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Editor: Dianne Bradford, 5384 Tansas Ln., Hilliard, OH 43026

Vol. 1, No. 2

     Topic: Progressive Revelation                           Page 1
      This newsletter is dedicated to all seekers after the Eternal Truth.

      And now a little more of the glad tidings that God has sent a new Messenger for our guidance and well-being.
      God has never left mankind without guidance. Throughout the ages, since the beginning of time, God has sent His Prophets and His Messengers, the perfect Manifestations of His qualities and attributes, to educate and guide all mankind along God's path, gradually revealing His divine Plan and Purpose for us. This is what is meant by progressive Revelation--each Manifestation, each World Teacher, brings us a little further along God's Path: Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Báb, and God's latest world Teacher, Bahá'u'lláh. Each Messenger of God increased the education of humanity and brought us closer to Bahá'u'lláh's Mission for our own age which is our coming of age as the human race in the unity of all the diverse peoples, kindreds, and nations of the world and the reality of the "Most Great Peace." In addition on a more personal level, each Manifestation also teaches us the means of our own personal salvation. In Bahá'u'lláh's own words on the subject of God's Messengers:

      A praise which is exalted above every mention or description beseemeth the Adored One, the Possessor of all things visible and invisible, Who hath enabled the Primal Point [ the Báb] to reveal countless Books and Epistles and Who, through the potency of His sublime Word, hath called into being the entire creation, whether of the former or more recent generations. Moreover He hath in every age and cycle, in conformity with His transcendent wisdom, sent forth a divine Messenger to revive the dispirited and despondent souls with the living waters of His utterance, One Who is indeed the Expounder, the true Interpreter, inasmuch as man is unable to comprehend that which hath streamed forth from the Pen of Glory and is recorded in His heavenly Books. Men at all times and under all conditions stand in need of one to exhort them, guide them and to instruct and teach them. Therefore He hath sent forth His Messengers, His Prophets and chosen ones that they might acquaint the people with the divine purpose underlying the revelation of Books and the raising up of Messengers, and that everyone may become aware of the trust of God which is latent in the reality of every soul. 1

          In the next passage the beloved Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, Shoghi Effendi, in the Preface to his book The Promised Day is Come, clearly explains this very important principle of Progressive Revelation.

      The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh. is that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the
world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are
complementary, that they differ only in the nonessential aspects of their doctrines, and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. . . .
      . . . His [Bahá'u'lláh] mission is to proclaim that the ages of the infancy and of the childhood of the human race are past, that the convulsions associated with the present stage of its adolescence are slowly and painfully preparing it to attain the stage of manhood, and are heralding the approach of that Age of Ages when swords will be beaten into plowshares, when the Kingdom promised by Jesus Christ will have been established, and the peace of the planet definitely and permanently ensured. Nor does Bahá'u'lláh claim finality for His own Revelation, but rather stipulates that a fuller measure of the truth He has been
commissioned by the Almighty to vouchsafe to humanity, at so critical a juncture in its fortunes, must needs be disclosed at future stages in the constant and limitless evolution of mankind.2
          Why does there sometimes seem to be conflicting laws brought by the different Messengers of God? Is it more than what can be explained by the changes and additions made by Their followers throughout the years? 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains the two kinds of laws that these World Educators bring to continue Their guidance in our lives even after They Themselves have passed from our sight. Their laws are of two kinds: the spiritual, eternal laws that never change and are renewed with the appearance of each Manifestation, and the social laws that are applicable to the time in which the Manifestation
appears and may therefore be abrogated or changed by succeeding Lawgivers (Manifestations) to meet the need of the times and to increase humanity's progress according to God's Will and man's capacity. If
you have any doubts that this guidance continues long after the human temples in which these Manifestations appear to us are destroyed, just consider the great volume of holy Books and other Scriptures available to us, the written Word of God given to us for posterity by these same Educators, these Lawgivers, these Manifestations and Prophets of God. In the words of Abdu'l-Bahá, the authorized Interpreter of the holy Scriptures revealed by the latest of these World Educators, Bahá'u'lláh:

           . . .the Law of God is divided into two parts. One is the fundamental basis which comprises all spiritual things--that is to say, it refers to the spiritual virtues and divine qualities; this does not change nor alter: it is the Holy of Holies, which is the essence of the Law of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, and which lasts and is established in all the prophetic cycles. It will never be abrogated, for it is spiritual and not material truth; it is faith, knowledge, certitude, justice, piety, ighteousness, trustworthiness, love of God, benevolence, purity, detachment, humility, meekness, patience and constancy. It shows mercy to the poor, defends the oppressed, gives to the wretched and uplifts the fallen.
           These divine qualities, these eternal commandments, will never be abolished; nay, they will last and will be established for ever and ever. These virtues of humanity will be renewed in each of the different cycles; for at the end of every cycle the spiritual Law of God--that is to say the human virtues--disappears, and only the form subsists. . . .
           . . .The second part of the Religion of God, which refers to the material world, and which comprises fasting, prayer, forms of worship, marriage and divorce, the abolition of slavery, legal processes, transactions, indemnities for murder, violence, theft and injuries--this part of the Law of God, which refers to material things, is modified and altered in each prophetic cycle in accordance with the necessities of the times. . .3

           Reflect for a moment, if you will, upon this great gift of God to us, His creation: unerring guidance from the very beginning that will never cease as long as we are in need of it; and, in addition, to have the great majority of this guidance in written form for reference at any time, so we need not to have been alive in the days in which it was given in order to benefit from it. The only limiting factor is our own narrowness of mind; if we refuse to accept guidance from a Manifestation of God different from the One we grew up believing in and loving, then we deprive ourselves of a great fount of information, knowledge, and guidance; and, what's worse, we also deprive ourselves of the guidance sent for our own age. This is because normally it is the Manifestations and Prophets that come after the One we're used to following that we have difficulty accepting (despite the fact that each Manifestation always predicts the coming of the next Manifestation(s)). However, we seem to have no trouble accepting the Ones Who came before since Their station and teachings are confirmed by "our" Manifestation/Prophet. Therefore, we continue to accept guidance from the Prophets Who have gone before. For instance, most Christians accept the Old as well as the New Testament of the Bible. However, when we are unable to accept those Who have come after, we miss out on the guidance given to us for our own age--very sad. But as sincere seekers after the Truth, we must seek out and accept the Truth wherever it is found.

1 Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 161.
2 Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, 1980, p. v.
3 Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 47-48.
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