hopes to begin to feebly understand through the teachings of Christ (John 1:18), are infinite in their range and limited by human conception.
“As to the attributes and perfections such as will, knowledge, power and other ancient attributes that we ascribe to that Divine Reality, these are the signs that reflect the existence of beings in the visible plane and not the absolute perfections of the Divine Essence that cannot be comprehended. For instance, as we consider created things we observe infinite perfections, and the created things being in the utmost regularity and perfection we infer that the Ancient Power on whom dependeth the existence of these beings, cannot be ignorant; thus we say He is All-Knowing. It is certain that it is not impotent, it must be then All-Powerful; it is not poor, it must be All-Possessing; it is not non-existent, it must be Ever-Living. The purpose is to show that these attributes and perfections that we recount for that Universal Reality are only in order to deny imperfections, rather than to assert the perfections that the human mind can conceive. Thus we say His attributes are unknowable.” (Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 342)
At the time, as mentioned by my reference above to John 14:9, Jesus said, "He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father" — in direct contrast with 1st John 4:12, John -36 and Luke 18:19 and Mark 10:18. Baha'u'llah has many explanations of this truth to help resolve the contradiction. Here is only one (another below):
"Know thou of a certainty that the Unseen can in no wise incarnate His Essence and reveal it unto men. He is, and hath ever been, immensely exalted beyond all that can either be recounted or perceived. From His retreat of glory His voice is ever proclaiming: 'Verily, I am God; there is none other God besides Me, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. I have manifested Myself unto men, and have sent down Him Who is the Day Spring of the signs of My Revelation. Through Him I have caused all creation to testify that there is none other God except Him, the Incomparable, the All-Informed, the All-Wise.' He Who is everlastingly hidden from the eyes of men can never be known except through His Manifestation, and His Manifestation can adduce no greater proof of the truth of His Mission than the proof of His own Person...." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 49)
(You may wish to take a look at a further exploration of my limited understanding of the distinction between "manifestation" and "incarnation" here>> http://www.homestead.com/watsongregory/files/station.htm#Manifestation )
"There is also the divine unity or entity which is sanctified above all concept of humanity. It cannot be comprehended nor conceived because it is infinite reality and cannot become finite. Human minds are incapable of surrounding that reality because all thoughts and conceptions of it are finite, intellectual creations and not the reality of divine being which alone knows itself. For example, if we form a conception of divinity as a living, almighty, self-subsisting, eternal being, this is only a concept apprehended by a human intellectual reality. It would not be the outward, visible reality which is beyond the power of human mind to conceive or encompass. We ourselves have an external, visible entity but even our concept of it is the product of our own brain and limited comprehension. The reality of divinity is sanctified above this degree of knowing and realization. It has ever been hidden and secluded in its own holiness and sanctity above our comprehending. Although it transcends our realization, its lights, bestowals, traces and virtues have become manifest in the realities of the prophets, even as the sun becomes resplendent in various mirrors. These holy realities are as reflectors, and the reality of divinity is as the sun which although it is reflected from the mirrors, and its virtues and perfections become resplendent therein, does not stoop from its own station of majesty and glory and seek abode in the mirrors; it remains in its heaven of sanctity. At most it is this, that its lights become manifest and evident in its mirrors or manifestations. Therefore its bounty proceeding from them is one bounty but the recipients of that bounty are many. This is the unity of God; this is oneness;--unity of divinity, holy above ascent or descent, embodiment, comprehension or idealization;--divine unity--the prophets are its mirrors; its lights are revealed through them; its virtues become resplendent in them, but the Sun of Reality never descends from its own highest point and station. This is unity, oneness, sanctity; this is glorification whereby we praise and adore God." (Abdu'l-Baha -- Foundations of World Unity, p 65 http://www.ibiblio.org/Bahai/Texts/EN/FWU/FWU-20.html and also another related concept here>> http://www.ibiblio.org/Bahai/Texts/EN/SAQ/SAQ-37.html )
The different religions are often complementary
contradictory) in revealing the multiple aspects of God—and in this, if
not careful they seem to contradict. This
is a mistake in our perception, and in how the religions have tended to
have lots of interpretation added to them over the years.
within each religion there are apparent contradictions.
Sometimes Jesus spoke as a man, and at other
times with the voice of God Himself.
This can be perplexing for all of us to understand, of course,
how these apparent contradictions are not contradictions at all. Christ Himself said this would be so: “If I have told you earthly things, and ye
believe not, how shall ye believe, if I
tell you of
heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that
from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John
3:12) This paradox explains a
contradiction: He was ON earth while He
said he was IN
heaven at the time He said it. This is a
contradiction only if you think in limited terms. His Spirit was
at the "right hand of the Father" while he physically walked on earth.
There is no contradiction, but the language makes it sound like there
is. (You may also
wish to look at this:
Yes, our only hope is to have a seeming contraction reconciled—i.e., to have it "both ways." Otherwise the contradiction remains within the texts and no possibility of reconciling them. Seeming contradictions are reconciled by understanding how you can have it "both ways." For example, consider Jesus Christ, speaking of John the Baptist, when he declared that John was Elias. (Mark & Matt , ) When John the Baptist was questioned, "Art thou Elias?" he said, "I am not." (John 1:19-21) These two statements are apparently contradictory, but in reality they do not contradict. The light is one light. The light which illumined this lamp last night is illuminating it tonight. This does not mean that the identical rays of light have reappeared but the virtues of illumination. John the Baptist came in the “spirit and power” of Elias. (Luke 1:17)
Reconciliation implies a willingness to seek the truth, a yearning to learn more than you already do, rather than merely stand your ground. Sometimes I think that there are some people whose only purpose is to argue—engage in disputation, not to learn. This is naught but ego. “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.” (Colossians 2:19) We must fear God if we to have any hope of gaining any more knowledge than we already have about Him. (Deuteronomy 17:13) I believe that if we fear Him, He will teach us. This not need undermine the foundations of our faith. (2 Timothy, 1:14).
Many religious leaders are violating one of the strongest prohibitions of the sacred Bible, and thereby leading others astray. (It is a repeat of Matthew 23:13-16 ) Many old and new testament prophesies concerning the “end time” were sealed. Interpretation was prohibited, and yet the leaders of religion have ventured forth mountains of interpretation. God, in His Book, expressly forbids interpretation of this scripture, except by His Messenger: “Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” – Moses (Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 4:2)
Incidentally, I doubt that any Christian will interpret the last verse to mean that God could never send the Christ, yet the Jews used this very verse to justify crucifying Jesus, based on their interpretation that Jesus was a mere mortal – that He therefore had no authority to add to Moses. In my limited understanding, the verse really meant that the priests should not interpret or add to the revelation of Moses, not that God could not act again in history – that He could not send another "Mediator of the Covenant." (Hebrews 8:6 and )
Some Christians whose only interest is to dispute will quote a very similar passage as if God's hands are chained (i.e., that there cannot be any other Prophets sent by God, that anyone with such a claim must be false): “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Holy Bible, Revelation 22:19) This important verse refers to "man's additions" not God's. The Bible says that when God sends one of His Divine spokespersons, it is God putting the words in His mouth-- that the Prophet has "not spoken it presumptuously." (Deut. 17 & 18) There are parallels every time God sends a new Messenger. God's method is always the same, and He tests the hearts of His servants (those who say "we believe"). As Christians we must not fall into the mistakes of the past. These verses of warning should not be used for any other purpose than that for which they were intended, which was to prevent diluting of Divine authority by every non-authoritative interpretation.
I would think this blessed verse should really frighten any of us from crossing over the line between sharing our understanding on the one hand (which I think is acceptable to God), and attempting to change or insist on the essential meaning of the scriptures (which is prohibited). Even the minor Prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Elijah were prohibited from understanding or interpreting their own visions at times.
Consider Isaiah ( 29:11): "When men give it to one who can read, saying, 'read this,' he says, 'I cannot, for it is sealed.'" Also, in Isaiah 6:9-10-- "...make the ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." Similar statements can be found in Daniel (12:4-10), where God told him not to ask the meaning of his vision and the time of the "end." The same prohibition is carried into the New Testament: “Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” (Revelation 10-4)
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah and the other prophets of Israel were inspired, but what a difference between the inspiration of the Word of God (Christ) and their revelations!
Many scriptures like those in Isaiah, Daniel and Revelation seem to indicate that only "the Lord" has the authority to interpret – and only WHEN the He “returns.” All else we must regard as opinion. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness...” (1st Corinthians 4:5)
“The time cometh, when I shall no more speak to you in figures, but I shall show you plainly of the Father.” (John 16:25)
Similar warnings exist in the Qur'an: "Every knowledge hath seventy meanings, of which one only is known amongst the people. And when the Qá'im shall arise, He shall reveal unto men all that which remaineth." (Iqan 255) The Qá'im is an indirect reference to the Return of Jesus Christ, which the Muslims expect (literally "He who shall arise" after Muhammad -- interpreted as "the Lord of the Age"). "What is that Word which the Qá'im will pronounce whereby the leaders of religion are put to flight?" (TB 258) "All that the Prophets have revealed are two letters thereof. No man thus far hath known more than these two letters. But when the Qá'im shall arise, He will cause the remaining twenty and five letters to be made manifest." (Iqan 243) Likewise: "Do men think when they say 'We believe' they shall be let alone and not be put to proof?" [Qur'án 29:2.]
Baha'u'llah has also written: "Know verily
that the purpose underlying all these symbolic terms and abstruse
allusions, which emanate from the Revealers of God's holy Cause, hath
been to test and prove the peoples of the world; that thereby the earth
of the pure and illuminated hearts may be known from the perishable and
barren soil. From time immemorial such hath been the way of God amidst
His creatures, and to this testify the records of the sacred
books." (The Book of Certitude, p. 49)
Who should we listen to?
Who has authority? (Deut.
18:18) Should we not wait until One can
prove that He speaks with this authority?
As one Christian leader said, “What we need today is someone who
speak with authority,” yet the Bible gives certain criteria for who can
with authority. The New Testament itself
prohibits anyone other than Christ from interpreting the hidden
meanings. Clearly, He alone has the
authority to unseal
the books at the time of His return. Has
the time now come? This is
He claims to have come with that authority: “That which ye were
Baha’u’llah’s teachings have “brought to light the hidden things of darkness...” (1st Corinthians 4:5) The hidden meanings are explained, with Divine authority. Remember, He could only accomplish this with the permission of God. (Deut. ), because of His great and unequivocal claim. Otherwise, according to Moses in Deuteronomy, God will cut him off and He would not be able to accomplish His designs. He has come to “speak plainly of the Father.” (John 16:25) Please remember also, that the Spirit of Christ was in the Prophets before Jesus (1 Peter -11). Why should it be so impossible to consider that the reality of the Christ, which is the Word of God, should reappear in the Prophet Baha’u’llah? The Bible warns the churches that the Christ would come with a “new name” which “no one would know except he that receiveth it.” (Revelation , ) The stone is Christ. (Romans 9:33, 1st Corinthians 10:4, 1st Peter 2:4, Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Acts 4:11, refer to Psalm 118:22-23 and Isaiah 28:16) The manna is to be “hidden”—again a reference to Christ. Manna is the “Bread of Life” (or WORD come down from Heaven)—a reference to Christ as the Word of God “come down from Heaven” in both the “first” and “second” comings (John ). “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2). “He had a name written, that no man knew, but He himself. …and His name is called The Word of God.” (Revelation 19:12-13)
Consider Jesus’s declaration “I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father except through Me.” It is an interpretation to say that "Jesus is the only way to salvation,” as Mr. Koukl states axiomatically. Another possible interpretation–which I believe may be more accurate–is to say that the “Word of God” is the only way to God. In other words, the only way we can know Him (or come to Him) is through His revelation—that is, by Him revealing Himself to us. This is who Jesus is—the point of God's revelation of Himself. Here are some sections from a Baha'i prayer, exemplifying this theme:
ALL praise be unto God Who was Ever-Existent ere created things were called into being, when there was no one else besides Him. He is the One Who hath been Ever-Abiding while no element of His creation did yet exist. Indeed the souls of them that are endued with understanding fail to comprehend the least manifestation of His attributes, and the minds of those who have acknowledged His unity are unable to perceive the most insignificant token of His omnipotence....
I have known Thee by Thy making known unto me that Thou art unknowable to anyone save Thyself. I have become apprised by the creation Thou hast fashioned out of sheer non-existence that the way to attain the comprehension of Thine Essence is barred to everyone. Thou art God, besides Whom there is none other God. No one except Thine Own Self can comprehend Thy nature. Thou art without peer or partner. From everlasting Thou hast been alone with no one else besides Thee and unto everlasting Thou wilt continue to be the same, while no created thing shall ever approach Thine exalted position.
All men, O my God, confess their powerlessness to know Thee as Thou knowest Thine Own Being; the generative impulse Thou hast released is manifest throughout the entire creation, and all created things which Thou hast fashioned are but expressions of Thy wondrous signs. Magnified be Thy name; Thou art immeasurably exalted above the strivings of anyone among Thy creatures to attain Thy recognition as is befitting and worthy of Thee....
Glory be unto Thee, Thou art exalted above the description of anyone save Thyself, since it is beyond human conception to befittingly magnify Thy virtues or to comprehend the inmost reality of Thine Essence. Far be it from Thy glory that Thy creatures should describe Thee or that any one besides Thyself should ever know Thee. I have known Thee, O my God, by reason of Thy making Thyself known unto me, for hadst Thou not revealed Thyself unto me, I would not have known Thee. I worship Thee by virtue of Thy summoning me unto Thee, for had it not been for Thy summons I would not have worshipped Thee...."
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 203)
Thus, Jesus reached out as WORD, calling us to
God. Likewise, Moses, by the “Spirit of Christ” within Him (1
was that Word in His day—the "way" in His day.
In other words, yes, it is true the Word is the “only” way, but
not exclusively manifested in Jesus.
That “Word” (His Divine Spirit) was before the foundation of the
world, and manifested at different times (see Micah 5:2 above). “Christ [Jesus]... Who verily was
foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in
times for you.” (1 Peter , also John 17:5 and ) Indeed, Baha'is believe
that "the Christ" (God's revelation of Himself) is the only way to
God. It behooveth thee to recognize His new name: (Revelation
Surely this blessed verse, "No one cometh unto the Father except through Me", does not mean that no one was able to come unto God through Moses in His day. Moses was the "way" to God, according to God's own method. It seems that many Christian leaders have misappropriated this teaching, just as the scribes and Pharisees misused Deuteronomy 4:2, thereby justifying putting Jesus to death. Yes, Jesus must surely have given this statement in John chapter 14, verse 6 for a good reason. God help us as we attempt to discern rightly (1 Corinthians 2:14 and Isaiah1:18): It seems to me that much in the same way I described in my opening of this letter there are those who wish to use this blessed verse to dominate or exclude others, as if God does not beckon all to Him. Is it accurate for a Christian leader to suggest that by his interpretation he has a "corner on the market" or covet membership in some exclusive club? This is what it sounds like to me, whereas my perception of Jesus' intention is different. It seems to me that He was attempting to protect His sheep—those who would follow someone in the wrong direction, away from God. In other words, he did not want them wandering astray by every false teaching—as there were many in His day. He did not want them to get lost, and was showing them the safe way to approach and find God. So the test is simple. Either one is led astray or one is not, and this determines whether you have encountered a false teaching. The test is not whether Baha'u'llah leads you closer to your previous interpretation of the truth, but whether He is capable of leading you closer to God. In this day, the true Christian will be able to know and recognize His Lord easily (John10:27), and cannot be deceived. What do you have to fear? "Fear God and God will guide you," the scripture says. Here is the test: Would a sincere Christian, strong in his faith in Christ, become lost or become closer to God by reading the Writings of Baha'u'llah? If these Writings are indeed the Words of God, then you have your answer already. However, if this you do not yet know, then the only logical way to know the answer would be to read the Writings of Baha'u'llah and see; but of course many will refuse to do this (based on some superstition)—despite the Bible's injunction or command to investigate every such claim. The first letter of John, chapter 4, verse 1 tells is to "test the spirits, whether they are of God." This very test is proof of the True One. If there were never to be a true Prophet (like Moses and Jesus) then the Bible would simply say you must reject anyone making this claim. Instead it says to test them. Therefore, if you merely discount and condemn, you do not follow the Bible. In other words, if you do not "test" them, you are not following the Bible. The True One can easily pass the test, for those who are sincere.
Again, that “Word” (His Divine Spirit) was before the foundation of the world, and manifested at different times (see Micah 5:2 above). “Christ [Jesus]... Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (1 Peter , also John 17:5 and )
Even the great 4th century Patriarch of the Christian Church, Augustine, agrees with this assessment—this same principle:
"This which we now call the Christian Religion existed among the ancients and was from the beginning of the human race until Christ Himself came in the flesh, from which time the already existing true religion began to be called Christianity.” –Saint Augustine
And again (more complete translation of the same point):
"The Christian religion, which to know and to follow is the most sure and certain health, called according to that name, but not according to the thing itself, of which it is the name, for the thing itself, which is now called the Christian religion, really was known to the ancients nor was wanting at any time from the beginning of the human race, until the time when Christ came in the flesh; from whence the true religion, which had previously existed, began to be called Christian; and this in our days is the Christian religion, not as having been wanting in former times, but as having in later times received this name." (Opera Augustini, vol. i. p. 12, quoted in Taylor's Diegesis, p. 42).
This is no small thing. Augustine remains one of the greatest thinkers in the church, does he not? As another Christian theologian said: "Let us therefore not attach too much importance to mere names and labels. The important thing is to look beyond externals and ascertain just what are the fundamentals of religion." Perhaps only one question remains: "What hath God wrought?" (Samuel Morse sent his message as the first transcontinental telegram message on the very day the Baha'i Faith began in 1844.) Whether too soon or too late, Baha'u'llah has come. How shall you judge Him? He is either Who He says He is or He is not? And if He is not, then you would fairly have to classify Him. How? The good tree bears good fruit (Matthew 7:16). Will you call Him the devil? (Luke11:18) If this not be from God, who can make such a claim? Can you not consider that God has spoken again to humanity, or that He would never want to? How could He leave us without guidance in a time like this? How could He chose not to remake the world? Is this not His promise of a "new heaven" and a "new earth"? (Consider that this new age is part of that -- with His influence permeating all things -- while simultaneously we must still undergo the destruction of the old, wornout institutions, etc. See subjective and objective faith. and "The Promised Day is Come".) Would not a little humility dictate some fear of making the wrong interpretation with respect to our expectation for His "return"? After all, there is some precedent for error, since it is not easy for humans to completely submit to God and become a channel of divine inspiration 100% of the time: (Matthew 23:13)
As I mentioned earlier, I have explored this idea of "progressive revelation" more fully on my website at http://www.homestead.com/watsongregory/files/station.htm#manifestation and
http://watsongregory.homestead.com/files/AtonementRedemption.htm and http://gw.homestead.com/ And I would particularly draw your attention to this page: http://www.homestead.com/watsongregory/files/baha.htm
“The door of the knowledge of the Ancient Being hath ever been, and will continue for ever to be, closed in the face of men. No man's understanding shall ever gain access unto His holy court. As a token of His mercy, however, and as a proof of His loving-kindness, He hath manifested unto men the Day Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them hath recognized God. Whoso hearkeneth to their call, hath hearkened to the Voice of God, and whoso testifieth to the truth of their Revelation, hath testified to the truth of God Himself. Whoso turneth away from them, hath turned away from God, and whoso disbelieveth in them, hath disbelieved in God. Every one of them is the Way of God that connecteth this world with the realms above, and the Standard of His Truth unto every one in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. They are the Manifestations of God amidst men, the evidences of His Truth, and the signs of His glory.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 49)
As to his statements interpreting the other religions, who is likely to have the better interpretation, Mr. Koukl or Christ at the time of His Return? (I refer you again to 1st Corinthians 4:5) Mr. Koukl states that “Atman is Brahman and Brahman is Atman, this is ‘classic’ monistic Hinduism.” I think the monism he is referring to is the pantheistic idea that there is no transcendent Supreme Being--because God, supposedly (within that philosophy), is equally dispersed in everything. (Creation is a myth, because everything has always existed.) Monism is slightly different because of the hierarchical differentiations of interdependent "actual entities" (see A.N. Whitehead on monism--although a distinction can be made between  his concept that God as Creator "requires" a creation, and  the understanding that God is the eternal, changeless and transcendent Creator, always having a creation by definition). The word "classic" itself refers to what has become a “common” interpretation, which sustains Mr. Bowers point. Much of the Hindu interpretation itself has led to non-Hindu (non-scriptural) judgment of what the original texts mean. Baha'is state that God reveals Himself through His Prophets and Messengers, and that these various teachings cannot, therefore, be in contradiction.
"That the divers communions of the earth, and the manifold systems of religious belief, should never be allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men, is, in this Day, of the essence of the Faith of God and His Religion. These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated." (Baha'u'llah, ESW, p. 13)
The God of Hinduism is the same God as the Christian God—whether speaking of His immanence or indwellingness (Luke -21), or His transcendence. Here are a couple of actual teachings from the Hindu Scriptures that present the concept of the One Supreme God—the Transcendent Deity. Hindu teachings speak of God, “(Whom) it is possible to know well only from good scriptures, (Who is) comprehensively beyond all that is destructible and indestructible; (that) Nârâyana I worship always, who is flawless and of the nature of an uncountable number of good qualities.” God is “beyond the destructible;” He transcends nature. This is not pantheism or monism. Moreover, the teaching “asserts that the difference between the individual soul or jîva, and the Creator, or Îshvara, is eternal and real.” Again, this is clearly not pantheism. From the Bhagavad-Gita:
“My material world is eightfold, divided into earth, water, Fire, air, ether, mind, the faculty of meditation, and self-awareness. This is the lower nature. My higher nature is different. It is the very life that sustains the world. Do not forget that this is the source of all existence. I am the genesis and the end of the entire world. There is nothing higher than I am, O Conqueror of Wealth!”
"My Being--creating all, sustaining all--still dwells outside of all! ...So all things are in Me, but are not I."
These clearly are statements that rebuke any notion of pantheism. Moreover, today’s Hindu scholars are not unclear on this. Just go to the web and google in “Supreme Being Upanishads” (without quotes) and you will get plenty of evidence. There is no confusion between Brahman and Atman. I see no difference in the term “tat tvam asi” ("that are thou") in the Chandogya Upanishad and certain declarations in the Bible: Luke 17:21 (“kingdom of God is within you”), and 1st Corinthians 3:16 (“God dwelleth within you”).
Similarly, the Buddha speaks the voice of the Tathagata as Supreme and transcendent while describing our subjective encounter with this Supreme Being as indwellingness (Luke -21).
In the Dharma Sutras, a prayer is offered by Gutama Buddha to the Supreme Lord: "Adoration to Him Who creates self-consciousness, Who creates matter, Who gives gifts, Who destroys (sin)" (Gutama 26). The status of the Dharma is regarded variably by different traditions. Some regard it as an ultimate and transcendent truth which is utterly beyond worldly things, somewhat like the Christian logos. The term Buddha-Dharma merely refers to the fact that it was discovered by the Buddha, not created by him. (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma#The_teachings_of_the_Buddha )
See http://www.kheper.net/theoryofeverything/transcendent_in_comparative_religion.html for Professor Wilson's book on readings of comparative religion. (Prof. Wilson is not a Baha’i.) This chapter shows how the concept of the Transcendent Absolute or Godhead is found in both monistic and monotheistic beliefs. Again, these seeming paradoxes are part of His mystery.
“The Tathagata... is the essence which is the reality of matter, but He is not matter. He is the essence which is the reality of sensation, but He is not sensation. He is the essence which is the reality of intellect, but He is not intellect. He is the essence which is the reality of motivation, but He is not motivation. He is the essence which is the reality of consciousness, yet He is not consciousness. Like the element of space, He does not abide in any of the four elements. Transcending the scope of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind, He is not produced in the six sense media... He abides in ultimate reality, yet there is no relationship between it and Him. He is not produced from causes, nor does He depend on conditions. He is not without any characteristic, nor has He any characteristic. He has no single nature nor a diversity of natures. He is not a conception, not a mental construction, nor is He a non-conception. He is neither the other shore, nor this shore, nor that between. He is neither here, nor there, nor anywhere else....”
Mr. Koukl is also incorrect in saying that the followers of the different religions do not believe that these various systems of religious belief can be reconciled. Those who have come from these different backgrounds and accepted this possibility are called Baha’is. They have, in fact, reconciled them. As the second-most widespread religion in the world, and the most culturally diverse, (according to the 1982 World Christian Encyclopedia and the 1992 Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year) this is not insignificant. Actually, this is the primary purpose of the Baha’i revelation. As Jesus said: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
Mr. Koukl states that the scriptures are difficult to understand but then says Matthew 24 is very easy to interpret (violating again the Bible’s injunction not to be so sure about one’s own interpretation -- 1st Corinthians 4:5). Mr. Koukl states: “Jesus doesn’t see anyone coming after Himself.” Who, then, is the Spirit of Truth that Jesus promised would come? Who is the Comforter? (John 14:16-17 & ) Is this not the promise of “another?” From my limited understanding I explore this question he has raised at http://www.homestead.com/watsongregory/files/station.htm According to Baha’u’llah, the “coming of another” and His own Return mean one and the same thing.
"’I go away and come again unto you.’ And in another place He said: ‘I go and another will come, Who will tell you all that I have not told you, and will fulfill all that I have said.’ Both these sayings have but one meaning, were ye to ponder upon the Manifestations of the Unity of God with Divine insight.” (GL 21)
Notice that Jesus says “I” have more to tell you, when “He” comes. (John 16:12-13) The two are one. Remember the Spirit of Christ was in the Prophets BEFORE Jesus was ever born. (1 Peter -11) Why not after?
The Jews missed the “first coming” of Christ in
because He did not fulfill the scriptures in the way they expected. Are not the Christians at risk for doing the
same thing regarding His return? Many of
the prophesies are exactly the same as those
first coming. The stars shall fall, the
elements will be melted together, etc. Another meaning easily missed is in the prophesies of
both the first and
second coming -- stated almost identically: A
New Testament prophesy of His return states that “Every eye shall
see Him” (Revelation 1:7), but Luke, referring to Isaiah's prophesy
explains that everyone saw Him and
heard Him the first time (Luke 3:6):
all flesh shall see the salvation of God." Surely this cannot be taken literally, but
nonetheless holds an
essential truth. Luke is pointing out that Christ, Jesus,
fulfilled the Old Testament prophesy
quoted in Handel's Messiah: "And the flesh shall see it
together." (Isaiah 40:5) It seems to
me that the Old Testament and the
New Testament are both speaking of His impact on the world whenever He
appears. I have explored this more
fully on my
web site at
world responded to His call, and the world was transformed by His
message. Similarly, though conversely, Christ "came on the
clouds" the first time, and these clouds kept the Jews from recognizing
Him. The clouds are the vain imaginings and false interpretations
in the minds of those who refused to see Him.
Why should Christians be less apt to miss the true meaning of the “second coming” prophesies than the Jews were apt to miss the first? (At least eleven of the prophesies are the same. See same URL on “Mediator” as above.) Maybe the universal principle is that all of us are constantly under a spiritual test of honesty and sincerity, merely to see who is open to the unknown things of God. “He who listens to us is of God; he that does not listen to us is not of God.” (1 John 4:6) Additionally, in the same passage, God says to “test” those who claim to be a Prophet. Mr. Koukl states that Baha’u’llah cannot be a Prophet because of the warning to “beware of false prophets.” Mr. Koukl does not say we should test for the appearance of a true Prophet, as if we should simply discount—without examination—anyone who claims to bear a message direct from God. Mr. Koukl’s interpretation does not seem to take the complete injunction of 1st John 4:6. He is taking only part of this blessed verse to support his already foregone conclusion. As stated earlier, the fact that the Bible gives a test means we are required to apply it. Otherwise, no test would be given. The Bible would simply state that anyone claiming to be a Prophet is false. Actually, from a logical perspective the very idea of a “false” Prophet, implies the possibility of a true one, just as darkness is a proof of light. You cannot say that because you have darkness there is no light—EVER—anywhere. If there was no light you could not even speak of darkness since darkness is defined as the absence of light.
My understanding of “progressive revelation” is that a part of the difference in the world’s religions has to do with the increasing developmental capacity of the human species, over time, to know more about God (as God progressively reveals Himself down through history), while other obvious differences between the religions had to do with the exigencies of the age and cultures in which they appeared. Could it be that, now, the human race is reaching the stage of its maturity (with a kind of overarching international culture emerging)… so that if we were to think of religion as a spiral curriculum, which God has created for the human race, it would suggest its final consummation as the unity of the church (the “body of those who believe” in Him), which Christ prayed for in the blessed gospel of John, chapter 17? Could it be that this also would implies unity for the whole human race, consistent with the prophesy of Jesus that “others… not of this fold” must be brought into one fold? (John 10:16) What would keep any religion from accepting those that went before it, or even those that come after it? Could it be the apparent inconsistencies due to our interpretations? After all, Moses spoke of Christ and Christ referred to Moses. Despite the need for Jesus to abrogate certain social laws of Moses, He never spoke ill of Him or denied Him as the Revelator from God, yet we humans decide to emphasize the inconsistencies—most likely based on the non-“essential” social needs of the time— between these two Faiths. Who is the cause of this, God or man?
Of course hindsight is better than foresight. Christians have the advantage of recognizing Moses as the Revealer of the Word of God, while the Jews still have not recognized Jesus. Again, Moses is mentioned by Christ in the New Testament, but the Old Testament does not directly recognize Jesus. This illustrates one obvious difference between a religion and its successor: A subsequent revelation is more likely to recognize and acknowledge the former, while the former clings to the past. Jews and Christians are referenced with certain reverence and protections in the Qur'an and Islam. Baha'is are not. Likewise, although there are many references to Baha'u'llah's in both the Old and New Testament, His name is not directly referenced in the Bible (unless your Bible is written in Arabic). In contrast His sacred writings acknowledge the truth of the Revelations gone before Him and He even encouraged the peoples of the East to read the Bible. Christians should understand how the natural sequence of religious dispensations creates a veil. Christ was rejected by most Jews. However, the Jews have not systematically persecuted the Christians (while rejecting the claim of Christ) in the manner that the Muslims have systematically persecuted the Baha'is.
Nonetheless, in every age the same basic story repeats itself: Weighing the testimony of God by the standard of their own knowledge, gleaned from the teachings of the leaders of their faith, and finding it at variance with their limited understanding, believers in the earlier faith arise to perpetrate the most unseemly acts, such as crucifying the next messenger and killing His followers. Like all the Prophets, this has happened to Baha’u’llah, Who suffered for 40 years as a prisoner (till the end of His life), was chained, beaten, poisoned, etc. More than 20,000 of the followers of this Revelation have been killed purely for their religious faith. This suffering alone is testimony to God’s age-old method of sacrifice, atonement and redemption.
“The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty. He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness. This is of the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful. We have accepted to be abased, O believers in the Unity of God, that ye may be exalted, and have suffered manifold afflictions, that ye might prosper and flourish. He Who hath come to build anew the whole world, behold, how they that have joined partners with God have forced Him to dwell within the most desolate of cities!”
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 99)
“O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you. Then will the effulgence of the world's great Luminary envelop the whole earth, and its inhabitants become the citizens of one city, and the occupants of one and the same throne. This wronged One hath, ever since the early days of His life, cherished none other desire but this, and will continue to entertain no wish except this wish. There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you. This, verily, is the most exalted Word which the Mother Book hath sent down and revealed unto you. To this beareth witness the Tongue of Grandeur from His habitation of glory.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 217)
One of the most interesting things I discovered while investigating the life of Baha’u’llah and His teachings was that the Jews had some legitimate basis for missing Jesus, while it eventually should be easier for them to recognize Baha’u’llah. (It will not take 2000 years.) Every Christmas, believing that all the Messiah verses in Isaiah apply to Jesus, Christians sing “and the government shall rest upon His shoulder.” (Isaiah 9:6) Once I understood Baha’u’llah’s claim, I began to see that the prophesies concerning the Messiah in Isaiah could not apply to Jesus alone. “My kingdom is not of this world,” He said. (John 18:36, Matthew 22:21) We Christians sing that He was the “Prince of Peace,” but He said “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34, Luke 12:51-54) So the prophesies seem to apply to both Jesus and Baha’u’llah—to “Christ” (the Word) in both His “first” and “second” coming. In other words, it takes both appearances to completely fulfill the verse. This is my personal understanding.
Here are just a few of the allusions (explained more fully on my web site) to this fulfillment:
“Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System -- the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.”
“…The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.”
“My object is none other than the betterment of the world and the tranquility of its peoples. The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. This unity can never be achieved so long as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded.” (“Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah,” p. 118 and 286)
In the mid 1800s, Baha’u’llah’s Pen has written to the kings of Christendom:
The river Jordan is joined to the Most Great Ocean, and the Son, in the holy vale, crieth out: 'Here am I, here am I O Lord, my God!', whilst Sinai circleth round the House, and the Burning Bush calleth aloud: 'He Who is the Desired One is come in His transcendent majesty.' Say, Lo! The Father is come, and that which ye were promised in the Kingdom is fulfilled! This is the Word which the Son concealed, when to those around Him He said: 'Ye cannot bear it now.' And when the appointed time was fulfilled and the Hour had struck, the Word shone forth above the horizon of the Will of God. Beware, O followers of the Son, that ye cast it not behind your backs. Take ye fast hold of it. Better is this for you than all that ye possess. Verily He is nigh unto them that do good. The Hour which We had concealed from the knowledge of the peoples of the earth and of the favoured angels hath come to pass. Say, verily, He hath testified of Me, and I do testify of Him. Indeed, He hath purposed no one other than
Though beset with countless afflictions, We summon the people unto God, the Lord of names. Say, strive ye to attain that which ye have been promised in the Books of God, and walk not in the way of the ignorant. My body hath endured imprisonment that ye may be released from the bondage of self. Set your faces then towards His countenance and follow not the footsteps of every hostile oppressor. Verily, He hath consented to be sorely abased that ye may attain unto glory, and yet, ye are disporting yourselves in the vale of heedlessness. He, in truth, liveth in the most desolate of abodes for your sakes, whilst ye dwell in your palaces.” (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 11)
His language was just as strong to the layman— the everyday Christian believer:
Say, O followers of the Son![ Jesus] Have ye shut out yourselves from Me by reason of My Name? Wherefore ponder ye not in your hearts? Day and night ye have been calling upon your Lord, the Omnipotent, but when He came from the heaven of eternity in His great glory, ye turned aside from Him and remained sunk in heedlessness.
Consider those who rejected the Spirit [Jesus] when He came unto them with manifest dominion. How numerous the Pharisees who had secluded themselves in synagogues in His name, lamenting over their separation from Him, and yet when the portals of reunion were flung open and the divine Luminary shone resplendent from the Dayspring of Beauty, they disbelieved in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. They failed to attain His presence, notwithstanding that His advent had been promised them in the Book of Isaiah as well as in the Books of the Prophets and the Messengers. No one from among them turned his face towards the Dayspring of divine bounty except such as were destitute of any power amongst men. And yet, today, every man endowed with power and invested with sovereignty prideth himself on His Name. Moreover, call thou to mind the one who sentenced Jesus to death. He was the most learned of his age in his own country, whilst he who was only a fisherman believed in Him. Take good heed and be of them that observe the warning.” (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 9)
The proofs of Baha’u’llah
same as those for Christ Jesus. Let me
end now with this thought. Among the
foremost opposers of Christ in His day
clergy. Intending to accuse Him of being
a clever and intelligent deceiver, they called Him "Beelzebub," the
chief of devils. His answer was simple:
"Every kingdom divided against itself is
to desolation; and a house divided against itself is a house that falleth. If Satan
also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? ... If by
cast out devils... then by whom do your sons cast them out? ... But if I with the finger of God cast out
devils, no doubt the
"Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 'Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.'" (Holy Bible, Acts 13:40 )
As to His own test of a true Prophet, Jesus said, “ye shall know them by their fruits.”
“It behoveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 10)
The world needs unity. We can choose to be either uniters or dividers. Christ isn’t coming on the clouds to save us. He already has. And of course this transcendent Holy Spirit continues to work in the affairs of mankind, mysteriously behind the scenes. Ours is the duty, now, to take His revealed remedy and apply it to the sick body of humanity—this sick world.
“…for the leading of the peoples into the Promised Land, for the spiritualizing of mankind, for the attainment of the Most Great Peace the world awaits the arising of those whom the King of Kings has summoned to the task—the Christians and the Churches of the West.” (Introduction to “God Passes By,” p. x.)
There is only one Christ: Always was… always will be… whatever His name (Revelation ). The problem today for Muslims and Christians is how to reconcile these two religions. They have tried for almost 1500 years without success. The Christian will not concede to the Muslim interpretation of the world, and the Muslim will not "go backwards," as they believe becoming a Christian (converting to Christianity) would be for them. There is only one hope for this reconciliation: the possibility of recognizing their "Best Beloved" in His new attire: Those Muslims and Christians who have recognized Him are now called Baha'is. Even for those who do not recognize Baha'u'llah as the Promised One of all religions, the possibility of some reconciliation exists. How strange it seems, for many people, to find the world headquarters of a religion born in Persia (today Iran) located in Israel and promoted by the Jews as the "eighth wonder of the world." You may wish to see the web site created by the Haifa City Tourists Board, not only illustrating the beauty of the World Center, but also explaining some history about how a religion, the Baha'i Faith, that originated in a Muslim country came to have its world center in the Jewish heartland—reconciling conflicting creeds because of its belief in the essential unity of all religions.
I will close now with these words of Baha'u'llah: (For the people of understanding "a dew-drop" from His "Limitless Ocean" should suffice.)
"O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. This can best be achieved through pure and holy deeds, through a virtuous life and a goodly behavior. Valiant acts will ensure the triumph of this Cause, and a saintly character will reinforce its power. Cleave unto righteousness, O people of Baha! This, verily, is the commandment which this wronged One hath given unto you, and the first choice of His unrestrained Will for every one of you.
O friends! It behoveth you to refresh and revive your souls through the gracious favors which in this Divine, this soul-stirring Springtime are being showered upon you. The Day Star of His great glory hath shed its radiance upon you, and the clouds of His limitless grace have overshadowed you. How high the reward of him that hath not deprived himself of so great a bounty, nor failed to recognize the beauty of his Best-Beloved in this, His new attire. Watch over yourselves, for the Evil One is lying in wait, ready to entrap you. Gird yourselves against his wicked devices, and, led by the light of the name of the All-Seeing God, make your escape from the darkness that surroundeth you. Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self. The Evil One is he that hindereth the rise and obstructeth the spiritual progress of the children of men.
It is incumbent upon every man, in this Day, to hold fast unto whatsoever will promote the interests, and exalt the station, of all nations and just governments. Through each and every one of the verses which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed, the doors of love and unity have been unlocked and flung open to the face of men. We have erewhile declared—and Our Word is the truth — : 'Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.' Whatsoever hath led the children of men to shun one another, and hath caused dissensions and divisions amongst them, hath, through the revelation of these words, been nullified and abolished. From the heaven of God's Will, and for the purpose of ennobling the world of being and of elevating the minds and souls of men, hath been sent down that which is the most effective instrument for the education of the whole human race. The highest essence and most perfect expression of whatsoever the peoples of old have either said or written hath, through this most potent Revelation, been sent down from the heaven of the Will of the All-Possessing, the Ever-Abiding God." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 94)
" . . the Promised One of all the world's peoples hath now been made manifest. For each and every people, and every religion, await a Promised One, and Baha'u'llah is that One Who is awaited by all; and therefore the Cause of Baha'u'llah will bring about the oneness of mankind, and the tabernacle of unity will be upraised on the heights of the world, and the banners of the universality of all humankind will be unfurled on the peaks of the earth." (SWB 101)
Please remember that it is human nature (the lower aspect of human nature) to take the following positions:
“You have to be wrong for me to be right.”
“You have to be weak for me to be strong…”
“You have to be worse for me to be better…”
“You have to be subordinate for me to be generous…”
“You have to lose in order for me to win.” (the zero-sum game)
“My view of the world is the only valid way to view the world.”
Why should this be so? This is fueling the war between the religions, is it not, threatening all civilization with wars and terror? Is this the will of God or the will of man? What harm is there in each accepting the others?
I hope to hear from you soon.
Some Old Testament prophecies for the “First” Coming of Christ were the same as the New Testament prophecies of the “Second” Coming of Christ. Sometimes this means that the prophesies could not be fulfilled completely in the First Coming and needed to be completed at the time of His return. For example, in the Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesies for the Messiah , Jesus declined to fulfill some. He said He did not come to bring peace (Matthew , Luke -54), and the “government did not rest upon His shoulder.” (John 18:36, Matthew 22:21). Not until He came with His “new name” did He begin to fulfill these, through laying a great foundation.
First: The rolling up of the heavens. Isaiah 34:4.
“…the heavens shall pass away with a great noise” (2 Peter )
Second: The sun shall be darkened. Joel & 31.
Third: The moon shall not give its light. Joel and Isaiah .
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light…” (Mark and Matthew 24:29)
Fourth: The stars shall fall from heaven Joel 3:15 and Daniel 8:10.
“And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Mark and Matthew 24:29-30)
Fifth: The dead shall arise from their tombs: Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2.
Luke 20:35, Luke
20:37, Acts 24:15,
1 Corinthians 15:21 & 42, Romans 6:5, Revelation 20:6, Hebrews 6:2,
animals will make peace with grazing animals. (Isaiah
11:6) [Please see note at the very bottom
Seventh: They will share the same pasture and food. (Isaiah 11:6)
Eighth: The children will play with poisonous serpents. (Isaiah 11:8)
Ninth: The people of
The Jews held these last to be the
prophesies of the Messiah, while the Christians generally accept
prophesies as pertaining to the time of the Return. (Matthew 24. “times of the
gentiles fulfilled.”) Consider, however, that the last prophesies above
literally been fulfilled since the coming of Baha’u’llah,
BEFORE the time of those Christians still awaiting Christ’s return. George Townshend,
former Canon of St. Patrick's Cathedral,
Both the Old and New Testament Prophesies confirm
of the Return of Christ: This
confirmation is given in the Book of Revelation, chapter eleven: "And
Tenth: All the peoples of the earth shall hear the Messiah’s Voice.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” (John 5:25)
“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
(John 10:16. Also, Revelation 3:20).
Eleventh: All eyes shall see Him: “And the flesh shall see it together.” (Isaiah 40:5 & Luke 3:3-5)
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” (Revelation 1:7)
Twelve: The earth would be destroyed. (eschatology: the end of the world )
“Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty…Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” (Isaiah 13:6-9)
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)
Thirteen: Thief in the night. (Matthew: 24:43, 1st Thessalonians 5:2, 2nd Peter 3:10)
The Christian is commanded to “watch… for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:42) I would think this command should give some Christians pause to consider being open-minded and unbiased, even when they approach things from a strong Christian perspective. After all, God tested the Jews with the coming of Christ Jesus—because of the way they expected His coming. He came like a “thief in the night.” The owner of the house was asleep and did not know that He had come and gone. Today the same thing has happened again.
We verily," Baha’u’llah Himself has testified, "have not fallen short of Our duty to exhort men, and to deliver that whereunto I was bidden by God, the Almighty, the All-Praised. Had they hearkened unto Me, they would have beheld the earth another earth." And again: "Is there any excuse left for anyone in this Revelation? No, by God, the Lord of the Mighty Throne! My signs have encompassed the earth, and My power enveloped all mankind, and yet the people are wrapped in a strange sleep!" (The Promised Day is Come, p. 6)
“In the Bible there are prophecies of the coming of Christ. The Jews still await the coming of the Messiah, and pray to God day and night to hasten His advent.
When Christ came they denounced and slew Him, saying: 'This is not the One for whom we wait. Behold when the Messiah shall come, signs and wonders shall testify that He is in truth the Christ. We know the signs and conditions, and they have not appeared. The Messiah will arise out of an unknown city. He shall sit upon the throne of David, and behold, He shall come with a sword of steel, and with a sceptre of iron shall He rule! He shall fulfill the law of the Prophets, He shall conquer the East and the West, and shall glorify His chosen people the Jews. He shall bring with Him a reign of peace, during which even the animals shall cease to be at enmity with man. For behold the wolf and the lamb shall drink from the same spring, and the lion and the doe shall lie down in the same pasture, the serpent and the mouse shall share the same nest, and all God's creatures shall be at rest'.
According to the Jews, Jesus the Christ fulfilled none of these conditions, for their eyes were holden and they could not see.
Thus the Jews thought and spoke, for they did not understand the Scriptures nor the glorious truths that were contained in them. The letter they knew by heart, but of the life-giving spirit they understood not a word.
and I will show you the meaning thereof. Although He came from
Thus, all the spiritual prophecies concerning the coming of Christ were fulfilled, but the Jews shut their eyes that they should not see, and their ears that they should not hear, and the Divine Reality of Christ passed through their midst unheard, unloved and unrecognized.
It is easy to read the Holy Scriptures, but it is only with a clean heart and a pure mind that one may understand their true meaning. Let us ask God's help to enable us to understand the Holy Books. Let us pray for eyes to see and ears to hear, and for hearts that long for peace.
God's eternal Mercy is immeasurable. He has always chosen certain souls upon whom He has shed the Divine Bounty of His heart, whose minds He has illumined with celestial light, to whom He has revealed the sacred mysteries, and kept clear before their sight the Mirror of Truth. These are the disciples of God, and His goodness has no bounds. You who are servants of the Most High may be disciples also. The treasuries of God are limitless.
breathing through the Holy Scriptures is food for all who hunger. God Who has given the revelation to His Prophets will
give of His abundance daily bread to all those who ask Him faithfully.” (Abdu'l-Baha,
Talks, p. 54)