Posted by Vincent (188.8.131.52) on May 24, 2002 at 21:29:23:
In Reply to: How to find certainity posted by a seeker from germany on May 20, 2002 at 13:49:13:
As you know there are many differences between Baha'i and Christianity. Baha'is recognize Jesus as one of many equal prophets, whereas Christians say that he is much more than a prophet.
Baha'is say that their religion is more suitable for the modern world than Christianity (or Buddhism, or Islam, etc.). Meanwhile conservative Christians obviously think that their own religion is more suitable, while liberal Christians say that different religions are essentially equal, and ought to grow into the future together. (I believe that Jews mostly think this, too.)
Baha'is have a strict hierarchy of elected leaders, whose word must be obeyed. Not even Catholics or Orthodox Christians go this far, the Baha'is are more like the Mormons and Unification Church (Moonies). Protestants emphasize that no intermediary is needed between the believer and God--each man is his own priest, his own pope.
According to Protestantism, God is holy, but the institutions of the church are not. Thus it is permissible to leave one church and join (or start) another, if you disagree with it. Among Baha'is, such a thing is called "covenant-breaking" and is the worst sort of evil they can imagine. For them, like the Catholics, the institutions themselves are holy.
Both Baha'i and Christianity have rich mystical traditions. In the case of Baha'is these are drawn from Islamic tradition. They mainly take the form of texts which one may study. There is nothing like Sufi meditation among Baha'i groups, only a kind of ritual prayer where they recite aloud selected passages from books. Many Christian church services are equally dull, I must admit.Christian mystical tradition flourishes in some denominations, but not in others.
Before dismissing Christianity, I would urge you to first get to know the Eastern Orthodox tradition (the religion of Greece and Russia), whose mystical theology and contemplative practices date back to ancient times. You may also like the Quaker tradition (which is Protestant), famous for its campaigns against slavery and war. They believe they are guided in this by the Holy Spirit, which I suppose qualifies as a kind of mysticism.
And if you are Roman Catholic, don't assume that the hierarchy is all there is. You would get a completely different side of Catholicism from Taize (in France), should you make a pilgrimage there.
Changing your religion is not something you should do lightly, but deserves much reflection, like getting married! Be careful to consider both the good and the bad within both religions. Take time to really get to know them. As I said, Christianity has a mystical side which you may not be aware of. Also, there is much dissent within the Baha'i religion which you should be aware of. (For example look up Prof. Juan Cole's articles on the internet, or subscribe to the Talisman9 list.)
In the end you will have to ask yourself, which set of symbols and beliefs best speak to your inner soul? Which will make you a better person, and let you grow spiritually? What do you really believe, deep in your heart?
And remember, the character and future of either religion will depend largely on you (and others like you), it is a great cultural responsibility. Think of your children, and future generations. Good luck on whatever you decide.
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