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Abstract:
Judaic teachings on religious inclusivism and relativism, and the Baha'i acceptance of Judaism.
Notes:
Posted by author at scribd.com. Proofread and reformatted for posting here.

One Father, Many Children:
Judaism and the Bahá'í Faith

by Burl Barer

2010
According to Jewish teaching, God has provided guidance to others besides Israel. "The Father of all mankind has made Himself known to more than one single group of His children," affirms Jakob Petuchowski, Professor of Rabbinics and Jewish Theology at Hebrew Union College. "There is, therefor, no reason for assuming that truth is limited to Judaism. God may have chosen other experiences to reveal Himself to Moslems and Buddhists. My concept of the Messianic future includes the prospect of a united mankind, proclaiming that the 'the Lord is One, and His name is One'." Any claim of finality for revelation contradicts both Jewish and Baha’i teachings.
"How can the hand of Him Who is the King in truth, Who caused the countenance of Moses to be made manifest, and conferred upon Him the robe of Prophethood — how can the hand of such a One be chained and fettered? How can He be conceived as powerless to raise up yet another Messenger after Moses?"
    (Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude)
Continuing and progressive revelation is confirmed by Moses in Deut. 18:15: "The Lord will raise up unto Thee a Prophet from the midst of Thee, of Thy brethren, like unto me."

"This concept [revelation] and its concomitant demands vary from age to age," wrote Maurice N. Eisendrath, President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. "As our rabbis long ago pointed out, realization and revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob differed (since each came to God through his own experience) and advanced (since each added something new)." Rabbi Bernard J. Bamberger of Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City once stated, "I cannot believe that He (God) has revealed Himself only in Israel." Conservative Rabbi Hershel J. Matt wrote: "If non-Jews in any place or at any time; prior to the Torah, or subsequent to but uninfluenced by the Torah, are found in fact to have enunciated the same truth concerning God and man as found in the Torah (or some part or measure of that same truth), then their religion and ethics are to that extent also true." On this same theme, Jacob Neusner, Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Dartmouth College, stated: "All religions which teach that one God made the world, cares for what happens in it, and directs human affairs towards His providential goals are true religions." Such inclusive and accepting religious tolerance can only exist permanently under two situations: pantheism or universal monotheism. In the first, there is always room for another deity in the pantheon. Judaism and Baha’i, being strictly monotheistic, are not favorably disposed towards pantheism. In universal monotheism, the world’s diverse religious systems are viewed with the eye of oneness, each seen as a parallel and complimentary path to the One Living God. Judaism and Baha’i each enshrine and proclaim this universal, unific view.

For from the rising of the sun even unto its setting.
My name is great among the nations;
And in every place offerings are presented unto My name,
Even pure oblations;
For My name is great among the nations,
Saith the Lord of hosts
    (Malachi 1:11)
Have we not all one father? Hath not One God created us all?
    (Malachi 2:10)
"It is clear and evident that all people, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly source, were created through the operation of one will, and are the subjects of one God."
    (Abdul-Baha)
As Malachi reminds us, and Abdul-Baha affirms, the Torah establishes the foremost principle that all men are descended from one father. All are brothers in Adam and sons of Noah, preserver of the world. The ideal of religious tolerance within Judaism underwent elaborate and fruitful development in the doctrine of the Noachide Laws, first found in the Apocryphal Book of Jubilees, in which the author could not conceive of untold generations before Moses living without a Divine Revelation. Noah is described (7:20) as proclaiming a code of conduct binding upon all men: prohibition of idolatry, adultery, murder, theft, blasphemy, cruelty to animals, and instructions to establish a government based on law and order.

"The founder of Christianity did the heathen a great good deed by removing idolatry from them," wrote R. Jacob Emden in 1757, "subjecting them to the seven Noachite laws, and thus giving them a moral doctrine." "Whoever professes to obey the seven Noachite laws and strives to keep them," wrote Maimonides in Mishna Torah IV, "is classed with the devout among the Gentiles, and has a share in the world to come." Every individual who keeps the laws of Noah is set on a par with the Jews, and this is affirmed three times in the Talmud: "The pagan who concerns himself with the teachings of God is like to the High Priest." Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism, for example, are widely acknowledged by Judaism as monotheistic sister religions, part of God’s progressive plan for humanity, whose followers are not considered heretics (minim). "Among the gentiles there are no heretics," says the Talmud (Hullin 13b), and non-Jewish monotheistic worship is clearly viewed as distinct from idolatry.

An early example of profitable interaction between monotheistic religious systems is the two hundred year contact of Persians and Jews (538-331 BCE). During most, if not all, of that time, the faith of the Persians was Zoroastrian. Rabbi Hillel termed Zarathustra (Zoroaster), the Prophet-Founder of Zoroastrianism, "The Arabian Moses," and C. F. Kent, author of The Jewish People, noted the lasting influence of Zoroastrians upon Judaism thusly: "Germs which lay hidden in Judaism were fertilized by contact with the Persian religion." King Cyrus of Persia, considered by many experts to be Zoroastrian, is praised by Isaiah as "the righteous one, the Shepherd of the Lord, the anointed of God." "To this foreign contact, therefore, we probably are indebted for some of the loftiest and most spiritual conceptions which came into Judaism," notes George William Carter in Zoroastrianism and Judaism, "The very fact that so many Persians became Jews (Esther VIII:17) would favor the development or adoption of beliefs already latent within Judaism."

"Irania and Israel seem thus to have provided pockets for the treasures of the Most High," comments Charles Shaw of New York University, "If the word of the Lord came to the high seers of Israel, it did not fail to pass by and swoop down over the head of Irania’s chosen one, who like Cyrus seems to have been a step-son of the Almighty." Despite obvious theological differences regarding messiahship and prophethood, Jews of the Middle Ages also recognized the monotheistic validity of Christianity and Islam. Maimonides states: "The Christians believe and confess as we do, that the Bible is of divine origin and was revealed to our teacher Moses; only in interpretation of scripture do they differ. You should know that God demands the heart, that matters are to be judged according to the intent of the heart. There is, therefore, no doubt that everyone (from among the Gentiles) who brings his soul to perfection through virtues and wisdom in the knowledge of God has a share in eternal blessedness."

The Midrash, on the same topic, says: "The Holy One (blessed be He) declares no creature unworthy, but receives them all. Every moment the gates are open, and whoever seeks to gain entrance, gains entrance. And thus he says (Isa. 26:2): `Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation [goy saddik] that keepeth faithfulness may enter in.’ It is not said that priests shall come, that Levites shall come, that Israelites shall come; but it is said that a goy saddik shall come." Dr. Robert Gordis, author of Judaism for the Modern Age, asserted, "It is not required that all men adopt the Jewish Talith for worship, or the Mohammedan praying rug, or the Roman Catholic rosary. What is fundamental is the goal — the generating of a mood of reverence for the Creator of the universe and an attitude of responsibility toward all His children." This doctrine, buttressed by the concept of Noachide Law, represents in essence a theory of universal religion which is binding upon all humanity — a religion based on good action rather than on right belief, ethical living rather than credal adherence.

"I call heaven and earth to witness, that whether one be Gentile or Jew, man or woman, slave or freeman, the divine spirit rests on each in accordance with his deeds."
    (Yalkut Shimeoni on Judges, section 42)
The most trustworthy source concerning the realistic day-to-day attitude of Judaism toward other religions is Jewish legal literature because polemic publications might be suspect as having been written for Gentile eyes. Legal literature, especially legal commentaries, are almost never seen except by Jewish scholars. This is important because anti-Semites use Jewish legal tradition in attempts to establish a pattern of official hostility to Christianity, asserting that Jews are commanded to cheat and destroy Christians. In reality, the ancient repressive laws were directed against idolaters. Rabbi Moes Ribkas (1640) states expressly, "Everything which the Talmud says about the goyim refers to the previous nations, who were idolaters. But the nations in whose midst we live hold to many of the major tenets of our religion. They worship the creator of heaven and earth. It is our duty to pray for their authorities..." Jewish law quickly indicated that Moslems and Christians were not idolaters and these older laws did not apply to them. Rabbenu Tam, the great French authority of the 12th Century says referring to Christians swearing by their saints in business oaths, "This is not to be deemed idolatry, for they intend their oaths to be in the name of Him who created heaven and earth." A still later authority, Israel Lifshuetz of Danzig (18th and 19th Centuries) says in his commentary to Mishna Baba Kama (chapter 4, note 17), "Our brethren the Gentiles, who acknowledge the One God and revere His law which they deem divine and call it `Holy Writ’ observe as is required of them the seven commandments of Noah."

All of these citations are in small printed commentaries unseen by the vast majority of Gentiles, and represent not a "public-relations" viewpoint, but the precise opinion of Jewish law that Gentile monotheistic faiths are also under a Divine Covenant — The Jews under the Covenant of Sinai, others under the Covenant of Noah. This, as more than one wry commentator has noted, is a handy method of provisional acceptance without endorsing any theological components of Christianity, Islam, or other world faiths beyond the seven Noachide laws. Yet, for many Jews today, promulgation of awareness of this universal, binding standard erects a firm foundation upon which unity and cooperation between all people of all Faiths can be built. As all humanity is under the Covenant of Noah, no one is left out of God’s great universal plan.

As for ascribing a specific divine mission to other monotheistic faiths, Judaic literature is adamant on the preservation of Israel’s unique relationship with God while being carefully circumspect regarding the possible role of Christianity and Islam in the divine plan. When asked if Jews could ever accept Jesus, Rabbi Raphael Levine responded in words such as these: "It depends on what you want us to accept. If you want us to acknowledge that Jesus affirmed Judaism, that His words were inspired by God, even if you ask us to accept that he was a messenger of God equal in servitude to the earlier Prophets of Israel and that Jesus was instrumental in bringing knowledge of the Torah to the farthest ends of the earth, with this we would have little problem, for it is said that `Every generation has a Moses.’ But when you exalt Jesus above all others, claim for him uniqueness and finality, saying that there was never one like him before and there will never be one like him again, this we cannot accept for it is a direct affront to the prophetic tradition of Judaism and denies the Oneness of God."

A contemporary of Rabbi Levine, German theologian H. J. Schoeps who lost his family in the Holocaust, asserts: "The absolute in religious history is this one unchangeable God, who has revealed his truth in diverse ways. But the truth is one truth, although the modes of participation in the truth differ." Maimonides, while decrying the falsity of non-Judaic Christian doctrines, admitted without reluctance that he could not fathom the world-embracing plan of the Almighty God, and conceded the undeniable role of Christianity and Islam in bringing monotheism and knowledge of the Torah to the generality of mankind.

"All these matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the Ishmaelite [Mohammad] who came after him, only served to clear the way for King Messiah, to prepare the whole world to worship God with one accord. Thus the messianic hope, the Torah, and the commandments have become familiar topics [among non-Jews]."
Addressing this issue in his talk to the congregation of San Francisco’s Temple Emmanu-El, Abdul-Baha said:
"When He [Jesus] arose among the Jews, the first thing He did was to proclaim the validity of the Manifestation of Moses. He declared that the Torah was the Book of God and that all the prophets of Israel were valid and true. He extolled the mission of Moses, and through His proclamation the name of Moses was spread throughout the world. Through Christianity the greatness of Moses became known among all nations. It is a fact that before the appearance of Christ, the name of Moses had not been heard in Persia. In India they had no knowledge of Judaism, and it was only through the Christianizing of Europe that the teachings of the Torah became spread in that region. Throughout Europe there was not a copy of the Torah. But consider this carefully and judge it aright: Through the instrumentality of Christ, through the translation of the little volume of the Gospel, the Torah has been translated into six hundred languages and spread everywhere in the world. The names of the Hebrew prophets became household words among the nations, who believed that the children of Israel were, verily, the chosen people of God, a holy nation under the especial blessing and protection of God, and that, therefore, the prophets who had arisen in Israel were the daysprings of revelation and brilliant stars in the heaven of the will of God."

"Therefore, Christ really promulgated Judaism; for he was a Jew and not opposed to the Jews. He did not deny the Prophethood of Moses; on the contrary, He proclaimed and ratified it. He did not invalidate the Torah; He spread its teachings."

After affirming the essential Judaism of Jesus, he then addressed the teachings of Muhammad.
"From another horizon we see Muhammad, the Prophet of Arabia, appearing. You may not know that the first address of Muhammad to His tribe was the statement, "Verily, Moses was a Prophet of God, and the Torah is a Book of God. Verily, O ye people, ye must believe in the Torah, in Moses and the prophets. Ye must accept all the prophets of Israel as valid." In the Qur'an, the Muslim Bible, there are seven statements or repetitions of the Mosaic narrative, and in all the historic accounts Moses is praised. Muhammad announces that Moses was the greatest Prophet of God, that God guided Him in the wilderness of Sinai, that through the light of guidance Moses hearkened to the summons of God, that He was the Interlocutor of God and the bearer of the tablet of the Ten Commandments, that all the contemporary nations of the world arose against Him and that eventually Moses conquered them, for falsehood and error are ever overcome by truth. There are many other instances of Muhammad's confirmation of Moses. I am mentioning but a few. Consider that Muhammad was born among the savage and barbarous tribes of Arabia, lived among them and was outwardly illiterate and uninformed of the Holy Books of God. The Arabian people were in the utmost ignorance and barbarism. They buried their infant daughters alive, considering this to be an evidence of a valorous and lofty nature. They lived in bondage and serfdom under the Persian and Roman governments and were scattered throughout the desert, engaged in continual strife and bloodshed. When the light of Muhammad dawned, the darkness of ignorance was dispelled from the deserts of Arabia. In a short period of time those barbarous peoples attained a superlative degree of civilization which, with Baghdad as its center, extended as far westward as Spain and afterward influenced the greater part of Europe. What proof of Prophethood could be greater than this, unless we close our eyes to justice and remain obstinately opposed to reason? Today the Christians are believers in Moses, accept Him as a Prophet of God and praise Him most highly. The Muslims are, likewise, believers in Moses, accept the validity of His Prophethood, at the same time believing in Christ. Could it be said that the acceptance of Moses by the Christians and Muslims has been harmful and detrimental to those people? On the contrary, it has been beneficial to them, proving that they have been fair-minded and just."
Abdul-Baha called on his audience to simply respond in kind, acknowledge Jesus as Prophet to the Christians and Mohammad as Messenger to Moslems. This call to reciprocal recognition of humanity’s diverse religious luminaries has been raised repeatedly within Judaism since the Middle Ages. Many Jews, then and now, are perfectly willing to grant belief to the Christian or Moslem witness that a new revelation has taken place outside the covenant with Israel. Such a revelation is perceived as the proclamation of salvation for all Gentile mankind, which, in spite of the Noachide laws, is not directly considered in the Torah.

"The recognition of other covenants outside of Israel (the Covenant of Christ, and, in principle, that of Mohammad) even fills a gap in Jewish knowledge," wrote Hans Joachim Schoeps, "according to Jewish belief, not only Israel but all mankind belongs to God, and is called on the path to God." He further states, "Judaism confesses a universal God and a universal will of God as well as a universal goal of man; but it cannot go its way through history as a missionary religion — on account of the covenant between the One God and the One People, to which will be added at the end of time, One Mankind." This postulate of genuine recognition takes in good faith the faith of someone else. "What Christ and his Church mean with the world — on this point we are agreed," stated 19th Century Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig, "No one comes to the Father except through him. No one comes to the Father — but the situation is different when one need no longer come to the Father because he is already with him. That is the case with the nation of Israel."

Moses Mendelssohn (1829-1786), considered the first intellectually emancipated Jew of the 18th Century, wrote: "Since the creator intended all men for eternal bliss, an exclusive religion cannot be a true one. I venture to state this as a criterion for truth in religious matters. No revelation purporting to be alone capable of saving man can be the true revelation, for it does not harmonize with the purposes of the all-merciful creator." A revelation valid for only part of mankind, asserted Mendelssohn, can only be particularistic; whereas the All-Wise cannot allow the balance of mankind to remain bereft of revelation. "All inhabitants of the earth are called to blessedness, and the means to this end are as widespread as mankind itself."

Judaism’s universality and its refusal to grant exclusivity to any revelation, including its own, was declared with consummate brilliance by Martin Buber in 1933 when questioned by evangelical theologian Karl Ludwig Schmidt regarding the assertion of absolute validity and exclusivity of the Christian revelation.

"We understand the Christology of Christianity throughout as an important event which has taken place between the world above and the world below. We see Christianity as something the mystery of whose coming into the world we are unable to penetrate....for us, the redemption of the world is indissolubly one with the perfecting of creation, with the establishment of a unity no longer limited in any respect, no longer suffering contradiction, realized in all the multiplicity of the world, one with the fulfilled kingdom of God. We cannot define God under any aspect of His revelation. That statement from the Burning Bush: `I shall be present as he, as whom I shall be present’ (i.e., as whom I shall be present at any given time), makes it impossible for us to take anything unique as the ultimate revelation of God. Not as though we could say anything of God’s ability to reveal himself or not, as he may choose; I say only that we are unable to draw any absolute conclusions from all the revelations which we know. We do not say that God cannot reveal himself in this manner. We only say that we cannot ascribe finality to any one of his revelations, nor to anyone the character of Incarnation. Unconditionally, that futuristic word of the Lord points to the beyond at every moment of passing time; God transcends absolutely all of his manifestations."
Authoritative Baha’i commentary by Shoghi Effendi presages Buber’s response, and resonates in agreement.
"Repudiating the claim of any religion to be the final revelation of God to man, disclaiming finality for His own Revelation, Bahá'u'lláh inculcates the basic principle of the relativity of religious truth, the continuity of Divine Revelation, the progressiveness of religious experience."
"Know thou of a certainty that the Unseen can in no wise incarnate His Essence and reveal it unto men," confirms Baha’u’llah, "He is, and hath ever been, immensely exalted beyond all that can either be recounted or perceived."
"To every discerning and illuminated heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is, and hath every been, veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men. No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision; He is the Subtle, the All-Perceiving. The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the face of all beings, the Source of infinite grace, according to His saying, `His grace hath transcended all things; My grace hath encompassed them all,’ hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being, and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence. These sanctified Mirrors, these Day Springs of ancient glory, are, one and all, the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless glory. They are the Treasuries of Divine knowledge, and the Repositories of celestial wisdom. Through them is transmitted a grace that is infinite, and by them is revealed the Light that can never fade. These Tabernacles of Holiness, these Primal Mirrors which reflect the light of unfading glory, are but expressions of Him Who is the Invisible of the Invisibles. By the revelation of these Gems of Divine virtue all the names and attributes of God, such as knowledge and power, sovereignty and dominion, mercy and wisdom, glory, bounty, and grace, are made manifest. These attributes of God are not, and have never been, vouchsafed specially unto certain Prophets, and withheld from others. Nay, all the Prophets of God, His well-favored, His holy and chosen Messengers are, without exception, the bearers of His names, and the embodiments of His attributes. They only differ in the intensity of their revelation, and the comparative potency of their light. Even as He hath revealed: `Some of the Apostles We have caused to excel the others.’ It hath, therefore, become manifest and evident that within the tabernacles of these Prophets and chosen Ones of God the light of His infinite names and exalted attributes hath been reflected, even though the light of some of these attributes may or may not be outwardly revealed from these luminous Temples to the eyes of men. That a certain attribute of God hath not been outwardly manifested by these Essences of Detachment doth in no wise imply that they who are the Day Springs of God's attributes and the Treasuries of His holy names did not actually possess it. Therefore, these illuminated Souls, these beauteous Countenances have, each and every one of them, been endowed with all the attributes of God, such as sovereignty, dominion, and the like, even though to outward seeming they be shorn of all earthly majesty."
In the Baha’i Revelation, God’s statement on Mt. Sinai is again affirmed: "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."

Baha’u’llah, regarded by Baha’is as the vehicle for the most recent of God’s all-encompassing revelations, has as His aim to widen the basis of all revealed religions and to unravel the mysteries of their scriptures. He insists on the unqualified recognition of the unity of their purpose, restates the eternal verities they enshrine, coordinates their functions, distinguishes the essential and the authentic from the nonessential and spurious in their teachings, separates the God-given truths from the priest-prompted superstitions, and on this as a basis proclaims the possibility, and even prophecies the inevitability, of their unification, and the consummation of their highest hopes. The Baha’i perspective on the Fatherhood of God and the unific nature of religion is clearly expressed in both the Baha’i Sacred Texts and in authoritative commentary.

"The greatest gift of God to man in this enlightened age is the knowledge of the Oneness of God, the Oneness of religion, and the Oneness of all mankind...Consort ye, O people, with all religions with joy and fragrance...The religion of God and His law is the greatest cause and mightiest means for the appearance and effulgence of the orb of unity. The development of the world, the training of the nations, the tranquility of the servant and the security of the people of all lands have been due to the divine precepts and ordinances. Religion is the greatest cause for the appearance of this great gift. It bestows the cup of vitality, confers immortal life, and imparts eternal benefit to the people.
"The world of humanity is one and God is equally kind to all," comments Abdul-Baha, "what then is the source of unkindness and hatred in the human world? This real shepherd loves all his sheep. He leads them in green pastures. He rears and protects them. What then is the source of enmity and alienation among humankind? Whence this conflict and strife? The real underlying cause is lack of religious unity and association for in each of the great religions we find superstition, blind imitation of creeds, and theological formulae adhered to instead of the divine fundamentals, causing difference and divergence among mankind instead of agreement and fellowship. Consequently strife, hatred and warfare have arisen, based upon this divergence and separation. If we investigate the foundations of the divine religions, we find them to be one. The prophets of God voiced the spirit of unity and agreement. They have been the founders of divine reality. Therefore if the nations of the world forsake imitations and investigate the reality underlying the revealed Word of God they will agree and become reconciled. For reality is one and not multiple."

"The Revelation, of which Bahá'u'lláh is the source and center," explains Shoghi Effendi, "abrogates none of the religions that have preceded it, nor does it attempt, in the slightest degree, to distort their features or to belittle their value. It disclaims any intention of dwarfing any of the Prophets of the past, or of whittling down the eternal verity of their teachings. It can, in no wise, conflict with the spirit that animates their claims, nor does it seek to undermine the basis of any man's allegiance to their cause. Its declared, its primary purpose is to enable every adherent of these Faiths to obtain a fuller understanding of the religion with which he stands identified, and to acquire a clearer apprehension of its purpose. It is neither eclectic in the presentation of its truths, nor arrogant in the affirmation of its claims. Its teachings revolve around the fundamental principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is progressive, not final. Unequivocally and without the least reservation it proclaims all established religions to be divine in origin, identical in their aims, complementary in their functions, continuous in their purpose, indispensable in their value to mankind."

On the subjects of Judaism, Moses, and Torah, the public statements of Abdul-Baha are clear and concise: "Verily, I now declare to you that Moses was the Interlocutor of God and a most noteworthy Prophet, that Moses revealed the fundamental law of God and founded the real ethical basis of the civilization and progress of humanity. Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Movement, confirms me, saying, `You have been fair and just in your judgment; you have impartially investigated the truth and arrived at a true conclusion; you have announced your belief in Moses, a Prophet of God, and accepted the Torah, the Book of God’."

Speaking to the Jewish congregation of Washington D.C.’s Eighth Street Temple on November 8th, 1912, Abdul-Baha was again emphatic: "Praise be to God! You are living in a land of freedom. You are blessed with men of learning, men who are well versed in the comparative study of religions. You must realize the need of unity and know the great harm which comes from prejudice and superstition...We must be united. We must love each other. We must ever praise each other... For God is one and humanity is one, and the only creed of the Prophets is love and unity." The Rabbi visited Abdul-Baha the following day at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Parsons. "I believe that what you have said is perfectly true," acknowledged the Rabbi, "but I must ask one thing of you. Will you not tell the Christians to love us a little more?"

"We have advised them," replied Abdul-Baha, "and will continue to do so."

Indeed, from pulpits across America, Canada, and Europe, he summoned Christians to abandon age-old prejudices and superstitions, to investigate reality and become joyously reconciled to the reality of the Oneness of God, the Oneness of religion, and the Oneness of all mankind. Addressing more than a thousand at the Metropolitan Temple in New York City, Abdul-Baha proclaimed: "All these holy, divine Manifestations are one. They have served one God and promulgated the same truth ...the divine religions they established have one foundation; their teachings, proofs and evidences are one; in name and form they differ but in reality they agree and are the same...man must be a lover of the light no matter from what day-spring it may appear. He must be a lover of the rose no matter in what soil it may be growing..."

In the audience was Rabbi Silverman who, at the conclusion of the talk, rose to his feet and appealed to the people to heed the words of Abdul-Baha: "Attachment to the lantern is not loving the light."

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