The process of change in religious thinking and how it manifests in expectations about the Lesser Peace, both from Bahá'í texts and within the community. Includes discussions of "the calamity," and of non-Bahá'í political evolution in the 20th century.
published in Lights of Irfan, 13, pages 243-270 Wilmette, IL: Haj Mehdi Armand Colloquium, 2012
Abstract: The key feature of classical religious apocalyptic thinking is that affairs are static until they are suddenly moved from one state to another by God. Thus the change in affairs is sudden and immediate and it is supernaturally directed and actioned. Human beings are passive participants in this, in that although the change usually affects them they play no part in bringing the change about. The Bab and Bahá'u'lláh initiated a change in this type of religious thinking. They initiated the idea that religious change is a process, not a jump from one state to another, and that it is to be brought about through human effort and not by a magical Divine intervention.
In this paper, this change in religious thinking will be examined in relation to Bahá'í expectations of the Lesser Peace, about which there was a great deal of apocalyptic thinking in the years prior to 2000. The main features of the Lesser Peace as described in the Bahá'í texts are listed and then the extent to which these have come to pass in the course of the twentieth century is considered. From this, a sequence of four stages for the fulfilment of these features is delineated. It is furthermore suggested that all of these features reached the third stage during the twentieth century. It is therefore for this reason that the Universal House of Justice was able at the close of the 20th century to confirm `Abdu'l-Bahá's description of this century as the "Century of Light".