published in Lights of Irfan, Volume 10, pages 275-294 Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia, 2009
In Chapter 31 of “Some Answered Questions”, 'Abdu'l-Bahá gives a commentary on a verse from the Gospel of St Mathew: "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him, but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." (Matt. 12: 31-2).
'Abdu'l-Bahá explains this to mean that people who attack the Messenger of God out of ignorance can be forgiven because, if they knew what they were doing, they would desist. People who recognize the station of the Messenger of God and yet still attack Him, cannot, however, be forgiven. It is difficult to be certain, but it is usually considered that this interpretation refers to covenant-breakers. There are however a number of problems with this assumption. This paper examines these problems.
The paper also considers the general phenomenon of covenant-breaking in the Bahá’í Faith and discusses what a definition of this phenomenon might be.