What does Baha'i say about Christ as the only way to God?

All research or scholarship questions
nnnick
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What does Baha'i say about Christ as the only way to God?

Postby nnnick » Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:39 pm

If Baha'i teaches Christ as a prophet, amongst others, then doesnt that conflict when He claims he is the only way to God?

Zazaban
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Postby Zazaban » Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:57 pm

Well i'm not even sure if thats what he really said? after all, for 300 years the word of christ was illegal, and for 1300 + years after that we have the void of order of the dark ages, the stagnation of the middle ages, and various tweaking of the bible to conform to whomever's teachings before the king james bible came along. who knows how much was changed?

Tahirih99
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Re: baha'i conflict?

Postby Tahirih99 » Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:50 am

nnnick wrote:If Baha'i teaches Christ as a prophet, amongst others, then doesnt that conflict when He claims he is the only way to God?


Dear nnick,

I have many Christian friends, who asked the same questions, so I have had some thinking and reading on the topic. This is what I could summary for you. Hope it help with your concern.

There are some explanation to it:
1. The only way to God
- Every Prophet is the only one for that time.
- During Jesus Christ's time He is the only way to God.
- During this time Baha'u'llah is the only way to God.

2. Jesus will return:
- Jesus said he will return in the Spirit of the Father. (Remember He said he will return in the same spirit, not the same body).
- Baha'u'llah is the Glory of God, this is the Spirit of the Father that Jesus has promised.
- The Phophets manifested in different bodies, had different names, of equal status, yet the Holy Spirit is always the One and Only God.


All the best,
Tahirih99

nnnick
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Postby nnnick » Wed Jun 21, 2006 7:58 am

what about when Jesus says "No-one comes to the Father except through me"? does he mean this only for a certain time, and when does this time end, and another begin?

My understanding is that all prophets claimed to be prophets eg muhammad ("there is one God and muhhamad is His prophet"), but Jesus never did this. He even went as far as to say that He and God were the same.

I dont understand how this can fit in with Baha'i?? please help
seek and you shall find

Zazaban
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Postby Zazaban » Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:24 pm

nnnick wrote:what about when Jesus says "No-one comes to the Father except through me"?

What Christ probably said was something the way of "I am a Manifestation Of God" and people took it the wrong way. Later the meaning got lost in this "Son" sutff.

Jonah
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Postby Jonah » Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:17 pm

The best article on this topic is Seena Fazel and Khazeh Fananapazir's "A Bahá'í Approach to the Claim of Exclusivity and Uniqueness in Christianity," in <i>The Journal of Bahá'í Studies</i> 3.2 (1990), which is online at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_fa ... anity.html

Next, read Seena Fazel's "Understanding Exclusivist Texts" from <i>Scripture and Revelation</i> (London: George Ronald, 1997) at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_un ... vist_texts . See section 1, "Christian Exclusivist Texts."

Then see Fazel's two articles on Religious Pluralism, a shorter (unpublished) encyclopedia article at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_en ... _pluralism and a longer version published in <i>Interreligious Insight</i> (July 2003) at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_re ... sm_insight

-Jonah

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Postby brettz9 » Thu Jun 22, 2006 11:03 am

what about when Jesus says "No-one comes to the Father except through me"?


Except through Him as the Holy Spirit...As the perfect Manifestation (though not incarnation) of God's Will, qualities, and attributes. In other words, people need a Manifestation of God--they can't just say they are God and don't need any Educator. And yes, also, God, as evident by our belief in progressive revelation, gives a fuller measure of His teachings through the latest Manifestation (which Jesus was at the time He spoke the words) to which all are to turn.

does he mean this only for a certain time, and when does this time end, and another begin?


It depends on how one interprets His words--whether as a Prophet of God in general or Jesus Christ. If the latter, then it ended with Muhammad. This is confirmed in the Kitáb-i-Íqán. If the former, of course, it never ends--it is an eternal truth.

My understanding is that all prophets claimed to be prophets eg muhammad ("there is one God and muhhamad is His prophet"), but Jesus never did this. He even went as far as to say that He and God were the same.


This is well-explained in Bahá'u'lláh's most important doctrinal work, the Kitáb-i-Íqán--a book which Bahá'ís are repeatedly advised to study, even in great detail. To summarize, He explains that both are true. Sometimes the Manifestation emphasizes His station of servitude (as just a man or warner, etc.), and other times His identity with the Divinity (not incarnation, mind you, as that is impossible, and even blasphemous, according to our belief). Bahá'u'lláh made the same (more challenging) open claim as Jesus, but all of the Manifestations have alluded to both stations (e.g., Muhammad with the line translated as "Those shafts were God's, not Thine!" or as "It is not ye who slew them; it was God: when thou threwest (a handful of dust), it was not thy act, but God's" (Qur'án 8:17).

One should also distinguish between (lower-case) "prophets" (such as Daniel, Isaiah, etc.) and (upper-case) Prophets...Moses, and yes, Jesus, belong to the latter category. Jesus' equality of station with Moses (though the measure of His Revelation was far grander) is implied in Chapter 44 of Some Answered Questions.

best wishes,
Brett

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Postby Richard Stamats » Thu Jun 22, 2006 5:12 pm

1. I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. ­Christianity, John 14:6

2. This the path. There is no other that leads to vision. ­Buddhism, Dhammapada 20:274

3. Whoso seeks guidance elsewhere, God will lead him astray. ­Islám, Imám Alí, Hadith

4. He that hath Me not is bereft of all things. Turn ye away from all that is on earth and seek none else but Me. ­Bahá'í Faith, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 169

5. Abandoning all duties, come to Me alone for shelter. ­Hinduism, Bhagavad Gita 18:66

6. There is only one religious way. This one way is that of good thoughts, good words, and good deeds, the way of heaven, of ight and of purity, of the infinite Creator. ­Zoroastrianism, The Teachings of the Magi, p. 22
Richard Stamats
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Tahirih99
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Turn to God

Postby Tahirih99 » Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:37 am

It's not about a destination out "there", nor an in magined person when we refer to God, or to attain His presence. To be near to Him, is to be closer to your own qualities, attributes and virtues, to know that we are created with and for, what bring us up and what pull us down.

Therefore, in our daily life, when we choose to do something, to be close you God helps us make a good decision, which benefit not only ourselves but also our fellowmen.
Tahirih99

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Postby brettz9 » Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:25 pm

Good points Tahirih and thanks for the helpful mini-compilation, Richard...

Ironically in order to foster TRUE tolerance (including of our Christian brethren who emphasize the side of exclusivity), we sometimes need to draw attention to these apparently exclusivist quotes...

nnnick
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[u]we[/u] are not God

Postby nnnick » Sat Jun 24, 2006 6:13 am

we should say
that we wish to get closer to ourself, instead of
using an imagined person, and not spread the false impression
we are in a close contact with a god.


close contact with God exists, and a personal relationship can be obtained. getting closer to yourself is a by-product of closeness with God; He made you in His image, therefore being obedient to His commands and will brings you closer to who you truly are. Seeking God scientifically will not help you find Him, but it may spur you on to realise that science in and of itself is inadequate
I wonder why people wish to go there, near god, while the
creator is 4 or 5 light years away.
God is not a physical distance away from us; He created time and space and therefore cannot be bound by these things.

are you not happy inside
your own body ?
- without God? of course not! without Him, i am nothing, i have no purpose, no meaning, no function... what a depressing life (unless you embrace ignorance-and even then...)!!

And even if you really come near the imagined god,
what will it give you ?

Nearness to God brings about peace. not some manufactured peace, but the constant comfort and strength that you cant find in this world.

Nearness to god, what is that ?
To serve and obey- we must serve something, ourselves or something else. to serve ourselves doesnt bring about any kind of long lasting joy, as we soon discover that we cant give ourselves everything we want. To obey God's commands, well that is not something he tells us to do because he is some kind of power-greedy being, but because it is the path that brings about the most good. it is not an order, but directions to happiness.

To become like him ? To evade something ?
To become as Him is impossible. To become like Him is the goal (in most aspects, eg. I do not desire His power, but i desire to have His love, etc). To evade something; yes, corruption and desires that lead us away from becoming like Him.

What's the purpose of maintaining this man made dream ?

If it is 'a man made dream' then you know the answer. nothing. But if it isnt a man made dream; then everything.

so my question to you is "what is the purpose of maintaining your man made dream?" you have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Smart people also dont care about the stanley cup, soccer, and who's
gonna win the Idols contests on tv. They do something with their lives.

"Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" 1 corinthians 1:20
I would love to know what 'doing something with your life' consists of. I can tell you easily what it is for me.
seek and you shall find

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Re: What does Baha'i say about Christ as the only way to God

Postby Hasan » Sat Jun 24, 2006 10:16 am

nnnick wrote:If Baha'i teaches Christ as a prophet, amongst others, then doesnt that conflict when He claims he is the only way to God?


There are always problems in people to recognize next Prophet, some confusing term veil people's eyes. In Jesus time, Jewish people thought the Messiah have to come with a physical reign, but it was a spiritual one; in time of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, Muslims have problems with the title of Muhammad "Seal of Prophets", and Christians have problems with the title "Son of God"...

The return of Prophets was never understood, remember that John the Baptist (return of Elias), said he was not Elias, this doesn’t means that the prophecy failed, this means that he was John with the qualities of Elias, not the same person as Elias (not reincarnation).

Hasan

Tahirih99
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God vs. gods

Postby Tahirih99 » Sun Jun 25, 2006 8:16 pm

Dear MJ,

Don't really understand the point you are trying to make.

In your opinion, what is the difference between God and gods?
So we can establish a common ground to avoid confusions.
Tahirih99

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God vs. gods

Postby Tahirih99 » Mon Jun 26, 2006 3:01 am

O FLEETING SHADOW!
Pass beyond the baser stages of doubt and rise to the exalted heights of certainty. Open the eye of truth, that thou mayest behold the veilless beauty and exclaim: Hallowed be the Lord, the most excellent of all creators!
Tahirih99

nnnick
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Postby nnnick » Wed Jun 28, 2006 10:50 am

Dear nnick
Thank you for your rationalisation and explanations
about the god you imagined. If you and many others rely
on a god they imagine, I dont mind.

You wrote: close contact with God exists, and a personal relationship can be obtained. getting closer to yourself is a by-product of closeness with God, while Baha'u'llah states clearly such a thing is impossible.

But if you stick so much to that idea (a superstition) , prove it, tell us what that "god" tells you, if you are so "close" to him ?


I myself am not Baha'i, and joined this forum in order to understand this religion more, as its teachings intrigue me. I am a Christian, and so the conflicting (with Christianity) message Baha'u'llah teaches does not alter my rationalizations; it seems that we begin with different premises. Being an atheist, its likely you wont consider that God speaks to me through all creation. And God speaking to me in everyday life; the peace He gives me when ive got nothing left, and the strength to keep going- its only proof to me, and those who know me, and who I used to be. as far as living my life according to the Bible, youll probably say that it's a good moral code, and thus there are bound to be benefits; and the reason i obey this code, rather than the loose one imposed by society, is a figment of my imagination. I cant understand the point of life for an atheist; dont get me wrong, im not a Christian because i cant handle this fact (!!). But if we were born out of nothing, then to nothing we will return- I agree to this in the physical world- but are you so sure there isn't anything else, some kind of spiritual element?
What good is human development if theres no point to it? why live out our lives when we can only look forward to nothingness? I became a Christian about a year and a half ago, and my life has never been better. If you want me to give 'proof' to you about this as well, it will be judged by your criteria, and probably fail. I cant give you any kind of rationalization over the internet that will prove my cause, but i can lead you in the right direction.
Before i became a Christian i had tried a fair bit of searching; i let myself be god, i let my girlfriend be god, you name it. One day, a Christian friend was talking to me about Jesus and I figured that i couldnt prove him wrong, unless i failed at proving him right. so i set up a little test where i would absolutely give my heart to Jesus, and i would be fully serious about it. I would read and conform to all the teachings of the Jesus, i would go to church and i would just humble myself and just be a servant--I originally planned to do this for two weeks; i prepared myself mentally for it and gave it my best shot; anything less and i wouldnt have a full proof against God!!
Long story short, it was the most amazing two weeks of my life; i went to church, was prayed over and i was just floating around. I got the most incredible revelations about my life, and i was just so motivated to get up and be a man. I never terminated my little 'experiment' because the proof was just so overwhelming.
So majnun, if youre adamant about finding the truth, make sure you search everywhere- i urge you to try your own experiment, and i hope you do it with a completely open mind and really seek.

And i also hope that there arent any objections to having a Christian as part of a Baha'i forum group!!
seek and you shall find

onepence
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Postby onepence » Thu Jun 29, 2006 12:38 am

nnnick wrote: ...

And i also hope that there arent any objections to having a Christian as part of a Baha'i forum group!!


nnnick,

It is an honor to have you {and you writing{s}/style} on this forum.
I personally find no objection to you or any Christian to be here.

I pray that you will continue to visit us and to offer your thoughts to this little discussion forum.

God never fails!

oneness
the apstole dean

Tahirih99
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God's blessing

Postby Tahirih99 » Thu Jun 29, 2006 3:20 am

Dear nnnick,

Thank you very much for sharing your inspiring and touching story. I can, not only understand, but also can feel what you mean, and how difficult it is trying to explain the blessing of spiritual enlightenment. Me too, I enjoy the blessing every day, and thank God every day for all that He has bestowed on us.
Tahirih99

Tahirih99
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The Unkown Creator Story

Postby Tahirih99 » Thu Jun 29, 2006 3:30 am

majnun wrote:Dear Tahari,
Either with or without a capitalized G,
there is no God at all.
MJ


Dear MJ,

I guess the most difficult thing to do in this world is to prove that the whole universe was brought into being out of random and coincidences.

We do not know what the Creator is like, or where He is, but just look at His creatures, and we could sense that some "unknown ultimate intellegence" has done the job. From the great thing like the galaxies to the small thing as our blood cell, we could imagine His existence and His power. We do not know how to call Him, so we refer to Him as "GOD - the Unknown Creator."

Let me tell you a story - A Secret Artist. One day, an artist intruded into your home, painted a beautiful picture on your walls and left before you came back. Once you were back home, though you did not see him/her, though you did not know who he/she was, though you did not why he/she did it. Just look at the painted walls and you know that someone must have been in your home, and someone must have painted them. You told your friend this story, some of them agreed with you: "Someone must have been in your home." Some of them said: "Don't worry about it. It's noone. The painting just happened to be there by itself coincidently, for no reason." Even if you did not know the artist, with which freinds would you agree? the later or the former?

We were born into this world and the sky was painted blue, the tree was painted green, the flowers are in all different colors. There is more than a painting. The sun, the wind, the star, the moon,.. and more... and more wonderful things. We asked our parents, our teachers, and everyone else: "Who created the world?". Nobody knows who has painted it, each of them gave us a different answers. Some told us: "GOD - the Unknown Creator created it." Some told us: "There is no Creator, everything came out of a Big Bang and out of nothing, for nothing coincidently." Who would you believe? the former or the later?

Now we continue the astist story. Before the Artist left, she did leave you a note on your desk and you would finally spotted it one day. The note said: "Dear MJ, you may not know me, but I know you. I painted this picture for you because I know that, for a long time, you have been bored with the plain color of your walls. You may not know who I am, but each time you see these walls, you would always remember that someone cares for you. Secret Artist."

One day, we picked up a Holy Book, and it said: "I created you and everything in the Universe for you. You may not see me, nor able to understand Me, but I will send the Teachers to help you get closer to me and feel My love. The Unknown Creator" Since that day we follow the Teacher, and study with Him.

Back to the artist story, again. At the end of the note, was a post script, which described the details and the meaning of the painting on the walls, the secrets that only the painter would know. This tell you that the note is genuine.

Likewise, The Creator would also in His "note", disclosed hints to this Great Creation and who are the chosen ones to be the Teachers. Hints that only the Creator would know. Seek for these details in His note and you will be able to decide for yourself whether the note is genuine. His notes are "The Bible", "The Quran", "The Kitab-i-Aqdas", to name a few.

Seek with open minds, no prejudice, and pray with open hearts, no judgement. Knock and the doors will open, search and you will find.
Tahirih99

onepence
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Postby onepence » Thu Jun 29, 2006 9:01 am

onepence wrote:
nnnick wrote: ...

And i also hope that there arent any objections to having a Christian as part of a Baha'i forum group!!


nnnick,

It is an honor to have you {and you writing{s}/style} on this forum.
I personally find no objection to you or any Christian to be here.

I pray that you will continue to visit us and to offer your thoughts to this little discussion forum.

God never fails!

oneness
the apstole dean


please add line

although we often fail God

to the above text

should read

although we often fail
God never fails!

i am sure you know the rest

oneness
dh

Tahirih99
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The essence of wisdom is the fear of GOD

Postby Tahirih99 » Sun Jul 09, 2006 1:55 am

MJ,

May God forgive your vain imagination.

You seem to be smart and knowledgable. I may not have read as much as you do. But this is what I believe - Baha'ullah Words of Wisdom:

In the Name of God, the Exalted, the Most High

THE source of all good is trust in God, submission unto His command, and contentment with His holy will and pleasure.

The essence of wisdom is the fear of God, the dread of His scourge and punishment, and the apprehension of His justice and decree.

The essence of religion is to testify unto that which the Lord hath revealed, and follow that which He hath ordained in His mighty Book.

The source of all glory is acceptance of whatsoever the Lord hath bestowed, and contentment with that which God hath ordained.

The essence of love is for man to turn his heart to the Beloved One, and sever himself from all else but Him, and desire naught save that which is the desire of his Lord.

True remembrance is to make mention of the Lord, the All-Praised, and forget aught else beside Him.

True reliance is for the servant to pursue his profession and calling in this world, to hold fast unto the Lord, to seek naught but His grace, inasmuch as in His Hands is the destiny of all His servants.

The essence of detachment is for man to turn his face towards the courts of the Lord, to enter His Presence, behold His Countenance, and stand as witness before Him.

The essence of understanding is to testify to one's poverty, and submit to the Will of the Lord, the Sovereign, the Gracious, the All-Powerful.

The source of courage and power is the promotion of the Word of God, and steadfastness in His Love.

The essence of charity is for the servant to recount the blessings of his Lord, and to render thanks unto Him at all times and under all conditions.

The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds; he whose words exceed his deeds, know verily his death is better than his life.

The essence of true safety is to observe silence, to look at the end of things and to renounce the world.

The beginning of magnanimity is when man expendeth his wealth on himself, on his family and on the poor among his brethren in his Faith.

The essence of wealth is love for Me; whoso loveth Me is the possessor of all things, and he that loveth Me not is indeed of the poor and needy. This is that which the Finger of Glory and Splendour hath revealed.

The source of all evil is for man to turn away from his Lord and set his heart on things ungodly.

The most burning fire is to question the signs of God, to dispute idly that which He hath revealed, to deny Him and carry one's self proudly before Him.

The source of all learning is the knowledge of God, exalted be His Glory, and this cannot be attained save through the knowledge of His Divine Manifestation.

The essence of abasement is to pass out from under the shadow of the Merciful and seek the shelter of the Evil One.

The source of error is to disbelieve in the One true God, rely upon aught else but Him, and flee from His Decree.

True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of hisself.

The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye.

Thus have We instructed thee, manifested unto thee Words of Wisdom, that thou mayest be thankful unto the Lord, thy God, and glory therein amidst all peoples.

(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 155)
Tahirih99

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Postby brettz9 » Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:21 pm

While I think Majnun makes some valid points here as far as the mundaneness fundamentalism brings (see my quote at the end of this post)), there are a few points that are not correct (including the repeated but manifestly false statement about God not being part of the religion).

Majnun wrote:Praying is not obligatory for westerners, as Shogi mentioned, it is an eastern custom.


From Lights of Guidance, no. 1526:
"...The genuflections and washing of hands and face (as clearly put down in 'Prayers and Meditations of Baha'u'llah', which he himself translated), associated with the two longer daily prayers (obligatory prayers) are laws of Baha'u'llah, applicable to any Baha'i whether of Muslim background, Christian background or otherwise. It is blasphemy to suggest otherwise. However, the Baha'is have been left free by Baha'u'llah to choose one of the 3 obligatory prayers, and those who prefer not to perform these acts can say the very short one."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949)


There is another point:
Majnun wrote:make prayers that gives you the power [sic] to heal a sick person other than you,


Physical healing cannot be complete and lasting unless it is reinforced by spiritual healing. And this last one can be best obtained through obedience to the laws and commandments of God as revealed to us through His Manifestations. Individual believers, however, can also help by imparting healing to others. But the success of their efforts depends entirely on their strict adherence to the Teachings, and also on the manner in which they impart them to others. According to Baha'u'llah man cannot obtain full guidance directly from God. He must rather seek it through His Prophets. Provided this principle is clearly understood and explained, the Guardian sees no harm that the friends should try to effect spiritual healing on others. Any such cure effected, however, should be done in the name of Baha'u'llah and in accordance with His teachings.
For God, and God alone, is the Supreme and Almighty Physician and all else are but instruments in His hands."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 23, 1935: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 8, in Lights of Guidance, no. 929)


and

"In the Book of Aqdas Baha'u'llah urges us, that when we obtain any physical ailment we should refer to the doctor and abide by his decision. Physical and spiritual forces have both to be used to secure the speedy recovery of the patients; no partial treatment is sufficient. So you should pray for your son and also be faithful in your obedience to the directions of the physicians who are trying to restore him to health."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 1, 1933 in Lights of Guidance, no. 939)


Majnun wrote: put your sex life into neutral forever, and so on.


Following the Bahá'í Writings (which do encourage belief in God) do not encourage you to do this and on the contrary discourage this, if it is within the institution of marriage.

And here's the quote referred to above:
In the evening some clergymen announced a meeting to observe the crucifixion of Christ. The Master remarked, `Their speeches in the meeting will be to the effect that Christ sacrificed Himself in order to redeem us from our sins. But they do not understand the inner meaning.' After the meeting He spoke extensively on this subject. `The redemption of sins', He said, `depends on our acting upon the admonitions of Christ, and the martyrdom of Christ was to cause us to attain praiseworthy morals and supreme stations.'

(Mahmúd's Diary, April 6, 1912)

Sean H.
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did anyone actually read Fazel and Fananapazir?

Postby Sean H. » Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:35 pm

Did anyone read the following articles?

If so, what did you think of the concerpts of exclusivism vs. pluralism?

Does someone need to supply specific excerpts that might be worth discussing in more detail?

Thanks,
Eric

Jonah wrote:The best article on this topic is Seena Fazel and Khazeh Fananapazir's "A Bahá'í Approach to the Claim of Exclusivity and Uniqueness in Christianity," in <i>The Journal of Bahá'í Studies</i> 3.2 (1990), which is online at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_fa ... anity.html

Next, read Seena Fazel's "Understanding Exclusivist Texts" from <i>Scripture and Revelation</i> (London: George Ronald, 1997) at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_un ... vist_texts . See section 1, "Christian Exclusivist Texts."

Then see Fazel's two articles on Religious Pluralism, a shorter (unpublished) encyclopedia article at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_en ... _pluralism and a longer version published in <i>Interreligious Insight</i> (July 2003) at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_re ... sm_insight

-Jonah

Zazaban
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Postby Zazaban » Fri Aug 11, 2006 9:28 pm

manjun, i'm not really sure about you. you seen to be teetering on covenent breaker status, if you're not one already. denying the need of prayer and that the Baha'i faith has a god is sheer blasphemy.
Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.
~ Bahá'u'lláh

majnun
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the need of prayer

Postby majnun » Sat Aug 12, 2006 2:13 am

to csabahai , and Zabadan

prayers
In 1956, while being questioned by Virginia Orbison
about laws of the Aqdas, the Gardian answered this, about prayers:

There will be laws which are only for the Orient, not for the Occident.” (end of citation)

We know practice of prayers is a daily routine for most muslims, while in the west,
no more that one person in 200 000 does any prayers at all, unless a calamity had
fallen onto them, I mean no one does that on a regular daily basis. Do you really say
allahu abha” 95 times every day, like a robot ? If you are honest, you will say: no I dont.

recitation
It is like the oral recitation of scriptures. This method was introduced after christianity.
The reason is very simple: a vocal recitation makes the written message a part of
you, instead of remaining an intellectualisation of a succession of sentences.
This obligation is mentioned somewhere in the letter to the Nadir shah.

In the west, most people read silently. My guess is that the messages go in deeper
if we recite it vocally. But people are people !

rites, rituals
Virgina Orbison reports again:

The Guardian said that there should be no kind of rites.
No one is permitted to establish any special manner
of doing things connected with worship. (end of citation)

This link provides Orbison’s interview with Shogi Effendi.

http://bahai-library.com/?file=orbison_ ... s_guardian


And all this seems quite clear to me.


Majnun.

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Sun Aug 13, 2006 12:51 am

Eric,

I think the discussion at http://bahai-library.com/?file=fazel_un ... vist_texts is very thorough and helpful in its analysis of many points.

However, I think that one might come away from it with the mistaken understanding that Bahá'ís feel it doesn't matter at all which religious path you choose. On the contrary, as Bahá'u'lláh clearly states:
The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other.


Another point is that one can hold an idea that one Revelation is superior to another (which our Writings do--though they uphold that the Station of the Prophets Themselves is equal) without looking down on others, etc. who have not accepted it. On the contrary, if we interpret the above-mentioned beliefs which we hold as "exclusivist", then such exclusivism is necessary to bring about greater unity. If the Jew or Hindu feels he has no need to accept the validity of Muhammad or Christ (which 'Abdu'l-Bahá, as testified to by His public talks in churches and synagogues and by the bravery Shoghi Effendi attributed to Him for doing so), then how can the world be united?

People tend to blame those holding more of an excluvist angle (e.g., modern Christians), whereas we can also blame extreme inclusivism (especially when it is inclusive of exclusivism--such as holding the belief that all "exclusivism" is wrong (or to avoid the outward paradox, I should say, holding the belief that progressive revelation is wrong)). Not all things are alike. Things possess different degrees and stations. This is repeated throughout our texts, whether as pertaining to education, religion, or what not. My favorite (from Gleanings) is where Bahá'u'lláh speaks (paraphrasing) of the difference between the fingernail and the eye in its worth to human beings. My point is that from a purely human angle, people will just as naturely be offended by other people failing to honor something deeply important to them (e.g., their respect of Muhammad or Christ), just as much as they will be offended by those trying to abruptly and tactlessly impose belief in a newer Prophet (e.g., how Christians had historically done to Jews).

To translate this into something somewhat equivalent in relations between man and woman, two of my friends were dating and one was upset that the other would not write just one letter. The other friend insisted that he should not need to write such a letter. Although we can argue that the other should not need this, and should just accept our love as is, etc., the fact is that people also have a need to feel appreciated and loved. At least some acknowledgement would only be reasonable (Islamic traditions exist, by the way, which encourage the husband to pay enough attention to his wife). Of course, if the woman was overbearing in placing high demands on the man, it would not be reasonable either (and admittedly, if we have a commitment with another person, as we ought, the highest standard is not to make any such demands if it becomes a source of disunity--just as we do not push our Faith (or the truth of the Faith of Islam or Christianity) if our efforts to point out its advantages are rebuffed).

This need for being a "mensch" (to use the German/Yiddish term) is most beautifully summed up, I think by this talk of 'Abdu'l-Bahá regarding another talk He gave earlier in a synagogue:
This humiliation will continue forever. The time may come when in Europe itself they will arise against the Jews. But your declaration that Christ was the Word of God will end all such trouble. My advice is that in order to become honorable, protected and secure among the nations of the world, in order that the Christians may love and safeguard the Israelitish people, you should be willing to announce your belief in Christ, the Word of God. This is a complete statement; there is nothing more. Is it not thoughtless, ignorant prejudice which restrains you from doing so? Declare that, verily, the Word of God was realized in Him, and all will be right.
The rabbi thoughtfully said, "I believe that what you have said is perfectly true, but I must ask one thing of you. Will you not tell the Christians to love us a little more?"
We replied, "We have advised them and will continue to do so."


In the talk He referred to, after speaking of how Muhammad reinforced Judaism, He concludes:
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 realize the need of unity and know the great harm which comes from prejudice and superstition. I ask you, is not fellowship and brotherhood preferable to enmity and hatred in society and community? The answer is self-evident. Love and fellowship are absolutely needful to win the good pleasure of God, which is the goal of all human attainment. We must be united. We must love each other. We must ever praise each other. We must bestow commendation upon all people, thus removing the discord and hatred which have caused alienation amongst men. Otherwise, the conditions of the past will continue, praising ourselves and condemning others; religious wars will have no end, and religious prejudice, the prime cause of this havoc and tribulation, will increase. This must be abandoned, and the way to do it is to investigate the reality which underlies all the religions. This underlying reality is the love of humanity. For God is one and humanity is one, and the only creed of the Prophets is love and unity.


Notice that here and in other places he directs the attention to the behavior of those Western society only sees as victims, even as in other places He (and the rest of our Writings) loudly condemns all violence done in the name of religion such as against the Jews.
Last edited by brettz9 on Sat Dec 31, 2011 9:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Remove wrong reference to source of quote being from Iqan

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Postby brettz9 » Sun Aug 13, 2006 1:15 am

Also this from the authenticated Mahmúd's Diary:
The Master called on the Jewish rabbi, showered him with kindness and countless blessings, and spoke to him regarding peace and harmony among the Jews, Christians and Muslims as well as the need for respect for the leaders of each other's religions. The Master said:

Whenever these people mention each other's leaders with due reverence then all sufferings and contentions shall cease and instead of hatred there will be love and instead of enmity and disunity there will be harmony and affection. This is my purpose.
(November 9, 1912)


or

During the visit of a group of Bahá'ís with the Master, a young girl came in and said, `I have come to ask for your assistance. Please tell me what I am fitted to do so that I may occupy myself with it.' The Master asked, `Do you have trust in me?' She replied, `Yes.' He then said to her, `Be a perfect Bahá'í. Associate with Bahá'ís. Study the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Then you will be assisted in whatever you undertake to do.' She then said, `I am a good Jewess.' The Master then said:
A good Jew can also become a Bahá'í. The truth of the religion of Moses and of Bahá'u'lláh is one. Turn toward Bahá'u'lláh and you will acquire peace and tranquillity, you will hear the melody of the Kingdom, you will stir people's souls and you will attain the highest degree of perfection. Be assured of this.
When she heard the Master's words she was so impressed that she threw herself at His feet and wept.

(ibid, August 21, 1912)


Note that He does not merely say believe as you wish (nor of course, does He push the Faith against unwilling ears). He encourages her (while maintaining her Jewish culture, as writings of Shoghi Effendi testify) to become a Bahá'í also. If we talk about "exclusivism", I think we need to give examples of what our Faith rejects and which aspects it unabashedly adopts (if we are to be confined by such terminology).

There are many other fascinating references if you scroll through the different mentions of "Jews" at http://bahai-library.com/?file=zarqani_ ... hapter=all . There is another, for example, about how it was as if 'Abdu'l-Bahá were at the Holy Mansion with Bahá'u'lláh, through His will, opening the doors such that He could teach about Christ to the Jews.

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Postby brettz9 » Sun Aug 13, 2006 1:28 am

I should also add that the article is quite correct to point out that the Faith does not see all those who do not accept the Faith as going to burn in an unevoical hell.

For example:

But in a place where the commands of a Prophet are not known, and where the people do not act in conformity with the divine instructions, such as the command of Christ to return good for evil, but act according to the desires of nature--that is, if they torment those who torment them--from the point of view of religion they are excused because the divine command has not been delivered to them. Though they do not deserve mercy and beneficence, nevertheless, God treats them with mercy and forgives them.

(Some Answered Questions, Chapter 76)


Also in the line against extreme exclusivism, there is a story told by 'Abdu'l-Bahá (published in a book Stories of 'Abdu'l-Bahá) where Abraham was to have gotten angry with a polytheist (I think His guest?) because of His acceptance of multiple gods. But then Abraham realized (or was told by God?--sorry don't have the book handy to confirm) that God had been patient for all these years allowing them to live their lives or watch over them, etc., that He couldn't bear this man for a short time...

best wishes,
Brett

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Re: the need of prayer

Postby brettz9 » Sun Aug 13, 2006 2:30 am

majnun wrote:prayers
In 1956, while being questioned by Virginia Orbison
about laws of the Aqdas, the Gardian answered this, about prayers:

There will be laws which are only for the Orient, not for the Occident.” (end of citation)


The full context of this (which is only a pilgrim's note) does not at all necessarily imply the supposed statement was related to prayer:
The Guardian said: I have indicated some of these laws for present observance. I shall see how the people obey them and give them out gradually. Little by little the Guardian will indicate those Laws which are obligatory, binding, and those which are recommended.

Some of the laws such as abstinence from alcohol is obligatory and binding. Also, not to get married in the Church is obligatory and binding. Marriage is a law, but not obligatory. It is recommended that people marry, but not binding upon everyone to do so. Others: Obligatory prayers. There will be laws which are only for the Orient, not for the Occident. Games of chance are forbidden, but as for National Lotteries, it will be up to the International House of Justice to decide. Some to the laws cannot be observed at present.

On the contrary, as obligatory prayer laws were already made applicable, of course Shoghi Effendi wouldn't have been contradicting himself. It is more likely that, if valid, the phrase was simply yet another type of obligatoriness of Bahá'í law. The sentence following that on obligatory prayer need not be connected at all. Also, "not for the Occident" could be seen as a temporary non-application, not as necessarily forever.

Second of all, this is only a pilgrim's note. 'Abdu'l-Bahá said related to pilgrim's notes (repeatedly confirmed since then, including by Shoghi Effendi):
"Thou has written concerning the pilgrims and pilgrims' notes. Any narrative that is not authenticated by a Text should not be trusted. Narratives, even if true, cause confusion. For the people of Baha, the Text, and only the Text, is authentic."

(Abdu'l-Baha: from a previously untranslated Tablet, in Lights of Guidance, no. 1431)


Third, the same International House of Justice (that he was to have spoken of in the same above note), has itself explicitly applied all of the devotional laws to Western as well as Eastern believers in this late 1999 letter: http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_furt ... tion_aqdas . There are some laws for which it is theoretically possible that they will never be applied in the West, but their practice, where possible, is praised even if not yet applied (such as was stated in a letter previous to the application of the law of the 95 Alláh'u'Abhás about that law cited here). See http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_laws_not_binding for a list of the laws not yet binding in the West (besides the devotional laws which have all since been in fact applied).

majnun wrote:We know practice of prayers is a daily routine for most muslims, while in the west,
no more that one person in 200 000 does any prayers at all, unless a calamity had
fallen onto them, I mean no one does that on a regular daily basis. Do you really say
allahu abha” 95 times every day, like a robot ? If you are honest, you will say: no I dont.


There are many who do say the Alláh'u'Abhá's every day (or at least close to every day). I don't know of any survey about this to confirm your estimates, but it has, as of 1999, become a law for all Bahá'ís´, and education about it is being gradually diffused. People have made different inquiries as to its application and meaning. You can find some at http://bahai9.com/Recitation_of_95_Alláh%27u%27Abhás (you have to paste the entire URL as this forum doesn't accept the full name as a URL) (there are others not yet listed there). The practice of obligatory prayer among Western believers is also common. Shoghi Effendi clearly indicated the application of this law in the West.

It is odd, I think, for someone to claim belief, and call those who recite this clear law of Bahá'u'lláh as robots. I hope you can restrain yourself from making deliberately provoking and antagonistic comments such as these, even as you have made other contributions that are most welcome here. The House of Justice does point out that mere recitation is not enough to derive real benefit from it. The advantages of meditation in general are also already well documented scientifically.

majnun wrote:recitation
It is like the oral recitation of scriptures. This method was introduced after christianity.
The reason is very simple: a vocal recitation makes the written message a part of
you, instead of remaining an intellectualisation of a succession of sentences.
This obligation is mentioned somewhere in the letter to the Nadir shah.

In the west, most people read silently. My guess is that the messages go in deeper
if we recite it vocally. But people are people !


Yes, in Star of the West, 'Abdu'l-Bahá speaks of the advantages of reading the scriptures out loud. However, it is not necessary, as a quotation at the site mentioned above on 95 Alláh'u'Abhás states.

majnun wrote:rites, rituals
Virgina Orbison reports again:

The Guardian said that there should be no kind of rites.
No one is permitted to establish any special manner
of doing things connected with worship. (end of citation)


Not sure what the use of this pilgrim's note is directed to exactly, but we should, I think, again be clear that is only a pilgrim's note. There are several authentic passages (see http://bahai9.com/Repetition_of_prayers_or_verses ) which do emphasize the need for worship against being formulized, but this is related to prescriptions of individuals or National Assemblies beyond what the Writings prescribe. This does not mean that the laws of Bahá'u'lláh are somehow invalidated, as the official texts (including those of Shoghi Effendi himself) should make clear to any who read them.

The Faith has a minimum of ritual--not literally no ritual. (And there are also other passages relating to being against institution of rigid practices in the Houses of Worship).


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