During a study of the Tablet of Ahmad-i-Farsi one encounters a
long-suffering, merciful God. However at one point Bahaullah writes:
"...the rod with which I can chastise the wicked is grievous, and their
fierceness of Mine anger against them terrible." (Gleanings CLIIII, 325)
Others, Martin Luther, for example, have spoken and written about the
of God. The God of Martin Luther and Bahaullah differ in many respects
yet are similiar in several respects.
The Idea of God in the writings of Martin Luther
- God the "unspeakable"
To Martin Luther, originator of the Protestant religion, God is an
"unspeakable being"(Armstrong 248). He means that one can never
communicate the nature of God through speech.
- God is near
He also writes about God that He is nearer to all creatures than they are
-The consequences of unbelief
The real sin, for him, was unbelief in God. He wrote: "Nothing justifies
except faith and nothing makes sinful except unbelief." Good works could
not shorten a person's destined time in hell, as was believed by the
of his time. Good works followed from belief, but belief was first and
- God incarnate
Martin Luther wrote: "God has found a way that His own divine essence can
be completely in all creatures, and in every one especially, deeper, more
internally, more present than the creature is to itself and at the same
nowhere and cannot be comprehended by anyone, so that He embraces all
and is within them. God is at the same time in every piece of sand
and nevertheless in all, above all and out of all creatures."(Armstrong
248) He is, therefore, maintaining that God has found a way to be in
above His creatures at the same time.
- God the wrathful
"Luther's God,"says Armstrong, "was characterized by his wrath. None of
saints, prophets or psalmists had been able to endure this divine anger.
was no good simply trying 'to do one's best.' Because God was eternal and
omnipotent, 'his fury or wrath toward self-satisfied sinners is also
immeasurable and infinite.' (Luther quoted by Armostrong, 276)
- God's Manifestation
Luther writes that Christ is God because divine effects come from him. He
writes that in Christ the Logos has become flesh. (Armstrong 249)
P.Tillich, writing about Luther, expressed it this way: "Man cannot stand
the naked Absolute; he is driven to despair. For this reason God has
Christ." (Tillich 251) The very subtle distinction of Manifestation and
God is confusing rather than clear. The ancient Christian problem of the
nature of Christ is, then, resolved by Luther as identification.
The Idea of God in the Writings of Bahaullah
- God the unknowable
God, writes Bahaullah, is unknowable except through His attributes
demonstrated by the lives and words of His Messengers. Bahaullah
"Exalted, immeasurably exalted, art Thou above the strivings of mortal man
to unravel Thy mystery, describe Thy glory, or even to hint at the nature
Thine Essence...Far, far from Thy glory be what mortal man can affirm of
Thee, or attribute unto Thee...There is none other God buy Thee, the
Inaccessible, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Holy of Holies.S
- God is near
He also writes: "This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is
near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your
life-vein." (Gleanings CLIII) Thus God (here His Revelation or Holy
Spirit) is both beyond conceptualization, yet also very close.
- God above man
Unlike Martin Luther Bahaullah maintains that God's Own Self or Essence,
does not descend into His creatures. The world is an illusion. Reality
invisible. Mankind only experiences the reflection of reality. He
"The world is like the vapor in a desert, which the thirsty dreameth to be
water and st riveth after it with all his might, until when he cometh unto
it, he findeth it to be mere illusion."(Gl.CLIII) However, reality itself
is available to man's experience when he listens to the Revelation.
"Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your
are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their
benefits, to share in their joys, an d to obtain aportion of their
sustaining grace." (GL. CLIII)
- The Consequences of Unbelief.
Bahaullah does affirm the idea of Martin Luther that unbelief is the
sin. He writes: "Know thou for a certainty that whoso disbelieveth in
is neither trustworthy nor truthful. This, indeed, is the truth, the
undoubted truth. He that acteth treacherously towards God will, also, act
treacherously towards his king. Nothing whatever can deter such a man
evil, nothing can hinder him from betraying his neighbor, nothing can
him to walk uprightly."(GL CXIII, pg.232)
Even more clearly Bahaullah writes: "The first duty prescribed by
recognition of Him Who is the Day Spring of His Revelation. Whoso
this duty hath attained unto all god; and whoso is deprived thereof, hath
gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed." (GL CLV)
- God's wrath
In many places Bahaullah speaks of the wrath of God. He writes: "He,
verily, is the fiercest of avengers."(GLXVI, pg. 130) Yet He assures
mankind that "The greatness of His mercy surpasseth the fury of His wrath,
and His grace encompasseth all who have been called into being and been
clothed with the robe of life."(GL 130) The example of Bahaullah and
demonstrate this idea that God's mercy is greater than His fury.
bore with his companion, Ahmad, through the days of his treachery in
Baghdad, took him with Him to Instanbul and finally expelled him from His
presence in Adrianople. He showed mercy, patience and forbearance, but
finally, as a logical consequence of Ahmad's own behavior, expelled him.
Thus, God's wrath is withheld, as a token of mercy, but not forever.
- God's Manifestation.
With the eye of Bahaullah can see that "divine effects"mentioned by Luther
come from Christ not because He is God, but because He is a channel of
Word, i.e., a "Manifestation"of the spirit. The Logos, according to
Bahaullah, has been manifested in a person who is at the same time flesh
a channel of the Holy Spirt. This is the way that God has chosen to
communicate with and educate the human race. Bahaullah calls this Holy
Spirit by many names. Some examples from the Tablet of Ahmad-i-Farsi are:
the shoreless ocean, the musk-laden fragrance, pearls, light, flame,
radiance, undying First Primal Word of God, and knowledge of your own