Posted by Bret (220.127.116.11) on May 26, 2002 at 16:32:54:
In Reply to: Juan Cole has no friends? posted by Vincent on May 26, 2002 at 05:48:37:
I must apollogize for where my facts became subjective by my passion to defend the Baha'i Faith against the assertion of information that is not factual. I am sorry for where my comments became subjective and less rational. This apology goes out to you and to our seeker and let it be absolutely clear that that aspect was my opinion on the matter and not fact as I should have clearly pointed out before. To be blunt I was very tired and not very coherent when I wrote my response. That is no excuse though and I am sorry, nevertheless I stick to the assertion that it is important where we get our information from. Regardless of my personal opinion of Mr. Cole the information I provided in my previous post is the correct information concerning the Covenant and Covenant-breaking, the Administration and rights and responsibilities of Baha'is, and the Baha'i view of the station of Baha'u'llah as it pertains to the unity of the Spirit of Christ. I meant no disrespect with my personal comments and I am sure that there is a better way to present clarifications in the future in a manner that will foster a unified vision on these subjects.
To my friend, the seeker, it seems you are intelligent enough to know that a simple individual such as myself is not indicative of the Baha'i Faith. I have often said on this sight that my opinions are my own and that where I can as much as I can I would support any comments I made with the official Baha'i point of view. Nevertheless we are all human and prone to make mistakes. As a Baha'i even I have dealt with undesirable situations in the Baha'i community, but people are not perfect. The Covenant however is something that all Baha'is believe is perfect and so striving to be more in tune with that perfection is what's important to Baha'is. This is what keeps us so unified and happy because, regardless of our differences, and there are a lot considering the Baha'i Faith is the second most geographically widespread religion in the world, we are striving to recreate the world by placing more importance on something we can all aim for. So I hope that your quest is unhindered by any experiences you may have with certain individuals and that you keep your sights set on your goal. To this point I commend you on your insights thus far and wish you continual success.
I suppose my example of the historical proof of the need for law and religion was taken the wrong way though. I did not mean it as an example of authority over individual conscience as it has been suggested. I believe as it is prescribed in the Baha'i Faith that there is a balance. My point was to demonstrate humanity's need for laws as laws are the source of order in society. If individuals are left to their own devices there would be anarchy and if individuals gave up their individual conscience completely they would become automotons. What I was suggesting was that human beings agree to give up a little bit of what they are used to to gain something more. For instance, if I had tea and you had sugar and we both gave up a little to each other then we would not only know what the other tasted like, but we would simultaneously know what they tasted like when combined. That is the power of law. It involves and individual and group dicision because the individual decision to give up a little of something leads to betterment for the group, but it must be agreed upon and reciprocated. The same is true for the Baha'i Faith and every religion of the past has shed it's light on humanity in this way. Individuals agree that there is a higher power involved and they pledge allegiance to it and it's temporal agency. This is supposed to take diverse groups and put them on an equal footing because now they have something greater than they have ever known that they can all identify with. Before the highest identity they had might have been national, but now it becomes global. It must be pointed out again though that the Baha'i Faith has an explicitly revealed Covenant, which states that a Baha'i is only a Baha'i who follows the twin inseperable duty of beleif in Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God in this Day and therefore unwavering obedience to His Covenant. Since His Covenant is explicit there is no room for variation or the claim of greater authority than what is established. I have furthermore explained that a Covenant-breaker is not someone who simply disobeys in as much as many people do not know every single law and not every single law is applicable yet. Anyone who is causing harm to themselves or the Cause by disobedience is first counsoled, then if they continue they have their voting right taken away, which still doesn't make them a Covenant-breaker. They just can't participate in the business aspect of the community and, depending on what they have done, they may or may not need time away from the community. Covenant-breaking goes not one step further but a giant leap further because a Covenant-breaker is someone who asserts that there individual authority is greater than Baha'u'llah's and by Baha'u'llah's is meant His explicitly established Administration in as much as that is the body of authority based on the Covenant. To go back to my tea and sugar analogy it would be as if, having put the tea and sugar together, the individual not only wants to replace the sugar with salt, but he wants everyone else to do this as well even though everybody knows that tea goes with sugar and not salt. Anyhoo, to get back to the point, Baha'is are obviosly not automotons. We are free to act on our own conscience. The Covenant frees us though from acting on our own conscience in a way that would impede on the capacity for any other human being to act on their conscience. In essence the Covenant frees all people from this and therefore releases an even greater capacity to be free by virtue of the time less spent dealing with differences in who's conscience is better.
To articulate one last point, the point that I made about going to the source of authority was that information as it pertains to the Covenant is authoritatively Baha'i, not that reading the Baha'i writings will simply explain it all. I agree that the church cannot be known throught he Bible alone. Thank you for pointing that out.
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