Re: THE BAHA'IS: Christians of the Second Advent (tool for teaching Chrisitans)

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Posted by Brett Zamir ( on July 31, 2002 at 09:09:45:

In Reply to: Re: THE BAHA'IS: Christians of the Second Advent (tool for teaching Chrisitans) posted by Darrick Evenson on July 30, 2002 at 22:18:15:

(continued from another post)

Dear Darrick,

I would have to respectuflly disagree with you on your point that no Bible-believing Christian would accept the Faith by a metaphorical-only view of the Resurrection of Christ. Many Baha'is have indeed come from (and maintain as they ought) such a Bible-believing background.

Truly, the physical Resurrection of Jesus Christ has become a crystallized dogma of many of the Churches, but this does not mean it is an inherent conclusion to be drawn from the Bible.

Rather, it is a sign of a sad decay into which a religion intended to inspire people and break them away from a focus on the material, has sunk. Such an interpretation is motivated, I believe, as is the narrow interpretation of being "saved" in Jesus alone--with its despicable attempt to divorce all need for "works" (despite what the Bible itself says) in order to win recruits by an easy promise of Paradise (though a promise by a fallible creed is no guarantee) and divorce itself from other religions of God, resulting not only in disunity with other religionists, but in a loss of the moral victories formerly won by Christianity through alternative interpretations such as the "Protestant work ethic" where professed Christians attaining the heavenly afterlife was not considered a guaranteed fact--and thus they worked harder (albeit somewhat selfishly) and contributed to the development of Europe and elsewhere, as attested by sociologists and historians). 'Abdu'l-Baha confirms the benefits of such belief in future rewards and punishments among the masses of humanity (though He also indicates it is not the ideal motive--and rather an unworthy one for a true believer, but it is nevertheless useful and necessary for most if not all of humanity, as Shoghi Effendi also points out).

As 'Abdu'l-Baha points out in Some Answered Questions, a miracle has no value as a proof for those who do not see it. Even for those who do see it, they might consider it as some kind of enchantment or illusion. As He points out, the Brahmins of India also claim miracles. By what standard would we reject their claims if miracles are to be considered as proofs?

If there is any doubt, the following authoritative quotations, from the authorized Interpreter of the Baha'i Writings, Shoghi Effendi, who was given this infallible authority by 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself (Baha'u'llah's own appointed Centre of His Covenant and infallible Interpreter) and whose position was foreshadowed by Baha'u'llah Himself in His Most Holy Book, should make it clear that the Baha'i Faith does indeed reject belief in a physical resurrection:

(These are available from the compilation Lights of Guidance):

"...We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the
Crucifixion of Christ, but that there was a time after His Ascension when His disciples perceived spiritually His true greatness and realized He was eternal in being. This is what has been reported symbolically in the New Testament and been misunderstood. His eating with His disciples after the resurrection is the same thing."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual
believer, October 9, 1947)

"Concerning the resurrection of Christ, he wishes to call your attention to the fact that in this as well as in practically all the so-called miraculous events recorded in the Gospel we should, as Baha'is, seek to find a spiritual meaning and to entirely discard the physical interpretation attached to them by many of the Christian sects. The resurrection of Christ was, indeed, not physical but essentially spiritual, and is symbolic of the truth that the reality of man is to be found not in his physical constitution, but in his soul. A careful perusal of the 'Iqan' and of the 'Some Answered Questions' makes this indubitably clear."

(From a letter written to an individual believer on behalf of the
Guardian, August 14, 1934)

"The churches teach doctrines--various ones in various
creeds--which we as Baha'is do not accept; such as the bodily
Resurrection, confession, or, in some creeds, the denial of the
Immaculate Conception..."

"Our belief in Christ, as Baha'is, is so firm, so unshakeable and so exalted in nature that very few Christians are to be found now-a-days who love Him and reverence Him and have the faith in Him that we have. It is only from the dogmas and creeds of the churches that we dissociate ourselves; not from the spirit of Christianity."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of
Vienna, June 24, 1947)

"With regard to the Racine Assembly's request for an explanation of the passage on page 231 of the 'Gleanings' beginning with the words: 'From it (earth) have We created you...': this is a verse from the Qur'an...Baha'u'llah in quoting this passage seeks to refute the argument of the Muslims, who attach a purely literal interpretation to this verse of the Qur'an, and therefore consider it as implying bodily resurrection. To these Muslims He says, you who literally believe that the human body will return to dust and will be raised from it again, and therefore attach so much importance to this mortal world, how then can you wax so proud, and boast over things which are but perishable and consequently void of any true and lasting value."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Racine Assembly, February 7, 1939: Baha'i News, No. 124, p. 6, April 1939)

"...Concerning the meaning of 'Resurrection': Although this term is often used by Baha'u'llah in His Writings, as in the passage quoted in your letter, its meaning is figurative. The tomb mentioned is also allegorical, i.e., the tomb of unbelief. The Day of Resurrection, according to Baha'i interpretation, is the Judgement Day, the Day when unbelievers will be called upon to give account of their actions, and whether the world has prevented them from acknowledging the new Revelation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual
believer, Dawn of a New Day, p. 79)

However, it should be pointed out that while Baha'is PRIMARILY view Biblical and Qur'anic passages on miracles as figurative, we do in fact believe some miracles occur (though not the physical Resurrection, as pointed out above):

"To reject miracles on the ground that they imply a breach of the laws of nature is a very shallow, well-nigh a stupid argument, inasmuch as God Who is the Author of the universe can, in His Wisdom and Omnipotence, bring any change, no matter how temporary, in the operation of the laws which He Himself has created."
(From a letter dated February 27, 1938 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)

"His [Jesus'] birth was quite miraculous. This is an established fact, and the friends need not feel at all surprised, as the belief in the possibility of miracles has never been rejected in the Teachings. Their importance, however, has been minimized."
(From a letter dated December 31, 1937 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)

So, what remains for us to do, is not to, God forbid, try to alter and cover this truth which the Writings hold that the Resurrection was only figurative (though "only" is perhaps not appropriate, since figurativeness is indeed most important), but to affirm it with full faith, and seek to understand it better and attempt to articulate it better to Christians.

Much of our success in teaching Christians or anyone has, I think, to do with our own conviction of the truth. 'Abdu'l-Baha said we must be on fire when we teach. If people sound (and are) wishy-washy in their belief (whether their interpretation is literal or figurative), this does not sit well with most people (why would you want to accept something another person couldn't?). This is not to say we should force a conviction which is not there, but rather that this indicates a need we have to acquire a thorough knowledge of the proofs ourselves, such as are presented in the Kitab-i-Iqan and Some Answered Questions (as we are told to obtain a "mastery" of and "read...over and over again" these books (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, "The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith", p. 216), so that we OURSELVES can thoroughly appreciate and understand these proofs to the extent we are able--before we attempt to convince others of their truth.

(We can also use study outlines to do this as Shoghi Effendi mentions--John Hatcher has an excellent one for the Iqan published in "Ocean of His Words" and there is Hooper Dunbar's "Study Guide to the Kitab-i-Iqan" as well as some others at the study guide section of this website. Included there is also one I made for Some Answered Questions for which I'd love some feedback or collaboration in tweaking it for possible publication!)

ok, best wishes to you,

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