Posted by Brett Zamir (18.104.22.168) on June 23, 2003 at 22:39:00:
In Reply to: Neither wise nor necessary posted by John on June 22, 2003 at 04:21:34:
Yes, John, thank you for your sentiments.
I also think that it is a wise and incumbent approach not to dispute that point with Christians.
Baha'u'llah does in fact refer to Jesus as the Son (see http://bahai-library.org/writings/bahaullah/gwb/036.html for one instance), and as mentioned, Shoghi Effendi stated, "As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. (The Promised Day is Come, http://www.bahai-library.org/writings/shoghieffendi/pdc/pdicall.html#109 )
However, it is possible that Baha'is may need to be prepared to reconcile the assertions of some Christians which border on the offensive with the Qur'anic correction of the excessive adoration of some Christians for the PERSON of Jesus (at the expense of the Greatness of God):
"Regarding the passage you enclosed about the Qur'an: In reality there is no contradiction at all; when the Qur'an denies Christ is the Son of God it is not refuting His Words but the false interpretation of them by the Christians who read into them a relationship of an almost corporeal nature, whereas Almighty God has no parents or offspring. What is meant by Christ, is His spirit's relation to the Infinite Spirit, and this the Qur'an does not deny. It is in a sense attributable--this kind of Sonship--to all the Prophets." (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 19, 1945, quoted in Lights of Guidance, pp. 493-494)
"The divinity attributed to so great a Being and the complete incarnation of the names and attributes of God in so exalted a Person should, under no circumstances, be misconceived or misinterpreted. The human temple that has been made the vehicle of so overpowering a Revelation must, if we be faithful to the tenets of our Faith, ever remain entirely distinguished from that "innermost Spirit of Spirits" and "eternal Essence of Essences"--that invisible yet rational God Who, however much we extol the divinity of His Manifestations on earth, can in no wise incarnate His infinite, His unknowable, His incorruptible and all-embracing Reality in the concrete and limited frame of a mortal being. Indeed, the God Who could so incarnate His own reality would, in the light of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, cease immediately to be God. So crude and fantastic a theory of Divine incarnation is as removed from, and incompatible with, the essentials of Bahá'í belief as are the no less inadmissible pantheistic and anthropomorphic conceptions of God--both of which the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh emphatically repudiate and the fallacy of which they expose."
He Who in unnumbered passages claimed His utterance to be the "Voice of Divinity, the Call of God Himself" thus solemnly affirms in the Kitáb-i-êqán: "To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immeasurably exalted beyond every human attribute such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress... He is, and hath ever been, veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men... He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness... `God was alone; there was none else beside Him' is a sure testimony of this truth."
"Under no circumstances, however, can we, while repeating the prayers, insert the name Bahá'u'lláh where the word `God' is used. This would be tantamount to blasphemy." (Directives of the Guardian, http://bahai-library.org/writings/shoghieffendi/dg/sec-158.html )
However, again, I think the Baha'i Writings would support your contention that it is unnecessary to bring these counterpoints up, at least at first, to an ardent protagonist of Christianity unless the occasion demanded it, both for the reasons you cited about Him in a sense having that as a somewhat distinguishing title, and for the sake of introducing the teachings in a loving, progressive manner.
I think we as Baha'is also need to help our community to gain a greater awareness of the deeply-seated beliefs of the different major schools of thought among those of other Faiths so as to avoid committing the great offense of burdening our hearers with more than they can bear as well as otherwise more intelligently present the teachings to them. And we are told that service to and support of the training institute is the major vehicle through which we can channel this process of education for our communities.
best wishes to everyone,
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