Oneness of shepherd, oneness of sheep

Continuing the theme begun in the last post, I’m responding to this quote from Shoghi Effendi, which represents a very common misconception among Baha’is:

Nowhere in the Gospels do we find any reference to the unity of nations or the unification of mankind as a whole. When Jesus spoke to those around Him, He addressed them primarily as individuals rather than as component parts of one universal, indivisible entity.

Rather than put together a lot of Bible quotes in one post, I’m posting a little bit at a time of passages from throughout the Bible. This post looks at the Gospel of John, chapters 10 and 11. I suggest you read them in their entirety – or better yet, read the entire Gospel. It won’t take that long, only a couple of hours. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

Done? Okay, let’s look at a few verses more closely, starting with chapter 10. This is the Good Shepherd discourse, where he says he is the shepherd and his sheep know his voice.

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Notice how he uses the metaphors of the flock and the sheepfold. Christians aren’t individual sheep. They are members of something larger – the universal flock. He doesn’t just save each sheep one by one. He gathers his sheep together.

Now look at chapter 11. Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead…

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to kill him.

Did you catch that last part? Jesus was going to gather into one the dispersed children of God.

‘Nuff said.

But just in case it isn’t, I’ll continue posting passages from the Bible on this theme. One cannot read a single verse in isolation. Just as the various passages of the Bible were written in a larger context, so must they be read in a larger context. When it comes to the New Testament, you can’t really appreciate it unless you have the Old Testament background. You also need the New Testament letters and apocalypse to get a contemporaneous context for what is being said in the Gospels. So this series of posts will look at the whole Bible, since that is the only way to correct Shoghi Effendi’s misinformation.

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One Response

  1. I have always respected (not always liked and wanted to be around, mind you) those Christians who are straight-shooters and would tell someone there is only one truth, and it’s Jesus, etc. I don’t agree with them, but I always admired their honesty because there is no fluff or prep-work (there may be some prep work in dabbling with the prospect’s psychology in an attempt to take away his identity, and show him the new glorious identity that involves Jesus in it….but that’s neither here nor there.)

    Religions or organizations that claim to embrace all religions have a much more difficult task at hand. They can’t just flat out and say to someone “No, this can’t be accepted as the truth”, so what happens is that some kind of interpretation has to be concocted in order for it to fit the world-view of the organization or religion. This is the dynamic I see with Baha’is and the Baha’i Faith (I love the Baha’i Faith and Baha’is, mind you.)

    So, you will often see this attempt (sometimes a very sad attempt) at trying to coerce all religious teachings to agree with each other and the organization or religion’s view points of well. But if they are talking to someone who really knows their own scriptures, what it usually all comes down to is something like this…. “Those scriptures were altered by people down through the ages, so we can not be sure that they are the actual words of (insert prophet/messiah’s name here.) Sometimes people will do this even after trying to come up with some elaborate interpretation to make it all fit. And if it can be dropped so quickly as useless, then the interpretation probably is useless without any substance.

    Or another one you might hear if the person doesn’t want to offend others by implying their scriptures aren’t really what was meant to be written is, “over time Dogma was introduced that did not reflect the original teachings of (insert prophet/messiah’s name here).” This is a little less controversial because it leaves the scriptures alone, but says they have been mis-interpreted. But here is the clincher. Here is why this logic ultimately fails itself….

    After saying all of this, then, the only end to all of this confusion can be…is….accepting the interpretations of this organization or religion as having the “true understandings” of whatever religion they are in dialog with. The people can either come to these “true understandings” on their own, or can be re-educated as to what their religion “really” teaches by people who don’t even follow them…..and THAT is why other religious people are in conflict with the Baha’i Faith. It’s not because they want to pick on Baha’is (well, some people do). Most of them are just trying to defend themselves against savvy sales pitches and the like from sincere-minded Baha’is.

    And I don’t want to pick on Baha’is, so I will say that I feel the same way about certain Christian evangelists who will use modern psychological tactics to strip away identity from their prospect, and essentially mold them into a “believer.”

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