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Christ and Baha'u'llah

by George Townshend

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Chapter 4

THE FALSE PROPHETS

      AS Jesus had prophesied, the false prophets contrived to change the essential meaning of the Gospel so that it became quite different from that which the Bible recorded or Jesus taught.[1]

      It has long been generally believed that Jesus Christ was a unique incarnation of God such as had never before appeared in religious history and would never appear again. This tenet made the acceptance of any later Prophet impossible to a Christian. Yet there is nothing in Christ's own statements, as recorded in the Gospel, to support this view, and it was not generally held during His lifetime.

      Jesus emphatically claimed to reveal God, Whom He called Father, but continually differentiated Himself from the Father. In many such references as "Him that sent me," "my Father is greater than I,"[2] "I go to the Father,"[3] "I will pray the Father,"[4] "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me,"[5] He made this abundantly clear, and even stated specifically that the Father had knowledge which was not possessed by the Son. "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven,

1. Matt. vii 15-23 and see pp. 11, 12.
2. John xiv 28.
3. John xvi 16.
4. John xiv 16.
5. John viii 28.


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neither the Son, but the Father."[1] He referred to Himself as the Son, and as a Prophet,[2] and was so regarded,[3] and related His Mission to those of Moses and Abraham before Him, and to others to come after Him, specifically "he, the Spirit of truth," who would reveal the things which Jesus did not.[4]

      The followers of every world religion have invented for themselves a similar belief in the uniqueness and finality of their own Prophet. The result has been that no religion has acknowledged a Prophet of a later religion. The Hindus do not acknowledge Buddha, the Buddhists do not acknowledge Christ, nor yet do the Zoroastrians. The result of this delusive belief has been that the world religions have not tended to the unifying of mankind but rather to its further division.

      Another opinion which Christians universally hold about Christ is that His teaching was absolute and final. They believe that if the Truth were party withheld from them for a time because they could not bear it, it was divulged at Pentecost in its fullness and that now nothing remains to be revealed. But there is nothing in the account of Pentecost to suggest such an interpretation and there is no one who will believe that Jesus would have named the false prophets as characteristic of His age if this warning was to be followed by an immediate release of all Truth to the Church. What the Bible shows is rather a succession of teachers — Abraham, Moses and Christ, each measuring His Revelation to the needs and maturity of His auditors: Jesus, for example, changes the divorce law

1. Mark xiii 32.
2. Matt. xiii 57. Luke xiii 33.
3. Matt. xxi 11, Luke vii 16.
4. John xvi 12, 13.


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and says, "Moses gave you this because of the hardness of your hearts but from the beginning it was not so." Many times He says, "Ye have heard it said by them of old time . . . but I say unto you . . ."

      Another universal opinion among the Christians is that Christ was the Lord of Hosts of the old Testament. Yet the Jewish Prophets had foretold that when the Lord of Hosts came He would not find the Jews in the Holy Land, all would have been scattered among the nations and would have been living in misery and degradation for centuries; but when Jesus came Palestine was full of Jews and their expulsion did not begin until the year 70 A.D.; it may be said to have continued till the year 1844.

      To confirm orthodox Christian opinion it is customary in all churches to read on Christmas morning, as if it referred to Jesus, the passage which Isaiah wrote about the Lord of Hosts (Isaiah ix 6-7):

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The, mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."

      Yet the descriptive titles given do not belong exclusively to Christ, while some of them He specifically repudiated


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as if to make such a mistaken reference to Himself impossible. He disclaimed being the Mighty God when He called Himself "the Son of God;"[1] disclaimed being the Father when He said, "my Father is greater than I;"[2] and being the Prince of Peace when He said, "I came not to send peace, but a sword."[3] He disclaimed bearing the government upon His shoulder or that it would be His judgment and justice forever when He said, "My kingdom is not of this world."[4]

      Many of these false interpretations involve repudiation of the Word of God in favor of the word of man. This impious act is so craftily performed, with such an air of humility, that it might escape the notice of the most sincere and devout of worshipers. Probably few churchgoers realize to-day that the Gospel of Christ as known to the few in the pulpit is wholly different from the Gospel which Christ preached in Galilee as recorded in the Bible.

      In spite of Christ's promise of further revelation of Truth, through the Comforter, through His own return, through the Spirit of Truth, the Christian Church regards His revelation as final, and itself as the sole trustee of true religion. There is no room for the Supreme Redeemer of the Bible to bring in great changes for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. In fact this Kingdom is often described as a world-wide Church.

      Having thus closed God's Covenant with the Bible, sacred history — God-directed — came to an end, and secular history, having no sense of divine destiny nor unity, began.

1. John v 18-47 where Jesus repudiates the charge that He claimed equality with God.
2. John xiv 28.
3. Matt. x 34.
4. John xviii 36.


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      Jesus' revelation was purely spiritual. He taught that "My kingdom is not of this world" and that the "kingdom of heaven is within you." His great gift to man was the knowledge of eternal life. He told men that they might be physically in perfect health and yet spiritually sick or even dead. But this was a difficult truth to communicate and Jesus had to help men to realize it. He would say that He was a spiritual physician and that men whom He cured of a spiritual disability were cured of blindness, deafness, lameness, leprosy and so on. This was the real meaning of His remark at the end of a discourse, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." For a hearer might hear the physical word of Jesus and yet fail to comprehend the spiritual meaning. Jesus, in other words, was forever trying to heal spiritual infirmities. He thus would be understood by His disciples as a healer of spiritual ailments but by others He might be taken as relieving physical ills only.

      Doubtless Jesus could, and often did, heal bodily ills by spiritual means, but this was nothing to do with His real work as a Redeemer. On the other hand these spiritual cures which He effected might be misinterpreted as physical miracles, and so were little stressed by Him. ("See that no man know it."[1])

      Christ's spiritual mission was, at an early date, materialized, specifically in regard to such things as the miracles, curing the blind and deaf, raising the dead. Even His own resurrection was made physical, missing the point entirely. Moreover, none of the complex order, of the ceremonies, rituals and litanies of the Church can be attributed to Christ. All are man-made, by inference or invention.

1. Matt. ix 30.


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      Well might Christ warn His followers that false prophets would arise and misinterpret His teachings so as to delude even the most earnest and intelligent of His believers: from early times Christians have disputed about Christian truth in councils, in sects, in wars.

      To sum up, if Christians say "our acts may be wrong," they say truly. If they say "however our Gospel is right" they are quite wrong. The false prophets have corrupted the Gospel as successfully as they have the deeds and lives of Christian people.


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