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Abstract:
Lengthy theological apologia.
Notes:

Bahá'í-Christian Dialogue: Some Key Issues Considered, by Francis Beckwith:
A Bahá'í Response

by David Friedman

1998
"Bahá'í-Christian Dialogue: Some Key Issues Considered"
Author: Francis Beckwith
Publisher: Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1989
Review by: David Friedman


I have corresponded with numerous fundamentalist Christians. Based on my experiences with these people and clues in Beckwith's article, I will argue that he is largely unacquainted with the beliefs of the general Bahá'í adherents, and has misrepresented the Faith based on prejudiced assumptions and making unnecessary inferences, often from dealing with one Bahá'í. There is one gaping flaw with Beckwith's article. He states that "In this article I will respond to these arguments as they relate to the different views held by Bahá'ís and Christians on (1) the nature of God, (2) biblical prophecy, and (3) religious unity." Having said all this, throughout his article he draws on the personal opinions of individual Bahá'ís, tries to refute them, and then acts as if he has refuted the claims of the Bahá'í Faith. In some cases I would agree that the opinion of the person referred to is wrong, which he has proved, and I'm sure most other Bahá'ís would agree. However, Beckwith draws a direct line between the opinion of a single Bahá'í, and what the Bahá'í Faith teaches. A few months ago I held some beliefs concerning certain things in the Bible which I greatly disagree with now. The only reason that I believed something different then was because I hadn't read the Bible very much yet. I'm sure those in every religion will testify that from the first read or two of a certain book they misunderstood a lot of it. The Bible is a big book, and when a person hasn't read it through well they won't see how certain things relate to other passages, which can affect the meaning quite often. So based on what Beckwith seems to do, he could take something I said back when I hadn't read much of the Bible, refute it, and then make it seem like both the Bahá'í Faith and Bahá'u'lláh had been proven false. It seems like Beckwith thinks that we believe becoming a Bahá'í on paper makes our statements both infallible, and representing official Bahá'í view, without having read everything. It also seems like he thinks the claims of Bahá'u'lláh should be judged on the beliefs of many of His followers. After all, if one reads through his article, he doesn't exactly quote Bahá'u'lláh frequently. Bringing in irrelevant material is common in material challenging the Bahá'í Faith. Just out of interest, there is no official Bahá'í view on everything I will discuss during this response. Bahá'u'lláh wrote many books, but did not comment on everything. Jesus also left much unsaid. While both Christians and Bahá'ís accept that Daniel chapter 9 contains a numerical prophecy of Jesus, the New Testament makes no comment on this.

After reviewing Beckwith's article, it becomes clear from his own words that he has dealt with few Bahá'ís, and discussed prophecy with few Bahá'ís likewise. Perhaps this has changed in the time since his article was written, but I am only responding to what he wrote then. He refers to the opinions of a well known Bahá'í scholar, Robert Stockman (concerning prophecy), which he gave on the radio, and then acts as if Stockman represents official Bahá'í position, and that Stockman has the strongest arguments a Bahá'í can produce. He seems to think that by refuting some statements of Stockman which I and probably many other Bahá'ís disagree with, that he will then disprove the Bahá'í Faith. Actually the most amusing thing is that from recently writing to Stockman himself, he has testified that these statements which Beckwith attributed to him were those of a different Bahá'í. In his words "I once showed up at a Christian radio station in Boston with a Bahá'í friend and we were then told Beckwith would be on the telephone during our interview. He quotes me saying things my friend said instead (though I don't necessarily disagree with the points made)." Beckwith said nothing about there being two Bahá'ís on the radio in his article. I guess he got confused about who he was speaking to at the time. Beckwith had said "In February 1988 on a Boston radio program I had the opportunity to dialogue with Robert Stockman, a Bahá'í leader and doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School." From this one would believe that Stockman and Beckwith were in the studio together, debating some issues. One thing I have to wonder about is whether it was sheer chance that someone would be told when they got there that one of the few Christians who has ever written a book about the Bahá'í Faith would be on the telephone line at the same time. Why did Beckwith get better notice?

Regardless of who said what, if Beckwith is to refute a religion's claims by showing that something a scholar of that religion said is wrong then he should approve of an agnostic refuting Christianity by showing a legitimate error which a respected Christian apologist has made. I'm sure that wouldn't be too hard to find. However, since there is no striking reason to assume that he is resorting to anything in efforts to undermine the Bahá'í Faith, we will assume that he was unaware of this common error in his article. Beckwith says that his article is going to "respond to these arguments as they relate to the different views held by Bahá'ís and Christians on (1) the nature of God, (2) biblical prophecy, and (3) religious unity." This sentence seems to indicate that it will discuss the views of general Christians and Bahá'ís. Even if most Bahá'ís hold incorrect views on something not spoken of in our writings, that doesn't prove much. Numbers count little in determining truth to an argument. If numbers do count, then one would have to assume that the Jews were correct in rejecting Jesus, because the vast majority believed that Jesus didn't fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament. We could also assume that those who built the molten calf were right, not God. So why does Beckwith act as if the majority view should be looked at, when speaking of the Bahá'í Faith? This is an article which has been written to refute our claims, and showing that most Bahá'ís hold incorrect views on a subject which is not even commented on in our writings will get a person nowhere. In this sort of writing, he should look at our strongest arguments, which maybe only a few have put forth. He should be trying to find places in our writings where these claims by individual Bahá'ís are given by main figures in our religion. Then if he proves them wrong he has succeeded in his mission. There are a couple other things to say about the quotation of Beckwith which talks about the views of Christians and Bahá'ís concerning some subjects. Since I guess general views are spoken of, he neglected to mention the fact that some Christians reject the Trinity. Many Christians differ quite considerably in their interpretation of Bible prophecy. I guess the minority people are excluded and assumed wrong. If Beckwith belonged to one of them, I'm sure the reverse would be the case.

In the Bahá'í Faith, prophecy has not been given a high priority for study. Some fundamentalists will often make bold assertions about the Bahá'í Faith, backed by no evidence. Since the Bahá'í Faith is a new religion growing very fast it is perceived as a threat to Christianity. This is not only because it is a different religion, but that it teaches that the return of Christ has happened, and that the signs were symbolic. Fundamentalists, not seeing how the resurrection could possibly be non-physical, or that the signs aren't literal, will often now state that the Bahá'ís only take these prophecies metaphorically because they weren't fulfilled during the last century. It's interesting how they will often say this before the other person has provided proofs to the contrary. Of course, if some preliminary and rather weak proof has been presented to the fundamentalists, the people most certain that there could be no other interpretation will take this as an opportunity to act as if you have already supplied your strongest proofs. This has happened to me before. Nevermind that my best objections were left unanswered. The reason they say this is because to them any evidence to the contrary has to be extreme rationalizing, or unjustifiably claiming that the text should be interpreted metaphorically. I remember someone claiming, before I had provided much proof, that the only reason the Bahá'ís believe the trumpet blast promised for the second coming was silent is because no loud trumpet blast sounded during the time of the Báb or Bahá'u'lláh. This was especially annoying considering that in the same letter he was responding to I provided evidence of trumpet blasts having happened already, according to his chronology. I gave further proof in a few more letters, and this went unanswered. Often people assume that you have provided official Bahá'í position as proof, when there is no reason to do so. It seems like this assumption is made just so that if you make a mistake it can further assure them that the claims of the Bahá'í Faith are wrong. I have often seen people who according to their own testimony around the time are hardly knowledgeable as to what the Bahá'í Faith teaches, and don't know any Bahá'ís, yet before hearing much of what one person has to say they will make some wild assertions, such as that Bahá'ís believe something about the Bible because to believe the obvious meaning would destroy the claims of Bahá'u'lláh. If you pressed the person who made the assertion you could get them to admit that they knew no Bahá'ís, and had not studied books written by individual Bahá'ís to see just how good our argument is. Bahá'ís with the best answers may not have written a book yet, so in the future stronger arguments will be forthcoming. Since these people are so certain that the Bible couldn't teach anything different, they often make statements which act is if something is a fact, yet it is only a guess, based on what their prejudiced mind thinks is true. The prejudice is from expectation. I have even had people admit that they said something which was only their opinion, according to their testimony. The thing is, though; they stated it as fact, without accumulating evidence. In my opinion someone can state what they like about the Bahá'ís as long as evidence is provided. Noone should state something as fact when it is just an opinion. If it is opinion, then they should say so.

From Beckwith's article it is clear that he had read very little in the way of books written by individual Bahá'ís, or of the main Bahá'í figures such as Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá. This seems to be the main fault of those who criticise the Bahá'í Faith. If they tested their material by sending it to some knowledgeable Bahá'ís prior to publication, they would find some of their points well refuted. The expectation that the Bahá'í books don't have the answer seems to be a critical factor in not reading through the books more before criticising. While I have seen many Bible critics who are well studied in the Bible, those who have written against the Bahá'í Faith are usually poorly studied.

In this article I will quote excerpts from Beckwith, in order, and then comment at various stages, not missing out anything he wrote. I will address many things in this response. He has made some factual errors about what the various Prophets accepted by the Bahá'í Faith teach about the nature of God which need to be addressed. He made it seem like the Bahá'ís realize that the concepts of God given by these Prophets are contradictory, but that we don't care. I can assure you that Bahá'ís don't believe that Zoroaster teaches polytheism, nor do those who have studied the religion. It seems Beckwith is the sole believer in this idea. Leading on from this I will address the issue of the Trinity. Beckwith has claimed that the Bible teaches this, yet not indicated whether he has read our argument against it. Based on the fact that he thinks we accept contradictory things about what the different Prophets teach on God, it seems like Beckwith actually thinks we believe that the Bible teaches the Trinity. I will first show the logical flaws with this doctrine. Beckwith claims it is ultimately noncontradictory, whereas I claim it is very much contradictory. I will also address some of the major Trinitarian proof verses. Note that I can't speak of every single verse Trinitarians will appeal to, as that would take up space, but I'll address those arguments which are the most difficult. Many non-Bahá'ís reading this will doubt that the Trinity could possibly be false, or that Jesus is not God. Let me just say now that there are a few verses that I don't think I could deny that they teach Jesus is God, in some Bible versions. That is either because of a dubious translation by a Trinitarian translating committee, or it is because some of the ancient manuscripts (most likely the later ones) have the verse saying something different, which gives support to the doctrine, and they have chosen to use these. Usually there is something in the surrounding context which shows that their usage is suspicious. It would be a matter of the Bible contradicting itself, which shows that the majority of manuscripts are correct, and this is to be expected. Verses I am referring to include Hebrews 1:8, Acts 20:28 and 1 John 5:20.

Also in my article I will give proof from Jesus' very words that the return would be quiet. I will provide evidence that someone other than Jesus will return. Proof that the resurrection was not a physical event will be supplied, as this is linked to the argument of who will return. However, if I provide good evidence from Jesus that He personally will not return then this would effectively show that the return wouldn't be noisy. A few pages of evidence will be given on these subjects. It will not be my full argument, but just enough to give Beckwith and others more than enough problems to deal with. I will give comments on the verses which apparently destroy Bahá'í claims, such as Revelation 1:7 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17, in a more detailed manner than the few short pieces I have seen Bahá'ís write on them. Numerical prophecies will be covered as well. Note that the quotes given will either be from the KJV or the RSV, which are well known. If I quote a verse from one chapter, comment on it, and then give another verse from that chapter, I will continue to use the translation stated in brackets after the first example unless otherwise specified.

Here is the beginning of his article:

One religious group to originate in the past two centuries that has not received enough attention from evangelical Christians is the Bahá'í World Faith. [1] Bahá'ís believe that all of the world's major religions are progressive revelations from God, each designed for its particular historical era. The Bahá'í religion teaches that Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, and the Báb (the Persian founder of a nineteenth-century religious movement which laid the foundation for Bahá'ísm) were all prophets or manifestations of God for their time. [2]

Let me just say at this point that "Bahá'ísm" is a word the Bahá'ís never use in speaking of their religion. This word has been used by non-Bahá'ís, particularly in the early days of our religion, and is not something we use. In the writings of Bahá'u'lláh released so far, He never uses this word. It's difficult to know why Beckwith is using it here, as he does many times in this article. Sounds like poor research about the Faith to me. From a person who later claims to know what Bahá'ís in general feel about certain things, this seems suspicious. As we read through what Beckwith wrote, notice his own testimony that indicates he has made little contact with the Bahá'ís. This may be different now, but I am responding to the article he wrote a few years ago, so contact with Bahá'ís recently is irrelevant to the argument. Beckwith listed Confucius in the list of prophets Bahá'ís believe in. The Bahá'í writings are quite clear that Confucius was not a major Prophet. {1} However, there is strong indication that he was a prophet in some sense of the word, though some Bahá'ís will be unaware of this. The New Testament speaks of the gift as prophecy as one of the spiritual gifts. 1 Corinthians 14:24 speaks of those who prophesy, and verse 29 says "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said." (RSV) The prophets are those who prophecy. This word also refers to those sent by God to do various tasks, showing that the word prophet can take on many meanings. Acts 11:27-28, speaking of the time of the early church, says "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar."(KJV) Beckwith finishes his article by claiming that the final revelation to mankind prior to the consummation of history is that of Jesus, ignoring the fact that Revelation 11:3 speaks of two people who will prophesy for 1260 years, who are later confirmed to be prophets (Revelation 11:10). Many Christians hold that the two prophets are the Old and New Testaments. This argument ranks among the weakest I have ever seen, and is probably influenced by a mind which doesn't expect future Messengers of God, like that of Beckwith. Revelation was written around 96 AD. The people at the time couldn't possibly have known that when two prophets were referred to it meant the Bible, which hadn't even been completed at the time, nor had its canon been formed. There is no reason to believe that two humans are not intended by this reference to prophets. The first mention of them says that they will prophesy for 1260 years. One has no reason to believe that this doesn't refer to men, just like those who would prophesy in the church at the time. This does not mean that they will be alive for this whole time, just that their law and power will endure until this time finishes. The Bible can't prophesy, so this can't be what is meant. If it could, what would it say? The reference to these people in verse 4 says "These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." (KJV) This is almost identical to Zechariah 4:2-3, 11-14, which speaks of two olive trees, and a candlestick. Perhaps the other candlestick was just not mentioned there. Zechariah 4:14 clarifies that "These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." (KJV) Clearly they are people, and seem to be the same as mentioned in Revelation 11:3-4. Some have objected to these people being men, because of verse 5 saying that if any man hurts them, fire will come out of their mouth and devour their enemies completely. This provides no blow to the Bahá'í belief, as while this is not fully literal, it still is the type of thing the Bible speaks of people doing. Revelation 19:21 speaks of a person, of whom a sword comes from His mouth to slay the enemies. The symbolic language of enemies being destroyed by the mouth of a person is the same as in Revelation 11:5. Revelation 19:20 speaks of fire, like in chapter 11. So chapter 11 does speak of people, although using symbols. Revelation 11:12 uses symbolism completely inappropriate to speak of a book. If it could refer to a book, then Acts 1:9 does also, since it is very similar. Based on what Revelation 11:15-18 shows will happen just after the 1260 years end, and what Daniel 7:25-27 says, it is clear that the two prophets are prophets of God, and that about when their time ends, the second coming takes place. However, it is clear that at the very time the 1260 years end, the time of the end begins. Bahá'ís will say that the return happened in 1260 AH, or 1844, despite the fact that the Báb declared His mission this year, and Bahá'u'lláh, who we commonly refer to as the second coming of Christ, began His mission later. We believe the Báb can be referred to as the return in a certain sense, just like Muhammad, but that He filled the role of Elijah. We associate the third woe with the day of Bahá'u'lláh, which was very soon after the time of the Báb, or shortly after the conclusion of the 1260 years. The Bahá'í belief is that the two prophets in Revelation 11 are Muhammad and Ali. While I will not comment now on the reasons why I am correct, the point shown is that Jesus is not the final Messenger, and future prophets will come. The fact that Revelation 11:4 says that they are standing before the God of the earth indicates that they are prophets of God in the sense that they are sent by God to do His will.

Some of the comments just made show how the word prophet can take on many meanings. Confucius seems to have been inspired. The Bahá'í writings lists Confucius as being sent of God (Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 346), mentioned along with some of the major Prophets, and his book is enlisted as one of the Holy Books which foretold this day (Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 220-221). In Some Answered Questions, page 189, it says that "Confucius renewed morals and ancient virtues."

I may as well also comment on the footnote Beckwith supplied relating to Manifestations of God accepted by Bahá'ís. It reads:

 [2] This is the current list of the manifestations. The Bahá'ís have altered the list over the years. See Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan: The Book of Certitude, 2d ed., trans. Shoghi Effendi (Wilmette, IL: Bahá'í Publishing Trust [hereafter "BPT"], 1950), 7-65; `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, trans. Laura Clifford Barney (BPT. 1930), 189; and a current Bahá'í tract, One Universal Faith (BPT, n.d.), 5.

It begins by saying, "This is the current list of the manifestations." The Kitab-i-Iqan doesn't mention all of the Manifestations, and doesn't have to. It doesn't claim that all Manifestations, or all that we know are mentioned. We have no "Official list." Krishna is not mentioned in the Kitab-i-Iqan. He says that the Bahá'ís have altered the list over the years, yet refers to a page of Some Answered Questions which doesn't change anything. The page he refers to begins by saying "The Manifestations of universal Prophethood who appeared independently are, for example, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá'u'lláh. But the others who are followers and promoters..." From the first sentence is it clear that Manifestations, or major Prophets are referred to, and that these are just some examples.

Further down the page it writes:

Question. - To which category do Buddha and Confucius belong?

Answer.- Buddha also established a new religion, and Confucius renewed morals and ancient virtues, but their institutions have been entirely destroyed."

It does indicate that Buddha is a major Prophet, saying that He established a new religion, yet it doesn't say the same for Confucius. It says that he renewed morals and ancient virtues. It doesn't require a Manifestation to do that, only a good person. Confucius is never named in our writings when speaking of independent Manifestations. In the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, at least those already translated into English, Buddha is not mentioned. Whether or not He does speak of Him in authentic writings really doesn't matter, unless He states that Buddha is not a Prophet. Abdu'l-Bahá was appointed as the authorised interpreter of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, and the center of the covenant. His statements and opinions are considered infallible, and we believe He was guided by God. His writings speak of things that Bahá'u'lláh did not cover, or at least not in detail. Abdu'l-Bahá spoke often spoke about Prophets such as Buddha and Krishna. So unless there is a contradiction between the two on whether someone is a Prophet, the list doesn't change. There is never any final list, but you could say that more Prophets were officially accepted by at least the English speaking Bahá'ís during the ministry of both Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi. In the time of Abdu'l-Bahá this was because He was the expounder, and with Shoghi Effendi, he had access to the untranslated tablets which he could interpret, and thus he could state that the Prophet of the Sabaeans was a Prophet. So there have been no changes in the sense Beckwith implies. The Bahá'ís today have no authority to make additions to the list. If a formerly untranslated tablet from one of the three main Bahá'í figures were released into English, which gives the name of someone else, then this person would be officially recognised as a Prophet. This is not changing the list.

The final source provided is a Bahá'í pamphlet not reviewed by the Universal House of Justice. We don't claim infallibility for pamphlets, only the official writings. Even so, this pamphlet is fully in accordance with our writings, and has no new additions. In it, names of religions are given, with the Divine Revelator as founder alongside. The earlier pamphlet is different, in that it gives approximate dates for these founders, and it has a footnote after Krishna saying that He is a Revelator, though probably not the founder of Hinduism. The Sabaean religion is mentioned in the first one, but replaced by "ANCIENT RELIGIONS," with founder as "Unknown" in the later pamphlet. Our writings say that the name of the founder of the Sabaean religion is unrecorded, since He came a long time ago, so the change here is only minor. This shows that the Bahá'ís believe that there were earlier Prophets, which are not recorded in history or spoken of in our writings. The following two quotes illustrate what I am saying:

"The number nine, which in itself is the number of perfection, is considered by the Bahá'ís as sacred because it is symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá'í Revelation, which constitutes the ninth in the line of existing religions, the latest and fullest Revelation which mankind has ever known. The eighth is the Religion of the Báb, and the remaining seven are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the religion of the Sabaeans. These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world, but are the only ones which are still existing. There have always been divine prophets and messengers, to many of whom the Qur'an refers. But the only ones existing are those mentioned above." (28 July 1936)

"The nine religions to which you have referred include both the Babi and the Bahá'í Dispensations, Bahá'u'lláh being the ninth Prophet in the series. The other Prophets included are Zoroaster, Krishna, Moses, the Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, the Prophet of the Sabaeans Whose name is unrecorded, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.... Buddha appeared in the Adamic cycle...." (13 July 1938) (Shoghi Effendi: Buddha, Krisna, Zoroaster, Pages: 19-20)

It was stated that the Báb founded a religious movement which laid the foundation for the Bahá'í Faith. The word "movement" may be a bit misleading, as the Báb did establish a new religion, though most became Bahá'ís because of the later claim of Bahá'u'lláh. There are very few Bab's left today.

However, Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í religion, the successor of the Báb, and the most recent manifestation, is the one who should now be revered and obeyed.

Bahá'u'lláh's greatest teaching was the oneness and unity of mankind. According to Bahá'u'lláh, every race, both sexes, and the great religious truths all come from one God. While Christians may appreciate some of the humanitarian and peace doctrines of the Bahá'ís, they take issue with the Bahá'í claim to compatibility with their faith; for Bahá'ísm denies several essential Christian doctrines.

Since the publication of my Christian response to the Bahá'í World Faith, Bahá'í (Bethany House, 1985), I have had several encounters with both Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís who have questioned my position on a number of key issues regarding the relationship between Bahá'ísm and Christianity. For example, in a detailed critique of my book, Steve McConnell, a non-Bahá'í from Bellevue, Washington, asked me, "Could Christianity's conception of God withstand the cursory logical tests to which you subject the Bahá'í's God?" [3] McConnell contends that it is unfair for me to argue that because the Bahá'í manifestations of God give us contradictory concepts of God (monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, etc.), the Bahá'í view of God must be false. After all, he insists, the Christian conception of God has its own logical problems.

When Beckwith speaks of the Bahá'ís denying "several essential Christian doctrines" he is naturally referring to those he believes in. This type of statement is a subjective term, which assumes the truth of your particular beliefs over others.

You have to wonder why Beckwith even allowed the last paragraph to be published in his article, as it is quite irrelevant, yet damning for those less acquainted with the Bahá'í Faith. He refers to a letter written by a non-Bahá'í, yet he makes it seem like this person should be an authority on the Bahá'í Faith. If McConnell agrees that the Bahá'í concept of God between the various manifestations is contradictory, that doesn't make it so. I'm sure he is just as poorly studied in the religions Beckwith later mentions as teaching things about God which they actually don't. You have to wonder why no evidence is provided in this article that the Prophets accepted by the Bahá'ís teach what he says they do. He does refer to a table as that in his book, but this doesn't give his claims truth. It seems he thinks that it is so obvious that no references are needed. It also seems like he is under the impression that Bahá'ís do believe that these teachings about God contradict each other, which is completely false. By mentioning the response of one non-Bahá'í to his book, who seems to have written something quite silly, it seems he believes this is supposed to add something to his argument. If anything it lowers his credibility. Why he gives an example of reaction from a non-Bahá'í, but ignores those from the "several" Bahá'ís he admits questioned his position is anyone's guess. Perhaps because the Bahá'ís gave better answers? I would be quite interested in reading the letter from McConnell, as it seems odd that someone who doesn't accept the Bahá'í Faith would defend it by such an argument. Perhaps the comments were incorrectly interpreted, and really meant that in relation to the contradictory beliefs Bahá'ís apparently have of God, the Trinity gives more problems. Beckwith fails to give information concerning the purpose of this letter, and what its conclusions were. Anyway, who cares what a non-Bahá'í had to say about his book? One could think that by doing all this he is trying to create the false impression that the Bahá'ís acted the same as McConnell. The whole part about the reaction to his book is completely irrelevant to the argument, and could create a misimpression in the minds of those reading his article. Luckily some of us are critical enough to see what this part really says.

Another point is that he might be playing to silence as proof of the success of his book. What I mean is that no book refuting his charges has been made, according to my knowledge, and if it has, it either hasn't been reviewed by Beckwith, or it didn't convince him. He doesn't speak of a response, so I'll assume that there wasn't one. The fact that there hasn't been one doesn't necessarily mean anything. The Bahá'í administration does not undertake any special action whenever a book written against the Bahá'í Faith is released. No team is chosen to write a convincing response. Probably Beckwith is not going to search out new material written by members of the Bahá'í Faith, as he doesn't expect them to have the answers. The only way he will find out is by a direct response which is brought to his attention, like this one.

Beckwith writes that Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh, as the most recent manifestation should now be revered. I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean, but from how it was written it could make someone think that we don't revere the past Prophets anymore. This is incorrect.

In February 1988 on a Boston radio program I had the opportunity to dialogue with Robert Stockman, a Bahá'í leader and doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School. Stockman argued that just as the Jewish leaders were mistaken about Jesus' fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy, so also the Christian church has failed to see how Bahá'u'lláh fulfilled a number of biblical prophecies. In his view, Jesus was rejected because the Jews interpreted the Old Testament prophecies literally, and in the same manner, Christians do not see Bahá'u'lláh as the Second Coming of Jesus because they interpret the New Testament prophecies literally.

Another interesting response came from a Bahá'í in southern Nevada, Bill Garbett, who told me that Bahá'ísm has suffered no divisions as has Christianity in its many schisms. He concluded from this that the Bahá'í World Faith must be God's religion.

There are a few points to be addressed. I don't know what is meant by saying that Stockman was a "Bahá'í leader." Stockman had no special rank at the time, and wasn't in a position which claimed to have the best argument on things. Stockman didn't even say what he claims. Even if he did, trying to impress the audience by Stockman's apparent credential would seem like a way to make people think that by showing Stockman wrong the Bahá'í Faith is also wrong.

It seems to me that the Bahá'í was arguing what he felt to be the case, being a believer in Bahá'u'lláh. From what Beckwith wrote above, it seems that he was saying this before evidence was provided. Basically, it seems like he was suggesting to the audience that the same thing happened twice, not that the Christians should immediately become Bahá'ís despite the two religions being incompatible. So the message was not that since the Jews were wrong at the time of Jesus they must logically be wrong now, therefore they must convert to the Bahá'í Faith. The Bahá'í who made the comments would agree that a person need not accept the Bahá'í Faith if many things haven't been explained well enough to them. The fact that he said that Bahá'u'lláh has been widely rejected because of literal views of the Bible doesn't mean he believes there are no other factors as well. After all, the Bahá'í Faith started in the middle East, and this may give some westerners a reason to pause, as it may be seen as an obscure eastern religion. The Bahá'í Faith may also be misinterpreted as some type of general peace loving group which will never become a large and influential religion, by people who haven't looked past the surface. It should have been added that the Christians began to follow imitation, and because of this strayed from the path. The main issue of importance is whether he provided any decent proof that the signs of the second coming are symbolic. Beckwith neglected to mention this. If the Bahá'í who made the comments had mentioned the signs in such a way that the Bahá'í beliefs were demonstrated correct, then his previous comments would not have been criticized. Only since the Bahá'í Faith has been found incorrect by Beckwith has he said these things. He would have no problems with someone making statements that assumed the truth of Christianity before proving it, for the sole reason that it had already been proved to him. I can't help but think of many apologists in his religion which attempt to prove the validity of the Bible, yet do little more than write that the Bible is the word of God because it says so. That's not proof!

As to Bill Garbett, his answer may not be the best one, and I would have said something slightly different. Beckwith should bear in mind that Bahá'ís have personal opinions, and that these are not necessarily correct. One moment he is speaking of what the Bahá'í Faith teaches, and comparing this to Christianity, but he then switches to refer to the opinions of only one Bahá'í on a particular subject. Beckwith has to make up his mind who this article is for, and what it is supposed to accomplish. He indicates that it is aiming to show the differences between the teachings of the two religions, yet he often appeals to personal opinions which our writings don't support. This shows how off track he is getting. Gladly he doesn't claim that the two opinions given above reflect the Bahá'í teachings.

The fact that the Bahá'í Faith has had no divisions may provide some proof of the divine origin of the Bahá'í Faith, but perhaps not conclusive proof. The more important thing to look at is why this is, and from examining the system of Bahá'í administration it is clear why. Garbett's comment could make it look like he thinks that the earlier religions, even the ones who the Bahá'í Faith recognises, were not divinely ordained, or that the fact we have no divisions makes us the religion which will finally bring peace, and that we are the last religion. We don't claim to be the final religion or revelation to mankind, and future Messengers of God are promised.

Beckwith writes:

In this article I will respond to these arguments as they relate to the different views held by Bahá'ís and Christians on (1) the nature of God, (2) biblical prophecy, and (3) religious unity.

BAHÁ'ÍS AND THE NATURE OF GOD

Although Bahá'ís teach that God is unknowable in his essence, they believe that God does reveal something of himself to man, especially through his "manifestations" (i.e., Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh, et. al.). [4] For those familiar with the conflicting doctrines of the major world religions associated with these "manifestations," however, it is rather apparent that they cannot all be true (see Table). Yet this is exactly what the Bahá'ís maintain, namely, that each of these religious leaders was a manifestation of God for his own era and therefore spoke some truth about God's nature.


The Doctrine of God Taught by the Alleged Manifestations [5]

MANIFESTATION IMPORTANT ELEMENTS IN HIS DOCTRINE OF GOD

Moses

One personal God. The universe is not eternal, but was created by God (Gen. 1-3; Deut. 6:4; etc.).

Krishna

Mix of polytheism and impersonal pantheism. The universe is eternal.

Zoroaster

One good god and one evil god (religious dualism).

Buddha

God not relevant; essentially agnostic.

Confucius

Polytheistic.

Muhammad

One personal God who cannot have a Son.

Jesus Christ

One personal God who does have a Son (Mark 12:29; John 4:24; 5:18-19; etc.).

Bahá'u'lláh

God and the universe, which is an emanation of God, are co-eternal. [6]


The fact that the various alleged manifestations of God represented God in contradictory ways implies either that manifestations of God can contradict one another or that God's own nature is contradictory. If the manifestations are allowed to contradict one another, then there is no way to separate false manifestations from true ones or to discover if any of them really speaks for the true and living God. Yet the Bahá'ís obviously do not accept every person who claims to be a manifestation of God (e.g., Jim Jones, founder of Jonestown). If, on the other hand, God's own nature is said to be contradictory, that is, that God is both one God and many gods, that God is both able and not able to have a Son, both personal and impersonal, etc., then the Bahá'í concept of God is reduced to meaninglessness.

[end of excerpt]

Now this is getting interesting. I agree that the Manifestations of God cannot represent God in contradictory ways, as you couldn't separate the true from false. I will now attempt to argue that the Bahá'í concept of God is not reduced to meaninglessness, as Beckwith is not well acquainted with the history or literature of many religions. He refers to the teachings of God associated with these people. The fact that most will think of the Trinity and the teaching of Jesus together doesn't make the Bible support it. Neither does it make someone else teach polytheism.

Most of what Beckwith said about Moses is correct. Yes, Moses taught one God. Considering he believes in the Trinity I'm sure he thinks this was a Godhead consisting of three members, despite the fact that the Old Testament gives no clue of such a fact, which will be shown further in the part where I refute the idea that it was prophesied that the Messiah would be God. He said that Moses taught the universe was not eternal. Perhaps he meant the word earth, because nowhere does the Old Testament say that the universe is not eternal. Incidentally, the word universe is not mentioned once in the Old Testament. Genesis 1:1 says "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (KJV) Maybe Beckwith thinks that this means everything, because heaven is mentioned as being created on the second day of creation. 1 Kings 8:39 says that the dwelling place of God is in heaven. The Bible does indicate that apart from what is in heaven and earth there is nothing, so universe could encompass the two. However, unless Genesis chapter 1 is allegorical God could not have existed prior to the creation of the world. If He did, He would have had to dwell in a place that was neither heaven nor earth, as heaven and earth weren't created until the second and third days of creation. So God could only have existed from the second day onward. This raises the question as to who created on the first day, and who brought God into existence. In a footnote, Beckwith says "It should be noted that it is untenable both philosophically and scientifically to maintain that the universe is without a beginning." He then proceeds to list some books which apparently show that this is correct.

Genesis chapter 1 is an allegorical story that was written according to the knowledge of the people of the time, and in this chapter heaven is defined as the atmosphere. This was the literal belief prevalent at the time and after. Throughout the Bible heaven is simply defined as directly up from the place a person is. So Genesis might speak of earth and its atmosphere being created. Otherwise there would have been a time where God dwelled somewhere which wasn't in heaven. If Genesis chapter 1 is taken literally we have to believe that absolute non existence became existence, and that God couldn't have existed before the creation of everything. Here is a short passage from the Bahá'í writings showing why we believe the universe is eternal:

"Know that it is one of the most abstruse spiritual truths that the world of existence - that is to say, this endless universe - has no beginning.

We have already explained that the names and attributes of the Divinity themselves require the existence of beings. Although this subject has been explained in detail, we will speak of it again briefly. Know that an educator without pupils cannot be imagined; a monarch without subjects could not exist; a master without scholars cannot be appointed; a creator without a creature is impossible; a provider without those provided for cannot be conceived; for all the divine names and attributes demand the existence of beings. If we could imagine a time when no beings existed, this imagination would be the denial of the Divinity of God. Moreover, absolute nonexistence cannot become existence. If the beings were absolutely nonexistent, existence would not have come into being. Therefore, as the Essence of Unity (that is, the existence of God) is everlasting and eternal - that is to say, it has neither beginning nor end - it is certain that this world of existence, this endless universe, has neither beginning nor end."
(`Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Page: 180)

If Beckwith wants to argue that the universe is not eternal then He will have to give proof that the Bible indirectly talks of the existence of the universe, not earth. He will also have to show that it is possible that God could have existed prior to creation, based on the book itself, and refute the above argument given from the Bahá'í writings. Interestingly, the Bible refutes creationism, and thus may support the theory of evolution.

Now on to Krishna. Hinduism is a very old religion, and it must be studied well to divide the original teachings from those which arose later. Krishna did not teach polytheism, though it might appear that He did. I can and will assume that Beckwith is not sufficiently acquainted with the origins of this religion. He has to also acknowledge that most people in a religion believing something about God does not make his claim true, unless he can show that their book teaches what they say. If Beckwith had different doctrinal beliefs to most Christians I doubt he would renounce his beliefs because most hold that he was wrong. Going by this logic, everyone at the time of Christ should have rejected Him, considering the Pharisees said that the signs were yet to come. After all, could such a large number of people be wrong?

With the claim of polytheism, it seems Beckwith is referring to what seems to be a Hindu Trinity. Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma are not taught to all be the Supreme God. Instead they are created gods, who represent different things. Polytheism refers to many Gods, not gods. The Bible also speaks of gods. The way God has been presented in Hinduism is slightly different to the Bible, but ultimately the same. One has to take into account the fact that God's revelation and teachings are given in accordance with the time and place in which the Prophet comes, and may thus be given in a slightly different way depending. Hinduism has a very similar flood myth to the Bible, but adapted slightly to fit the historical context. So like much of the scientific information in the Bible that is outwardly false, it is correct in a sense. It could take up a huge amount of space commenting on this issue in depth. If I knew Beckwith had studied this religion I would attempt a long response, but since it doesn't look like it I'll give a few short comments. Various deities are worshipped by Hindu's today, but that doesn't mean Krishna taught about these. The Vedas are early books in Hinduism, which teach a slightly different concept of God to later books, and it seems that they are heavily mythical. An article in The 1989 World Book Encyclopedia says "A new group of gods gradually replaced the gods of the Vedas. The chief divinity was Brahman, the Supreme World-Spirit. Hindus believe that Brahman takes many forms. The three most important forms are Brahma, the Creator; Vishnu, the Preserver; and Shiva, the Destroyer. Hindus call these three divinities the Trimurti, which means three forms in the Sanskrit language."

This is very similar to the Bible teaching about angels of God. Some hold that there is a single angel, called "the angel of the Lord." They claim that this angel is the Messiah, despite the fact that the Bible doesn't say this. It can't be Him, considering Matthew 2:13 "And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother..." (KJV) Jesus was in flesh at this time, so couldn't be the angel. It certainly doesn't claim that it was Jesus. Surely He would have been recognised. Luke 1:11 speaks of an angel of God, later said to be Gabriel, appearing to Zachariah. Some say that "the" angel of the Lord is different to "an" angel of the Lord. The scriptures show that this is incorrect. Judges 6:12 says that an angel of the Lord appeared. The next verse says that the angel of the LORD appeared. It also says that God is with the person. As Isaiah 63:9 says, the angel of God is the sign of His presence. So now it is clear that Gabriel can be referred to as the angel of the Lord. "The" angel of the Lord appeared in Exodus chapter 3; yet is referred to as "an" angel of the Lord in Acts 7:30. Angels of the Lord are referred to as God, which is very interesting. In Luke 1:19, Gabriel says that he is standing in the presence of God. 1 Kings 8:39 says that God dwells in heaven. Jude 9 has Michael saying the same thing that the angel of the LORD said in Zechariah 3:2. Angels always refer to God in the third person. They can be referred to as one, like Genesis 18:3 shows, with the address to the three angels. Some think that these angels are the Trinity. Many problems exist with this assertion. With the usual rigid definition of heaven, and knowing that God dwells in heaven, none of the three could be in heaven, thus God wasn't there. The Father is never said to be an angel, and Malachi 4:6 says that He doesn't change. So He didn't go down. God the Father is the one who sends the angels, while staying in heaven. Exodus 23:20 shows this. Also, if Jesus were an angel then He would have lost greatness temporarily, since Hebrews 1 says that He is greater than the angels. I thought Jesus only lost greatness when putting on a human nature? Genesis 18:20-21 shows that God was in heaven during the whole time. These angels can all be referred to as God. This is because they have the same substance of God, but the different angels differ in characteristics. Gabriel is the prince of fire and the spirit who presides over thunder and the ripening of fruits. So Gabriel is an aspect of divinity, different to other angels.

The writings of Hinduism provide indication that my beliefs concerning Brahman are correct. Brahman is the Absolute and, simultaneously, the omnipresent Reality conceived as pervading the universe. It is the goal of the Hindu to attain, by personal experience through direct revelation, some understanding of the essential being of Brahman. Brahman is beyond all material forms and consists of knowledge and bliss. As eternal, infinite, and conscious being, it is the subject, rather than the object, of thought. Thus, as the Absolute of all things known, it is incapable of being characterized or circumscribed by any one thing, or even by the totality of things. Hindus believe in one Supreme Being, and the various gods are perceived as divine creations of that one Being. Many look at the gods as mere symbols, representations of forces or mind strata, or as various personifications generated as a projection of man's mind onto an impersonal pure state of Being. The Atharva Veda says:

"Great indeed are the gods who have sprung out of Brahman."

Brahman is simultaneously Purusha, the Primal Soul. He is perfection of being, the original soul who creates/emanates innumerable individual souls, such as the gods. The gods are so close to Brahman that they fulfill their cosmic functions in perfect accord with God's wisdom, intent and action. In the Rig Veda:

"He who is beyond all exists as the relative universe. That part of Him appears as sentient and insentient beings. From a part of Him was born the body of the universe, and out of this body were born the gods, the earth and men."

The Maitrayana Upanishad says:

"When beholding by this yoga, he beholds the Gold-colored maker, the Lord, the Purusha, Brahman, the cause."

It was claimed that Krishna taught impersonal pantheism. I think the Hindu writings show that things in the universe are an emanation from God, not part of Him. For example, the sun emanates light without descending.

Beckwith says that Zoroastrian teaches religious dualism. It sounds like he has to study this religion a little more carefully, as there are not two Gods, one good and one evil. In fact it teaches just what the Bible teaches. "The basic tenets of the Gathas consist of a monotheistic worship of Ahura Mazda (the "Lord Wisdom") and an ethical dualism opposing Truth (Asha) and Lie, which permeate the entire universe. All that is good derives from, and is supported by, Ahura Mazda's emanations: Spenta Mainyu (the "Holy Spirit" or "Incremental Spirit," a creative force) and his six assisting entities, Good Mind, Truth, Power, Devotion, Health, and Life. All evil is caused by the "twin" of Spenta Mainyu, who is Angra Mainyu (the "Fiendish Spirit"; Persian. Ahriman), and by his assistants."

("Zoroastrianism," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation). Doesn't this sound like what the Bible teaches? Angra Mainyu is just like Satan, who the Bible refers to as "the god of this world" in 2 Corinthians 4:4. So Angra Mainyu is a "god," not God. I don't think you would find any Zoroastrian text which refers to it as God with a capital G. Previously in this article, Beckwith referred to Zoroastrianism as having "One good god and one evil god." Notice that he uses lower case both times. He knows that Zoroastrians believe in the good and wise type of God which most people believe in, so why didn't he capitalize the first mention of God? Throughout his article he often doesn't capitalize words that should be capitalized. From what Beckwith wrote we must conclude that he thinks Zoroastrianism teaches that there is an evil being which is another God, not "a god" like the Bible refers to Satan as. Where is his evidence? Throughout the writings of Zoroaster, Ahura Mazda, or Ohrmazd, it's plural, is used to refer to the God who created the world. In Chidag Andarz i Poryotkeshan, Zoroaster said "My father is Ohrmazd. My humanity is from Mashye..." He also says "To perform my function and to do my duty means that I should believe that Ohrmazd is, was, and evermore shall be, that his Kingdom is undying, and that he is infinite and pure; and that Ahriman is not, and is destructible; that I myself belong to Ohrmazd and his Bounteous Immortals, and that I have no connection with Ahriman, the demons, and their associates." The evil god Beckwith speaks of is no doubt Angra Mainyu, which in plural is Ahriman. The above quote mentions Ahriman in a way which shows that it is not God. Further on Zoroaster says "I must have no doubt that there are two first principles, one the Creator and the other the Destroyer. The Creator is Ohrmazd who is all goodness and all light: and the Destroyer is the accursed Destructive Spirit who is all wickedness and full of death, a liar and a deceiver." Sounds like the same thing John 8:44 says! Beckwith must show that Zoroastrianism teaches something different to the Bible, otherwise I'll hold that it teaches the same thing.

Buddha didn't teach that God is irrelevant. Buddha taught the existence of a supreme spiritual Being, whom He called the Absolute or the Lovely. While His own words about the nature of this God are not many, they didn't need to be. Buddha firmly established Himself as part of a prophetic succession, which included people such as Manu, Rama, and Krishna. "Of these I am and what they did I do," He said. This means that if you had studied the Bhagavad-Gita or the Upanishads from which Buddha often gave lessons to His disciples, then you already understood the existence and nature of God. Buddha didn't have to start at the beginning. In the old Indian culture the concept of a personal God would be out of place. So while Buddha didn't seem to teach about God in an outward way, from the Buddhist writings there are many signs that a God is taught. There is one place in writings of Buddha where the existence of God is quite clearly taught, but indirectly. {2}

Where does Confucius teach Polytheism?

Now to Muhammad. Beckwith has made the allegation that Muhammad taught that God can't have a Son. The suggestion is that this contradicts with the Bible, when it speaks of Jesus as the Son of God. I will argue that the Qur'an does not deny the words of Jesus, but the meaning given to them by Christians. Firstly, here is a quote from the Bahá'í writings on this issue:

"Regarding the passage you enclosed about the Qur'an: In reality there is no contradiction at all; when the Qur'an denies Christ is the Son of God it is not refuting His Words but the false interpretation of them by the Christians who read into them a relationship of an almost corporeal nature, whereas Almighty God has no parents or offspring. What is meant by Christ, is His spirit's relation to the Infinite Spirit, and this the Qur'an does not deny. It is in a sense attributable - this kind of Sonship - to all the Prophets."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual

believer, May 19, 1945)

(Multiple Authors: Lights of Guidance, Pages: 493-494)

The message of the Qur'an is no different to that of the Bible in this subject. It is very important to note the context of the statements that repudiate the idea that God could beget a Son, to see what they really mean. The Qur'an often has statements which speak in such a way that shows that the opinion of God is being given. In other words, what is really correct is stated, not what people incorrectly think. The following quotation is a good example:

"O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not "Trinity": desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: Glory be to Him: (for exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs." (Sura 4:171 Yusif Ali's translation)

The reason stated for not believing in the Trinity is because God is one. Trinitarians do believe that God is one. However, I will show later on that the Trinity is logically impossible, as well as biblically unsound, and amounts to there being three Gods. Then it will be seen that the Qur'an is correct in making this statement. The verse just quoted says many things. It says that Jesus was an apostle of Allah, or of God. The word apostle is used in the Qur'an to speak of those who bring a new revelation, which is in a different sense to how the New Testament uses this term. The New Testament uses the word prophet to mean many things, from one who prophesies in the church to a Messenger of God. The above verse also says that God is exalted above having a son. Notice the context of this statement. The opinions of others are being referred to. The same is true with Sura 5:75-76, and these opinions are contrasted with the truth.

Sura 6:100-101 show that by denying that God could have a son, it is only the corporeal relationship, which is being spoken of:

"Yet they make the Jinns equal with Allah, though Allah did create the Jinns; and they falsely, having no knowledge, attribute to Him sons and daughters. Praise and glory be to Him! (for He is) above what they attribute to Him! To Him is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: how can He have a son when He hath no consort? He created all things, and He hath full knowledge of all things."

This passage makes it clear that the Bahá'í belief about this subject is true. These verses speak of the opinions of others, and are speaking in physical terms. Sura 5:19 says that those who say that God is Christ the son of Mary blaspheme. It then asks who has the least power against God, if His will was to destroy Christ, Mary, and everyone on earth. Then it says that to God belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and He has power over all things. This shows, as does the rest of the Qur'an, that a being made of flesh cannot be associated with God in a physical sense, and that the Bible doesn't teach the Trinity. It does not comment on the spiritual relationship here, but the rest of the Qur'an indicates that it was the same as in the Bible, thus allowing Jesus to be the Son of God. Jesus was not the only Son of God, as shown by 1 John 3:1, which speaks of the sons of God being people at the time, and Job 38:7, which speaks of the sons of God being present at the time of creation, thus making the reference be to angels. Exodus 4:22-23 shows how this term was used, in saying: "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn." (KJV)

This is quite interesting, as the initial usage of "son" and "firstborn" has a metaphorical meaning, expressing a relationship with God, and the next usage, speaking of the son of Pharaoh, is literal. Colossians 1:12-13 speaks of God the Father, and His Son Jesus. In verse 15 it refers to Him as the "firstborn." The usage here and in Exodus must be the same, thus no reference to the human body of Jesus is intended. As we have seen, the Qur'an refers to the false opinions of others, and they believed that "Son of God" had a more physical meaning. The Qur'an often refers to Jesus as the son of Mary, for example, Sura 5:49. This was His human mother. It says that Jesus was the son of Mary again in Sura 19:34. The next verse says that it is not befitting to the majesty of God that He should beget a son. It says that "When He determines a matter, He only says to it, "Be, and it is." This implies that begetting a son is a physical act, depending on the needs of men's animal nature. God is independent from such needs, so it is derogatory to attribute such an act to Him. When we read from verse 16 up to verse 35 in this chapter, a clear distinction is made between what is meant by Jesus being called the son. Those verses talk about the announcement of a son to Mary by an angel. A physical son is meant. However, many verses show that God gave her the son, and gave Jesus the bounty of prophethood. So in this sense, and as shown by the spiritual relationship between Jesus and God, it could also be said that Jesus was the Son of God. As I mentioned, it finishes by saying that Jesus was the son of Mary, and that God does not beget sons. These verses spoke of a physical act, so it is apparent that there is no denial of the spiritual idea of Sonship, only the physical. The Qur'an never refers to the words of Jesus in the gospel as being incorrect, so it is only refuting the interpretation given to them by others.

Beckwith says that Christ teaches "One personal God who does have a Son," though Muhammad taught "One personal God who cannot have a Son." He is obviously agreeing that Muhammad taught that only the Father was God. The fact that "One personal God" is mentioned in both shows that Jesus is not the God spoken of. After all, he refers to Christ teaching one personal God who has a Son. The God mentioned thus couldn't be Jesus, unless Jesus was the Father, which would make Jesus His own son. The Bible itself says that Jesus is the Son of God the Father. So if Beckwith wants to indicate that the Trinity is taught then he should say so in a way that indicates Jesus is God. The personal God who has a Son could only refer to the Father, thus teaching Unitarianism. Trinitarians use God to mean whatever they want. At times the full Trinity is referred to, and at other times an individual member is spoken of. If there is one personal God with a Son, like he says, and since neither the Holy Spirit nor Jesus can be referred to as that one God, then if those two are God then they must be separate Gods.

Regardless of this, to prove that Beckwith is wrong about the Trinity (which he later makes clear that he believes) I will have to appeal to the Bible itself. Space won't permit a long rebuttal, so I'll just tackle a few of the most standard proof verses as well as giving proof against the doctrine.

Jesus said "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30 KJV). Does that mean they are the same being? Jesus said something similar in John 17:22, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one." (KJV) Here again, Jesus says He and the Father are one. But He also prays that His followers will be one in the same sense that He and Yahweh are one. This is a oneness of mind, purpose, and will, not a oneness of being. And it certainly doesn't mean that there are two Yahweh's. This verse would have been a good time to teach the Trinity, were it a valid doctrine.

Jesus said "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." (John 14:9 KJV) This is a fairly popular proof text, but it works better against than for. It simply shows that by seeing Jesus the Father is seen. Throughout Paul's epistles, the Father and Jesus are mentioned in the same verse, yet only the Father is referred to as God. The Father is commonly known simply as "God." This is shown in 2 Corinthians 13:14, which mentions all three members of the Trinity, with the Father being "God." Perhaps there's a message here? So to see Jesus is to see the Father, or God. If this text is taken literally you could only try to show that Jesus is the Father, as it shows that God the Father is spoken of. Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 1:3 are examples which show that Jesus is the express image of the Father. Thus to see Jesus is like seeing the Father. This resolves the paradox with John 1:18, which says that no man has seen God at any time. It then says that the Son has declared the Father. So in this way the Father can be seen, but it is shown that God cannot be seen directly. John 14:10 continues on, saying "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (KJV) Verse 13 says that the Father is glorified in the Son. So we see that in qualities and attributes, Jesus fully identifies with God. So in a sense, Jesus can be referred to as God, while not actually being God in essence. Confused?

This is actually no different to how John the Baptist can be called Elijah. There are a few clues from the way John chapter 1 is written to show that Jesus is separate from God, and not God Himself, so I will give an in depth examination of this chapter.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2 KJV)

I'll start with a few sentences to show what the Bible meant. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles signifies that the divine bounties reflected and appeared in their reality. Entrance and exit, descent and ascent are characteristics of bodies and not of spirits. That is say, sensible realities enter and come forth, but intellectual subtleties and mental realities, such as intelligence, love and knowledge do not enter, come forth, or descend, but rather they have direct connection. For example, knowledge, which is a state attained to by the intelligence, is an intellectual condition; and the entering and coming out of the mind are imaginary conditions; but the mind is connected with the acquisition of knowledge, like images which are reflected in a mirror. Because of this it is clear that intellectual realities do not enter and descend, and is impossible that the Holy Spirit should do this, as it can only be that it appears in splendour, like the sun in a mirror. Sometimes the Bible speaks of the Spirit, signifying a certain person; as it is currently said in speech and conversation that such a person is an embodied spirit, or he is a personification of mercy and generosity. In this case it is the light we look at, and not the glass. This is shown by John 16:12-13, which shows that the Spirit of truth is embodied in a man who has individuality. The whatever he hears is what he speaks is the same as with Christ, who was a man. So the reference "Spirit of God" could speak of Christ; as you speak of a light to mean both the light and the lamp.

Based on what has been shown, it is clear that the Word is the Christhood in Jesus. Letters on their own have individual significance, but a word has complete meaning. The essence of God reflected itself in this mirror, and manifested its light and heat in it; but from the exaltation of its holiness, and the heaven of its sanctity, the Sun did not descend to dwell and abide in the mirror. It continues to subsist in its exaltation while appearing and becoming manifest in the mirror in beauty and perfection. If we say that we have seen the Sun in two mirrors - one the Christ and one the Holy Spirit - that is to say, that we have seen three Suns, one in heaven and the two others on the earth, we would speak correctly. Alternatively we could say that there is one Sun, which is pure singleness with no partner or equal, and again speak right. So the attributes of God become visible in the mirror. The meaning is not that the Sun, which is the Essence of the Divinity, became divided; for the Sun is one, but it appeared in the mirror. That is why Christ could say that the Father is in the Son, meaning that the Sun is manifest in this mirror. One could say that because of this verse Jesus could be called God, and I would agree. In one sense He is, in another not. After all, wasn't Elijah in John? What's the difference in the two examples? The Bible says that by Christ all become alive. This shows that the reality of Christ, which is identical to God, gives life. However, as John 5:26 shows, the life was in the Father and given through the Son. During the ministry of Jesus everyone agrees that God gave the life, thus the fact that Jesus gave life then doesn't make Him God. The thing is who had the life. Hosea 12:13 says that by a prophet God brought Israel up from Egypt (the Exodus). Genesis 50:24 has a promise that God will bring the people out of Egypt. Then in Exodus 23:20 God says that He is sending His angel to bring the people from Egypt. So which of the three brought the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, the angel, God, or Moses? It is clear that all did, though each in a different sense. The Word signifies the divine appearance, which has neither beginning or end. This is why the Word was in the beginning. What the gospel shows is that while Jesus lived He was identical to the Father in various ways.

"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:3)

The Old Testament says that "by wisdom" God created the heavens. The New Testament seems to contradict this, saying that "by him (the reality of Jesus)" they were made. Obviously it means the same, and Luke 11:49, which says that the Wisdom of God spoke, makes this clear.

"In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:4-5)

I think I've covered this. It would be contradictory to say that life wasn't in Him.

"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." (John 1:6)

The strong indication is that the God mentioned here is the Father. 1 John 4:9 says that God sent Jesus into the world, and in verse 14 it says that the Father sent Jesus. John 1:12 refers to the sons of God. Never does the Bible indicate that these are of Jesus. In fact the Father is associated with them in 1 John 3:1. John 1:13 speaks of the will of God, which is commonly associated with the Father in the epistles of Paul. Verse 14 speaks of the Father, in a way which shows that He was the God spoken of. After all, the Word was with God the Father. Verse 18 says "No man hath seen God at any time." Many people saw Jesus. Since the rest of the verse says that Jesus declared Him, it is clear that when speaking of the qualities of Jesus, He is God. If I was to send a photo of me to someone else, they would be correct in thinking it was me. In a different sense, they would be wrong, as the photo is not me. The photo only declares and reflects my image.

Perhaps now it is clear where I'm coming from. Anyone possessing the qualities of the Word can be it, just as Jesus said John the Baptist was Elijah. Only in qualities, not in essence. John 1:19-21 tells of priests and Levites being sent to ask John who he was. Here John denied being Elijah. This seems quite appropriate for this chapter, as it previously indicates that Jesus is only God in a sense. The part concerning John shows that he was not Elijah, but it does not deny that he is the same in spirit, which is shown in other places. Colossians 2:9 is often appealed to by Trinitarians. It says "For in him (Christ) the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily." (RSV) This can't be taken to mean that Jesus was the deity, just that the Father was in Him, and the Holy Spirit was with Him. The Holy Spirit, while related, is not God. John 14:9-11 shows how God dwells in Jesus, while only being in the image of the mirror.

The fact that Jesus was worshipped is often given as proof that Jesus is God. This really provides no problem. People can receive worship, if the worship is ultimately for God. Daniel 2:46 records Daniel being worshipped, 1 Kings 29:20 speaks of David and God being worshipped, and Revelation 3:9 says that the members of the Philadelphia church would receive worship.

Matthew 28:19 is a verse commonly mentioned by Trinitarians. This verse has the commission to baptize "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (RSV) However, this verse does not suggest that the three are God or constitute the same being. The use of the word "name" seems to indicate that the three stand for the same thing. One is the giver of grace, one is the receiver of grace at the time, and the other is the intermediary. In John 5:43 Jesus says that He came in His Father's name, showing that Jesus came in the name of God. This verse also says that if another comes in his own name, him they will receive. Now his own name means not in the name of God. So each divinely sent messenger comes in the Father's name. This shows why Philippians 2:9 says that God exalted Jesus and bestowed on Him a name which is above every name. Many are quick to appeal to this verse for proof that Jesus is God. However it doesn't indicate this, and Philippians 2:8-9 indicates that Jesus was given this name after He died. Did Jesus become God at a certain point in time?

John 8:58 is often appealed to by Trinitarians. They say that Jesus claimed to be God in this verse, by saying "I am," which is used for God in Exodus chapter 3, and which they assure you should be capitalized. The context shows this idea false, as the context is time and pre-existence. Jesus said that Abraham rejoiced to see the day of Him. In John 8:57, the Jews ask Jesus how He could have seen Abraham, considering He is less than fifty years old. In the next verse, Jesus answers "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." (RSV)

As we could expect, the beginning of the verse speaks of time, which is the topic being addressed. The point of Jesus was that He had existed before Abraham was alive. The "I am" is a Hebrew figure of speech used to indicate a non-terminated existence. "I was" would be incorrect, as that would mean that He ceased to exist. If the "I am" was a sudden claim to be God it is not only out of context, but it makes an incomplete sentence. "I AM" is another way of writing Yahweh, as Exodus 3:14-15 shows. The second verse uses Yahweh, which is there connected with the verb hayah, to be. Neither "I AM" or Yahweh was used for God at the time of Jesus, so it's doubtful that He would use these words in a claim to be God.

The Trinitarians often appeal to the fact that the Jews went to stone Him after this apparent claim to be God. This is supposed to be proof that Jesus was God. After all, the Jews knew, didn't they? This is weak proof, because these are the same Jews who rejected Jesus, and couldn't understand much of what He said. If these same people hold that John 10:30 is not a proof verse, then they should stop using this argument, because the Jews went to stone Jesus then. John 7:1 says that the Jews sought to kill Jesus at that time. It doesn't say that this was because He claimed to be God.

Some point to John 5:18 for proof that Jesus is God, because it speaks of being equal with God. However, this verse is written in a way that shows what the Jews were thinking. It also says that Jesus broke the sabbath, with the implication that this was a transgression. Either both or none are true. It's amazing how this is appealed to, in light of the fact that in John 14:28, Jesus said that God is greater than Him. This means Jesus is lesser. Someone who is lesser than someone cannot be equal to them. Philippians 2:6 is used to show that Jesus was equal to God. Since Jesus claimed to be lesser, it is clear that whatever equality there was is related to authority while Jesus was on earth, as John 5:27 shows. The verses in Philippians chapter 2 refer to the human life of Jesus, in which He was less than God.

Now on to a few places in the Bible which refute the Trinity:

Matthew 19:17

I would regard this verse as direct proof that Jesus is not God. In verse 16, a ruler who didn't know Jesus came to Him, saying "Good Master, what good thing shall I do." (KJV) In the next verse it says Jesus said to him "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God..." That is a claim not to be God. When Jesus asked the person why he called Him good, this was because the person wasn't supposed to refer to Jesus in such an exalted way. This is because the source of all power is God. Jesus says that only one is good, and that is God. This not only further shows that Jesus asked the question because the person said something wrong, but also shows that only God is to be referred to in this way. A paraphrase would be "Don't call me good. None is good, but one, that is, God." The one that is good is not Jesus. The one is to who this form of address should be used for. If it wasn't a high enough form of address then Jesus wouldn't allow it to be used for God. There is no evidence that this "one" should be taken to allow a composite entity. This obviously refers to the same God as mentioned in verse 26. Jesus was also meaning to teach humbleness to the man by this address. It does not mean to say that Jesus was not good.

"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mark 13:32 KJV) If Jesus is God, how couldn't He know something? This verse also shows that the Holy Spirit isn't a knower either, but this is probably because it is an emanation from God, not a person. 1 Corinthians 8:6 says there is one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned, and noone could believe that anyone but the Father could be God after reading this verse. Romans 1:7 mentions the Father as God, and Jesus as Lord, showing a distinction. Psalm 110:1 refers to the Father, then apparently Jesus. The first "Lord" is Yahweh, the second adown. If Yahweh was used both times it could have settled it. 1 Peter 1:2 refers to the members of the Trinity, and only the Father is called God. The next verse says "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." (RSV) This shows the distinction between Lord and God. God can be called Lord, but He is also called God. Jesus is never called God.

One of the best verses showing that the Redeemer does not refer to Jesus is Isaiah 63:16 "For thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer from of old is thy name." (RSV) The name of the Redeemer is the Father. If Yahweh the Redeemer is also the Son then Jesus must actually be the Father, which is false. To argue that the word Father is metaphorical here is weak in light of the fact that Jesus spoke of the Father as God. John 20:17 certainly shows that to the people He is "our Father." Ephesians 1:17 shows the same, and shows that at that time Jesus had a God. Noone who has a God is God. Mark 16:19 speaks of Jesus sitting on the right hand of God. Being at someone's right hand means that you derive strength from that person.

It is suggested by Trinitarians that Jesus now functions independently as God. From looking at the epistles of Paul this is not seen to be the case. Romans 7:25 says "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (RSV) Romans 16:27 says "To the only wise God be glory for evermore through Jesus Christ! Amen." (RSV) This verse not only indicates that Jesus isn't God, but that He isn't included as a wise God. Trinitarians claim that the Father is different to the Son. If this verse doesn't eliminate Jesus being God then it shows He is the Father. This verse also shows that Jesus is still an intermediary, as Galatians 3:20 shows, when writing "Now an intermediary implies more than one; but God is one." (RSV) 1 Timothy 2:5 puts a nail in the coffin, saying "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (RSV) Mediators aren't God. When God is mentioned here, does this include the Holy Spirit? Romans 8:34 says that Jesus is at the right hand of God, and intercedes for us. This verse does not in any way say that Jesus is an independent life giver. Since He is an intermediary, and things are offered through Him, this says not. 1 Corinthians 6:14 says that God raised Christ and will raise others. Surely this shows that only the Father is God. 2 Corinthians 1:9 says that God raises the dead, and context shows that the Father is referred to. Nowhere does the Bible say that Jesus will raise the dead. 1 Corinthians 3:23 says "And you are Christ's; and Christ is God's." (RSV) This shows the chain of superiority. Philippians 4:19-20 provides indication that God was still providing everything, and that the Father was their only God. Jude 25 shows the same thing.

Is that enough?

Can Christian Doctrines Withstand Scrutiny?

As I noted earlier, Steven McConnell has asked whether the Christian concept of God could measure up to this sort of scrutiny. He asserts, "Subjected to the glossy examination you give the Bahá'í God, the paradox of Jesus being fully human and fully divine as well as the paradox of the unity and individuality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit would be mere contradictions!" He then asks, "So why are Christianity's paradoxes (contradictions) more virtuous than Bahá'í's?" [7]

Several comments are in order. First, Christian thinkers take an entirely different attitude toward their problematic doctrines than the Bahá'ís. For example, many Christian philosophers and theologians have spent much time trying to explain these doctrines in a way that is coherent and philosophically sound. [8] Christians believe that these problematic doctrines are logically reconcilable because they are in fact ultimately noncontradictory. On the other hand, the Bahá'ís do not seem particularly concerned about whether their doctrine of God is internally consistent.

How does Beckwith know the attitude Bahá'ís have towards God on a large scale? From what is written above, he makes it seem like Bahá'ís realize that the different religions teach contradictory things about God, and that the table he has provided is correct, but that we just don't care. This is certainly not the case. The silence of Bahá'í writers to refute claims such as his is not exactly great proof that they are unconcerned about whether their doctrine of God is consistent. The claims aren't even correct, though a few of them are only small errors. I'm sure most Bahá'ís have never seen such a comparison given by a non-Bahá'í, and if we saw it we wouldn't agree with it. As it is, much of what he says other religions teach about God is wrong, and leads me to believe Beckwith has spent little time looking into other religions. I don't think you will easily find a Bahá'í defence on a criticism such as his, because most Bahá'ís have chosen to write about different things. Beckwith wrote "the Bahá'ís do not seem particularly concerned about whether their doctrine of God is internally consistent." I'd like those reading this article to look at this sentence carefully. From it, a non-Bahá'í may assume that the usual Bahá'í realizes that the different Prophets teach contradictory things about God, that we know these things can't be reconciled (and perhaps our scholars have unsuccessfully tried doing so), but that it doesn't bother us. This paints a bad and inaccurate picture of the Bahá'í community. It is upsetting that Beckwith makes it seem like the Bahá'ís agree with the apparent contradictory concepts of God given earlier in this article. He could have mentioned the fact that Bahá'ís don't believe the Prophets of God teach contradictory things about God, but he didn't. Then it would simply be his turn to show that the Prophets do contradict each other, which I'm sure he wouldn't think hard to do. Bahá'ís have written almost nothing on the Trinity, and I have yet to see something in any detail, and which would have a good chance of convincing Trinitarians they are wrong. Beckwith doesn't say he has heard our arguments against the Trinity, so I would say he hasn't. Let's quote the end of his comment again:

"Christian thinkers take an entirely different attitude toward their problematic doctrines than the Bahá'ís. For example, many Christian philosophers and theologians have spent much time trying to explain these doctrines in a way that is coherent and philosophically sound. [8] Christians believe that these problematic doctrines are logically reconcilable because they are in fact ultimately noncontradictory. On the other hand, the Bahá'ís do not seem particularly concerned about whether their doctrine of God is internally consistent."

From a Christian who refers to the Bahá'í Faith as "Bahá'ísm, I guess you can expect that he would know little about what goes on in our administration. Notice that he says Christian philosophers and theologians have spent much time in explaining doctrines, which ultimately don't contradict, but that Bahá'ís are unconcerned about whether our doctrine of God is consistent. Throughout Beckwith's article, he makes statements like these which claim to know something about our operations without providing evidence. Or is he meaning that by not being particularly concerned we have chosen to remain Bahá'ís, members of a religion which contradicts itself? Considering he says that Christians have taken some time to explain things, but that the Bahá'ís haven't bothered, again indicates that the Bahai writers realize they are wrong. Some people are involved in religions which they believe to be fallible, seeing that religion as the closest to the truth. If they remain in the religion despite it's faults this isn't necessarily bad. I'm just mentioning this because even if the Bahá'ís were wrong on this issue, and realized this, it is not necessarily bad to stay in the religion. This could apply to other groups as well.

Beckwith makes the lamentable assertion, with the indication from his article that the Trinity is one of the doctrines spoken of, that philosophers and theologians have explained it in such a way that is coherently and philosophically sound. He says that the doctrines are logically reconcilable and ultimately noncontradictory. Come, let's don't be ridiculous. No amount of logic and reason is involved in understanding the Trinity. Most apologists have admitted this, and make no rational defence, as to do so would border on the naivete. I'll speak a bit more about this when he makes his defence.

Again Beckwith appeals to something the non-Bahá'í said in response to his book to further his argument. Like I said before, who cares what the non-Bahá'ís think about it?

Second, the paradoxes inherent in the Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity are not comparable to the contradictions inherent in the Bahá'í concept of God. When the Bible asserts both the humanity and the deity of Jesus it is not asserting something that is self-contradictory by definition. Christians do not believe that Jesus was both God and not-God, but rather that Jesus was both God and man. In other words, when Christians assert that God became man they are not asserting that God became merely man (although He was fully man), but rather that the Son of God took on a human nature in addition to His divine nature. Although we may not fully comprehend how the divine and human natures interacted in the person of Jesus, this is not the same thing as saying that the concept of a God-man is self-contradictory.

The statement that we may not fully comprehend how the divine and human natures interacted in Jesus is the understatement of the month. Beckwith says that when the Bible asserts both the humanity and deity of Jesus it isn't asserting something self-contradictory. Oh yes it is! God is perfect and man is not. Man errs; God does not. How could you have a being that is perfect and not perfect simultaneously? How could a being be infinite and finite at the same time? How could a being be ignorant of some things yet omniscient? For example, Mark 13:32 which states that only God knows the hour, and that the Son of man and the angels do not know it. This verse means that only God knows the hour intrinsically. If Jesus is supposedly God, this verse not only gives indication that God was someone different to Jesus, but that Jesus couldn't be God because He didn't know the hour. Beckwith claims that Jesus took on a human nature "In addition to His divine nature." That's hard to believe. If Mark 13:32 doesn't prove Jesus isn't God then it does show that He couldn't have still had His divine nature while on earth. Apparently the Trinity doesn't teach that Jesus is both God and not God, yet it has to, considering how in John 5:30 Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do nothing." (KJV) This is a statement someone other than God would make. It could then be claimed that Jesus did not function as God while on earth. This could be explained by someone time travelling into someone else's body to help out, yet acting as the other person, while not being that person. The problem is that it is stated that Jesus took on a human nature in addition to the divine nature. Logical problems aside, if Jesus still had His divine nature then He would know the day and hour, and He would not say, "my Father is greater than I" (John 14:28 KJV). After all, what made Jesus lesser? Why assume that Jesus referred to His human nature? Where does the Bible indicate that Jesus became greater when His earthly mission ended?

Likewise, the doctrine of the Trinity, although paradoxical, is not self-contradictory. The doctrine of the Trinity asserts that three divine persons share the same substance or essence (i.e., the three persons are one and the same God). It does not assert that there are three individual substances which are one substance or that there are three gods which are also one god, either of which would be contradictory. That is, Christians are not saying that God is both one substance and not-one-substance, but rather that God is both one substance and three persons. Even if God's triunity cannot be fully comprehended by man, at least the Christian is not involved in a contradiction when he asserts that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God.

This argument is better than others I've seen which try to make sense of the Trinity, but since my beliefs haven't been refuted, I can still hold that the Trinity is quite self-contradictory. He says that "The Trinity asserts that three divine persons share the same substance." I know that the Trinity teaches this, but where does the Bible teach it? They must share the same essence, as already shown. His argument is a bit like saying that because three trees have one substance, they can be referred to as one bark. If three "persons" who are God doesn't make three Gods then three trees don't actually add to three trees. He claims that the Trinity doesn't teach that there are three individual substances. If we apply this to the example of a tree we do see one substance in three trees, though there are still three trees. The problem is that the Bible speaks of God as being both a substance and a being. Yes, a tree is different to God, but what is the difference between the two examples? The three trees are only made one if grouped according to their qualities or characteristics. To apply this to the Trinity, God would become a quality. Didn't the numerous angels of God have this quality? If Ronald is a human and Martin is a human, how could human be a third being? Human is a quality; it is not a being per se. If Jesus is God and the Father is God, then God can't be a being. If the Trinity teaches three persons in one being then mustn't the being be separate to the three? Wouldn't that make four Gods? If three "persons" who are God make one God, because of the substance in them, then three trees make one bark, because the three share this substance. This same reasoning could be used for other living creatures which have the same substance. The fact that there is one substance doesn't mean that there is only one in the category, rather it shows that it is confined to those having specified characteristics. So the "one substance" argument still means three Gods, but one substance which will make someone God.

The above type of argument sounds very much like a Catholic who sent me a copy of the Athanasian creed to support his argument in a discussion on the Trinity. The creed means nothing to me unless it can be shown that the Bible supports it. The Holy Spirit and the Father are never called persons anywhere in the Bible, period. The Trinity claims that there is only one being, shared by three persons. Without a lot of metaphysical double-talk, what are the differences between "person" and being? "Being" and "person" have no distinction and are merely elements of a ruse employed by apologists. Because they can come up with two different words, they will therefore claim they have two different entities. When Jesus was on the cross and said "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46 KJV) one will ask to whom Jesus was speaking. To that the Trinitarian will reply "God." "But I though that He was God," I might reply. "No, He is the Son of God" they say. "So we have two Gods?" "No, just one God but three persons." Let's examine this. We have one being, one source of intelligence, speaking to another being, a source of intelligence, and we are to assume that there is only one being. This sort of dialogue shows the incongruity of the problem. Apparently logic and reason have very little to do with understanding the Trinity.

Let's go back to what he said before:

Likewise, the doctrine of the Trinity, although paradoxical, is not self-contradictory. The doctrine of the Trinity asserts that three divine persons share the same substance or essence (i.e., the three persons are one and the same God). It does not assert that there are three individual substances which are one substance or that there are three gods which are also one god, either of which would be contradictory.

Beckwith is creating a lot of problems for himself by stating this. He begins by saying that the Trinity is paradoxical, thought not self-contradictory, yet proceeds to say things which prove the opposite. He says that three persons are one and the same God. So when John 17:3 refers to "the one true God" as the Father, and lists Jesus simply as the one sent by God, is Jesus part of "the one and the same God?" The verse says no, and Trinitarians know that only the Father is referred to as God here. So to be part of the same God Jesus must actually be the Father. This is the same with Romans 16:27, which speaks of the only wise God as someone other than Jesus. If Jesus is not that only wise God then He is not the same God as the Father. The Father is God, so unless Jesus is the Father He is not God. Since Jesus is not the Father, and not the one true God referred to in John 17:3, then He must be a different God. That makes two Gods. The Trinitarian would probably try to escape this dilemma by saying that the Father is a person who has the substance which makes Him God, and that Jesus is only different in person. The problem is supporting this assertion biblically, and showing how the Bible is making itself clear. When the Bible refers to there being one God, it never suggests that it means one being who is God, composed of multiple members. With the Trinity, there are three "persons" who can be called God. If Jesus is God, then He is one God. When we add the other two, that makes three that are God, or three Gods. Why assume that when the Bible says that there is one God that it means a composite unity God with multiple members? Why not assume that the Bible means that there is only one "entity" which can be referred to as God?

The New Testament made it clear that Jesus is not God by calling Him the Son of God. The New Testament clarifies that Jesus is the Son of the Father. This is the time when people claim that He was the Son of the Father, who is God, but not Himself or the Holy Spirit. This just makes things more confusing. So Jesus was the Son of part of God, but not the whole Trinity. To make Jesus not the son of the whole Trinity He would have to be the son of the "person" of the Father. If He were the son of the substance of God then He would be His own son, since it is claimed that the members of the Trinity are the same God, because of their substance. God is not a person, and even if He was, how could Jesus be born through anything other than the substance? He would have to be; otherwise He isn't the Son of God. This also shows that Jesus would have to be His own son, according to logic.

It was said that there are three divine persons who compose one God, and have one substance. This would be to say that at least two of the three could have become God. Having the substance is supposed to make them God, not just being a person. So couldn't they have been given the substance at a point in time? While this argument may not show that the Bible doesn't teach Trinitarianism, it shows one of the logical flaws of what this doctrine states. It is clear that a real and powerful God wouldn't provide so many holes in a doctrine that is valid. If the members of the Trinity are God because they have the substance, then wouldn't the substance have to be independent of them?

In Isaiah 63:16 the Father is referred to as Yahweh. Might there be a reason for this? To make matters worse, Jesus defined God by saying "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24 KJV) Since the Old Testament God was a Spirit, and God doesn't change, according to Malachi 4:6, we can assume that no man of flesh was God. A son is by definition younger than a father. Would God use an inappropriate analogy, or is there a point to referring to various people including Jesus as sons of God?

The final part of Beckwith's comments seem to have him admitting that the Trinity is logically impossible. He says that the Trinity does not suggest that there are three Gods which become one God, because that is contradictory. But that's exactly what the Trinity attempts to claim! Let's put it this way. John 17:3 and 1 Corinthians 8:6 say that there is only one God, the Father. Jesus is not referred to as God in either verse. Since He is not that God then if He is God then He is a different one. It might be said that Jesus is simply not the Father who is also God. But why assume the verses speaking of the one true God as the Father speak of the substance which was in Him, instead of just His"person"? This being so would necessitate a distinction to show that the entity of the Father should be separated from God the substance. Since it doesn't do this it is clear that there could be no other who could be God. This is because the Father is supposed to be one who has the substance which makes Him God. Two others possess this as well, so the Father can't be the only true God, just someone else who is God, but contains the substance of the one true God. This could have been said, but wasn't. The Trinity has three who can be called God, yet there is only one God. One can rationalize all he wants, but that is three Gods becoming one, and he's admitted this is contradictory.

On the other hand, the Bahá'í is required to accept that blatantly contradictory concepts of God were all infallibly revealed by God through his "manifestations." For instance, monotheism (what Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad taught) and polytheism (what Confucius and Zoroaster taught) cannot both be true, since it is contradictory to say both that there is only one god and that there is more than one god. Therefore, unlike the Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity, the Bahá'í view of God implies mutually exclusive concepts of God.

Zoroaster taught no such thing. Satan is referred to as "the god" of this world in the Bible, which is the same as what is indicated in the Zoroastrian scriptures. I can't help but be amused by the above statement that "It is contradictory to say that there is only one god and that there is more than one god," in light of the fact that the Trinity attempts to do just that. If Jesus is God and the Father is God, that is two Gods. If adding the Father doesn't make two then the Father would have to be the Son, which is something plainly incorrect. If one God is added to one God you get two Gods. Apparently simple addition differs when dealing with this subject. As shown before, the Bahá'ís are not required to accept contradictory concepts of God between the different Manifestations, because there is no contradiction at all.

Why does Beckwith put quotation marks around the word "manifestations?" Is there a good reason for this?

BAHÁ'ÍS AND BIBLICAL PROPHECY

The Bahá'ís claim that Bahá'u'lláh is the fulfilment of the biblical prophecies of the return of Christ. [9] Taken literally, of course, the biblical prophecies of Christ's return do not fit Bahá'u'lláh.

The same could be said of the prophecies concerning the first coming, in relation to Jesus. Take Micah 5:2. Beckwith believes this verse is a messianic prophecy fulfilled by Jesus, as do most others. This verse promises a ruler. What method would Beckwith use to explain how Jesus was a ruler to some Jews? Why, of course, Jesus was a spiritual ruler. The burden of proof lies on the person who alleges, so he must show them something from the context to indicate the entity spoken of will not be an outward ruler. I've challenged Christians before to come up with something on this, with the sole reason of showing them that the prophecies for the first and second comings are similar. They seem to be unable to show that this verse doesn't promise someone who will be an outward ruler, like one who has numerous subjects. After all, in 1 Chronicles 22:9-10, David tells how God told him that he would have a son, who would be given a kingdom, and that his throne would be established by God. These prophecies are identical to those of the Messiah. The first verse of the next chapter has the fulfillment of this, when Solomon was made king over Israel. The prophecy was of someone who would rule, and the fulfillment was someone who sat on a literal throne. Numerous other examples exist in the Old Testament of someone referred to as a ruler, or a prophecy of someone who was to be a ruler, and they were all rulers outwardly. While Beckwith criticizes the Bahá'í interpretation, he seems to be the one who hasn't understood the Bible correctly. Further on in this article, Beckwith argues that Isaiah 53 shows that the Messiah will be a suffering Messiah, and that from other prophecies of the Messiah it is shown that He would also be a conquering one. Isaiah 53 speaks of Israel in a personified way, which is spoken of as God's servant frequently in the chapters just prior. It does not say it is speaking of the Messiah. If it did speak of a person noone could know who was referred to, as the verses apply to thousands of people who have ever lived. Even if it spoke of the Messiah, Beckwith hasn't eliminated the problem, as many outward rulers have had a life of suffering. The fact that you suffer doesn't make you a spiritual ruler. Since this is so, Beckwith will have to demonstrate how the prophecies of a conquering Messiah are different than those speaking of a normal ruler. If no distinction is provided we would have to believe that Beckwith can't prove that Jesus was to be a spiritual ruler, and is using circular reasoning to convince others of his argument. While Beckwith professes to have knowledge concerning the prophecies of the first coming, he is actually bringing in a lot of irrelevant material to make it seem like he has interpreted the symbols correctly. Since this is not refuted, he has the choice of rejecting Jesus, because he hasn't shown that He was to be a different type of ruler, or believing that the Bahá'ís have correctly interpreted the signs of the second coming.

Beckwith's argument was that taken literally, the prophecies of Christ's return don't fit Bahá'u'lláh's claim. The question is whether or not they should be taken literally. Acts 2:28-32 promised something which appears very literal. If we look to the fulfillment in Acts 2:17-21, we find that it was not literal. I imagine the only reason Beckwith doesn't believe Joel is literal in saying the moon will be turned into blood is because the fulfillment wasn't outward. In other words, he interprets the Old Testament through the New, and doesn't make distinctions as to why these prophecies aren't literal, and why some expressed very similar are. Matthew 24:29 speaks of a sign just like Joel mentions, and is inserted alongside the other second coming prophecies, which Beckwith says are very much literal. How could the same prophecy become literal only the second time? If it's not literal, then neither are the surrounding verses. The Bahá'ís are accused of circular reasoning when speaking of the signs, but that is something Beckwith often does when reading the Old Testament. I will provide further evidence of why these prophecies are symbolical later on. Beckwith would agree that should I do so then he could accept the claims of the Bahá'í Faith.

One thing I have noticed throughout his article is that Beckwith doesn't seem to have looked very deep for Bahá'í proofs from prophecy. I would agree that not many Bahá'ís have written on the subject, as no special importance has been given to it. In my view much of the literature on this subject is not the greatest, because many questions biblicists have are not answered, and not enough study has been put into them. Perhaps there are a couple things Beckwith could have read which would have impressed him more, and given his beliefs a challenge, but like I say, not enough people have written on the subject. You can thus hardly conclude that there couldn't be proof, or even a better scriptural argument for the Bahá'í Faith. I won't blame Beckwith for this too much because to him interpretation of scripture is so obvious in this subject that he "knows" we are wrong before we begin to pick up the pen to write a better proof.

In various religious books, similar signs are given to the ones Beckwith is familiar with, yet never do the Prophets explain exactly what they mean by the signs, whether the signs are to be taken literally or not. Some prophecies when taken literally do prove that Bahá'u'lláh fulfils Bible prophecy. These are mostly numerical prophecies. I have personally had some very well studied Christian's look at my comments and basically admit they can't answer them. Their answer indicates that they don't see how I could be right, because the wonderful return they expect didn't occur. Sometimes in written responses I remind them that in saying this they are hardly better than the Jews, who rejected Jesus because they hadn't seen the signs appear. To this the person I write to usually doesn't respond. God forbid that they could "lose their salvation" to an obscure eastern religion! In this one case they will assume that their knowledge is fallible, and that the Bible couldn't mean what I've shown it to say.

The Bible speaks of Jesus Himself returning in the skies before the entire world in a cataclysmic fashion to judge the living and the dead (e.g., Matt. 24). By contrast, Bahá'ís recognized as the "Christ" another person (Bahá'u'lláh) who came into the world in relative obscurity through natural means (i.e., conception and birth). [10]

How, then, can the Bahá'ís claim that Bahá'u'lláh fulfils the biblical prophecies of Christ's return?

The Bahá'ís can claim this because of direct proof that the signs are not to be interpreted literally. This part of my article is the major part, where I will prove this exact point. While I could give a huge number of pages providing evidence for my views, only some of my objections will be given. I will show how the prophecies relating to the end times are very similar to those related to the return from the first exile.

Yes, the Bahá'ís did recognize Christ through another person. The Christians recognize Elijah through John the Baptist, despite the fact that Malachi 4:5 says that Elijah will come. The Bahá'ís also believe that John was the same as Elijah in spirit. Now the following comments I will make on this subject might appear to suggest that I don't believe in what the New Testament claims. This is not so, but I need to give an example to prove a point. Malachi 4:5 doesn't say that someone like Elijah will come, or a different Elijah, but just Elijah. Beckwith says that Bahá'ís insist that the literal meaning is to be ignored, yet the Christians do so in the interpretation and thus fulfillment of this prophecy. Why do they not reject John the Baptist? Because Jesus said that John was Elijah. If John is rejected then Jesus doesn't have a forerunner, thus invalidating His claim. I would be interested in seeing Beckwith defend this claim to someone who doesn't accept the New Testament. I doubt he can provide indication from the Old Testament that Elijah himself wasn't supposed to return, thus he would be forced to admit that he believes John is the fulfillment because Jesus said so. So because Beckwith believes something that makes it true, not because of evidence from the former scripture. Funny that, considering the allegation is that the Bahá'ís commonly give no evidence. Going by this logic of someone saying that a verse meant something, without providing evidence from the original source that it did, the interpretational claims of any and everyone would have to be accepted. Beckwith would really have to accept Bahá'u'lláh or any other claimed Prophet stating that an apparently literal prophecy was symbolic, even if no proof was given. But as I said before, if Beckwith can't provide indication from the Old Testament that Elijah won't come then he wouldn't be doing anything more meritorious. The only reason he would reject someone other than Jesus saying that the Bible meant something is because he does not believe in that particular person.

Beckwith states that the Bible promises Jesus Himself returning in the skies. This is very similar to the example of Elijah. Considering Beckwith would believe that Elijah physically went up to heaven, and was promised to return (if Elijah did ascend into the literal skies he could only come back by descending in his body from the sky), then how is it that he accepts the fulfillment of the Elijah prophecy as John, yet in a comparable example, where someone seems to have gone up to heaven physically, Beckwith expects a literal fulfillment? Also, how does he reconcile Jesus' statement in John 3:13 which says He is the only person who has ascended up to heaven with 2 Kings 2:11 which speaks of Elijah going up to heaven? Perhaps he would say that Jesus' statement was speaking of a spiritual condition, not anything physical. But if John 3:12 gives an indication that the next verse, which speaks of ascension, is spiritual, then shouldn't it always be? Shouldn't Acts 1:9 be metaphorical? How is it that Jesus had ascended to heaven already, as John 3:13 shows?

If you want to say that Bahá'u'lláh claimed that the signs had been fulfilled just to make Himself the return of Christ, then you will have to only refer to the signs as a reason to dismiss His claim, as there is more evidence from the New Testament of someone other than Christ returning than in the Old. Of course many Trinitarians will say that Jesus is God, thus He will return. This is based on the incorrect belief that Jesus is God Himself, and then concluding with a correct belief (that the return of Christ promised is not below the rank of Jesus) to reach the idea that God would return, considering someone lesser wouldn't come. They will also back up this assertion with their belief that Jesus physically went up to heaven, and will come down from there. But since they hold that Elijah physically went to heaven, this argument shouldn't be used for proof. Acts 1:11 is also taken to support this assertion, when it refers to the ascension, and says that "this same Jesus" (KJV) who went to heaven will return from heaven. Not all translators agree with having the word "same" in the verse, some just saying "This Jesus." For these reasons it is clear how few have considered the chance that someone like Jesus, who can be referred to as Jesus in the way John was Elijah, might return.

Revelation 3:12 provides indication that someone other than Jesus will return. The previous verse says "Behold, I come quickly," (KJV) which clearly shows that it is referring to the second advent. In verse 12, it says: "I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." This is interesting. The information pertains to those who have gained the crown of life. Clearly the speaker is not God, because "my God" is used. This is used by those who are not God, and have a God of their own, from whom they receive salvation. The speaker mentions His new name. In light of the events it is speaking of, which is the return, this new name is connected with that very time. Apparently the name is something other than Jesus. Remember that the text doesn't give a human name.

It seems that Beckwith considers Matthew 24 as proof that Jesus Himself will return, but for faulty reasons. If Elijah can come as John the Baptist, then Jesus can respond to a question about His coming in a way that might indicate He will return. Based on the Elijah example, Jesus wouldn't have needed to say that actually the signs will be of someone else coming. He could say this, but He doesn't need to. The return of Jesus could be spoken of as Jesus. Jesus doesn't speak of "me" coming in that chapter. The fact that the title "Son of man" is used doesn't mean Jesus is spoken of. Ezekiel is referred to in this way as well.

Jesus Himself indicates that another will return; though later than Matthew 24, which occurred two days before the Passover. In John, just after the last supper, important information on the return of Christ is given. The important thing to note is the context. Jesus said "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." (John 14:11-16 KJV)

Now, the above passage speaks about Jesus returning to the Father, and that Jesus reflects the Father. Since the context is Jesus speaking of a Messenger of God who reflects the light of God, it is clear that the Comforter must be another Messenger of God, who comes after Jesus dies. It says "another Comforter." This indicates that Jesus was also a Comforter. By what logic should the next Comforter not be a man? There is no indication that anyone else has fitted this role prior to Jesus, so I see no good reason to assume it. The suggestion that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter is only correct in a certain sense, in that the Spirit dwells in the person. After all, if the Spirit didn't dwell with Jesus, as shown in John 1:32-33, then Jesus wouldn't have been a Prophet. Without it, He just has His flesh, and John 6:63 makes it clear that "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (KJV) Further, in John 7:17, Jesus says that if any man do his will, he will know whether His teaching is of God or not. In the next verse He says that whoever speaks of himself seeks his own glory, but the person who seeks the glory that sent him is true. If someone speaks of God then they are moved by the Holy Ghost, as written in 2 Peter 1:21.

Since the Comforter must not have existed at the time of the prophecy, it couldn't be the Holy Spirit, which has always existed. Or was God not sending the Holy Spirit at the time? One might say that Pentecost is referred to, but that stretches the meaning of the text, which indicates something which has not yet come. So it becomes clear that a person who has the Holy Spirit is intended.

John 14:17 then says "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." This is thought to be problematic to the Bahá'í argument. Others will say that it speaks of a spirit. Who said that? "Spirit of truth" could be a title. The word spirit can be used as a title for a person, as the flesh counts as nothing. The fact that it refers to dwelling with the people and being in them gives no indication that a human isn't spoken of. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus said that He would be with the people. This is no different. John 14:18 then says "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." This indicates that the Spirit of truth is embodied in a person, which is proven by John 16:13. Otherwise, what's the point of Jesus mixing in prophecies of His return with those of the Holy Spirit? John 14:19 provides about the strongest proof, with Jesus saying "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also." This refers back to verse 12, which speaks of going to the Father. Since shortly after this the promise of the Comforter is given, which is followed by Jesus saying He will come, it is clear that all verses speak of the same thing. The strong indication is that Jesus and the next Comforter will not be around at the same time. This is shown by John 14:25-26, which says "These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." The fact that the Father is to send the Comforter in the name of Jesus indicates that it refers to another Jesus, who is the same spiritually. In John 15:26, Jesus speaks of the Comforter, saying that He will testify of Him. This seems to indicate a verbal address, not just a feeling. John 16:8 says "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." The Holy Spirit did no such thing at Pentecost. In John 16:12-13 Jesus says "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come."

When Jesus says that He has many things to say which they can't bear at the time, it logically follows that the second coming would be the time when they can. I can't think how the apostles were more able to bear those things at Pentecost. Obviously a major change needs to take place. If whatever the Spirit of truth hears He speaks then He is a man. This sounds like what is said of Jesus, as John 5:19 demonstrates. There is no evidence that the Holy Spirit hears what it speaks.

John 16:14 continues, saying "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." Clearly a man is referred to, who will glorify Jesus. The next verse says that the Spirit of truth has everything Jesus has. Since this is so, and since Jesus is another Comforter, or advocate, as shown by the same word being applied to Him in 1 John 2:1, then Jesus can speak of this person as Himself.

John 16:25 sums up my whole message, when Jesus says "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father." This verse shows that Jesus is speaking. When it says He won't speak in proverbs at that time, doesn't this sound like the time spoken of in John 16:12-13? So it is only correct in a sense to say that Jesus is promised to return. It is like with John the Baptist, who was not the same person, but was spiritually the same.

Many claim that most of the prophecies in Revelation refer to things which happened hundreds of years ago. However, there are many reasons to believe that the end times are spoken of most of the time. In Revelation 2:16 we read "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." (KJV) Now, according to the rest of Revelation this sword is used at the time of the Second Coming. Revelation 19:15 mentions someone who verse 13 calls "The Word of God," (KJV) and it says that with the sword "he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron." This is mentioned shortly after the fall of Babylon, and just after the above verse it speaks of those opposing this person being destroyed. Obviously the station of "The Word" can exist in other Prophets. Verse 21 says "And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth." So we can see that Revelation 2:16 and thus 2:17 refer to the time of the end. Many have thought that the events in this chapter must refer to things happening at the time, based on the sole reason that the letters are addressed to churches at the time. However, the letters show wider application, and they show that they must refer to the time of the end as well as the present time. Based on the references to coming quickly, it is clear that the end time is referred to. There is no reason to believe that the coming quickly doesn't mean returning to earth. So if things which occurred within the century of Christ's passing are referred to, yet Jesus wasn't going to come back at the time, then what was the point of making it seem like He would? That would be deceptive. If the Bible had meant anything else then it would have said so.

It is often claimed by Christians that when Jesus returns He will baptize the world with fire, something which He allegedly didn't do the first time. The only reason they hold to this view is because of their literal interpretation of the word fire, which is influenced by the interpretation they have of verses related to the second coming, that suggest it will be something visible and spectacular. From looking at the Bible, it becomes clear that Jesus did indeed baptize with fire during the first coming, proving that fire has a symbolic meaning. Matthew 3:11 has John the Baptist saying "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (RSV) The reasons why fire is not literal here are many. In Luke 24:49, Jesus tells the disciples that He will send the promise of His Father on them, and to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until they are clothed with power from heaven. Acts 1:4-5 repeats this promise, and in verse 5 it tells of Jesus saying "For John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (RSV) Now, when was this promise fulfilled? Pentecost. Thus the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire at Pentecost. The Christian might argue that part of the promise of Matthew 3:11 was to be fulfilled at the first coming. This is circular reasoning, which assumes that their understanding of second coming prophecies is correct. Why not assume they are incorrect? Also, as shown above, John promised that the one to come would "baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." The "you" refers to that generation, not people living 2000 years later. Obviously John was referring to something which would happen in the next few years. The people hadn't been told about the second coming yet, so the idea that the baptism with fire is future is not plausible. But the major thing is that John said that the one after Him would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It doesn't say He will baptize with the Holy Spirit at one time, and fire at another. For baptism to be effective, the Holy Spirit is necessary, so the second coming would involve this as well. Thus we would have a first coming with no fire baptism, but the return would involve both. That just makes matters worse for interpreting this text. The fact that it says He will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire shows that both are used at the same time.

The context around Matthew 3:11 further shows that fire is meant symbolically. In Matthew 3:9-10, John, speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, says "And do not presume to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father," for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Notice that John is speaking of things happening at this very time, and the surrounding verses show repentance and forgiveness is the topic. The trees are the people. John refers to the trees that bear bad fruit as those that are now being cut down and thrown into the fire. John indicates that this is what is happening with the people He is speaking to. Since those people were in the fire, this shows the word is symbolical. The next verse speaks of baptism with fire. Since the previous verse does not speak of literal fire, neither does this one. If it did, then how could those listening be able to have known this? Matthew 3:12 further refers to Jesus, saying "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Since I have shown that John is giving short-term prophecies, which will occur in the lifetime of those spoken to (which is quite obvious from the way John is speaking), Jesus must have fulfilled this the first time He came. This gives some idea of how symbolical Biblical prophecy is. Beckwith wants to interpret the verses concerning the second coming according to 20th century standard grammatical interpretation. The thing I have to wonder is then how this prophecy of John is any different. Why doesn't Beckwith hold that John's prophecy failed, considering Jesus had no winnowing fork, nor did He gather wheat or burn chaff with fire, as the verse says. He might claim that the language is metaphorical here. That's easy to say, but I'd like proof that this is any less literal than the vast majority of second coming prophecies he interprets literally.

II Peter 3:10 is a verse some appeal to, in order to show that the second coming will be a fantastic event which will obvious to the whole world. However, the only reason this verse could be taken as proof is if you had shown from other sources that the second coming would be visible. The wording of this verse is almost identical to many Old Testament prophecies that had no literal fulfilment. For example, Nahum 1:5 is a similar prophecy of the world melting. Nahum 1:1 says that it is an oracle concerning Nineveh. It also says that the book is a vision. Verse 4 speaks of God, saying "He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth." (KJV) It is made clear that these things are either happening at the time or previously as well as then. Verse 5 then says "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein." This verse shows that these things are occurring at the time. Verse 6 mentions the time of God's indignation, which in scripture is always referred to as a day of wrath, when the mountains will quake and such similar things will take place. Times of God's indignation can all be referred to as "The Day of the Lord." While the Day of the Lord is commonly associated with the time of the end, the earlier times referred to in this way could also be referred to as "a" Day of the Lord. "The" is used because it is referring to a certain time. Support for my assertion is not hard to find. Obadiah 15 speaks of "the day of the LORD," (KJV) yet it speaks of something which took place long before Christ was born. There are two things to notice in this book that support the symbolical renderings of terms. The first is that fire is spoken of, and the fulfilment was nothing literal. Verse 18 says that "The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume them, and there shall be no survivor to the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken." The chapter speaks of the transgression of Edom at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, around 586 BC. The prophecy above was not fulfilled in the fantastic way it seems to indicate, with fire and no survivors. The next point is that this chapter speaks of indignation, like Nahum does. Verse 2, saying to Edom "Behold, I will make you small among the nations, you shall be utterly despised," and verse 15 "As you have done, it shall be done to you, your deeds shall return on your own head" show that this is a time of Gods' indignation, something which is true of "Days of the Lord."

Now we can relate this to Nahum 1:5, and then to II Peter 3:10. The events mentioned in Nahum 1:5 are those commonly connected with the wrath of God, and thus God coming to a certain people. Since these things apply to various "Days of the Lord," we know that the things this verse tells of, such as the mountains quaking before God, the hills melting, and the earth being laid waste, happened at such times as the destruction of Edom, the destruction of Jerusalem (both before the time of Christ), and at the time of Christ (see Acts 2:20). So those events, which appear to be cataclysmic in nature, happened at these times! Thus these things are symbols only. To take a verse like II Peter 3:10 and claim it promises a cataclysmic return is ignorance, and ignores the fact that Old Testament verses say the same and the fulfilment was hardly outward. 2 Peter 3:10 says that "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." (KJV) Perhaps the reader would now like to compare this with Nahum 1:5, which says "The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein." What are the differences? There is no difference. Having seen that Nahum 1:5 is something that is describing things at any time, not a prophecy of one event in a few thousand years, we see how the language of prophecy is very much metaphorical. So it seems that the world has been burnt up numerous times! Notice how the language of prophecy does not conform to standard English usage. Beckwith applies modern day interpretation to prophecies, and this is a good example to show him why this shouldn't be done. Why would God write the book in such a way that virtually everyone would understand it?

2 Peter 3:13 says "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (KJV) I would argue that many prophecies of the triumph of a people, and thus reign of God exhibit similarities, and this case is the same. The prophecies which speak of return from the first exile often sound just like those for the end times. Isaiah 65, like the chapters around it, speaks of this captivity, and return. Speaking of this it says "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." (KJV) This is just like the prophecy given in II Peter 3:13, which is linked to the burning of the world. The return from captivity saw no literal burning of the earth, so obviously at the time of the end we won't see it either. Some might say that I have only proved that II Peter 3:10 doesn't provide proof in and of itself that it is literal, and that this should be established by other verses. Other things should be taken into account, but the idea of a God who means something to be literal yet writes other material in His book to give someone else a good argument for the statement to be taken symbolically is hard to accept. It is rather strange how literalists decide equally literal verses speaking about the earth are metaphorical. Isaiah 24:18 speaks of the foundations of the earth trembling, and the earth being completely broken. Verse 20 says "The earth staggers like a drunken man, it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again." (RSV) Another verse which should give literalists pause is Isaiah 24:23, which speaks of the return from captivity, saying "Then the moon will be confounded, and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before his elders he will manifest his glory." As we can see emotions are related to the sun and moon, both of which are metaphorical. Isaiah 25 must run on from the former chapter, and verse 10 says that the hand of the LORD will rest on "this mountain," (RSV) obviously Zion, which was just spoken of. Verses 10-12 speak of the destruction of Moab at the time when God reigns, which is when the people return. Isaiah 26:1 confirms this time is spoken of, by saying "In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks." (RSV)

There is more importance to this chapter than to further prove the time spoken of. Verses 13-14 say "O LORD our God, other lords besides thee have ruled over us, but thy name alone we acknowledge. They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end thou has visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them." These verses throw a very good light on the conception of resurrection in the Bible. According to fundamentalists, those dead from the time Isaiah speaks of until now will rise up and live. Isaiah 26:14 says, referring to those who have ruled wickedly over the people, not according to God's commands, that they will not live. This verse doesn't allow a future physical resurrection of these people to be possible, if this verse is to be taken according to one interpretation. Now, verse 14 seems to be referring to physical death. However, the fact that the two verses say that God's name alone is now acknowledged, and that there is no remembrance of those previous rulers, indicates that their sovereignty is dead, and only God will be thought of and held in regard by the people. If it doesn't mean this then God hasn't done a good job of wiping out all remembrance of them, considering their history is recorded in the Bible.

Verse 15 refers to Israel, saying "But thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation; thou art glorified; thou hast enlarged all the borders of the land." Verse 16 says that when they were in distress they sought God. Verse 18 gives the woman with child metaphor commonly used, saying "We were with child, we writhed, we have as it were brought forth wind. We have wrought no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen." This type of address is used when speaking of the Israelites being in a deplorable condition and then being redeemed, when the return from exile occurred. Verse 19, speaking of Israel, follows by saying "Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For thy dew is a dew of light, and on the land of the shades thou wilt let it fall." This shows that resurrection is merely a symbol! The dead are those afflicted, and it is a spiritual condition referred to. After all, no dead bodies arose at the end of the time this chapter speaks of.

Perhaps I'll now compare this to Daniel 12:2, and we will see the similarity:

"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (KJV)

The two verses are identical, and the fulfilment of the first shows what the fulfilment of the second will be. It doesn't involve physical bodies rising up from tombs. Isaiah 27:1 starts by saying "In that day," (RSV) indicating that this chapter speaks of the same time as the former. Other verses also use these words, including verse 13, which says "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt..." (KJV) No literal trumpet sounded at this time. Despite this fact, Beckwith takes the prophecies of trumpet blasts accompanying the second coming literally. Why? Perhaps now we can quote some more verses from the same chapter of Daniel, which show that this occurs at the exact time of the second coming:

"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of they people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:1-2)

At this stage we see that it is clearly speaking of the exact time of the return. I don't think many would disagree with this. Notice that the chapter begins by indicating that at the time the events ending chapter 11 take place these things will occur. While there is no doubt that much of that chapter speaks of the king of the north, Antiochus Epiphanes, the last few verses speak of things which do not reflect the end of his life. However, the king of the north is spoken of as the same person. The answer to this problem is that the king of the north always refers to one who attacks Palestine from the north. There is a switch to a king of the north at the time of the end, which is mentioned in verse 35, and this king possesses the same power and attributes of the first king. Just as Jesus spoke of Elijah as being John the Baptist, though He was not, this chapter does the same. If it doesn't, then the things told of in the next chapter, which even the New Testament speaks of as future, would had to have occurred at the time of Antiochus, which is incorrect.

Carrying on chapter 12, we read:

"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." (Daniel 12:3-4)

This makes one think back to those whom Jesus praises for watching for his return. Jesus would not have given such a dire warning to watch were the second coming the visual event expected. After all, isn't every eye to see the event? The above quote shows again that the time of the end is spoken of, and that it is the very time of the end Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24:14.

The following verses show us that the time of the end can be calculated:

"Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" (Daniel 12:5-6)

I'll have to cut in here to make absolutely sure that noone rationalizes away the obvious meaning of this chapter. The prior verses spoke of events related to the time of the end, and it said explicitly that this time was referred to. So when the question is asked how long it will be to the end of "these wonders," it is clearly everything spoken of in the first few verses of the chapter, which speak of the time of the end. If not, then the Bible is incredibly unclear, and it would be impossible to know what is referred to. The next verse gives the time until this happens:

"And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever, that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." (Daniel 12:7)

This appoints three and a half times until the time of the end. This figure is mentioned in Daniel 7:25, and connected with the fourth beast, which is the final one before the kingdom of God is established. Daniel 7:26-27 provide conclusive proof that when this time period ends the kingdom is set up, and the return takes place. This is the same as with Daniel chapter 2. Why wouldn't the return take place at such a time? Revelation 11:3 expresses this time in another way, as 1260 days. A day in symbolic prophecy equals a year, as Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 prove. If Daniel 9:24, which speaks of 70 weeks, or 490 days, then becomes years to be a prophecy of Christ, then the 1260 days become years also. Revelation 11:3 says that two prophets will prophesy for 1260 years. Revelation 12 speaks of the beast mentioned in Daniel 7, with the ten horns. This is mentioned clearly in Revelation 12:3. Revelation 12:6 connect 1260 days with the rule of the beast. However, verse 14 mentions three and a half times, just like Daniel 12:7. The Apocalypse was written around 96 AD, so this time period was still to come.

So it appears that yes indeed, there is a numerical prophecy through which the year of the second coming can be calculated. Many will point to a verse such as Matthew 24:36 to suggest I am wrong. This verse says that only God knows the day and hour of the return. The answer I give to this is quite simple, and I have never had a Christian claim it was way off track, or even attempt a proper answer. Instead of giving an answer they try and refer to various failed prophecies people have made, and how time setting results in disappointments, as if this has any relevance to the argument. Time setting has resulted in disappointments, but so has thinking the return will happen in one's lifetime, and so did the various Messiah claimants around the time of Jesus. Going by their theory no Prophet should even be evaluated just because they will probably not be the one. The answer to the dilemma is that only God knows the hour intrinsically, or by His own power. This is the context God is commonly spoken of in scripture. God is the source of all knowledge. Remember how while Jesus admitted being able to do nothing of Himself, and receiving both words and power from God, it said that Jesus gave life. As other verses such as John 5:26 show, the Father gave life through Jesus. So it is not incorrect to in one place say that Jesus gave life, and in another say that it was the Father. Since Jesus couldn't do anything on His own, the Father did the task. This is one example that shows what Matthew 24:36 means. Jesus both did and didn't do something. It is not contradictory to say that Jesus or Moses knew the hour, but only in the sense the verse is referring to. Both of them could know it from the Father, and it would still be correct to say that only the Father knew. Another example is Daniel. He is referred to as having wisdom, so it was Daniel's wisdom. Daniel said that the power he had to reveal the interpretation of dreams was not his, but God's. So did Daniel know how to interpret the dreams or didn't he? In one sense the answer is yes, and in another no. He knew, but only God knew. This is how it can say that only God knows the hour, and my ideas to be shown correct.

Even if I have not provided enough proof, to deny that Daniel connected a numerical prophecy with the end on this basis would be to assume I am wrong on this issue, because to do otherwise would make one believe the year can be figured out. Some Christians accept that Daniel 7:25-27 does give a prophecy of the time of the end, which has a number attached to it. While believing this they incredibly deny time setting! Essentially what they are saying is that the fourth kingdom, despite being great and powerful, and changing laws and customs, but somehow we wouldn't be able to now when it began. Because if we knew this then all we have to do is count the years, and when they finish, the return will occur.

One thing that amuses me greatly is that many try to use the historical grammatical approach to find the first three kingdoms, plus the events spoken of in chapter 8, yet their beliefs make them hold that the fourth kingdom is related to something happening around the first century. These are the people who hold that much of Revelation is related to first century events. They hold that Revelation 11, which speaks of the 1260 years, happened around that time, yet they never provide any historical support, nor do they even attempt to provide evidence that this time period doesn't finish at the time of the end. The fourth beast is a world empire, which will have a great effect on the world. It could not possibly escape historical mention. The same people who hold to this view seem to believe that 1260 days are probably intended, yet no reason is given as to why they shouldn't become years. It seems that they keep them as days, because they haven't found anything in history which fits the Bible description and lasted for this time.

Many have claimed that the fourth beast refers to Rome. I would argue differently. The third beast can refer to the Greco-Roman empire, the two of which are so similar that they can be regarded as one. Rome does not historically meet the criteria for the fourth beast. Some have claimed that it does, yet only through a distortion of history, and conveniently knocking off extra horns which would otherwise contradict the Bible description. They even claim to have a 1260 year period, beginning in 538 AD, and ending in 1798 AD. It is supposed to have begun with the fall of the Ostrogoths, but that happened in 555 AD. It seems the other year was capriciously chosen to get a period lasting 1260 years. The Papacy is stated to be the horn, despite the fact that the word "horn" always refers to a single person. There have been numerous people as Pope, with different names. The claim that the title is referred to doesn't work, as a horn is a name. The ten horns were ten people, so the horn is one person. Daniel 7:26 says that the dominion of the horn is taken away. From the previous verse this is to happen when the 1260 years finish. However, the dominion and influence of the Papacy and the Catholic Church certainly didn't end in 1798. The 20th century has seen a rise in the influence of the Catholic Church. This aside, if a date was needed for a serious blow to the Papacy, 1870 would be the year. After 1798 the Papal States were brought back, but 1870 made more of a change.

History does not support the idea of Rome being the horn of Daniel chapter 7. Neither does the Bible, which says that the 1260 years is associated with the time of the end. The second coming didn't happen in 1798.

I will now give a brief proof from Daniel chapter 7 that the return is to happen at the end of the 1260 years. After the first few verses speak of 3 different beasts, verses 7-8 speak of the fourth beast, said to have ten horns, of which another came up, which spoke great things and was powerful. The way verse 9 is written indicates that the events now spoken of relate to the time when this horn is destroyed, which is seen by verse 26. Verse 10 says that the books were opened at this time. Notice Daniel 12:4, which speaks of the books being sealed until the time of the end. Verse 11 says that the beast was destroyed at this time, and the next verse shows that the rest of the beasts had their dominion taken away at this time. Verse 13 says "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him." (KJV) Clearly this is said to happen at the time of the end, when the books are opened. Verse 14 says "And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom... his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed." So Jesus receives the kingdom at the time of the end, which is said to be in 1260 years from the time of the horn in Daniel 7:25. Some have argued that while part of my argument is valid concerning what will happen when, that the Son of man isn't necessarily promised to return when the horn is destroyed and the books opened, since it says that He is brought to the Ancient of Days. This argument fails because what other time would the Christ come? Why wouldn't His kingdom begin at the time the saints receive the kingdom, just after the 1260 years, as Daniel 7:25-27 says? Obviously there isn't a time when the Christ has been given dominion, yet doesn't yet return, and the kingdom is unestablished. The fact that this giving of dominion is mentioned just before verse 15, in which it says Daniel's vision finished, indicates that the end was spoken of. The vision was chronological. Daniel 7:18 promises that "The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever." Daniel 7:21-22 records the horn warring with the saints until the Ancient of days came, and "judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." The judgment mentioned is the day of judgment, which shows that those who feel this has already happened are not correct. Verse 25 speaks of the horn, saying that it "shall wear out the saints of the Most High... and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time." Then it says that the dominion of it is taken away, and the everlasting kingdom is given to the saints.

It is now the time to establish the identity of the fourth beast. Daniel 7:23-25 shows that the fourth beast has power until the end of the 1260-year period. This is the same beast mentioned in Revelation 11:7-8, which it says "will make war upon them (the two witnesses) and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city." (RSV) Verse 9 says that their dead bodies will stay there for three and a half days. Verse 11 says that after this time they will stand on their feet, and verse 12 says that at that time they will ascend to heaven. Three and a half days here signify 1260 days, which equal 1260 years. Context shows that this is correct. It says that they will prophesy for 1260 years. This indicates that they will be alive during this whole period. The cycle of their dominion lasts for this time, which is shown by Revelation 12:6, speaking of the woman being nourished for 1260 days. The woman is symbolic of the law of God, which must be renewed after this time. It says that these two witnesses would be killed. This means that the beast would act in entire opposition to the teachings and institutions of these two prophets, and the power of them would be dissolved. The indication from this is that from the beginning the witnesses would be destroyed, and fought against, and this is why verse 9 speaks of their dead bodies. As Revelation 12:6 shows the renewal at the end of the 1260 years, Revelation 11 does as well. This has to happen at the time Revelation 11:11 speaks of. If taken literally, the witnesses would die after prophesying for 1260 years, and then be resurrected three and a half years later. Since they can't die before the 1260 years finish, and the resurrection must occur at this time, it is clear that their cycle last for this time, but they are in a sense dead the whole time. So the three and a half days must signify 1260.

As we have seen, the 1260 years and 2300 years must finish simultaneously. Bahá'ís believe that the 1260 years is the cycle of the Qur'an. This time period is in lunar years, beginning from the Hegira in 622 AD, and ending in 1844 AD. Revelation chapter 12 gives further information about the beast. The Bahá'í writings have a short commentary on this chapter, which I'll quote in part:

Verses 3 and 4. "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth." These signs are an allusion to the dynasty of the Umayyads who dominated the Muhammadan religion. Seven heads and seven crowns mean seven countries and dominions over which the Umayyads had power: they were the Roman dominion around Damascus; and the Persian, Arabian and Egyptian dominions, together with the dominion of Africa - that is to say, Tunis, Morocco and Algeria; the dominion of Andalusia, which is now Spain; and the dominion of the Turks of Transoxania. The Umayyads had power over these countries. The ten horns mean the names of the Umayyad rulers - that is, without repetition, there were ten names of rulers, meaning ten names of commanders and chiefs - the first is Abu Sufyan and the last Marvan - but several of them bear the same name. So there are two Muaviya, three Yazid, two Valid, and two Marvan; but if the names were counted without repetition there would be ten. The Umayyads, of whom the first was Abu Sufyan, Amir of Mecca and chief of the dynasty of the Umayyads, and the last was Marvan, destroyed the third part of the holy and saintly people of the lineage of Muhammad who were like the stars of heaven. {3}

Now for a brief analysis of Daniel chapter 8. Many feel that Daniel 8:14 found its complete fulfilment in Antiochus Epiphanes, yet I will argue otherwise. If one studies what it says concerning the 2300 days, it becomes clear that it must finish at the same time as the 1260. Firstly, we have seen the ultimate fulfilment of the end of chapter 11 by someone who is not Antiochus, but who seems to be the same. This prophecy is the same. First, let's note what it says about this time period. Verse 17 says that the vision is for the time of the end. There are not two different ends, so this period must finish with the other. We have noted from chapter 7 that at the end of the 1260 years a horn loses dominion, but until this time saints are persecuted. My argument is that the horn in this chapter is not the same as that in the former, though it could be spoken of as the same one. This chapter speaks of a vision concerning a ram and a he goat. Daniel 8:20-21 interprets the ram to be Media and Persia, and the he goat to be Greece. It says that when the he goat became great, the great horn it had broke, which refers to Alexander, the first king. Daniel 8:8-11 say that from the horn came up four, and out of one of them a little horn came, one which became great, and magnified himself. Verse 10 speaks of the host, or the saints being persecuted, just like with the 1260-year period. Verse 13 has a saint asking "How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? (KJV) Let's examine this. The question is related to the prior verses, and asks how long the host, or saints would be persecuted. The answer is "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." The answer given does not imply that the 2300 days will begin by the sanctuary being defiled, or with the abomination of desolation. The question was how long the period of degradation would last, and the answer indicates when the things spoken of will be finished.

It might now seem unusual that the fulfilment is not as straightforward as being fulfilled by Antiochus. Antiochus is connected with this prophecy and mentioned in vision to both let the people know of the future, and to then realize how the situation even further in the future would be similar to that of the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Many claim that the prophecy speaks of 2300 literal days, because of the apparent fulfilment. Dates have been given, yet noone has been able to come up with something historically correct which comes to 2300 days, or near. There are a few faults to their approach. They take the 1290 days as simply days, relating to those events, ignoring the fact that this time is something which the New Testament implies as future. This is because the time relating to 1260 is mentioned as future in the New Testament, and the 1290 must end after. Thus this time period didn't begin until after Revelation was written, which was around 96 AD. In Matthew 24:15, Jesus points to the abomination of desolation mentioned by Daniel as a future event, and a sign of the return. This refers back to Daniel 8:14, which couldn't have been fulfilled yet. Any verse related to this topic in the book of Daniel is connected either directly or indirectly to a numerical prophecy, which shows that Jesus supported time setting. Some claim that Jesus referred to what happened in 70 AD, when He spoke this prophecy. There are many faults with this assertion. The verses both before and after are speaking of the time of the end, not short term prophecies. To claim that the abomination was set up in that year would be to claim fulfilment of Daniel 12:11, which says "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days." (KJV) Revelation regarded this as a future event, so it was not fulfilled in 70 AD. It couldn't refer to an outward event related to Judaic practices, because the system related to sacrifice was eliminated in the year Jesus died. If it related to something in 70 AD, then something must have happened 1290 days later, which would seem to fit what Daniel 12:11 may suggest, which is that the sacrifice will resume at this time. It didn't. Since the Jewish system is abolished, and the word for days given is yowm, then the 1290 days become years.

The other ploy to find complete fulfilment in Antiochus is by referring to the fact that morning and evening sacrifices are connected with this time. The 2300 days are evenings and mornings, and the claim is that these sacrifices are each counted as one, thus making 1150 days. That way, the time from the desecration of the sanctuary until its cleansing is about accurate. The problem in this approach is that it results from poor interpretation of text. Daniel 8:14 doesn't mention evening and morning sacrifices, simply days consisting of both. It is clear that 2300 days, consisting of the sacrifices are meant. What they are suggesting would be to say that two mornings and evenings count as one day. That would mean that one evening and morning equals half a day. It says morning and evening, indicating the two count as one. Since the 1290 days can become years, and the subject is the same, then so can the 2300. Some suggest that 457 BC should have something to do with the daily sacrifices if it were the correct starting point for the prophecy. Actually it shouldn't. Their theory has the beginning of the 2300 days match the description of Daniel 12:11, which says that the abomination of desolation will be set up, and sacrifices taken away, yet this can't be so. Daniel 12:11 has to have been fulfilled after Jesus. So obviously the two time periods can't begin together, which suggests that they don't need to begin together. Daniel 8:13-14 really shows that during that time those things will take place.

Daniel 8:19 has Gabriel tell Daniel "Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be." (KJV) Earlier it gave indication that the saints would be persecuted. The sanctuary being cleansed means that this will happen at that time. Daniel 12:7 speaks about the indignation being accomplished, and is associated with the 1260 years. It also speaks of it being a time where the saints will suffer, which shows that these two periods end at the same time.

To give a proof from Daniel that the 2300 years begin with the 490, a short proof is in order. One thing we notice through the book is that Daniel is revealed more to do with end time events as the time goes on. Often he does not understand a vision, and thus someone will come and explain it to him some time after. Daniel chapter 8 ends with Daniel not understanding the vision (Daniel 8:27). The next chapter has Daniel making supplication to God and seeking forgiveness for the people. Daniel 9:21 says that Gabriel, who he had seen "in the vision at the beginning," (KJV) came to him during prayer. In the next verse Gabriel said "O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding." If the former vision wasn't meant, what was? The prior verse mentioned it, so obviously this is referred to. Daniel 9:23 has Daniel being told "understand the matter, and consider the vision." What vision? There wasn't one earlier in the chapter, so it was the one in chapter 8. Then it speaks of the 490 years, implying that the 2300 years are begun this way. The vision now gives 1844 as the time of the end.

There are many prophecies concerning this same subject which seem to suggest that there will be no suffering with the people at this time. Isaiah 65:18-19 says "But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying." (KJV) This might seem to indicate that if anyone cries at this time this prophecy is proven false. However, this prophecy simply indicates the general effect the event mentioned will have on the people. Of course people will still weep, and sometimes feel sad. Isaiah 65:25 even says that "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together." It wouldn't surprise me if Beckwith himself knows this speaks of the return of captivity, which didn't literally see the wolf and the lamb dwell together. If he doesn't interpret this according to the outwardly obvious meaning, why does he do so with Matthew 24-25? He speaks of these chapters showing a spectacular return which could not be missed, yet if Isaiah 65:25 isn't literal then neither are those chapters. Jesus is supposed to return like a thief in the night. If a thief was going to attempt to break into a house at night, while people were sleeping, he would silently approach the house, and in such a manner that he wouldn't be noticed. A thief in the night would be a rather poor thief, if he stormed on in the way that Jesus is supposed to, according to fundamentalist interpretation.

As we have seen above, the Bible deals often deals in absolutes. It was indicated that sin would be eliminated on the return from the first exile. Isaiah 25:8 also speaks of this time. It says "He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken." (RSV) This verse suggests the elimination of death and sin eternally from this time, yet if this is taken as literally as fundamentalists do with most other things then it is a false prophecy. One can only notice that this verse in Isaiah is almost identical to Revelation 21:4, which says "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." (RSV) Verse 5 records God then saying "Behold, I make all things new," and verse 1 speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. So it looks like the Bahá'ís are right. While we do believe world peace will come, as indicated in the Bible, we don't believe it will ever be completely perfect.

Isaiah 65:25 speaks of the wolf and lamb dwelling together, just like the prophecy of the time of the Messiah. Why does Beckwith take this metaphorically? It seems like he takes things metaphorically in cases when to do differently would eliminate Jesus' claim for Messiahship. Then he takes things literally concerning the second coming when to do otherwise would bolster the claim of Bahá'u'lláh. Some hold that a chapter like Isaiah 25 is speaking of the time of the end, despite the fact that nothing in the chapter indicates this. Since they don't understand the meaning of the symbols they figure that the verses haven't found fulfilment yet.

It's strange how Christians believe the Comforter is the Holy Ghost bestowed at Pentecost, considering it was promised that the Comforter would reprove the world of sin when He comes. Saying that the world will be reproved of sin is another way of saying that death will be taken away.

Revelation 1:7

This verse is thought to eliminate the possibility of the Bahá'í claim being true. In speaking of the second coming it says "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him." (KJV) So many comments are in order one hardly knows where to begin. The first thing that must be acknowledged is that the Bible commonly deals in absolutes. Zephaniah chapter 1 is a good chapter to show this:

"I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth," says the LORD. "I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. I will overthrow the wicked; I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth," says the LORD. I will stretch out my hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests." (Zephaniah 1:2-5 RSV)

Why does Beckwith not take what seems to be the obvious meaning from this chapter, that everyone in the world will die? How would he defend this chapter with Bible critics? Perhaps the common "That's what it says, but that's not what it means" approach, or "The Bible meant most people" ploy would be used. He speaks of Bahá'ís using circular reasoning, yet I doubt he could defend this chapter adequately. To admit these verses aren't fully literal is as good as admitting that some of the second coming prophecies aren't literal either.

As we can see from Zephaniah, "all" is used to refer what turned out to be some. Daniel 6:25 writes that Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that are in the earth. I very much doubt he wrote to everyone. Perhaps the known earth, or most of it. If this verse isn't fully literal, then why should Revelation 1:7 mean that literally every eye will see the return? The word see in Revelation 1:7 is from the word optanomai, which has figurative meanings. A prophecy given in the Old Testament was that the glory of the LORD would be seen, and all flesh would see it together. In the Old Testament the glory of the LORD, if those chapters are to be interpreted as literally as those in the gospel, was seen visually, as Exodus 24:16-17 and Exodus 40:36-37 show. Isaiah 40:3-5 is mostly quoted in Luke 3:4-6, though the part about the glory of the LORD being revealed and seen by everyone together is replaced by saying that all flesh will see the salvation of God. Therefore the two must mean the same. Isaiah 52:10 is the verse that says the salvation of God would be seen, and that it would be seen from all ends of the earth. Now, noone in India at the time of Christ saw the salvation of God. I doubt you would find any Pharisees who claimed to have seen it, and no historical writer told of everyone seeing it. Isaiah 40:5 has to mean the same as the other verse, and the text shows it occurs at the same time. It says that the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh would see it together. Why literalists don't regard this as a failed prophecy is anyone's guess. It seems they interpret the meaning of the Old Testament through what the New Testament claims. The problem comes when they are unwilling to accept that the New Testament might have some verses which outwardly indicate something which they really don't mean. Isaiah 40:5 seems to promise that the whole world at once would visually see something take place, just like Revelation 1:7 does. The fulfilment shows something different. Optanomai is used in Luke 3:6, which speaks of seeing the salvation of God, and this is not much of a surprise. The other thing Revelation 1:7 says is that all tribes of the earth will wail on account of the Christ. This is the same sign given in Matthew 24:30. Before jumping to conclusions, Amos 8:8, which speaks of events taking place before Christ, says "Shall not the land tremble on this account, and every one mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?" (RSV) Not everyone in the land mourned, so I wouldn't expect a literal fulfilment of Revelation 1:7 on that subject. Amos 8:9-12 shows that the time of the end is not being addressed when talking about this.

Colossians 1:23 gives another example of the absolutes used in the Bible, saying that the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven at a time when the gospel hadn't reached further than the Roman Empire at this time, and nowhere near every creature and person had heard the message. If this is not literal, then neither is the "every eye" prophecy.

Acts 2:14 writes "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words." (RSV) Verse 5 says that there were Jews dwelling in Jerusalem, and verse 6 speaks of them as a multitude. In verses 7-13, these people ask what it means that these people are speaking various languages. Verse 14, just prior to saying what I have quoted above, has Peter referred to, saying "But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them." So it is clear that when Peter refers to all that dwell in Jerusalem he is referring to the multitude in front of him, which consist of people who dwell in Jerusalem.

The "every eye" prophecy seems more appropriate for people who felt that the world was flat. Daniel 4:11 indicates that the world is flat, though addressing the knowledge of the people at the particular time. It is logically impossible that every eye could see Jesus when He returns. If Jesus is always the same as Hebrews 13:8 says, then His descent from the sky would be in a body which noone could see until it had almost landed. Even then, few would see Him, based on the curvature of the earth. Half the world wouldn't even have the chance to see Him, because it would be dark. But then again, showing the logical absurdities with things like this probably will not influence the mind of literalists.

Many Trinitarians, thinking that Jesus is God, hold that Zechariah 14:3 speaks of Jesus when it says that Yahweh will go forth and fight against the nations. However, God is often promised to come and fight or be with people, and the fulfilment is not with a man of flesh doing anything. Zechariah 2:10 speaks of the LORD dwelling in Zion. If Zechariah 14:3 speaks of Jesus, then shouldn't the other verse mean that Jesus lived physically in Zion for a time, died, and then was literally born again a few hundred years later? Zechariah 14:4 then says that the feet of Yahweh will stand on the Mount of Olives, and it will be split in two from east to west. Amazingly, this is interpreted literally, despite a similar verse such as Ezekiel 11:23 speaking of the glory of the LORD going up from the the midst of a city and standing on a mountain. Neither are literal.

1 Thessalonians 4:17

This verse is quite deceptive, and seems to encourage the literal interpretation. The prior verse says "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first." (1 Thessalonians 4:16 RSV) Heaven is often used to speak of the atmosphere in the Bible. However, when speaking in a spiritual way, heaven is not spoken of as a place. In John 3:13 Jesus says that noone has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven." This verse is a spiritual address, much like Acts 1:11. Jesus is said to have descended from heaven when He came. This was not physical. Since He is in heaven while on earth, then an ascension into heaven must also be metaphorical. This verse also indicates that Jesus has already ascended into heaven. If that is a symbol, then so is Acts 1:11. It would be a good idea to have a closer look at Acts 1:9-11, as some points must be brought to light. Acts 1:9 speaks of Jesus being lifted up, and a cloud taking Him out of their sight. Now let's remember verse 11, which says that Jesus "will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." (RSV) This makes matters worse for the fundamentalists. Let's assume verses 9 and 10 are literal. This way it can be shown that other beliefs of a noisy second coming are impossible, which then suggests these verses are not literal. Verses 9-10 says that Jesus was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. The cloud was clearly a cloud, not angels. Literalists hold that when it says that the Christ will come with clouds that it means clouds of angels. Since Jesus is to return in the same way He went to heaven, this belief is shown false. If the cloud was composed of angels it would have said so. Another problem is whether the return will be with one cloud or many. All prophecies of the second coming speaking of this issue say that the Christ will come in the clouds of heaven, except one. Luke 21:27 says they will see Him coming in a cloud. If the return is to be the same way, and is literal, then He will come in a cloud, as He was lifted up by a cloud, and is to return in the same way. It might be argued that other clouds will be near the Christ when He returns, but that He will only be in one. You could also argue that this paradox shows no literal meaning is intended.

Another thing to notice is that from the description given in Acts 1:9-10, Jesus was taken up to heaven with no noise! If He is to return "in the same way" as He left, like it says, then the return will be silent. In other words, everything about it is the same. Also, Jesus seems to have been taken up to heaven within a few seconds. Apparently every eye will see Jesus within a few seconds, despite the fact that half the world is in darkness at the time. Or will special light be supplied? No light was supplied in this chapter, and since the return will happen in the same fashion, then none will be given. Notice that heaven does seem to be the sky or atmosphere in these verses. Acts 7:55 says of Stephen "But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God." (RSV) Apparently heaven can only be seen if you are a follower of God. This verse seems to indicate that Stephen saw that heaven was directly up. If heaven is literally up, then this makes the Bible of lesser regard. We don't know whether Stephen looked up, or whether he looked forward, but saw heaven in vision. Acts 1:10 says that the apostles were "gazing into heaven as he went." (RSV) This may be the same as with Stephen, though it is not certain. The rest of the verse, and then verse 11 say "Behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." The two men in robes are obviously from heaven, and they ask the apostles why they are looking into heaven, because the Christ will return in the same way He went into heaven. They obviously wouldn't have asked such a question if the apostles understood how the second coming was to take place. Looking at the sky for the return of Christ will get you nowhere, because Jesus didn't go to heaven in that way. Notice how the description of how Jesus went to heaven is similar to Elijah. Heaven doesn't take physical bodies, and John the Baptist returned as Elijah in spirit, so the ascension of Elijah must have been a vision seen by Elisha at the time.

Since the return is to happen in the same way as the ascension, then we can expect that a small handful of people will see it. After all, only a few saw Jesus leave. Acts 1 doesn't say that Jesus changed size as He went to heaven. This shows the impossibility of anyone seeing Him until He is close to earth.

1 Thessalonians 4:17 says "Then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord." (RSV) There is no explanation of exactly what this verse means, but it seems to relate to the coming in the clouds of heaven. The clouds are located in the place indicated as being heaven. You could also say that this was in the air, because air is there. This is the type of thing Hebrews 4:16 speaks of, in saying that we can approach the throne of grace, which is in the most holy place, where God is. In Luke 1:19, Gabriel said that he stands in the presence of God, though he was on earth. Thus He must have been in heaven, as 1 Kings 8:39 says that God dwells in heaven. This future prophecy seems to be written in a different way to show the new revelation, and how changes will result. Matthew 28:20 says "I am with you always, to the close of the age." (RSV) Perhaps this verse indicates that someone other than Jesus will come at the end of the age. If the prophecy in 1 Thessalonians is examined, it seems to be different from this only to show that at the time of the end a Prophet will literally come, not just be with the people in a spiritual sense. The purpose of saying that the people will be caught up into the air is to show how God will come and guide the people. This means that they will be with God, who dwells in heaven. Since heaven is symbolized as the atmosphere, meeting the Christ in the air shows that the people will be with Him and God. The purpose is to show that the return will be from heaven, which Jesus said happened the first time. This interpretation is encouraged by 1 Thessalonians 5:10, which speaks of Jesus, saying "Who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him." (RSV) This says that those of that day are with the Lord.

There is something earlier in 1 Thessalonians 4 which supports Bahá'í beliefs of the resurrection. Verse 13 says that "We would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." (RSV) The next chapter gives us information to know what it means by fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 has Paul saying that "You yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." (RSV) To make sure that this means that it will come quietly, verses 4-7 tell us "But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night." Paul says that those addressed are not in darkness, that the day will surprise them like a thief. He says that they should keep awake. The fact that verse 4 says the day will surprise those in darkness does not mean they will realize the day has come at the time. You could say the day surprised people who slept through it, but in the context of the right interpretation. Those who are awake will not be surprised by the event. Those who aren't miss the event. Since staying awake does not refer to normal sleep, those asleep mentioned in the prior chapter are not obeying God as they should. From the words of Jesus Himself, the coming as a thief means coming quietly. The interpretation Christians have of His words on this subject are distorted by their other beliefs. Jesus said that the coming of the Son of man would be as the days of Noah. At that time the people were carrying on everyday life, when the flood overwhelmed them. It seems they had good warning that the flood would occur, but didn't believe it would happen then. That's the same as not knowing when it will occur. In Matthew 24:43, Jesus said that if the goodman of the house had known when the thief would come he would have watched, and would not have had his house broken up. The next verse warns you to be ready. Notice how the person who didn't watch didn't catch or see the thief, and his house was broken up. In Matthew 24:45-47, Jesus praises those who will be watching for His return. Matthew 24:48-50 then says "But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of." (KJV) This says everything. It contrasts the two groups, going from those who watch to those who don't. It indicates that those who are spiritually drunken will miss the event, as the Christ will come in an hour that they are not aware of. In other words, they are not aware at the very time. Mark 13:36 warns the people that He could come and find them asleep. If He's come and they are asleep then the return is quiet. Luke 21:34 clearly shows that the return will be a quiet event, saying "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkeness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." (KJV) So if you are unprepared for the return it will come upon you unaware, and you will miss it.

Resurrection

The Bahá'ís hold that the resurrection was non-physical. We do not deny that there was a resurrection, but that it was the body of Christ, representing His reality and teachings which came to life, and which has been expressed in symbols. In old literature at and before the time of Jesus, three-day resurrection stories are very common. Christians will have you believe that the other stories are false and created by the devil. Why not assume the opposite? If those stories were from the devil, then the good truth taught by some of these teachers e.g. Mithra, Buddha, would have to be also. However, those things agree with the Bible, and the devil can't tell the truth. So we conclude the opposite. The assumption given is that if the other stories sound the same as in the Bible then they were supposed to be taken literally. However, the writing at that time was very symbolic, so there is no reason to assume this. The proof for a non-physical resurrection that I will give will be very short, compared to what it could be. To begin, let's quote from Mark 16 to see what day the resurrection and ascension occurred on:

"And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed her not." (Mark 16:1-11 (KJV)

It is clear from the story that this all happened on the same day. There is little detail as yet, but Mary said that Jesus appeared to her, which means it isn't necessarily a physical occurrence. The rest of the Bible will give us the answer.

"After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them." (Mark 16:12-13)

Clearly this was not a physical appearance, as if Jesus is "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever," then I don't think you can expect Him appearing in a different form. If the resurrection appearances are physical, and thus when Mary saw Jesus He was physical, what would be the other form Jesus was seen in? If the promise of Jesus was so obviously one of a physical rise from the dead after three days, how come the people didn't believe others who saw Him?

"Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then, after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." (Mark 16:14-20)

From the above quotes encompassing the whole chapter of Mark, it shows that the resurrection and ascension happened on the same day. Thus, if Jesus physically ascended to heaven, as it might be claimed that Mark 16:19 says, then the appearances during 40 days could have only been physical at the beginning. Verses saying that Jesus ascended into heaven are commonly interpreted literally, yet there is no reason to do so without good evidence. One thing the reader of the Bible must take into account is the beliefs of the people of the time, and how that made verses apparently literal to mean something symbolic. According to their beliefs, heaven was literally up, and hell was in the depths of the earth. Support for the assertion about heaven is not difficult to find. Genesis 1:6-8 says "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day." (KJV)

Notice that the above verses clearly define heaven as the atmosphere. This is consistent with other verses in the Bible, such as Genesis 7:11 "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." (KJV) When speaking of the end of the flood, Genesis 8:2 says "and the rain from heaven was restrained." The rain obviously came from clouds, not from anywhere higher.

1 Kings 8:35 says "When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain..." (KJV) Mark 16:19 says that Jesus physically ascended up into heaven, if taken literally. Based on what the Bible says about heaven this would now have to mean that Jesus currently resides somewhere a few miles above the earth, at the height of the clouds. According to the prior definition of heaven, on a clear day someone should be able to see Jesus, who must be hovering over Mount Olivet. An aeroplane would have collected Him already if this verse is literal. Nowhere does it indicate that when Jesus went to heaven He became invisible, so I won't assume it. In short, no rationalization gets someone out of the fact that the Bible defines heaven as the atmosphere, thus the physical body of Jesus must be in our earthly atmosphere, not out of it, and would obviously have been spotted.

There is one very good proof from comparing the gospel accounts of the resurrection to show that the Bible uses symbols. In Matthew 27:50-53, it records Jesus dying, and then immediately the veil of the temple being rent in twain, the earth quaking, graves opening, and dead saints arising. In verse 54 it says that when the centurion who was watching Jesus saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, he feared greatly, saying "Truly this was the Son of God." (KJV) So this account says that the centurion confessed that Jesus was the Son of God because he saw these events, which you would think took place over the course of at least half a minute. In contrast, Mark 15:37-39 says "And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this was the Son of God." (KJV) This time the centurion says that Jesus is the Son of God immediately, and because Jesus cried out, not because of the earth quaking and dead bodies arising. These events are not even recorded in this chapter, or the other two gospels. It becomes clear that the dead bodies rising and the earth quaking are symbols to show the effect that the death of Jesus had. This explains the paradox of why the centurion said that Jesus was the Son God, for seemingly two different reasons.

Resurrection in the writings of books apart from the gospels

Many Christians are of the belief that later books in the Bible give the same physical interpretation of what the resurrection was. After studying these writings, I have found the exact opposite to be the case. There is one chapter, which, if not many of the surrounding books have been well read, can seem to offer support for a physical resurrection. Having read these other books I can see that it is overwhelmingly clear that the resurrection has to do with a change in beliefs and actions, not anything physical. To examine this claim, let's begin in Acts.

Scholars generally admit that the author of the gospel of Luke wrote Acts. The first verse of Acts has the author claim to have written a prior book to Theophilus, of whom the gospel of Luke is written to. The first few verses of Acts parallel the resurrection account of Luke in particular, so it certainly is the gospel of Luke which is referred to.

Acts 1:1-2 says that formerly Luke has "dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen." (RSV) This clearly says that Jesus had already been taken up with the conclusion of Luke. This is recorded in Luke 24:50-51, which say "Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them." (RSV) It seems clear enough from this version that by parting from them it means being carried up into heaven. Mark 16:19 in the Markan appendix speaks of Jesus being taken up into heaven after speaking with the people. The RSV does add a footnote when speaking of Luke 24:51, which states that other ancient authorities add "and was carried up into heaven" to that verse. This is very much like the KJV, which says "And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and was carried up into heaven."

Now we must check whether Jesus had given commandment through the Holy Spirit before He went up. Looking at the gospel of Luke, there is much evidence of giving commandments. Luke 24:27 has Jesus interpreting things in the scriptures concerning Himself to some followers. Verses 47-49 record Jesus giving commandments through the Holy Spirit, and after this He ascended.

Acts 1:2 is translated somewhat differently in the KJV. It reads "Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen." This now means that Jesus was taken up, and after this time He gave commandments to the apostles.

Acts 1:3 is interesting for many reasons. It says: "To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God." (RSV) From reading the gospel of Mark concerning the resurrection, there is no evidence that the resurrection and ascension didn't happen on the same day, and much that shows it did. This is the same with Luke. Luke 24:13, 33, 36 & 50 show that both happened the same day. I think there is no reason to believe that Mark and Luke are wrong in saying that the resurrection and ascension happened on the same day.

Having established this, it is clear that Jesus did not ascend to heaven on the fortieth day. So now the question becomes what does it mean by saying that Jesus appeared to the disciples for a length of forty days after the passion. The gospel of John records the apostles receiving the Holy Spirit on Easter, as opposed to Pentecost. It is uncertain that this bestowal of the Spirit is different to that of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2:1-4. Also, John has Jesus appearing to the disciple's eight days after the resurrection. Perhaps this is a different type of appearance, one of which continued for a period of forty days. It may be a revelatory vision. In visions like this, the things seen are referred to as real. Jesus did say that a spirit doesn't have flesh and bones like He has, but this is just to show that the Spirit can be felt, as distinguished from other spirits. In Matthew, the appearances seem to be on a different day, as in John, since the eleven are said to have first seen Jesus together in Galilee, which is a journey of about three days. Matthew 28:16, which says that the eleven first saw Jesus in Galilee contradicts Luke 24:36, which says they saw Him in Jerusalem. Matthew doesn't specify the day that this appearance happened, but it couldn't have been the same day. Considering Matthew and John must both be speaking of things that happened after the ascension day, which the other two gospels indicate happened on the same day as the resurrection, then it is clear that this is why they don't report Jesus ascending to heaven.

Acts 1:4-12 parallels Luke 24:48-53, but has more detail. Thus, Acts 1 refers to something which happened much before the forty days terminated.

It seems that while Jesus was alive there were about 20 followers, so Acts 1:15, which seems to have been shortly after this time, and says there were now about 120 followers, shows that the resurrection caused a rapid increase in the church. The rise of Jesus from the dead is the church, which is represented as His body. Colossians 1:18 confirms this, saying "He (Christ) is the head of the body, the church." (RSV) Paul said to the Christians "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in part." (1 Corinthians 12:27 RSV)

1 Corinthians 15 teaches a non-physical resurrection, though outwardly seems to teach the opposite. Verse 4 speaks of Jesus being raised from the dead. Verse 5 says "And that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve." (RSV) This is baffling. No gospel says that Peter saw the risen Christ first. Mark 16:9 says it was Mary. This may be a paradox given to indicate that the resurrection should not be interpreted literally. Verse 8 is very interesting, saying "Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me." It mentions this appearance along with the rest of them, which Christians hold to be physical. The word "optanomai" used for appeared is identical to that used to speak of the resurrection appearances previously mentioned in this chapter, and also in the gospels, and when saying that Jesus was seen for forty days. If Paul hadn't meant to equate the appearance to himself with the other ones then he shouldn't have said so. Everyone knows that Paul didn't see a physical Jesus. This chapter indicates that Paul's experience in Acts 9 was a more literally written record of a resurrection appearance. The Greek word optanomai is often translated as "see," "seen," or "appeared." It is only used 60 times in the New Testament. The word eido is used to speak of someone seeing someone, in cases where everyone agrees that physical sight is spoken of. Optanomai is used for the transfiguration as well, as is horama, which in other cases speaks of supernatural visions, in which the person is not moving, may even have their eyes closed, yet sees and hears things. There is no reason why the transfiguration should be a physical event. Elijah and Moses didn't return. This is even hinted by Jesus in Matthew 17, after the vision, when He speaks of John the Baptist as Elijah who was promised. If Elijah himself was just physically there, then why would Jesus say something so confusing, and where did Elijah go? Acts chapter 9 uses optanomai, in saying "Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as the camest." (Acts 9:17 KJV) The appearance in this chapter is not even spoken of in a way that could even mildly suggest a physical appearance. Mark 16:9 said that the Lord (Jesus) appeared to Mary. Clearly both are physical, or both non-physical. The appearance to Paul was after the forty days had finished, which shows the resurrection is a spiritual fact.

Acts 4:1-2 says that as John and Peter were speaking to the people, the priests and Sadducees came upon them, and they were annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. It doesn't say that they were teaching that a physical Jesus rose into heaven. Acts 4:4 says "Many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand." (RSV)

From this it is clear that the word preached was not that the resurrection was a physical occurrence. If it was, then the Jews spoken to, who are said to have rejected Jesus, would have already known that it was physical, because they would have seen it. Verse 4 says that many that heard the word believed, and then converted. The previous verses show that the people who are said to have believed are those that had belief in the resurrection. If the resurrection was physical then they would have already believed in it, because they would have seen or heard about it. If the teaching was that it was physical then it brings up the question as to why suddenly many people believe in it after hearing preaching, not from seeing the event. Were they in denial about having seen the resurrection? If they hadn't seen such an event as the resurrection, it's doubtful that they would believe someone, just because they said it happened. No historical records of a physical resurrection exist. It's interesting to note that the Jews did not say that the information of the followers of Jesus was made up, which they would believe was the case if they spoke of a physical resurrection. They just disagreed with the main message. This further indicates that the event spoken of is symbolical.

Acts 10:40-41 says that God raised Christ "and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead." (RSV) This is a remarkable passage, as it says that Christ was only made manifest to those chosen by God. If we are to believe that the resurrection is physical, and then take these verses to mean what they seem to indicate, then it is telling us that no enemy of God saw any of the events associated with the physical resurrection, such as the men in tombs being raised. We should bare in mind that some who saw the risen Christ doubted, as recorded in the gospel. Perhaps these people are those to whom He didn't make Himself manifest to, at least not in the sense spoken of in these verses. Acts 13:31 gives further credibility to my above arguments. It says that "For many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people." (RSV) Again it says that Christ only appeared to people who had been believers. Clearly the appearances were not bodily, considering Mark's gospel shows that the ascension and resurrection happened on the same day. If Jesus went to heaven bodily, then the appearances for "many days" (obviously more than on just the one day) could not be physical. Perhaps there is some difference in meaning between the appearances before and after the ascension, but it is clear that they are either both physical, or both non-physical. Having seen from Mark that the ascension took place on the same day, and having noted that the appearances were for many days, after this day it is clear that the later appearances couldn't be physical. Since this is so, then the initial appearances were non-physical as well.

One of the things critics of a physical resurrection have raised is why so much importance was given to the resurrection, when numerous dead people had been raised in the Old Testament. 1 Corinthians 15:16 says "For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised." (RSV) Now we must see how the dead are raised. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 say that by one man all die, and by Christ all become alive. To see what sort of life is meant, let's go back to the Old Testament. Adam and Eve were told not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They did eat of it, and in Genesis 3:22 God says that Adam has become like Him, knowing good and evil. This shows that the story is not literal, because Adam had no knowledge of evil before eating from the tree. Thus He can't have sinned, according to how sin is defined. Genesis chapter 3 speaks of enmity with His descendants. This comes from knowledge of good and evil, which is a characteristic of the physical nature. Adam was the cause of physical life, and Christ spoke of this as death. So this is how by Adam all die. Otherwise original sin is taught, and this can't be so, considering Noah was said to be perfect, which would mean a break in the line of original sin. It also doesn't explain Deuteronomy 30:11-14, which shows that humans are very much capable of salvation at the time, and were not doomed. Deuteronomy 24:16 says that every man will be put to death for his own sin, which is contrary to what original sin teaches. Christ was the giver of spiritual life, as shown by John 5:26. Spiritual life is eternal life. In John 5:24 Jesus says "He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." (RSV) Jesus doesn't say "will have eternal life," He says that they have it. Jesus was speaking to people at the time, so obviously the eternal life applies to them. 1 John 2:11 clarifies what is meant by death, in saying "But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (RSV) 1 John 3:14 sounds similar to John 5:24-25, saying "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love remains in death." (RSV) The next verse says "Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." (1 John 3:15 RSV)

We can now see that death is a spiritual condition. John 5:25 says that "the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." (RSV) Some think that this is speaking of something to happen a couple thousand years later, but Jesus says this now is happening. The verses in 1 John show that being raised from death to life is nothing physical. In Galatians 1:1, Paul says he was raised from the dead. This was not physical. He doesn't indicate his raising is anything different to the future resurrection, or the one which has just happened. In Luke 9:60, Jesus spoke to a living man, saying "Leave the dead to bury their own dead." (RSV) The implication was that the man who was going to bury his dead father was also dead. Being deprived of eternal life is death. John 5:26-27 apply to what Jesus was given while on earth, and Jesus speaks of it as happening at the time. Verse 28-29 has Jesus saying that "the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment." (RSV) This shows that the word "tombs" is a metaphor. In John 5:40, Jesus says of the Jews that "you refuse to come to me that you may have life." In other words, you receive everlasting life from believing in Jesus. John 6:47 says "he who believes has eternal life." (RSV) Most hold that the immortality promised in 1 Corinthians 15 is different to this. Two kinds of eternal life? John 8:51 has Jesus saying "if any one keeps my word, he will never see death." (RSV) Literalists only take this verse metaphorically because all early Christians are dead now. Another metaphor like tombs is bread. Jesus says that He is the bread of life, and that he who comes to Him will not hunger, and those who believe in Him will never thirst. Notice that coming to Him is expressed as eating, and belief as drinking. Matthew 16:25 indicates that those who lose their life for the sake of Jesus will find it. Certainly this means eternal life. Romans 8:11 says "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (KJV) This verse is incredibly important, as it says the same thing as 1 Corinthians 15:53, the verse taken as a proof of a physical resurrection. This verse says "For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality." (KJV) The former verse says that your mortal bodies will be brought to life. Since the Spirit of God is spoken of then this means eternal life. In other words, the mortal body putting on immortality. Romans 6:12 says "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." (KJV) This relates back a verse like Romans 8:13, which says "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." (KJV) Those that lived after the flesh, and then put it off are mortals who have put on immortality. Romans 8:8 confirms this by saying "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Obviously this doesn't mean that every human who has had a body displeased God, including Moses and the rest of the prophets. So 1 Corinthians 15:53 refers to a spiritual condition, one which was happening at that time, but which also happens each time a prophet comes to earth.

Many claim that 1 Corinthians 15:50, which tells us that flesh and blood can't inherit the kingdom of God, doesn't mean that fleshy humans can't enter heaven. The reasoning is because we are apparently to get a new physical body. This is based on misreading the mortal putting on immortality. It can't be interpreted to mean the physical body becomes immortal, but that the human with the mortal body puts on everlasting life, by the Spirit of God leading him. 1 Corinthians 15:54 says that when this happens death will be swallowed up in victory. This is exactly what Isaiah 25:8 says for a previous event, and it is no coincidence. 1 Corinthians 15:44 explains the resurrection, by saying "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." (KJV) To elucidate what the natural body is, 1 Corinthians 2:14 is of some benefit. It says "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (KJV) This is how people are before receiving the Spirit of God, and everlasting life The spiritual body is one led by the Spirit. Galatians 6:8 addresses this issue well, in saying "For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life." (RSV) Eternal life is incorruption, and that's what the verse says you are putting on, and it is related to people living around two thousand years ago.

From reading 1 Peter 4:1-6, 17 and John 12:31 it is clear that the dead who are judged are those who do not obey the gospel, and that this judging had already started.

They can do this only by insisting that the literal meaning is to be ignored. According to Bahá'í doctrine, Jesus' description of His second coming in the Bible should be understood spiritually rather than literally. That is, the text of the Bible is said to have some symbolic meaning which is contrary to the ordinary meaning of the words used.

This is a rather amusing remark, in light of the fact that most fundamentalists such as himself will interpret verses in a way which is "contrary to the ordinary meaning of the words used" when expediency demands. If interpreting the verse according to a usual rendering produces an absurdity then the verse is deemed metaphorical. I'm sure Beckwith believes the texts that say the world is flat don't actually mean what they say. Daniel 4:11 and Revelation 20:8 are very direct implications of a flat earth, and to interpret them otherwise would be "contrary to the ordinary meaning of the words used." I'm not saying they do show this, just that Beckwith will pick and choose. It wouldn't surprise me if he believes the two witnesses in Revelation 11 aren't actual men. To interpret them as anything other than male prophets is to stray from ordinary meaning. What about Matthew 24:29? Does he believe stars will fall from heaven? Going by ordinary meaning "the stars shall fall from heaven" (KJV) would mean that literal stars will crash into the earth, destroying human life. Like most others, I'm sure he believes a star fall is referred to. Colossians 1:23 says that the gospel had been preached to every creature under heaven, in saying "be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister." (KJV) Why doesn't Beckwith take this literally, ignoring the fact that the gospel hadn't been spread further than the Roman Empire? Why doesn't he believe animals in Canada had been preached to? If he does believe this, then all I can say is that history shows this belief false. I conclude this issue in saying that we can assume Beckwith ignores the obvious meaning here, because a literal rendering is plainly false. It would be good for him to admit that he does this so that the Bible is not shown wrong. Then he rejects the possibility of equally literal end time prophecies being in metaphor.

The Bible often addresses the knowledge of the people of the time, and thus speaks of many incorrect scientific statements as the literal truth. In times past, all the verses in the Bible related to science were treated as fact. As science began to develop, it showed that much of what the Bible said (if literal) was wrong. Initially these findings were treated as blasphemous lies. But as time went by, the people accepted that the Bible could not always be accepted as truth in every regard. So despite the text being very literal, this meaning was ignored. The way to refute criticisms in the Bible usually became "What the Bible meant..." or "That's what it says, but that's not what it means." This is the same thing as what Beckwith is accusing the Bahá'ís of doing. Saying such things means nothing unless you can come up with good reasons, taking into account the time in question, as to why the Bible could make a false statement, yet not be wrong. The problem is that not many seem able to do this.

Literal and Symbolic

The Bahá'ís do not, however, follow this line of interpretation consistently in their reading of the Bible. Whenever they find a biblical passage that clearly states that Jesus will return at the end of the world in a way contrary to Bahá'u'lláh's arrival, the Bahá'ís simply assert that we should not take that passage literally. No reason for this assertion is ever produced from the text of the Bible itself. However, on other occasions where a literal interpretation might seem to the Bahá'ís to support their views (e.g., Dan. 8:13-17), [11] they do not consider interpreting the passage nonliterally.

This type of assertion from Beckwith is common, and is completely incorrect. He states that the Bahá'ís take passages metaphorically when they show the return will happen in a literal way. He says that "No reason for this assertion is ever produced from the text of the Bible itself." From the article of Beckwith it is clear that he hasn't read enough material written by Bahá'ís on the subject. The footnote of Beckwith is very interesting:

 

[11] On this and other so-called Bahá'í biblical prophecies, see Beckwith, Bahá'í, 28-39.

Notice how Beckwith steers the reader away from the Bahá'í writings themselves to find the Bahá'í argument. It's fine to look at what Beckwith says about our arguments, as long as his book represents our arguments well, and quotes from the Bahá'í writings. However, a few short pages in a book can't contain the explanations on prophecies given in our writings. It could be quite easy to take isolated sentences from Bahá'í figures to make it look like they have only stated something but not given valid proof to back it up.

The other thing about the above passage is that someone who wasn't a Bahá'í would assume that these apparently devious tactics apply to the whole body of the Bahá'ís. He starts by saying that the Bahá'ís are inconsistent when interpreting the Bible. He says that whenever Bahá'ís find a passage which conflicts with their beliefs they say it isn't literal. Then he says, concerning the Bahá'ís, that "No reason for this assertion is ever produced·" I take issue at this statement, as it indicates that Bahá'ís always state things without attempting proof. Unless, of course, he means that no valid (in his eyes) reason is produced. If this is what he means, then he was unclear. Those who strongly oppose a certain teaching will often say that those who believe the teaching can never provide a reason why their belief is so. What they really mean is that they sometimes do provide a reason, but it is not acceptable to them. Beckwith states that no reason for holding that a passage is not literal is ever given from the Bible itself from Bahá'ís. Well I've given many now, and I certainly wouldn't claim that no other Bahá'í has ever been able to do so. Numerous people have written Bahá'í books on the signs of the second coming, and given reasons for them not to be viewed literally. So many exist that one hardly knows where to begin. Perhaps Beckwith has changed his belief on the Bahá'ís since his article was written?

This sort of clip-and-paste view of biblical interpretation proves very little. After all, by the same rationale one could "prove" that any number of different individuals was Christ returned. Accepting as literal only those texts which seem to fit one's doctrinal views while pleading for a nonliteral interpretation for passages which contradict one's position is a favorite tactic of pseudo-Christian groups. For example, this interpretive technique is employed by the Unification Church to show that Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah. [12]

With this method of interpreting biblical prophecy Bahá'ís employ circular reasoning (in which the arguer assumes what he or she is trying to prove). Because the Bahá'í accepts Bahá'u'lláh's claim to fulfill Christ's second coming, he (or she) thinks he is justified in interpreting biblical prophecies symbolically which, if taken literally, would disprove Bahá'u'lláh's claim, but if taken nonliterally can be used to prove it. [13] Thus, probably without even realizing it, the Bahá'í is assuming the very point that he is trying to prove in his citing of biblical prophecy.

As I have shown before, no assumption is involved. We are justified in holding our beliefs.

Jews, Christians, and Bahá'ís

In this article's introductory comments I mentioned Robert Stockman's assertion that just as the Jews were mistaken about Jesus' fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (that is, the Jews as a nation; many individual Jews accepted Jesus), the Christians of today are mistaken about Bahá'u'lláh's fulfillment of New Testament prophecy. There are two ways of understanding this argument. Perhaps it is meant to be a proof that Bahá'u'lláh fulfills biblical prophecy, in which case the argument might be stated more formally in the following manner:

1. The Jews thought that Jesus was not the Messiah, and they were wrong.
2. Christians today think that Bahá'u'lláh was not the Messiah (or Christ returned).
3. Therefore, Christians are wrong to reject Bahá'u'lláh.

Such an argument, if that is what Robert Stockman intended, would certainly be another case of faulty reasoning.

Beckwith has given us little background to be able to sufficiently know what the person was trying to prove. However, from the clues in the article I think that they made those comments as an introduction, speaking to the audience of listeners, and were saying these things under the assumption that the claims of the Bahá'í Faith are correct. I can agree that if the above material was the whole argument then it is terrible reasoning, which could be seen as a ruse to avoid having to prove something impossible.

By this reasoning Christians and Bahá'ís alike would be wrong to reject Jim Jones as a manifestation of God, or Sun Myung Moon as the second coming of Christ. Clearly, the mere fact that the Jewish rejection of Jesus was unjustified does not prove that the Christian rejection of Bahá'u'lláh is also unjustified.

In this point I agree to an extent, though it is assumed that this person believes in Bahá'u'lláh because of logic, with nothing to do with the perfections and teachings of Him. It is also assumed that they haven't tested the claim of Jim Jones. The Bible says that you will know a true prophet by their fruits, and I'm sure Jim Jones would be found wanting a lot quicker than Bahá'u'lláh. The main problem with this whole issue is that Beckwith ignores what our writings say on this issue. Is he aware that they say the proof of a Prophet is how good an educator He is, as well as His perfections and writings?

I'm glad that Beckwith admits just above that he is not necessarily sure what the argument of Stockman was supposed to mean. He says that the mere fact that the Jews rejecting Jesus was unjustified doesn't prove that the Christian rejection of Bahá'u'lláh is also unjustified. This is absolutely correct, but not what seems to have been meant. Beckwith is once again making the mistake of portraying that the viewpoint given is the usual Bahá'í argument, despite the fact that I have never heard of such an argument. I wouldn't support a Bahá'í ever saying such a thing. In the Bahai writings we are encouraged to study the books of other religions to give proofs supporting this cause. We are never encouraged to assume the fact. If we were, then the Bahá'ís great support of encouraging those who want to become Bahá'ís to study more before becoming a member would be rather strange. We don't jump on every person who wants to join with the sole reason of bumping up numbers. Now let's have a look at more of the text on this subject:

There is another way of interpreting Robert Stockman's argument, however, that is not so obviously fallacious. Perhaps he is intending to argue only that the Christian rejection of Bahá'u'lláh is based on the same sort of error that led the Jews to reject Jesus. Bahá'ís generally argue that in both cases the error that led to the rejection of the "manifestation" was an overly literal interpretation of biblical prophecies. Such an argument would take the following form:

1. The Jews rejected Jesus because they interpreted the Bible too literally.
2. Christians today reject Bahá'u'lláh because they interpret the Bible too literally.
3. Therefore, Christians are wrong to reject Bahá'u'lláh on the basis of their literal interpretation of the Bible.

Beckwith has to remember that there is a difference between what "general Bahá'ís" believe, and what Bahá'u'lláh actually teaches. His aim is to show that the claim of Bahá'u'lláh is incorrect, and by showing that what the general Bahá'í apparently believes is incorrect he is straying from the mark, and dealing in things that are irrelevant. He claims that the general Bahá'í claims that the error in both cases which led to the rejection of both manifestations was interpreting the texts in an overly literal way. I guess I can't disprove this assertion directly, as I would have to conduct some sort of large survey, but from being a Bahá'í I would doubt that most Bahá'ís say this. I think that most would say that the reason was that the followers of one Prophet didn't follow the teachings, and followed tradition and imitation, not seeking out reality. They might also say that the people interpreted the books based on their own desires. Another point they might bring up is one which the son of Bahá'u'lláh often spoke of. It was that the Jews only adored the rising of the sun, so to speak, in Moses. Had they been of true understanding they would be followers of the light. Once they attain this stage they will see it whenever it appears, and they would see that Jesus had it. Basically they would be so spiritually prepared that when the next Prophet appears He could be recognized immediately, by His perfections.

This is the argument I would use, and that our writings often use, so I would like Beckwith to respond to this argument. Does he agree with this? I'm sure he does. Remember how in the Bible, some of those who became disciples of Jesus followed Him immediately. Jesus walked up to them, and told them to follow Him. It records the person getting up right then and there, abandoning everything and following. While this may not have been exactly how it occurred, the point which comes across is that those people had insight, and could recognize the Messiah by being around Him. If Beckwith agrees with this argument then he would support the idea that if he had met Bahá'u'lláh he'd be able to recognize whether His claim was true or not. Incidentally, Beckwith gives no indication that we believe in Him because of His perfections, as if we believe in Him through faulty logic alone.

This argument, unlike the one discussed previously, has some logical value. If its premises go unchallenged, they lend strong support to its conclusion. However, both of the premises of this argument do invite challenge.

In the case of the second premise, for Bahá'u'lláh one could substitute any of the other modern religious leaders claiming to be a manifestation of God or a fulfillment of the Second Coming of Christ. A follower of Sun Myung Moon could argue with equal validity as follows:

1. The Jews rejected Jesus because they interpreted the Bible too literally.
2. Christians today reject Rev. Moon because they interpret the Bible too literally.
3. Therefore, Christians are wrong to reject Rev. Moon on the basis of their literal interpretation of the Bible.

In other words, the second premise is really immaterial. It amounts to saying that if the actual words of the Bible are ignored, anyone at all can be claimed to be a fulfillment of the Bible's "spiritual" or symbolic meaning.

As for the first premise, as a matter of historical fact it is simply false. The fact of the matter is that the Jews rejected Jesus as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy not because they interpreted it too literally, but because they did not interpret it literally enough. The Bible clearly predicted that the Messiah would be God (Ps. 45:6; Isa. 7:14; 9:6), but the Jews found Jesus' claim to be God scandalous and blasphemous in the extreme.

I really can't resist commenting now. I'm not going to comment on the argument about Moon, because it is correct, and it needn't have been used at all. But I will comment on the idea that Jesus was rejected as the fulfilment of prophecy because the Jews didn't interpret prophecy literally enough. This is a bizarre statement indeed, and I have now only heard two people claim it. One can only assume that Beckwith is unacquainted with some of the signs the Jews expected, and how they weren't going to accept anyone until they see them. Prophecies included Zion dancing, the people being gathered together into Israel at the time, the Messiah coming from an unknown place, ruling from the throne of David just like other kings, and having a rod. John 7:41 shows that many didn't accept that the Old Testament stated a place on earth for the Messiah to come from. How does Beckwith explain away Isaiah chapter 11, as to why no peace came when the Messiah came? Or is it telling of the second coming of a Messiah? If so, textual evidence needs to be provided. We could otherwise assume that the Old Testament does speak of two Messiah's. Beckwith argues that the Old Testament doesn't speak of two Messiah's, though this is actually not so clear cut. A noticeable distinction is not made, but that is because the New Testament provided more detail. If John can be Elijah then I don't see why two Messiah's need to be clearly spoken of, because they are one. The Son of man in Daniel chapter 7 is not said to be the Messiah, though in a sense He is. This is coming from the Old Testament, which promised Elijah, though he didn't come. Strange how Beckwith is trying to eliminate Bahá'í claims on grounds that could be used to eliminate those of his own religion.

It is not a historical fact that the Jews rejected Jesus because of literal interpretation. It depends whether he is only referring to the verses which are supposed to show the Messiah is God, or most prophecies. As to the signs, Jesus was rejected because many they expected didn't seem to occur. In Matthew 17:10, the disciples asked Jesus why the scribes say that Elijah will come first. In Matthew 17:12, Jesus surprises them by saying that Elijah has come, and in verse 13 it says that they understood He was speaking of John the Baptist. Beckwith claims that the Jews took the prophecies too literally, yet doubtfully has an explanation to the Jews which proves that Elijah wasn't promised to return in spectacular fashion from the skies. If one looks at all the times in the gospels when the Jews misinterpreted Jesus, it was because Jesus used symbols, not very different to those used to speak of the second coming. John 6:41-42 is a good example, which speaks of how the statement of Jesus that He came down from heaven wasn't understood.

Isaiah 9:6 is a verse supposed to prove that the Messiah would be God. The English word God, as found in most translations of the Hebrew Scriptures, is the translation of several Hebrew words - sometimes one, sometimes another. In this instance it is the word El. El signifies strong or powerful. Goshen's Online Hebrew Lexicon defines it as: "shortened from 0352 TWOT - 93a n m ; AV - God 213, god 16, power 4, mighty 5, goodly 1, great 1, idols 1, Immanuel + 06005 2, might 1, strong 1; 245; 1) god, god-like one, mighty one; 1a) mighty men, men of rank, mighty heroes; 1b) angels; 1c) god, false god, (demons, imaginations); 1d) God, the one true God, Jehovah; 2) mighty things in nature; 3) strength, power"

Other authorities give it the same or similar meanings. Consequently it is applicable to any powerful being and especially so the most powerful - the Almighty Yahweh. That the word is thus used may be readily seen by anyone who will carefully note the following texts from the King James Version, in which English translations of the Hebrew word El are in italics (quotes from KJV): "It is in the power of my hand." (Genesis 31:29) "There shall be no might in thine hand." (Deuteronomy 28:32) "Neither is it in our power." (Nehemiah 5:5) "Like the great mountains." (Psalm 36:6) "In the power of thine hand to do it." (Proverbs 3:27) "Who among the sons of the mighty." (Psalm 89:6) "God standeth in the congregation of the mighty." (Psalm 82:1) "Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods [mighty ones or ruling ones]?" (Exodus 15:11) "Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty." (Psalm 29:1) "The mighty God, [ruler] even the LORD." (Psalm 50:1)

Notice the above texts carefully and critically; all will agree that the context in every case shows the meaning of the Hebrew word El to be powerful one or mighty. How clearly it is stated in the last three quotations that Yahweh is the chief "El" and rules over all other ones called "el" - powerful ones or mighty ones. And it should be noted that Yahweh is the name applied to none other than the Supreme Being - our Father, and Him whom Jesus called Father and God. (John 17:1,3: 20:17). The meaning then of the words "mighty God" in our text, is: "He shall be called the Mighty Powerful [One]." The prophecies in Isaiah 9:6-7 actually refer to the return of Christ, and mostly don't apply to Jesus. Nowhere does the New Testament say that Jesus was the fulfilment of this chapter. If He was, He would have been called by the names mentioned. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace. The Bible does say that Jesus preached peace, but so did the other prophets. His statement shows that His function is not to bring world peace, which is the mission of Bahá'u'lláh. How was the government on the shoulder of Jesus? The way the title of "mighty God" applies is in the same sense of the verse about the head of Christ being God. They are one in mind, purpose, etc., because like Jesus, Bahá'u'lláh willingly submitted His own will to that of the Father. I don't think there is any evidence that most Jews took this verse in Isaiah as speaking of the Messiah.

Isaiah 7:14 provides no proof of the type Beckwith wants. One can assume Beckwith has a usual Christian Bible at his disposal, which translates this verse differently than the Jewish Masoretic text and scholars. This chapter speaks of the Israelite-Syrian alliance against Judah. In verse 7 God says that it will not stand, and verse 8 says that within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken to pieces. So this is a short-term prophecy. God then tells Ahaz to ask a sign of Him, related to this matter. Ahaz refuses, and in verse 14 it says "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (RSV) Who could possibly know that a Messiah was referred to? What consolation would a sign given to Ahaz, pertaining to something to happen within a few years, have to him if he wouldn't be alive to see it? If a sign is given to someone then it will be received during their life. Notice that the above translation has "young woman." Other versions say virgin. The controversy over this issue has been great, though it seems that being a virgin is not implied. Bethulah is the Hebrew word that applies best to virgins. The word used here is almah, which does not connote sexual purity, as shown in Proverbs 30:23. The other problem is that the Hebrew says that the woman is with a child, not that she will be. The RSV have a footnote saying that it could have said "is with child and shall bear." It doesn't say the woman will be the mother of the Messiah or God. Isaiah 7:15-17 gives the signs for the fulfilment of this prophecy. These exact signs are repeated in Isaiah 8:4, related to events in the near future, and this is at the same time the son of Ahaz was born! Guess who is called Immanuel in verse 8? This isn't necessarily a direct reference to the son. Verse 10 says, "God is with us." (RSV) Since this son was a sign of the guidance of God, this is why he was referred to in this way. Zechariah 2:10 promises that God will be with the people, and no Messiah is referred to. Only Matthew claims that this prophecy speaks of Jesus. The claim given in Matthew 1:22-23 seems to be something which was not part of the original text, but what an early Christian felt. There is no question that Isaiah 7 was fulfilled before Jesus. Jesus was never even called Immanuel. How Beckwith gets a prophecy of the Messiah out of this verse is anyone's guess. It is correct to say that God was with the people when Jesus came, however, this refers to guidance.

The final prophecy of God coming claimed is Psalm 45:6. Again there are problems with this assertion. Beckwith may be referring to how this verse reads in the KJV, and connecting this with Hebrews 1:8, which is said to be God speaking to Jesus. The KJV has it saying "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre." However, the RSV has it saying, "Your divine throne endures for ever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity." It has a footnote saying it is this or "Your throne is a throne of God," or "Thy throne, O God." Thus it seems more likely that the KJV is incorrect. If it was right, this would be the only time Jesus was called God by the Father. A throne of God does not imply it is God's throne, as in the one He sat on in Revelation. Only the Father was on that throne. Psalm 80:1 says that God dwells between the cherubim. Ezekiel 1:26 speaks of only one on the throne with the cherubim. Psalm 93:1 says, "The LORD reigneth," (KJV) and then verse 2 says "Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting." This sounds like what the incorrect version of Psalm 45:6 says. The surrounding context is fatal to the idea that this verse could speak of God in the KJV text. Verse 7 says "God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." So the former person referred to has a God, which implies they are not God themself. Some parts of the Bible may include personal opinion, not inspiration which an author received. However, as a whole it is the word of God. Hebrews 1:8 may be a case such as this, since nothing in Psalm 45 provides decent indication that it is prophetic; much less that it speaks of a Messiah. The first verse mentions a King, but this is not Jesus, considering verse 11 says to the person addressed in this chapter that the King will desire their beauty. Verses 9-11 show that Jesus could not be referred to, in saying "King's daughters were among thy honorable women: upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir. Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty; for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him." (KJV) What king's daughters were Jesus' honorable women? When did the queen of Ophir stand on His right hand? The above quotation shows that a woman is being spoken of. If Jesus is spoken of then He has a Lord, which would suggest He is not God. If one reads the first 3 verses of the chapter they would have no reason to believe it speaks of a prophet. The Old Testament speaks of God coming in 2 Chronicles 20:17, and Jesus didn't come. If it wanted to make clear that the Messiah would be God it would have to state this in such a way that made a distinction.

The Bible also clearly announced that the Messiah would suffer and be killed as an atonement for Israel's sins (Isa. 53; Dan. 9:26), but the Jews regarded Jesus' crucifixion as proof that He was not the Messiah.

Not every Old Testament passage applied to Jesus in the New Testament was understood by first-century Jews as referring to the Messiah. However, there were a fair number of Old Testament prophecies which Jewish leaders and scholars in the first century did regard as literal predictions concerning the Messiah and which were fulfilled literally by Jesus. [14] Since Jesus fulfilled these prophecies, what caused most of His contemporaries not to recognize this?

The answer is that the Jews allowed their assumptions about the Messiah to color and even distort their reading of the biblical text. Specifically, it was their expectation of a conquering political Messiah which led first-century Jews to reject the literal meaning of the text, which presents the Messiah as both suffering and conquering. [15] Consequently, they had a concept of the Messiah which Jesus could not fit. Their desire for a political Messiah incited them to ignore or twist biblical passages predicting a suffering Messiah that were literally fulfilled in Jesus.

Noone knows for certain what Jewish leaders in the first century regarded as literal predictions concerning the Messiah, and especially of which they would agree were fulfilled literally by Jesus. It must be remembered that someone is only the Messiah if they fulfil all the prophecies. Beckwith makes the rather bizarre assertion of the "expectation of a conquering political Messiah which led first-century Jews to reject the literal meaning of the text, which presents the Messiah as both suffering and conquering." Excuse me? A political Messiah could receive majority support, but still face persecution from some, and thus fulfil the criteria of suffering. He could still be killed. The two prophets in Revelation 11 were killed, and the type of rule indicated for them is both conquering, and suffering. Beckwith claims the Jews had a "concept of the Messiah which Jesus could not fit." It's more a case of Beckwith showing a poor grasp of logic. A political Messiah may usually not be thought of as suffering, and this may have influenced beliefs to some extent. Certainly it was expected that the Messiah would rule like a king. Back to the suggestion that expecting a conquering Messiah led Jews to reject the literal meaning of the text, nothing could be more false. Beckwith ignores passages such as Isaiah 11:1-10, which speak of the wolf and the lamb dwelling together in the time of the Messiah. I doubt he has much better of an answer as to why this didn't happen literally at the time of Jesus than stating that it refers to the second coming. How could a Jew buy such a rationalization. This prophecy was to an extent realized when Jesus came, and if he can't see how this is, and can't prove it doesn't have reference to the first coming as well, then I don't see why he's complaining about Bahá'í interpretations of the end time happenings.

Similarly, the assumption made by the Bahá'ís that Bahá'u'lláh is God's manifestation for this age leads to distortions in their reading of the New Testament. (At least the Jews had some warrant in the biblical text for their view of the Messiah; the Bahá'ís have none.) They too are forced to ignore or twist biblical passages concerning Christ (in this case those concerning His return), which they do in order to apply them to Bahá'u'lláh. Ironically, then, it turns out that Robert Stockman's argument actually has things turned around. The truth is that the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah for much the same sort of reason that Bahá'ís accept Bahá'u'lláh (which, in effect, is also rejecting Jesus): in both cases, religious assumptions about the Messiah interfered with a plain reading of the text. Like the Jews in Jesus' day, the Bahá'ís fail to interpret the Bible literally enough.

Also like the Jews, Bahá'ís are forced to explain why the Old Testament presents both a suffering and a conquering Messiah. The Bahá'í answer is that the Old Testament really predicts two "Messiahs": Jesus was the suffering Messiah and Bahá'u'lláh the conquering one. [16]

This is not the Bahá'í answer. Beckwith gives two references to prove his point. The first refers to his own book, which is something he does frequently. I can assume that the part spoken of is Beckwith's view from talking to one or two Bahá'ís. He also refers to Esslemont, who did suggest that Jesus was the expected Messiah, and also that Bahá'u'lláh was the latter day Messiah. This doesn't exactly mean two Messiah's, since John and Elijah were spoken of by the same name. In the sense Esslemont speaks of, which is a different identity, there are two Messiah's, but in the other sense they are the same. The major fault is that nothing from the official Bahá'í writings is appealed to for proof of this incorrect claim. Beckwith cannot appeal to books written by fallible Bahá'ís to get the Bahá'í argument. The Bahá'í writings say that Jesus was both a suffering and conquering Messiah. {4) Is Beckwith aware of this?

This interpretation ignores the critical fact that both descriptions of the Messiah can be found within the same passages and are obviously referring to one person. For example, Daniel 9:25 calls the Messiah a "Prince" and 9:26 states that he will be "cut off," that is, killed. [17]

I've covered this issue already, in showing how Elijah returned as John. One person was spoken of. Beckwith is ignoring the other references Daniel has of the Messiah, such as in Daniel chapter 7, speaking of a time future to the other. It doesn't say He is the same person. Chapter 9 only refers to the first coming.

Beckwith obviously doesn't research the argument against very well, as many Jews hold that Daniel 9 speaks of 2 Messiah's, and not necessarily the major Messiah, because of the translation they believe to be correct. The word used for Messiah in Daniel 9:25 is the same one used for Cyrus. Daniel 9:25 in the RSV speaks of "an anointed one." The translation here seems fine to me. This verse alone gives no proof that the Messiah is spoken of, though it does speak of Him. It's no different to Isaiah 45:1. Jesus is called "prince" in Daniel 9:25, which provides partial evidence towards it being the Messiah who is referred to. This term of reference doesn't show that a future Messiah who is spiritually the same as Jesus is not possible. The point seems to be that He is referred to like one person. Jesus referred to John as Elijah in Matthew 17:12, so what's the point? If Elijah had a special title, it could also be applied to John the Baptist, with no contradiction because of more than one person having it. The Bible deals in the spiritual aspect. Going by Beckwith's theory, Abraham must be God, as Mark 12:29 calls God Lord, which is used for Abraham in 1 Peter 3:6. Daniel 9:26 doesn't prove much of a point either, considering Elijah was dead, yet returned according to Jesus. Or was Jesus wrong? To reject the possibility of my argument would be to assume this same thing won't happen again. The Son of man in Daniel chapter 7 is obviously the Messiah. From showing that this chapter is already fulfilled, it is seen that two Messiah's are spoken of. They don't need to be clearly indicated as separate, as Beckwith is trying to show.

Jesus fulfilled in detail those prophecies referring to the Messiah's place of birth (Mic. 5:2), time of ministry (Dan. 9:24-27), death (Dan. 9:26; Isa. 53; Ps. 22), and resurrection (Ps. 16:10), as well as a number of others. [18]

While this has little relevance to the argument, I can't help but point out a few errors in what Beckwith said. Let me just say at this point that the Bahá'ís do believe there are some prophecies of the first coming in the Old Testament. Now, he states that Micah 5:2 states the Messiah's place of birth. Let's check:

"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathath, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days." (Micah 5:2 RSV)

This verse says nothing about a place of birth for a Messiah. It simply says that a ruler will come out of Bethlehem. This doesn't provide any evidence that (if it speaks of a person) the ruler will be born in Bethlehem. They only need to be from Bethlehem at some time, and begin their rule there. Jesus began his ministry when He was about thirty. You could say that He was always a ruler, but that assumes an intent which the verse doesn't intend to show. Incidentally, while Beckwith claims this verse in itself provides proof of a Messiah born in Bethlehem, the word Messiah is not mentioned, nor is the word "birthplace" mentioned. What is there about this verse on its own to merit the assertion that the Messiah is spoken of, and not just a great Prophet?

This is quite amusing, because Beckwith speaks of assuming one's conclusion, though he is doing exactly that here. Since no Christian I have asked has shown anything in the context of this chapter to show that the one spoken of in verse 2 will be a spiritual, as opposed to an outward ruler, I will assume that Beckwith would be unable to do the same, and that he is asking the Jews to assume the point in question. I do believe there is some evidence in the Old Testament for a Messiah who will not literally rule, yet it took a long time for me to find it, and I have yet to see a Christian do so.

It's strange how Beckwith believes Jesus fulfilled the requirements of a suffering and conquering Messiah when He came. Based on His literal interpretation of second coming prophecies, it seems he takes a rather broad definition of what a conquering Messiah is. How someone who is going to rule in such an outward way and has ruled in a spiritual sense could be described as conquering both times is anyone's guess. It seems the laxity is to allow Jesus to be the Messiah. Perhaps the way Beckwith would show a distinction between the first and second coming is by showing that the Christ will not suffer when He returns. From what I've written it looks like He will. He might suggest that this means Jesus will conquer in an outward way. However, Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. This accords with everything taught concerning the kingdom of God. I guess the future kingdom of God will contradict all this, being a kingdom that does come with observation, and in which Jesus' kingdom will be of this world. Apparently the kingdom of God will change in future.

I agree that the verses in Daniel apply to Jesus, but I don't accept his claim about Psalm 16:10. If one reads the first few verses of this chapter there is no indication of a Messiah being spoken of. If this chapter does contain prophecy of Christ then it is about the least convincing. Verse 10 says "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." (KJV) This translation seems incorrect, and the RSV has "godly one." The question now is how in the world anyone can distort the above verse into a prophecy of a physical resurrection? It doesn't specify who is being spoken of, nor is the word resurrection mentioned. It simply says that a person will not see corruption. Since the resurrected Christ was His religion and the church, something non-physical would be intended. Acts 13:34 shows that Jesus received no corruption because He was raised from the dead.

Therefore, we should accept Jesus' claim (e.g., Matt. 24-25) and the teaching of the rest of the New Testament (e.g., Luke 1:33; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:14-17; Rev. 1:7; 22:16-21) that He will personally return to fulfill the remaining prophecies which describe a conquering Messiah.

These issues have already been explained. If Jesus could pass through quietly the first time and conquer then He can do so the next time.

Certainly there is no reason to accept Bahá'u'lláh's claim to be that Messiah. He failed to fulfill any of the biblical prophecies concerning Christ's second coming, [19] and Bahá'í's cannot produce a single text from the Bible that suggests that Jesus will not Himself fulfill those prophecies.

If one doesn't read books written by Bahá'ís then they would hold that Bahá'ís can't produce anything from the Bible to show that Jesus will not fulfil the remaining prophecies. I noticed early in Beckwith's article that he states Christ fulfilled the numerical prophecy for the coming of the Messiah. Beckwith now states that Bahá'u'lláh didn't fulfil any prophecies relating to the second coming, yet since he spoke of the numerical prophecy for Jesus, why did he ignore the Bahá'ís claims concerning numerical prophecy? There are many numerical prophecies which refer to 1844, many of which are even more clear than the prophecy of the first coming given in Daniel. If Beckwith can't refute one of these I would expect that he would convert. I have sent proofs for 1844 to a few Christians before, without initially saying what I believed concerning the year. The answers received to my proofs question what the big deal is, considering Jesus didn't return then. They often even indicate that they can't refute my objections. Sometimes the proofs are completely ignored in favour of quoting the usual verses that are supposed to promote a visible return and rapture. One thing I always make sure I do is use equal standards. If something constitutes proof of your religion, but the same thing does for another religion, you can't rationalize and say that it doesn't count in their situation. Does Beckwith believe that a Jew should convert to Christianity, because of the numerical prophecy of Jesus, but despite not yet having a Christian show that the signs were fulfilled back then? If yes, then a Christian should convert to the Bahá'í Faith if one numerical prophecy is given. I've already shown that Jesus promised someone else would return, so I don't need to comment on that issue.

The preceding discussion of the interpretation of biblical prophecy should be understood in the light of a more general appreciation of proper biblical interpretation. [20] In contrasting "literal" with "symbolic" interpretations, I am not suggesting that biblical symbolism should not be interpreted as such. Rather, I am simply saying that what is understood as symbolic and what is taken more literally should be based on the text itself (as when Daniel interprets his visions as symbols, or when Jesus interprets His parables as earthly illustrations of spiritual truths). Where the Bahá'ís go wrong is in reading into the Bible doctrines that are totally foreign to its text and can only be justified by assuming their truth.

The reference given is from a book on scripture twisting in cult groups. Maybe Beckwith is trying to show that we do this like cult groups, or he may think we are a cult. If he thinks that the Bahá'í Faith is a cult group I'd like proof.

BAHÁ'ÍS AND RELIGIOUS UNITY

The third Bahá'í argument against Christianity that I wish to address is the claim that Bahá'ísm must be God's true religion for this age because, unlike Christianity, it has not suffered any schisms. One Bahá'í writer takes this so far as to proclaim boldly that "there are not Bahá'í sects. There never can be." [21]

There are two problems with this argument: (1) It rests on a false premise -- Bahá'ísm has in fact suffered divisions. (2) The conclusion does not follow -- an undivided religion is not necessarily the true religion.

By stating that the third Bahá'í argument against Christianity being the religion for today is that it has escaped divisions, one can safely assume that Beckwith is referring solely to one person, Bill Garbett, whom he mentioned earlier, in saying "Another interesting response came from a Bahá'í in southern Nevada, Bill Garbett, who told me that Bahá'ísm has suffered no divisions as has Christianity in its many schisms. He concluded from this that the Bahá'í World Faith must be God's religion." I really don't think any assumption is involved, based on the comments he had said about Stockman's apparent statements, and how his opinions were made to look like official Bahá'í position. Once again, we see a big failure in Beckwith's article. He assumes that an argument given by one Bahá'í, which may actually be a weak argument, is the official and best argument which the Bahá'ís could produce, simply because he doesn't expect better. Then he writes that the divisions argument is one of the Bahá'í arguments against Christianity. This type of misrepresentation of the Bahá'í Faith is frequent in his article. I have never heard anyone claim that because the Bahá'í Faith has escaped divisions we must be God's religion for today.

I will discuss the issue of division in our religion later on, but for now I have to say that from looking at the rest of what Beckwith wrote on this subject, it is obvious that little research has been done. Division has not taken place in the exact way Beckwith indicates, and what has happened is negligible.

Apart from these major points which have just been addressed, I can agree with the statement that an undivided religion isn't necessarily the true religion.

Division in Bahá'ísm

First, the fact is that Bahá'ísm has suffered several divisions, from its early days to the present. One group, known as the Free Bahá'ís, has published a book denouncing Shoghi Effendi (who took over leadership of the Bahá'í World Faith after Bahá'u'lláh's son 'Abdu'l-Bahá died). [22]

I must mention at this point that later in his article, Beckwith admits that "The truth of Christianity is independent of whether its adherents congregate under the same organizational banner." Based on this fact, Beckwith must agree that even if the Bahá'í Faith has experienced a little division, this does not in any way refute our claims. From the above paragraph, on to more later, he launches into some history, some of which is incorrect, about division in the Bahá'í Faith. I think now would be the time to question the motives for doing this. The apparent reason that Beckwith had for writing about divisions, and how lack of divisions doesn't equate with truth, was because a single Bahá'í claimed that the Bahá'í Faith must be God's religion because it has remained united. He later refers to this as a Bahá'í argument against Christianity. It would have been more truthful to say that it was one Bahá'ís argument against it being the religion for today, not that it was a universal claim. As written above, Beckwith agrees that division or lack thereof does not constitute proof. He also later says that "unity of the faith is presented in the Bible as a goal for the church to reach, not a prerequisite for the church to be God's people (Eph. 4:11-16)." Since this is right, and Beckwith has already shown that the Bahá'í Faith wouldn't necessarily be the religion for today if it has had no divisions, why does he bother writing so much about this subject, and how it relates to the Bahá'í Faith? Since he has already shown that unity is only a goal, and that division in a religion doesn't rule against it, either Beckwith made a huge error in his article or he felt that by giving the Christian audience irrelevant information on divisions in our religion that are insignificant, less Christians would investigate the Bahá'í Faith. To put it simply, two or three sentences would have been sufficient in just pointing out that the statement saying that we have had no divisions is incorrect (if you count extremely small and powerless groups as division in the Bahá'í Faith). Doing this was not even necessary. The main point which should have been written first, is that lack of division is not a criteria for proof. Beckwith puts it second, after writing a lot about our divisions. So if anything, it could be a statement saying that incidentally the Bahá'ís have had division. One would assume from Beckwith's article that much was made of this issue for the purpose of discouraging Christians who were interested in the Bahá'í Faith. Since divisions are irrelevant to truth, what does Beckwith want the reader to do with the information about our divisions? Is it only to show that an incorrect claim was made, or is there something more?

For the non-Bahá'í reader it would appear that the divisions mentioned during this article constitute a large proportion of the Bahá'ís, which is misleading and completely incorrect. As for Christianity, the divisions have been infinitely greater. The Catholics have power, and there are 1 billion followers. The Protestants have hundreds of thousands, and also have power, though numerous opposing Protestant groups have formed. Different divisions can't even agree on many major doctrines. Now, that's division. This hasn't happened in the Bahá'í Faith, but I will agree this counts for little.

The idea that the Bahá'í Faith has suffered divisions is only true in the sense that a few small groups which disagree with the vast multitude of Bahá'ís have existed, some of them now defunct. These differences are related to the interpretation of the covenant given in our writings, not doctrinal teachings. The general Bahá'í would refer to these people as covenant breakers. There are 6 million Bahá'ís today, and I'm not sure that there would be more than a few hundred people we would regard covenant breakers on the earth today. This gives some indication of how small and powerless they are. A few years back there would have been more, but many of the groups have basically dissolved. Most of these people are those who reject the authority of the Universal House of Justice. Perhaps a little history is in order, to let the non-Bahá'ís know what happened, and get a more accurate picture than Beckwith will proceed to give. I've noticed some basic factual errors in later things he wrote, which again show poor research, but I'll give the correct version of how things were. Beckwith neglects to give the full background of Mason Remey, a former Hand of the Cause who later became a covenant breaker and also claimed to be successor to the Guardian. The information on this subject can be found in a document entitled "Mason Remey and Those Who Followed Him," written by the Universal House of Justice. In 1957, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, died. Of the 27 people designated as Hands of the Cause, 26 immediately came to the Holy Land and gathered together. Then they designated nine of their number to enter the Guardian's apartment and search for any document he might have left behind. Following their report, all the Hands, including Charles Mason Remey, signed a document stating that Shoghi Effendi had passed away "without having appointed his successor..." According to the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá, the provisions for Guardianship had been laid out, in saying "He (Shoghi Effendi) is the expounder of the words of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants." Shoghi Effendi had no child, and all surviving male descendants of Bahá'u'lláh had broken the covenant. Therefore, Shoghi Effendi could name no successor, as noone fitted the criteria. From these Hands of the Cause, a proclamation was immediately issued "To the Bahá'ís of East and West" announcing that, as "The Aghsan (branches) one and all are either dead or have been declared violators of the Covenant by the Guardian," it was apparent "that no successor to Shoghi Effendi could have been appointed by him..." They then pointed out that the day would come when the Bahá'í world would elect the Universal House of Justice, which is mentioned by Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá, and the Guardian in their writings. Mason Remey again joined his fellow Hands in signing a second formal statement that there was no successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God. In 1960, Remey suddenly decided this was incorrect, and made a proclamation that he should be the new Guardian, based on the fact that he had been named president of the International Bahá'í Council by Shoghi Effendi, which doesn't actually mean anything. He managed to get support from a few Bahá'ís, while the rest denied him. Remey was soon expelled from the Faith by the Hands of the Cause, who had authority to do this. Many who followed Remey eventually disagreed with him on things, and by 1991 the Remey following had largely disintegrated. The few groups that have emerged which disagree with standard Bahá'í belief have been so small that they hardly exist, and the few members would tend to live only in one or two main centres. The first time I heard of the Free Bahá'ís was on reading Beckwith's article. Do they still exist?

Shoghi Effendi was often with Abdu'l-Bahá in his youth, and was seen as the likely pick for guardian. The Will and Testament makes it clear that Shoghi Effendi was to be Guardian.

Another group, the Orthodox Bahá'í Faith, was formed after Shoghi Effendi died, and recognizes Jason Remey as Effendi's successor. [23]

The Orthodox Bahá'í Faith as such was formed about ten years after Shoghi Effendi died. Beckwith wrote Remey's first name as Jason, but it is actually Mason Remey. Either that or there has been a big cover up for no apparent reason, and both Bahá'í articles, and things written by Shoghi Effendi have referred to him as Mason when not true. I somehow doubt that this is the case. Beckwith says that Remey is recognised by the Orthodox Bahá'ís as the successor of Shoghi Effendi. From the way he wrote the above statement I'm not sure if he is aware that Mason Remey died many years before he wrote his article, and that they have a new head now. Joel Marangella was appointed by Mason Remey as his successor to Guardianship at one stage, and Remey was still alive when this Orthodox Bahá'í group was set up. Marangella is still alive and holding to his claim, apparently having about one hundred followers a few years ago.

Yet another group, Bahá'ís Under the Provision of the Covenant (BUPC), is led by Montana chiropractor Dr. Leland Jensen. Though it has "Bahá'í" in its name, it is not endorsed or recognized by the main body "as a legitimate Bahá'í organization." [24] As Vernon Elvin Johnson concludes in his Baylor University dissertation on the history of Bahá'ísm, "obvious schism has occurred in the Bahá'í religion, for various factions each claiming to belong to the Bahá'í religion have existed in the course of the faith's history." [25]

The fact that a dissertation on the Faith has been made doesn't make it correct. One person who wrote a book on Bahá'í history and teachings took most of his information from a member of a group which heavily opposed the Bahá'ís, and which could not be supported by any independent sources. {5} Whenever both sides protested they were correct, the other side was assumed correct. Much of the historical material about the Faith was not consulted, because it was in different languages. That would have changed things significantly. The Bahá'í Faith has not suffered the amount of division implied by the above quote, and the "Yet another group" comment is also misleading.

Some Bahá'ís may be tempted to counter that anyone who breaks off from the Bahá'í World Faith is automatically not a Bahá'í and therefore no schism has really occurred. Such an argument is circular in nature and commits what Antony Flew calls the "no-true-Scotsman" fallacy ("No Scotsman would do such a thing....Well, no true Scotsman would"). [26] As Johnson points out, the Catholic and Mormon churches have used similar reasoning to defend their claim to be the one true church [27] (although the Catholic church no longer tends to take such an exclusive stance).

Since Beckwith has claimed above that schism has existed in the course of the history of the Bahá'í Faith, I'll have to ask for some documentation for this claim. Otherwise, I'll have to believe that this is an exaggeration. What were the divisions in the Bahá'í Faith between the time of Bahá'u'lláh's proclamation and 1892, when He died? The only opposers I know of where the Azalis, who followed Mirza Yahya instead of Bahá'u'lláh. Since they rejected Bahá'u'lláh, and didn't go by the name "Bahá'í," who else does he have in mind? What were the names of other Bahá'í groups which existed between during the period of 1925-1950? I'd be interested to know, as I've never heard a claim of obvious schism, and numerous groups in this period. Details of how many, or perhaps I should say how few members were involved with these groups would also be appreciated. Beckwith now has the chance to show us how good a researcher he really is, but it looks like he is going to come up short. "Various factions" makes it seem like at least 20-30 long-standing groups were set up. I'd like the names of each group that can be found. I don't think you'll find many.

Leland Jensen is dead now, so obviously doesn't lead the BUPC, though it is still going. I'm not sure if they have a formal leader now. Beckwith says "Some Bahá'ís may be tempted to counter that anyone who breaks off from the Bahá'í World Faith is automatically not a Bahá'í and therefore no schism has really occurred." From the wording, it seems like he's not sure that this is the case, but presumes it would be. I really don't know any Bahá'ís who would claim that the covenant breakers are not Bahá'ís. They are referred to as Bahá'ís, though of course we wouldn't hold that they are fully true Bahá'ís. This is in the same sense as how most Christians would feel towards those who rejected the Trinity. But those breaking the covenant are Bahá'ís, so we don't say they are not Bahá'ís to prove that no schism has occurred. The definition of a true Bahá'í, as given in the Bahá'í writings, says nothing about belonging to a certain group on paper. I would hardly use the word schism to speak of what has happened with the other groups, as these groups have been so minor, and they have had no proper administrative system or power, often setting up groups of people under a certain designation, and then quickly abandoning the idea. Basically, the history of them shows that they are a mess. These groups have not drawn as much as 1% of the Bahá'ís after them, or seriously impacted on the main body of the Bahá'ís. From the Bahá'í writings it is explicitly clear that noone was eligible to succeed Shoghi Effendi. The Hands of the Cause, who were very knowledgeable in the Bahá'í Faith, and who were chosen mostly by the Guardian, realized this fact. If Mason Remey hadn't taken back his agreement that no future Guardian had been and could be appointed, he wouldn't have brought numerous others with him in breaking the covenant. Leland Jensen was one of these people. Based on these facts, it is clear that division really hasn't taken place. Also my comparison between what has happened with us and Christianity shows the difference. If you had a large jewel, and there was a slight but almost unnoticeable crack in it, which didn't affect it's beauty or strength, the owner of it would say that it has escaped division, and is not cracked. Perhaps when pressed as to whether there are any minor cracks he would say that there are, but that they hardly count. The same is true with the Bahá'í Faith. I don't think it would be incorrect to say that we have escaped division.

The statement saying that it is a circular argument for Bahá'ís to say that those who do not accept the beliefs of the main group is correct. That would be a good point if other claims were fully correct.

Division and Truth

Second, it simply does not follow that a religion that is undivided must be the true religion, or that a religion that is divided cannot be the true religion. For the Bahá'í argument to be persuasive it must be shown, and not simply assumed, that the true religion must be unified organizationally. This is not a biblical teaching: unity of the faith is presented in the Bible as a goal for the church to reach, not a prerequisite for the church to be God's people (Eph. 4:11-16).

These comments are true, but they didn't need to have been made. The only reason why they seem to have been given is because one Bahá'í felt that the lack of division in the Bahá'í Faith proved we are God's religion.

Since on independent grounds we know that Christianity is true (for example, the evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus, [28] which Bahá'ís deny [29]), we may justifiably conclude that organizational unity is not a requirement for a religion to be true. The argument can be stated more formally as follows:

  1. Either the true religion is unified or it is not.
    2. Christianity is the true religion and it is not unified.
    3. Therefore, the true religion is not unified.

The truth of Christianity is independent of whether its adherents congregate under the same organizational banner. Its truth depends rather on the truth of the Bible's teachings concerning the person, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This assumes that Christianity is the only true religion. Is Judaism a true religion?

This is not to deny that Christians have an obligation to exhibit unity and love as a testimony to the world of the truth of Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35; 17:21-23). To our shame we confess that although Christianity is true, Christians have not always been true to Christ. Nevertheless, this does not alter the fact that Jesus Christ is the only Savior from sin and God's last word to man prior to the consummation of history (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Heb. 1:1-3; 13:8). On this basis Christianity stands vindicated as true and Bahá'ísm stands condemned as a rejection of God's truth as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Forceful words in closing, but they don't prove a thing. Many Christians turn to John 14:6 and Acts 4:12 to refute the idea of future Messengers of God, figuring that these verses eliminate the need for Muhammad, the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh. A more detailed examination of these statements shows something quite different. Firstly, let's look at Acts 4:12. This verse says that the name of Jesus is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved. There are two responses to this. The first is the oneness between Prophets. Having already shown in this article that Jesus is not God, and that He promised someone other than Himself would come, the meaning of this verse must not be the traditional Christian one. In the gospel of John, Jesus mixes in prophecies which suggest another will come, with those in which He says that He Himself will return. We notice that Jesus referred to John as Elijah, though John was not. Obviously Jesus regards the human name of John unimportant. What is important is the spirit within. A Jew could allow the verse which promises that Elijah will come to keep him from recognising Christianity, simply because of the name John. Beckwith has allowed the name Bahá'u'lláh to make him certain that Bahá'u'lláh or any other claimant to be the return of Christ is automatically wrong.

Being saved by someone spiritually the same as Jesus is not a separate path of salvation to Jesus, but the same. Basically, all prophets have the same spirit in them, and it is that spirit through which we attain salvation. Every prophet could say that the only way to the Father is through them. In one way this is true, in the sense that they are the Saviour of the time. So John 14:6 could be said to be true at that time. However, that is an incomplete explanation, the other explanation is that the prophets have something which is one and the same. As long as the substance is the same, receiving salvation only through one is another way of saying that it is through all of them. There is no contradiction. In John 5:46, Jesus said that if the Jews had believed in Moses they would have believed in Him. This shows that those who properly believed in Moses came to the Father through the reality of Jesus, before the time He was even born! Otherwise, how did anyone come to the Father prior to the advent of Christ? With the restricted interpretative focus Beckwith has, I guess we should assume that Moses is also God, as by believing in Moses we believe in Jesus. So if Acts 4:12 is true, then the name of Jesus is no different than the name of Moses. While different names in a sense, the spirit is no different. Jesus shows this perfectly by saying that John the Baptist was Elijah. Let's remember that those at the time of the minor prophets had never heard the name Jesus. Deuteronomy 30:11-14, among numerous other verses in the Old Testament, shows that salvation was possible at the time, and it is linked with obeying the prophets and believing in them. So let me ask Beckwith, were the people who followed and believed the prophets, and were indicated as saved much before the time of Jesus really saved? To say no would be to call the Bible a liar, and to say yes would be to agree that the two verses in question do not negate future Prophets right then and there. Revelation chapter 11 promises future prophets.

My argument shows that the Jews who believed sincerely in Moses before the time of Jesus did believe in Jesus, according to John 5:46. By inference, they must also have been saved by the name of Jesus, as said in Acts 4:12. If not, they were saved by the name of Moses, which Beckwith thinks is a different source of salvation. These people had never even heard the name Jesus! Obviously by the name of Jesus, a little more than a human name is spoken of. Jesus said that you can only come to the Father by Him, yet in John 12:44, Jesus said "He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me." (RSV) This now sheds light onto how John 14:6 should be interpreted. That verse seems to indicate that through belief in Jesus you come to the Father. But if you believe in Jesus, you believe in the Father. So obviously belief in Moses is the same. Beckwith is veiled by the name of Bahá'u'lláh to accepting the Bahá'í Faith, because the name is a different one. Jesus said that "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6:63 KJV) Obviously it is in the name of the attributes which both Jesus and the other prophets have that we are saved. This reminds us of the John the Baptist/Elijah example. The New Testament showed us that a name doesn't necessarily refer to the person in question. Elijah was promised to come, but Elijah didn't come. John came. If the Old Testament had said that only through Elijah can we be saved, the Christians would certainly hold that John was Elijah in the spiritual sense, thus we can also be saved by him. They would realize that there is no plurality implied. John denied being Elijah; just like Bahá'u'lláh didn't claim to be Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said that John was Elijah in Matthew 17:12-13, which is similar to Bahá'u'lláh claiming that He is Jesus. Christ makes no distinction between human names, Beckwith does. By the name of Jesus it means what it stands for. Matthew 28:19 shows this. Going by Beckwith's method of interpretation, this would prove that Jesus is the Father, if he is to assume that this teaches the three share the same name.

I will address the final two verses put forth by Beckwith. Hebrews 13:8 is one, and it only proves something if Beckwith's other interpretations are correct.

He mentioned Hebrews 1:1-3, which says:

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (KJV)

I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove. These verses provide evidence that Jesus was not God, but a reflection of Him. They also say that Jesus was appointed heir of all things. This doesn't come near indicating that Jesus is the last Prophet. The word heir is usually applied to a person when the other is about to die. Now we know that God won't die, so the meaning must relate to authority. Notice that the mention of Jesus as heir is when it speaks of His earthly life. This reminds us of John 5:22, which says "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." (KJV) This is what happened during the life of Jesus. So as we can see the fact that Jesus is mentioned as an heir doesn't make it something eternal. Beckwith claims that Jesus is the last word to mankind, yet Revelation 11:3 speaks of two future prophets who will prophesy for 1260 days, or 1260 years.

If Francis Beckwith is to respond to this article, a couple suggestions are in order. Firstly, if giving the Bahá'í arguments to support the claim of Bahá'u'lláh, I would like direct quotes from the Bahá'í writings supplied. The writings contain more than enough in the way of passages that show the reason why Bahá'u'lláh should be accepted as a Prophet, and what proves this. He will find something a little


less faulty than what is his understanding of "Stockman's" argument. Isn't it strange that he completely ignores the numerous places in our writings which say that the greatness of a man is due to his perfections, and that Prophets of God should primarily be recognized by their own self? Instead he delves into what may be (if reported correctly) a faulty opinion held by a single Bahá'í.

Much of this article is personal opinion, where interpretation is concerned. Some of my arguments are based on answers given in our writings, but expanded. The extra comments I have made are opinions liable to error. Also, I have addressed some things not commented on in the Bahá'í writings. When answering what I've said, the response is then between Beckwith and I. So what I've written can only be referred to as the opinion of a Bahá'í, not the Bahá'ís or Bahá'u'lláh.

 

REFERENCES
{1} The Bahá'í writings make a direct distinction between Buddha and Confucius in the following passage: "Regarding the questions you asked in your letter: No. 1. Confucius was not a Prophet. It is quite correct to say he is the founder of a moral system and a great reformer. No. 2. The Buddha was a Manifestation of God, like Christ." (Shoghi Effendi, Letters to Aust. and New Zealand, p. 41)
The context shows that what is meant is that Confucius was not a Manifestation, or major Prophet. This, however, does not negate the possibility of Confucius being a prophet in some sense of the word.
{2} There is, O monks, an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. Were there not, O monks, this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed. Since, O monks, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, therefore, is there an escape from the born, originated, created, formed. What is dependant, that also moves; what is independant does not move. Where there is no movement, there is rest; where rest is, there is no desire; where there is no desire, there is neither coming nor going, no ceasing-to-be, no further coming to be. Where there is ceasing-to-be, no further coming-to-be, there is neither this shore (this world) nor the other shore (Nibanna), nor anything between them. (Udana 8:3, "Khuddaka Nikaya")
{3} `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, (Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1968) pp. 69-70.
{4} The Bahá'í writings are clear that Jesus did conquer at the time of the first coming. `Abdu'l-Bahá said, "He conquered and subdued the East and West. His conquest was effected through the breaths of the Holy Spirit, which eliminated all boundaries and shone from all horizons."
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982) p. 200. See also p. 199 & 414 of the same book, and `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 111.
{5} See Miller, William, THE BAHÁ'Í FAITH: ITS HISTORY AND TEACHINGS, (S. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1974) A good review of this book was written by Douglas Martin, and can be found in Bahá'í Studies, vol. 4 (December 1978)
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