Help With Holy Titles...

All research or scholarship questions
Fadl
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2004 4:55 am
Location: somewhere "in this immensity"

Re: Help With Holy Titles...

Postby Fadl » Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:27 pm

Hi!

Well, Christ, for one, is a title! Buddha, is a title too. Moses was known as the Law Giver, Abraham as the Friend of God, Muhammad was called Al-amin (the trusted), and I'm sure there are many more. Many manifestations have had a variety of titles. I am sure you are aware of the many titles of Baha'u'llah, and know that Baha'u'llah itself is a title.

As for Son of God, Christ certainly was so. However, it is a fact often missed by Christians, that the title of Son of God is not peculiar to Christ.

"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose" (Genesis 6:1-2).

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" (Job 38:1-7).

Also noteworthy, is the mysterious Old Testament figure Melchisedec, high priest and king of Salem who "met" and "blessed" Abraham, and was called "King of Peace" and being:

"Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God" (Hebrews 7:1-3)

Furthermore, in the New Testament the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans states plainly:

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14).

Clearly, the title "Son of God" has a meaning which is not only applicable to Christ. It also seems clear to me that there is little basis for arguing a literal interpretation of it. The very notion of God having literally a physical offspring, in my opinion, fanciful and absurd. How could God, the unknowable essence, the supreme being and creator of all, have human offspring? I think the words of 'Abdul-baha, when he was speaking on the subject of sacrifice, in my opinion, can also be applied to the concept of the Son of God:

"These verses have been interpreted by the churches in such a superstitious way that it is impossible for human reason to understand or accept..."(The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 449).

In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer on November 29, 1937, is an explanation that sums it up perfectly, and coincides with the uses of the term found in the Bible:

"As regards to your questions concerning the station of Jesus Christ, and His return as explained in the Gospel. It is true that Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God, but this, as explained by Bahá'u'lláh in the 'Íqán, does not indicate any Physical relationship whatever. Its meaning is entirely spiritual and points to the close relationship existing between Him and the Almighty God. Nor does it necessarily indicate any inherent superiority in the station of Jesus over other Prophets and Messengers. As far as their spiritual nature is concerned all Prophets can be regarded as Sons of God, as they all reflect His light, though not in an equal measure, and this difference in reflection is due to the conditions and circumstances under which they appear" (Lights of Guidance, 491).

These names and titles should not become a barrier to belief if we remember that God is the bearer of the "most excellent names" and titles. I am particularly fond of this verse from Baha'u'llah in the Seven Valleys:

"And I praise and glorify the first sea which hath branched from the ocean of the Divine Essence, and the first morn which hath glowed from the Horizon of Oneness, and the first sun which hath risen in the Heaven of Eternity, and the first fire which was lit from the Lamp of Preexistence in the lantern of singleness: He who was Ahmad in the kingdom of the exalted ones, and Muhammad amongst the concourse of the near ones, and Mahmud [1] in the realm of the sincere ones. '...by whichsoever (name) ye will, invoke Him: He hath most excellent names'" (The Seven Valleys, 2).

Dorumerosaer
Posts: 0
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:15 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Help With Holy Titles...

Postby Dorumerosaer » Thu Feb 07, 2008 12:23 am

HighMountain wrote:I'm in the midst of an ongoing discussion with a born again Christian friend at work. The term "Son of God" of course comes up in reference to Christ. His perspective of that name is taken quite literally (which solidifies his belief in the deification of Jesus) but he was interested when I suggested that it is a title of station.


I approach Christians who take the "Son of God" literally in this way:
"Do you believe that Jesus became the Son of God when He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary? Or do you believe that He was the Son of God from the beginning that has no beginning?"
If they agree that it was from the Beginning; then I say, "That proves that Jesus did not become the Son of God at His conception. Rather, He was the Son of God before He came to this earth. That "Sonship" is what Baha'is believe in. It is His spiritually being the Son of God. And that Sonship, we call being a Manifestation of God."
Brent

brettz9
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:36 am

Hello HighMountain and all,

There is... "Friend of God (Abraham)" (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 104 at http://bahai-library.com/writings/bahau ... w/104.html ) as Loren pointed out and the others he mentioned.

And Brent's approach was insightful.

But since this person expressed interest in the Baha'i conception, I think it would be good to emphasize the similarities as much as possible in the beginning without trying to emphasize our belief that God has no literal sons.

While rejecting the literal interpretation of a "son", our Writings also indicate the validity of the title:

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 Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá'u'lláh as the "Spirit of God," is proclaimed as the One Who "appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost," and is even extolled as the "Essence of the Spirit."

(Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day Is Come, par 269, at http://bahai-library.com/writings/shogh ... tml#par269 )


(As with "Sonship", by "Divinity of Jesus Christ", as Baha'u'llah indicates in the Iqan, does not mean He literally is God incarnate, but rather His perfect reflection of God's attributes to humanity's capacity...)

I seem to recall a passage in the Bible about the analogy of a man sending his son as his representative. We can say the son "is" the father as far as the recipient can know, but he is not literally the same (nor an incarnation for that matter).

Also, as Loren also touched upon, while this may be different, there are also the titles that refer to more abstract virtues (e.g., Baha'u'llah as the Glory of God).

Some have speculated that this passage (repeated several times in the prayer) refers to different Manifestations, even in chronological order:

"Thou seest me, O my God, holding to Thy Name, the Most Holy, the Most Luminous, the Most Mighty, the Most Great, the Most Exalted, the Most Glorious, and clinging to the hem of the robe to which have clung all in this world and in the world to come."

(at http://bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/pm/177.html )

Perhaps, for example, these could be:

Most Holy (Abraham, with His relation to the Holy of Holies?), Most Luminous (Moses as in His white shining hand), Jesus (Most Mighty), Muhammad (Most Great, as indicated by Allah'u'Akbar), the Bab (Most Exalted), Baha'u'llah (Most Glorious).

Dorumerosaer
Posts: 0
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:15 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

Postby Dorumerosaer » Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:43 am

This quote from Shoghi Effendi is one that I would use in conjunction with the explanation of the Baha'i conception:

"As regards to your questions concerning the station of Jesus Christ, and His return as explained in the Gospel. It is true that Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God, but this, as explained by Bahá'u'lláh in the 'Íqán, does not indicate any Physical relationship whatever. Its meaning is entirely spiritual and points to the close relationship existing between Him and the Almighty God. Nor does it necessarily indicate any inherent superiority in the station of Jesus over other Prophets and Messengers. As far as their spiritual nature is concerned all Prophets can be regarded as Sons of God, as they all reflect His light, though not in an equal measure, and this difference in reflection is due to the conditions and circumstances under which they appear." (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1937; Lights of Guidance, p. 491, paragraph 1644)


brettz9 wrote:I seem to recall a passage in the Bible about the analogy of a man sending his son as his representative.


That is the parable of the man who owned the vineyard, here quoted from the Gospel of Luke:

20:9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.
20:10 And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.
20:11 And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
20:12 And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out.
20:13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.
20:14 But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.
20:15 So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? 20:16 He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others.

"Carmel" is comprised of two Hebrew words, "carm" meaning garden or vineyard, and "El" meaning God. Baha'u'llah interprets this parable of the "vineyard" to refer to Mount Carmel. As Shoghi Effendi writes,

"Four times He visited Haifa, His last visit being no less than three months long. In the course of one of these visits, when His tent was pitched in the vicinity of the Carmelite Monastery, He, the "Lord of the Vineyard," revealed the Tablet of Carmel, remarkable for its allusions and prophecies." (God Passes By, p. 194)

brettz9 wrote:Some have speculated that this passage (repeated several times in the prayer) refers to different Manifestations, even in chronological order:

"Thou seest me, O my God, holding to Thy Name, the Most Holy, the Most Luminous, the Most Mighty, the Most Great, the Most Exalted, the Most Glorious, and clinging to the hem of the robe to which have clung all in this world and in the world to come."


That's a very interesting interpretation. I do think that when Baha'u'llah uses "The Most Exalted, the All-Glorious" in His Writings, He is referring to the Bab and Himself. In this passage, I wonder if He might be referring even to people within the Babi and Baha'i Dispensations. The Name "Quddus" means "The Holy One" and in the original Arabic of this verse He uses the word "quds" for "Most Holy". "Most Luminous" is "nur". I think "Most Mighty, the Most Great" is Al-Aziz, Al-Azam". `Abdu'l-Baha is the Ghusnu'llah Al-Azam, Most Mighty Branch of God.

At the time Baha'u'llah wrote this His son Mirza Muhammad-`Ali was within the Covenant, and was the Ghusn-i-Akbar. Though perhaps this "Akbar" could instead be a reference to the Greatest Holy Leaf; I don't know the Arabic for her title, or that of Navvab, whose title I believe was the Most Exalted Leaf. Likewise perhaps the reference to the Most Luminous refers to the wife of `Abdul-Baha, whose title, The Brilliant Leaf or Luminous Leaf, Munirih, I think might be derived from "nur". Perhaps one of these titles refers to the Purest Branch, Mirza Mihdi. Without an authoritative interpretation it is hard to know.
Brent

brettz9
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 9:41 am

Without an authoritative interpretation it is hard to know.


Thankfully, there are an inexhaustible number of meanings... ;)

Thank you for the passage from Luke and the interesting juxtaposition with the God Passes By passage. Do you think there could be a meaning to there being four "sons" sent out by Baha'u'llah the last of whom was "killed"? Might this be a reference to 'Abdu'l-Baha being rejected later? Maybe even the rejection of the Covenant-breakers from the lands there later? Or maybe the husbandmen refer to the Muslims to whom the Revelation was first given?

Brett

Dorumerosaer
Posts: 0
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:15 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

Postby Dorumerosaer » Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:20 am

My personal understanding is the succession of Prophets who came to Carmel, including the Lesser Prophets. Both Elijah and Elisha came to Carmel, for example; and the Son refers to Jesus. I don't know what other Prophets came to Carmel.
Brent

brettz9
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 3:45 am

Fascinating, thanks...

Brett

British_Bahai
Posts: 0
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:27 am

Re: Help With Holy Titles...

Postby British_Bahai » Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:42 am

pilgrimbrent wrote:
HighMountain wrote:I'm in the midst of an ongoing discussion with a born again Christian friend at work. The term "Son of God" of course comes up in reference to Christ. His perspective of that name is taken quite literally (which solidifies his belief in the deification of Jesus) but he was interested when I suggested that it is a title of station.


I approach Christians who take the "Son of God" literally in this way:
"Do you believe that Jesus became the Son of God when He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary? Or do you believe that He was the Son of God from the beginning that has no beginning?"
If they agree that it was from the Beginning; then I say, "That proves that Jesus did not become the Son of God at His conception. Rather, He was the Son of God before He came to this earth. That "Sonship" is what Baha'is believe in. It is His spiritually being the Son of God. And that Sonship, we call being a Manifestation of God."
Brent

very well said, brent :)

brettz9
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Sat Feb 09, 2008 7:03 am

And it was the seed of Joseph and the ovum of Mary, not a virgin birth, that begat Jesus in his human form, but it was His Heavenly Father who ultimately respiritualized Him during the course of His Life on earth


The Baha'i Faith actually upholds the miracle of the Virgin Birth.

Dorumerosaer
Posts: 0
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:15 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Help With Holy Titles...

Postby Dorumerosaer » Sat Feb 09, 2008 12:06 pm

richard wrote: Jesus, a Divine Son of God, existed spiritually in a celestial body before his bestowal in the flesh as the physical, human son of Joseph and Mary. And it was the seed of Joseph and the ovum of Mary, not a virgin birth, that begat Jesus in his human form


Hi Richard, do you mind sharing the source of the statement that Jesus had a celestial body before coming to the earth?

Also there are several letters from the Guardian stating squarely that Jesus was miraculously conceived by God in womb of the Virgin Mary, and that Joseph was not the father of Jesus. But not going so far as to say that the miraculous conception of Jesus was what made Him the Son of God.

Best regards
Brent

Dorumerosaer
Posts: 0
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:15 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Help With Holy Titles...

Postby Dorumerosaer » Sat Feb 09, 2008 3:43 pm

richard wrote:There is also evidence and writings that those who saw Jesus' reappearances after His resurrection from the Cross, noted that His resurrected body was different, had a spiritual aspect, that had not been all that noticable when he was still in his bodily "temple" of flesh.


There are different understandings of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Among them:

1. The current view held by many Christians is that Jesus died on the cross and was buried, but His body resurrected and appeared to the disciples and to others; that His physical body went to heaven; and that His physical body will return at the Second Coming. When I was a Catholic, this was part of the Creed we recited at each Mass.

2. The one you have expressed, that there was a type of "spiritual body" of Christ; not quite physical, but not totally spiritual.

3. That the disciples saw a vision of Christ.

I believe that there is a 4th kind of resurrection, and that `Abdu'l Baha and Shoghi Effendi explain it this way. I may be wrong in my views, but here they are.

I start with the story of Joseph in Genesis and in the Qur'an. Joseph was sent into exile in Egypt. Later His brothers came seeking food. They stood before Him, but did not recognize Him. Then He ordered that they be served bread. Then they saw Him and recognized Him.

This is paralleled in the last chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24. Two disciples who had witnessed the crucifixion of their Lord were walking on the road to Emmaus, a village to the south of Jerusalem, near Bethlehem. They were reasoning with one another about the Crucifixion (verse 15). Suddenly Christ was walking with them, but they did not recognize Him, as their eyes were sealed (verse 16). Then, He began to explain to them the meaning of what they had witnessed, with proofs from the Scriptures (verse 27). Then He gave them bread (verse 30) and their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. (Verse 31).

In the Book of Certitude, pages 23 and 200, Baha'u'llah explains the meaning of "bread", and in Some Answered Questions, pp. 97-99 `Abdu'l-Baha explains the meaning of the Scriptural symbol "bread." This is entirely consistent with, and essentially the same as, the meanings given to the term "bread" by Jesus Himself (Matthew 16:11-12; John 6:33-35) Likewise the meaning of "eyes" being opened is entirely symbolic, and was used many times by Christ Himself. The significance is not that these two disciples did not recognize the personality and physical traits of the physical body of Jesus Christ; it is that after his brutal crucifixion their faith was shaken, and they lost sight of His eternal Being; but by studying the Scriptures -- eating the "bread" of the Word of God -- their faith was restored (their "eyes were opened"). Likewise `Abdu'l-Baha, based on the very words of Christ in the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John, explains that the disciples "eating" with Jesus meant drawing near to Him and believing in Him (Some Answered Questions, p. 97-98)

After the crucifixion of Christ, the Gospel states that Jesus appeared about ten times. These appearances were occasions on which only His disciples "saw" Him. Jesus was not "seen" by any non-believers after His resurrection; because the "seeing" was not physical seeing, not seeing a vision, not seeing a spiritual body. It was seeing in the sense Jesus used the term, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see." (Matthew 13:16)

"Seeing" Jesus Christ after His resurrection means that their faith was restored. Jesus was only "seen" by believers because that's what "seeing" means. If you look up my paper on the Bible and the Book of Certitude at http://www.bahai-library.com I have compiled those Bible verses.

Shoghi Effendi wrote through His secretary:

"We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the 70 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 resurrection is the same thing."
(Shoghi Effendi, High Endeavours - Messages to Alaska, p. 69)

This is the only way I can understand "eating" to be the "same thing" as "resurrection".

The events portrayed in the Gospel are all allgorical narratives. Going to the "tomb"; not "recognizing" Him; then later "recognizing" Him.

Best regards
Brent

Dorumerosaer
Posts: 0
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:15 am
Location: Germany
Contact:

Postby Dorumerosaer » Sun Feb 10, 2008 12:08 pm

richard wrote: I am tempted to comment on [spiritual vision or insight] . . . i am not affiliated with any Christian or non-Christian religion, let alone the Baha'i Faith..


I had no idea of your religious affiliation; thanks for clarifying.

Yes, the subject of spiritual insight is a wonderful one. I think it is what is meant here:

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Jesus Christ; Revelation 3:18 )

"When he [Jesus] had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing." (John 9:6-7)

Although this Gospel narrative describes the man as being blind from birth, I still believe the intent is that Jesus gave the man spiritual insight.

Brent

British_Bahai
Posts: 0
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 5:27 am

Postby British_Bahai » Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:55 am

richard wrote:The divine spirit of God makes contact with mortal man, not by feelings or emotions, but in the realm of the highest and most spiritualized thinking. It is your thoughts, not your feelings, that lead you Godward. The divine nature may be perceived only with the eyes of the mind. But the mind that really discerns God, hears the indwelling Spirit of God, is the pure mind. "Without holiness no man may see the Lord." All such inner and spiritual communion is termed spiritual insight. Such religious experiences result from the impress made upon the mind of man by the combined operations of the Spirit of God the Father, His Spirit of Truth, and His Holy Spirit as they function amid and upon the ideas, ideals, insights, and spirit strivings of the evolving sons of God.

Bahai's also believe that God said this:

O son of being
Love me that i may love thee
if thou lovest me not, my love can in no wise reach thee
know this o servant


(this is from the hidden words of Bahaullah)
http://bahai-library.com/writings/bahau ... bic/5.html

(note that even though bahaullah revealed it, it is written in the form of God talking to us, so in no way is it implying that bahais have to worship bahaullah himself) just thought i had to make that clear.

brettz9
Posts: 1363
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:35 am

Hello Richard and all,

That is to say, it is more important for us to understand the spiritual truths of God and His Manifested Messengers, than it is for us to understand the scientific physical facts of the nature of their bodies, births, or bestowals. Indeed, we need to focus on the spiritual messages of truth, not the physical facts of messenger embodiement.


Very well spoken... Absolutely...

best wishes,
Brett


Return to “Discussion”