published in Lights of Irfan, Book 1, pages 53-68 Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia, 2000
This paper is to introduce the doctrinal dimension of religious studies, investigate the term "progressive revelation," analyze whether progressive revelation is a central Bahá'í doctrine, and survey the process of "doctrinalization" in Bahá'í history.
According to Ninian Smart, the doctrinal dimension is (together with the experiential, mythic, ethical, ritual, and social) a major dimension of any religion. Thus, it is arguably true that doctrinal studies (usually known as "systematic theology," or "dogmatism") are crucial for understanding and developing a Bahá'í theology. Compared to the other world religions, the Bahá'í Faith has, on the one hand, very meager mythical and ritual dimensions, but on the other hand, it has quite elaborate doctrinal, ethical, and social dimensions.