Baha’i superiority

In this post of the blog Baha’i Rants, Baquia complains about Baha’is taking an attitude of superiority toward other faiths. In the comments, I raised the question: well, isn’t such an attitude intrinsic to the Baha’i teachings – in the sense that the Baha’i Faith is relevant to our time and the other religions aren’t? Whereupon several Baha’i commenters insisted that that is not the case and there is absolutely no sense of superiority in the Baha’i writings.

Well, what about this?

First among the great principles revealed by Him [Baha’u’llah] is that of the investigation of reality. The meaning is that every individual member of humankind is exhorted and commended to set aside superstitious beliefs, traditions and blind imitation of ancestral forms in religion and investigate reality for himself. Inasmuch as the fundamental reality is one, all religions and nations of the world will become one through investigation of reality. The announcement of this principle is not found in any of the sacred Books of the past.

That’s from The Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 433. This is an excerpt from a much longer passage. Abdu’l-Baha is explaining what is new about Baha’u’llah’s teachings, and he goes through a litany of concepts that are supposedly absent from other religions and only found in the revelation of Baha’u’llah. He makes some really preposterous and offensive statements, such as saying the Baha’i Faith is the only religion that forbids racism, that it’s the only one that says that faith should be in accordance with reason, and that it’s the only one that teaches that women should not be oppressed.

The flip side of Abdu’l-Baha’s statements is this: he’s insinuating that all other religions implicitly allow racism, obscurantism and the oppression of women. The only way to bring an end to these evils is by God bringing a new revelation, because the existing religions can do nothing about them.

His Holiness Baha’u’llah has risen from the eastern horizon. Like the glory of the sun He has come into the world. He has reflected the reality of divine religion, dispelled the darkness of imitations, laid the foundation of new teachings and resuscitated the world. (Baha’i World Faith, p. 238)

What is the “darkness of imitations” Baha’u’llah came to dispell? What else could it be but the other religions in their modern form.

It’s all well and good to say the Baha’i Faith embraces all religions. What Baha’is really mean (and they get this from Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha) is that all religions originally taught the truth, but have since been corrupted by human ignorance and arrogance. And then, inexplicably, Baha’is insist that there is nothing in the Baha’i writings to suggest any spirit of superiority, that they are tolerant of everybody’s beliefs.

If Baha’is were genuinely open-minded, they would make an effort to understand what others actually believe, rather then spending their time telling us that our beliefs are wrong and if we want to be true Christians we should embrace Baha’u’llah. It isn’t just modern-day Baha’is that are like this. Abdu’l-Baha was the same way.

To demonstrate this point, we here at Baha’i-Catholic Blog have secured an exclusive interview with Abdu’l-Baha.

BCB– Good morning, Abdu’l-Baha, thank you for taking the time to meet with us.

AB– I am very happy at being present at this meeting (PUP p. 87). Are you happy?

BCB– Yes, thank you. Now I wonder if you could shed some light for us on how you view some essential Christian doctrines. Let’s begin with the quintessential Christian ritual, baptism. I should clarify that in the Orthodox and Catholic traditions, baptism is much more than simply a ritual to demonstrate that the individual has chosen to believe in Christ. Rather, we believe that God has chosen baptism as a medium through which he infuses us with saving grace. What are your views on this?

AB– No, baptism is a only symbol of repentance (SAQ p. 91). The physical act of baptism is without spiritual effect. It is only a custom (SAQ p. 95).

BCB– It sounds as if you disapprove of the Christian belief on this point. Let’s explore another area dear to the hearts of Christians, and particularly Orthodox and Catholic Christians – the Eucharist, or communion. The Second Vatican Council called the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life” because it is through this sacrament, more than through any other means, that we are given the spiritual sustenance to become like Christ. We believe that it is the body and blood of Christ, and through it we are joined both to Christ’s suffering and to his eternal life. What do you think of our belief in the Eucharist?

AB– How can such a thought be conceived? God forbid! Certainly it is an absolute fantasy (SAQ p. 98). The mind cannot accept this. Children should be taught that the Eucharist is nothing more than a symbol (PUP p. 213).

BCB– It sounds as if you take objection to our faith on this point because you can’t understand it. But I don’t see why God can’t do things that go beyond our ability as humans to understand. And certainly God can manipulate matter at his will. Catholics and Orthodox are comfortable with teachings like the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist, because Christ can be physically present wherever he chooses. We see no need to draw a strict division between God and his creation. Take for example our belief in the resurrection of Christ. We believe that God the Son became a human being in order to perfect humankind. All those who join their humanity to his will enjoy the eternal life of God through him. Just as Christ’s body was raised to eternal life on Easter morning, so too our bodies can be raised to eternal life along with our spirits. We see no reason why God cannot make a physical body eternal.

AB– Physical resurrection is not scientifically possible. Therefore, to insist on it is to cause religion to be at odds with science. The Baha’i Faith, on the other hand, is in perfect accord with science. The Christian clergy do not understand the Bible. When the Bible says Christ rose from the dead, what it means is that three days after Christ died, his disciples regained their confidence and started preaching (SAQ pp. 104-105).

BCB– I’m struck at your insistence that God will only act within the confines of physical laws. The Bible sometimes says things that seem to contradict what we know scientifically. Often that is simply because it is speaking poetically. And as anyone who has studied Church history will know, Christians have always read figurative meanings in the Bible rather than only taking it literally. Yet, at the same time, God is all-powerful and is capable of changing his creation to show signs on the earth. It says, for example, that at the end of the world the stars will fall from heaven. Whether that’s to be taken literally I don’t know, but I’m sure God could accomplish that if he so willed. What do you think?

AB– According to reason and science this thing is quite impossible, so this is obviously just a symbol (SAQ p. 112).

BCB– These views are striking when we consider that on other occasions you have said that God is unfathomable and inconceivable. For example, on June 9, 1912, you gave a talk at a Unitarian church in Philadelphia in which you said, “how can the human reality, which is limited, comprehend the eternal, unmanifest Creator? How can man comprehend the omniscient, omnipresent Lord?” Yet here you’ve insisted that fundamental Christian beliefs should be discarded because they are not logical and not consistent with current scientific knowledge. I can’t help but wonder if you were making these arguments just to discredit Christianity, even though these arguments clearly contradict your teachings and those of your father regarding divine omnipotence. In any event, thank you for your time.

AB– You are very welcome, very welcome!

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15 Responses

  1. Failure of understanding may go in two directions here. You did not include, for instance, ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s statement that the resurrection of the Manifestations is not of the body. That means they were resurrected in the way that really matters – to live everlastingly and never die in the hearts and minds of those who have faith. It is perfectly in accord with Biblical teaching in 1 Cor. 15: 42-45 – “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”

    Yes, some individual Baha’is do not understand the deeper aspects of other religions. Can you honestly state that most Catholics have any more than a passing knowledge of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or the Baha’i Faith?

    As a long-time and committed Baha’i, I believe whole-heartedly in the resurrection of Jesus as a “spiritual fact” as ‘Abdu’l-Baha states. I would assume you would reject prominent Catholic theologian John Dominic Crossan’s findings, which are in substantive agreement with ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s approach, yet deeply respectful of the ultimate meanings and purposes of the resurrection. ‘Abdu’l-Baha has not rejected resurrection; He has given it the high meaning that is at its heart.

    Likewise, as a Baha’i, I believe with firm conviction that Baha’u’llah’s earthly life was followed by His shining everlastingly from the heaven of glory, where He and Jesus are one eternal Christ. Being raised bodily from the dead is immaterial. What matters is the one thing that both Christians and Baha’is know with absolute certainty: “He is alive!”

  2. Hi Bill, thanks for your comments. Regarding `Abdu’l-Baha’s interpretation of the resurrection, someone brought this up last fall and I gave a response here. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts. As for the quote from 1 Corinthians, it isn’t clear that Paul means what you say he means. The word he uses for body (soma) literally means “body”. If he meant that we do not retain our bodies in the resurrection, then he’s saying the opposite of what he means.

    When I was a Baha’i, I read 1 Corinthians the same way you do. As I delved more deeply into the New Testament, I found that I had been forcing meanings on the text that don’t fit the context. This brings me to your next point:

    Yes, some individual Baha’is do not understand the deeper aspects of other religions. Can you honestly state that most Catholics have any more than a passing knowledge of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or the Baha’i Faith?

    You’re right that Catholics are no better informed about other religions than Baha’is are, and they really ought to know more. But there’s an important difference. Catholics don’t claim that their religion is the fulfillment of all others. We don’t say that everything in Buddhism, Islam, and whatever else is really talking about Christianity, and if other religionists don’t believe what we believe, then they aren’t true Buddhists, Muslims, etc. That is precisely what Baha’is do. And it leads them to misunderstand the other religions.

    In other words, a Catholic can learn about, say, Hinduism on its own terms. A Baha’i (generally speaking) feels compelled to force everything he learns about Hinduism into a Baha’i cookie-cutter. He hears the Hindu talk about reincarnation, for example, and in the back of his mind he remembers what `Abdu’l-Baha said about the origins of this belief, and what it “really means”. The Baha’i can’t hear what the Hindu is saying because he’s mentally editing everything he hears as he hears it. I know that’s what I did.

    The point of all this is that it undercuts a fundamental claim by Baha’is (a claim Catholics don’t make): that the Baha’i Faith reconciles and comprehends all other religions. Baha’is don’t really do that, even though they claim to. They ignore what the other religions actually are, and insist that they “really mean” something the followers of those religions would never recognize.

    I would assume you would reject prominent Catholic theologian John Dominic Crossan’s findings, which are in substantive agreement with ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s approach…

    I know Crossan is prominent, but what gave you the idea he’s a Catholic theologian? If you want to read a genuine Catholic theologian, try Hans Urs von Balthasar or Avery Dulles. Or if you want something more accessible, read Peter Kreeft.

  3. I recently resigned from the Baha’i Faith, and I have experienced the exact head-game you have described. At first I tried to avoid it and be “my own Baha’i.” When that didn’t work, due to wanting to believe “correctly” I eventually gave in to those interpretations that I even knew were wanting.

    I had a deep longing to know and experience religions as they are practiced by the followers’ themselves, but the overall impression I was getting from the majority of Baha’is I had contact with (both online and offline) was that that was a futile cause.

    What a believing Baha’i should be doing is teaching the Faith, giving to the Fund (and if one MUST give to other organizations, try not to make it too much because the Baha’i Fund is what is the “healing medicine of the world”, etc) and establishing proofs for the Baha’i Faith as the “vehicle for God in this Day” (as someone once put it to me.)

    The ultimate aim of the Baha’i Faith really is the assimilation of all religions into the Baha’i Faith. I say this to the disappointment of some of my best Baha’i friends if they heard me say it, but I sadly feel that they don’t really understand the Baha’i Faith as it speaks of itself. They have a more liberal orientation which I happen to agree with, but it does not reflect the Faith that they represent (in my view.)

    In the very beginning of “The Promised Day is Come” on page 6, Shoghi Effendi writes “Well nigh a hundred years have elapsed since the Revelation of Baha’u’llah dawned upon the world — a Revelation, the nature of which, as affirmed by Himself, “none among the Manifestations of old, except to a prescribed degree, hath ever completely apprehended.”

    If All Manifestations of God are “One Soul”, how is that only Baha’u’llah completely apprehends this Revelation?

    Shoghi Effendi if not explicitly states, implicitly alludes to a future theocracy in which the Baha’i Laws are the foundation of all secular law…

    I didn’t make this stuff up. I am not pulling this out of thin air. This all comes from Authoritative Baha’i Texts…

  4. The ultimate aim of the Baha’i Faith really is the assimilation of all religions into the Baha’i Faith. I say this to the disappointment of some of my best Baha’i friends if they heard me say it, but I sadly feel that they don’t really understand the Baha’i Faith as it speaks of itself.

    I feel the same way. I wonder if to a large extent it’s driven by the fact that people in general are not inclined to investigate their beliefs. It’s kind of ironic in this case, since Baha’is are supposed to investigate the truth for themselves, but most don’t seem to want to. They’re comfortable.

    Shoghi Effendi if not explicitly states, implicitly alludes to a future theocracy in which the Baha’i Laws are the foundation of all secular law…

    This is definitely what I believed. Are there Baha’is who don’t believe this? I must have been out of touch.

  5. A few notes. Diacriticals are absent from this post because I am using Linux, in which I have a difficult time producing diacriticals. Also, I make use of Spivak Pronouns here, as I am trying to do more often.

    Firstly, and at the risk of sounding superior, I admit that Baha’is may not be as informed of other religions as they ought, and I do not think that it is apt to compare this with a Catholic who is not informed with other religions. If I meet a Catholic and discuss eir religious beliefs with em, I will consider them well versed in their beliefs and able to discuss religion intelligently if they know a lot about the Bible, the Catholic Church and Christ. If I meet a Baha’i, in order to be well versed in their beliefs , and able to intelligently defend and discuss them, they must know a lot about Baha’u’llah, The Bab, Abdu’l-Baha, the administrative order, the writings of all these groups and they must also have a good knowledge of basic religious terminology from other major religions and at least a basic understanding of the main religious holy books and the lives of their founders. This is not because Baha’is are somehow more intelligent, or even becuase they must hold themselves to a higher standard, but from a practical point of view, you cannot begin to defend your viewpoint without this.

    I will disagree about the claim that the Baha’i Faith does not consider itself superior. Obviously in certain ways we do, and in certain ways this is based on the writings of our Central Figures. What I do not believe the Central Figures state, is that the Baha’i Faith is of greater value than any other religious or spiritual path. We are not Unitarian Universalists, and we do draw a line of distinction between our beliefs and those of others, as almost every religion does. We believe that the social laws of other religions are antiquated, and that only the Baha’i Faith contains sufficiently new social laws. As I read them Baha’i writings also state that man is able to understand higher truths at this point and there are spiritual and social secrets that have not until this point been explicitely revealed, though they are implicit in the writings of many other religious figures.

    Baha’is do not however claim that they have a monopoly on salvation, as many religious dogmas do. Baha’is do not claim that theirs is the only spiritual path relevant in this day as you have implied, only that ours are the fullest and most applicable social laws. (For example; a system of untouchables, designed to keep those who deal with the dead away from the general population, is not necessary in this time of advanced medicine, and has, having outlived its purpose become an abused system)

    Now, as for your claim that the Master(Abdu’l-Baha) is saying that previous religions did not address and thus implicitly allowed horrible things such as racism, sexism and ignorance, this is simply not true. Did Christ allow racism, sexism, or ignorance? God forbid! However, had Christ at that time said “You must treat all nations exactly as your own, and women must have equal rights; as well, no religious comforts will be allowed.” not a man would have accepted Him. Instead He tailored his statements to what men were ready to accept, pushing the envelope, but not so far as to ostracize Himself. However, I challenge anyone to prove to me that it is possible to examine the statements of Christ on the issues He did address in his time, interpret them and apply those interpretations to modern issues such as racism, sexism and ignorance and not find Christ preaching acceptance, equality and rationalism.

    The darkness of imitations is not religions in their modern form, it is accepting the beliefs of your parents and culture without first deeply examining the validity of those beliefs and attempting to change that which has been broken.

    actually, you misinterpret again the Baha’i view. The Baha’i writings do not actually state that there is a difference between what religions teach now and what they originally did. Baha’u’llah actually says that the Bible is almost exactly the original. He says that the interpretations people have applied to it have changed, as we know historically is true. (If you disagree, tell me where all of Arius’s followers went my trinitarian friend.) He says the same with the Qur’an. Now with Hinduism and Buddhism, nary a follower of either with tell you eir writings are original, in-fact many Hindu holy texts are said to have been given to people by the wind thousands of years after the originals had been lost.

    Now if you have ever had a Baha’i tell you that you should become a true Christian by becoming a Baha’i again I sincerely apologize, this is horrible. Abdu’l-Baha emphasizes the fallacy of this statement. “It makes no difference whether you have ever heard of Bahá’u’lláh or not,” was the answer, “the man who lives the life according to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is already a Bahá’í. On the other hand a man may call himself a Bahá’í for fifty years and if he does not live the life he is not a Bahá’í. An ugly man may call himself handsome, but he deceives no one, and a black man may call himself white yet he deceives no one: not even himself!” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Source: UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982 reprint, Pages: 127) There is another statemen which explains that a man who truly follows Christ but denies Baha’u’llah is more a Baha’i than most Baha’is.

  6. Sorry, I know I left a long comment, I meant to make it a post on my blog in reply to yours but for some reason I decided not too.

    One last comment

    “””Shoghi Effendi if not explicitly states, implicitly alludes to a future theocracy in which the Baha’i Laws are the foundation of all secular law…

    This is definitely what I believed. Are there Baha’is who don’t believe this? I must have been out of touch.”””

    There are Baha’is who do not believe this , but only by ignorance, Shoghi Effendi does state this as far as I know.

  7. Baha’is do not however claim that they have a monopoly on salvation, as many religious dogmas do. Baha’is do not claim that theirs is the only spiritual path relevant in this day as you have implied, only that ours are the fullest and most applicable social laws.

    No, I wasn’t implying that Baha’is believe they have a monopoly on salvation. What I said – and I stand by this – is that from a Baha’i prespective, the Baha’i Faith is the only religion relevant to the modern world. I’m frankly pretty surprised that a Baha’i would take issue with this. I always took that point for granted as a Baha’i, and I don’t remember ever hearing any Baha’i say different. And it’s all over the Writings, as I mentioned in my post.

    Naturally there’s a difference in the Baha’i Faith between spiritual and social laws. Spiritual laws never change and social laws do. And a corollary of that is that your personal spiritual progress is not hampered, generally speaking, by following a previous revelation. (I say generally because I think there are cases where it would, such as in the drinking of wine.) But that doesn’t change the fact that the previous revelations are obsolete from the perspective of a Baha’i.

    Now, as for your claim that the Master(Abdu’l-Baha) is saying that previous religions did not address and thus implicitly allowed horrible things such as racism, sexism and ignorance, this is simply not true. Did Christ allow racism, sexism, or ignorance? God forbid!

    Abdul-Baha said what he said. Go reread it.

    The darkness of imitations is not religions in their modern form, it is accepting the beliefs of your parents and culture without first deeply examining the validity of those beliefs and attempting to change that which has been broken.

    What’s the difference? That’s fine to say in theory, but practically speaking, what we’re “blindly imitating” are the extra rituals and theology that were supposedly added to the original revelations.

    Let me ask you this: if a Muslim deeply examines the validity of the beliefs of his parents and culture, and he comes to the conclusion that Islam is true and the Baha’i Faith false, would you say he has escaped the darkness of imitations?

    The little phrase at the end, “and attempting to change that which has been broken,” shows your Baha’i bias.

    The Baha’i writings do not actually state that there is a difference between what religions teach now and what they originally did. Baha’u’llah actually says that the Bible is almost exactly the original. He says that the interpretations people have applied to it have changed, as we know historically is true.

    You just demonstrated my point. What you’re really saying is that the Bible is the sum total of Christian revelation (and the Baha’i interpretation of the Bible at that). That leaves the Baha’i free to condemn our celebration of the Mass (as the UHJ has done), or our belief in the Trinity (as Abdul-Baha did, if I remember correctly) while still claiming to promote the “true” Christian religion. All you have to do is slap that “interpretations” label on everything you disagree with. So you’re still doing what I said Baha’is do: claiming that the religions today are different from what they were originally.

    Now if you have ever had a Baha’i tell you that you should become a true Christian by becoming a Baha’i again I sincerely apologize, this is horrible.

    Now I’m really surprised. I haven’t had a Baha’i tell me that. I as a Baha’i told Christians that! (When they were receptive to the Baha’i message, of course.) And other Baha’is told Christians that. And we definitely all told each other that on a regular basis. Maybe I’m hallucinating, but I could swear I’ve seen that in Baha’i literature. Maybe it’d be horrible for a Baha’i to say that to a Christian, but I can’t imagine a Baha’i thinking that that statement is objectively false.

  8. Let me ask you this: if a Muslim deeply examines the validity of the beliefs of his parents and culture, and he comes to the conclusion that Islam is true and the Baha’i Faith false, would you say he has escaped the darkness of imitations?

    Yes, I would. He has made a decision based on reason and heart and approached God honestly in the way he is most comfortable. This is more important than religious names. The darkness of imitation is what nominal believers who believe their religion because they have never taken the time to hear anything else fall into.

    The little phrase at the end, “and attempting to change that which has been broken,” shows your Baha’i bias.

    No, if you examine your relgion and you feel there are problems with it which are not true to the original intent of the religion you should not practice those things. Again, if you come to a decision through reason and spirituality, it is the right decision for you. If you believe your religion is right, practice it. If you believe it is broken fix it. If you believe it is wrong, examine others. All these decisions are excaple from the darkness of imitation as long as YOU make them for yourself.

    You just demonstrated my point. What you’re really saying is that the Bible is the sum total of Christian revelation (and the Baha’i interpretation of the Bible at that). That leaves the Baha’i free to condemn our celebration of the Mass (as the UHJ has done), or our belief in the Trinity (as Abdul-Baha did, if I remember correctly) while still claiming to promote the “true” Christian religion. All you have to do is slap that “interpretations” label on everything you disagree with. So you’re still doing what I said Baha’is do: claiming that the religions today are different from what they were originally.
    Yes, I do claim the religons of today are different. Condemn is not the right word, we do not agree with is, but you are free to do so.

    Now I’m really surprised. I haven’t had a Baha’i tell me that. I as a Baha’i told Christians that! (When they were receptive to the Baha’i message, of course.) And other Baha’is told Christians that. And we definitely all told each other that on a regular basis. Maybe I’m hallucinating, but I could swear I’ve seen that in Baha’i literature. Maybe it’d be horrible for a Baha’i to say that to a Christian, but I can’t imagine a Baha’i thinking that that statement is objectively false.
    Yes, as a Baha’i I feel I am a true Christian, but do I feel that other Christians are not true Christians because they are not Baha’is, no. A Christian loves and follows Christ, I feel that I do this, and loving and following Baha’u’llah enriches this for me. I have many friends who love and follow Christ but not Baha’u’llah, that does not make them any less Christian, or any less devoted to Christ and thus God. Our scripture actually even says that a true follower of Christ is already the same as a true follower of Baha’u’llah. `Abdu’l Baha made it clear that following Christis not less than following Baha’u’llah.

    A student of the modern methods of the higher criticism asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá if he would do well to continue in the church with which he had been associated all his life, and whose language was full of meaning to him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “You must not dissociate yourself from it. Know this; 98 the Kingdom of God is not in any Society; some seekers go through many Societies as a traveller goes through many cities till he reach his destination. If you belong to a Society already do not forsake your brothers. You can be a Bahá’í-Christian, a Bahá’í-Freemason, a Bahá’í-Jew, a Bahá’í-Muḥammadán. The number nine contains eight, and seven, and all the other numbers, and does not deny any of them. Do not distress or deny anyone by saying ‘He is not a Bahá’í!’ He will be known by his deeds. There are no secrets among Bahá’ís; a Bahá’í does not hide anything.”

    A friend asked how the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh contrasted with the teachings of Jesus Christ. “The teachings are the same.” declared ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; “It is the same foundation and the same temple. Truth is one, and without division. The teachings of Jesus are in a concentrated form. Men do not agree to this day as to the meaning of many of His sayings. His teachings are as a flower in the bud. Today, the bud is unfolding into a 93 flower! Bahá’u’lláh has expanded and fulfilled the teachings, and has applied them in detail to the whole world.

    As He exhorted the people to do away with strife and discord, so I wish to explain to you the principal reason of the unrest among nations. The chief cause is the misrepresentation of religion by the religious leaders and teachers. They teach their followers to believe that their own form of religion is the only one pleasing to God, and that followers of any other persuasion are condemned by the All-Loving Father and deprived of His Mercy and Grace. Hence arise among 46 the peoples, disapproval, contempt, disputes and hatred. If these religious prejudices could be swept away, the nations would soon enjoy peace and concord.

  9. The darkness of imitation is what nominal believers who believe their religion because they have never taken the time to hear anything else fall into.

    Your take on the darkness of imitations is very similar to mine, and one that is consistent with Catholic teaching as I understand it.

    Yes, I do claim the religons of today are different. Condemn is not the right word, we do not agree with is, but you are free to do so.

    I appreciate your sentiment, but I do think condemn is the right word. Maybe not for you, but certainly for the Central Figures.

    The Baha’i Faith is not relativist, as I’m sure you’d agree – even though there are poorly-deepened Baha’is out there who are de facto relativists. The Baha’i Faith teaches that some doctrines and practices are right and some are wrong. Those that are wrong are not just wrong for some people. They’re wrong, period. Moreover, the tone the Central Figures and the Guardian take toward the practices of other religions is sometimes condemning, contemptuous and dismissive.

    Yes, as a Baha’i I feel I am a true Christian, but do I feel that other Christians are not true Christians because they are not Baha’is, no.

    Okay, I see what you mean now. Thank you for clarifying. And this is precisely how I felt when I was a Baha’i.

    Regarding your quotes of `Abdu’l-Baha:

    A student of the modern methods of the higher criticism asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá if he would do well to continue in the church with which he had been associated all his life, and whose language was full of meaning to him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “You must not dissociate yourself from it. Know this; the Kingdom of God is not in any Society; some seekers go through many Societies as a traveller goes through many cities till he reach his destination.

    This was true in `Abdu’l-Baha’s time, but would you say it has been true since the Guardianship? Granted a true seeker and true lover of God can be found in any religion, but it is no longer possible for someone to be both a Baha’i and member of a church or other religious organization. That’s grounds for losing one’s administrative rights.

    The second quote:

    A friend asked how the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh contrasted with the teachings of Jesus Christ. “The teachings are the same.” declared ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; “It is the same foundation and the same temple. Truth is one, and without division. The teachings of Jesus are in a concentrated form. Men do not agree to this day as to the meaning of many of His sayings. His teachings are as a flower in the bud. Today, the bud is unfolding into a flower! Bahá’u’lláh has expanded and fulfilled the teachings, and has applied them in detail to the whole world.

    This actually illustrates my point beautifully – the Baha’i Faith is better than Christianity because it encapsulates Jesus’ teachings in a more concentrated and clearer form. Yes, `Abdu’l-Baha regards the teachings of Christianity and the Baha’i Faith the same (presumably he means the spiritual teachings), but he still sets up a contrast where the Baha’i Faith is superior and present-day Christianity inferior.

    As He exhorted the people to do away with strife and discord, so I wish to explain to you the principal reason of the unrest among nations. The chief cause is the misrepresentation of religion by the religious leaders and teachers. They teach their followers to believe that their own form of religion is the only one pleasing to God, and that followers of any other persuasion are condemned by the All-Loving Father and deprived of His Mercy and Grace. Hence arise among the peoples, disapproval, contempt, disputes and hatred. If these religious prejudices could be swept away, the nations would soon enjoy peace and concord.

    This is prejudice, pure and simple. He generalizes that religious leaders and teachers are closed-minded and are enemies of peace. He also says that unrest among nations is caused primarily by religious leaders, which is ridiculous. How many of the major wars in the twentieth century were caused by, or even encouraged by, religious prejudice? The two greatest evils of the century, Nazism and communism, were avowedly anti-Christian and sought to replace the existing religions with a new human-centered idolatry.

    While this third quote does show that `Abdu’l-Baha wanted people to stop the divisions of the world caused by religious differences, he does so, for all practical purposes, by discrediting the other religions. So really he’s perpetuating the same sort of bias he’s claiming to be against. Who are these religious leaders and teachers he’s talking about? I don’t know the source of these quotes, but they were probably directed at a Christian audience. And I’ll bet dollars to donuts he’s speaking of the Christian priesthood (although naturally he wouldn’t have only meant them).

    In the Catholic/Orthodox faith, which is the oldest and largest form of Christianity, the priesthood is inseparable from the faith. A Christianity without the sacramental priesthood would be like the Baha’i Faith without the Covenant.

  10. I would say ‘yes’, the Baha’i Faith does consider itself to be superior to all other religions, as does every religion on the planet. That is why there is so much conflict regarding religion. Does not the Catholic Faith also state that it is the only true religion?

  11. How can you investigate reality, that’s what we have preachers for. They study in their theological semimaries what is reality, what we are or are not to believe according to the doctrines of whatever church you belong to. When you investigate for yourself, you may deviate into the theologies of a church that is not the one you are a member of. A Priest, preacher or rabbi will keep you within the doctrine of your beliefs. Independent Investigation of truth, you are in danger of deviating into a satanic path, the preachers must independently investigate truth and lead you to the truths preached in “your” church.

  12. The Catholic church is The Mother OF ALL Churches and the ONLY TRUE CHURCH.
    Where else can you sin and have a preacher who is causing his congregation to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for past abuses and molestations of alter boys and this preacher now has the spiritual power to forgive your sins. And the next day you can start all over again after you say some Hail Marys and Our Fathers.

  13. God is now dead, He (or She) has been replaced by Jesus. It is like when someone has a business that his son joins. The man eventually retires and the son takes over the business. This is what has happened with Christianity. The Father has retired and the Son now is in the business of saving souls, forgiving sins. (a catholic priest can also do this)
    Whereas in reality unknown or unrecognized by Christians is the fact that God is still the same God that existed before Jesus and will be the same God forever and ever with the Power to keep raising new prophets and messengers whenever the need arises for him/her to send new guidance to mankind. It actually is not the same as electing a new Pope!

  14. This is not what Catholicism teaches. It teaches that God is forgiving, and that human beings are fallible and are bound to make mistakes in their lives. Thus, when they do so, they may be forgiven and are asked to do certain disciplines to help them along the way to refrain from committing the same misdeeds over again. So, this idea that “you can start all over again after you say some Hail Marys and Our Fathers” is a complete distortion of what the religion is about that is mostly inspired by secularists who are bitterly opposed to all religious beliefs, and willfully distort their teachings to make it seem as hypocritical as possible. It’s not saying “go and do it again”.

  15. I think I have the source you’re looking for Fitz:

    “they will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of such laws and the application of such principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, while endeavoring to conduct and perfect the administrative affairs of their Faith, to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country’s constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.”
    (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 66)

    “The Administrative Order is not a governmental or civic body, it is to regulate and guide the internal affairs of the Bahá’í community;…”
    (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 23)

    “in the slow and hidden process of secularization invading many a government department under the courageous guidance of the Governors of outlying provinces — in all of these a discerning eye can easily discover the symptoms that augur well for a future that is sure to witness the formal and complete separation of Church and State.”
    (Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i Administration, p. 148)

    It doesn’t actually sound very theocratic, does it?

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