You can visit my new homepage, True Freethinker, via this feed

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bahai Faith / Baha'i Faith : Physical Resurrection, Part 1 of 2

Please note that this post has been re-posted at its new home: True Freethinker


  1. Thank you, this is beautiful:

    " the spirit is an essence, simple, pure, spiritual, eternal, perpetual and divine. He who seeketh Christ from the point of view of His body hath, in truth, debased Him and hath gone astray from Him; but he who seeketh Christ from the point of view of His Spirit will grow from day to day in joy, attraction, zeal, proximity, perception and vision.”

    I have something similar on my blog, :

    “…the breezes of Christ are still blowing; His light is still shining; His melody is still resounding; His standard is still waving; His armies are still fighting; His heavenly voice is still sweetly melodious; His clouds are still showering gems; His lightning is still flashing; His reflection is still clear and brilliant; His splendor is still radiating and luminous; and it is the same with those souls who are under His protection and are shining with His light.
    (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, pp. 152-3)

  2. You are assuming that every work of the Bible is true. But there are inconsistencies in the Bible. For example Matthew has Jesus riding into Jerusalem on two animals simultaneously with a blanket thrown over both while Mark and Luke have him riding on a single animal. The reason Matthew depicts Jesus in this rather strange situation is that the writers of Matthew were conforming to an Old Testament prophecy which when read literally would make it necessary for Jesus to ride two animals. But scholars have interpreted the reference to the second animal as merely a poetic reference to the first. Next, the belief that Jesus rose physically invalidates Jesus's own statement that that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. It is believers in Jesus's physical reserecction that are distorting Jesus's clear teaching about the relative values of the body and the spirit. Next, Mark ends with the woman fleeing from the empty tomb. Clearly the writers of Mark (which was written about 60 years after Jesus's death) where still waiting for Him to appear.

  3. Sen McGlinn;
    Thanks for the comment and the quote.

    I am not sure if I would refer to `Abdu'l-Bahá’s intolerance in referring to Christian as debasing Jesus and having gone astray from Him as beautiful but I understand that the Bahá'í are a very exclusivist religion.

    Yes, this is a Christian apologetics blog and thus, I presuppose the Bible’s accuracy.

    If you do not mind I would ask that you rewrite your comment and include citations so that our discourse may be eased.

    Finally, considering the various texts that I have cited and the many more to come in part 2 I think that you will see that your application of that which is born of the flesh is flesh is faulty.


  4. Here are the Matthew verses relating to the entry into Jerusalem:

    Matthew 21:6-8 (New International Reader's Version)

    6 The disciples went and did what Jesus told them to do. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt. They placed their coats on them. Then Jesus sat on the coats. 8 A very large crowd spread their coats on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road

    Here are the Mark verses:

    Mark 11
    Jesus Enters Jerusalem
    1 As they all approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent out two of his disciples. 2 He said to them, "Go to the village ahead of you. Just as you enter it, you will find a donkey's colt tied there. No one has ever ridden it. Untie it and bring it here. 3 Someone may ask you, 'Why are you doing this?' If so, say, 'The Lord needs it. But he will send it back here soon.' "
    4 So they left. They found a colt out in the street. It was tied at a doorway. They untied it. 5 Some people standing there asked, "What are you doing? Why are you untying that colt?" 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to. So the people let them go.

    7 They brought the colt to Jesus. They threw their coats over it. Then he sat on it.

    Here is the Luke verse:

    Luke 19:35 (New International Reader's Version)

    35 Then the disciples brought the colt to Jesus. They threw their coats on the young donkey and put Jesus on it.

    So clearly here is an inconsistency. And what is interesting about this is that it is also clear from the Matthew version that the writers of Matthew are shaping the story to conform to an Old Testament prophecy. So this clearly shows us how the early Christian community is not only recording the events of Jesus's life but also building a doctrinal version of His life on which to base the church. Of course I am not accusing them of deliberatly falsifying the record. But this shows how interpretation gets intermingled with inspiration to create a distorted picture. I will continue to follow this post but would like to hear from you what Christ meant by His clear distinction between flesh and spirit.

  5. Marty;
    Thanks so much for providing the citations (and quotations, for that matter).

    While I understand your concerns I think that this is simply a case of succinct focus.
    For example, one sport caster’s account of the previous night’s basketball game may state,
    “X got the ball away from the opposite team, passed it to Y who took it down the court and slammed it.”
    Another sport caster may state,
    “Y got the ball, took it down the court and slammed it.”
    These are not contradictions or interwoven interpretations but merely different ways to tell the same event. While two people were involved, the second version is succinct and focuses on the one who makes the story meaningful—since the point is who put the ball into the hoop for a point.

    Interestingly, the Matthew text does not state upon which animal Jesus sat. It states that they brought a donkey and colt, that they placed their coats on “them,” (actually he, she, it) and that Jesus sat on the “coats.” Maybe the colt and donkey were side to side, Jesus had very wide legs and startled them both :o)
    So we are told that there are two animals and that Jesus sat on coat that were put on them, but which one did He ride upon? We do not know.

    Or don’t we? Mark and Luke tell us.

    Mark states that they brought the colt to Jesus and that He sat on it and Luke states that they brought the colt to Jesus and that they put Jesus on it.
    Thus, they are not recording the superfluous enumeration of animals but are specifically and succinctly telling us upon which Jesus sat thus, they only mention the relevant one.

    As to what Christ meant by His clear distinction between flesh and spirit:
    Firstly, let us note that this has nothing to do with the resurrection.
    Jesus tells Nicodemus that unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    Nicodemus appears to think that Jesus is referring to being physically born once again, stating, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
    Then Jesus references being “born of water and the Spirit” which a ruler of the Jews, such as Nicodemus would have understood as a reference to Ezekiel 36:25 (Ezekiel had referenced a new covenant to come in chapter 31),

    “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all you idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances or my commandments.”

    Thus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The dichotomy is between merely being born, as all people are, and being born again spiritually. It is about the fleshly heart of stone vs. a heart of flesh. It is about cleansing with water, cleansing from filthiness and from idols. It is about a new heart and a new spirit. This is about Jesus explaining that He came to fulfill prophecy and bring about this newness.

    Note that this is referenced later on such as in Titus 3:5, “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Also, recall John 4:10, 14 where Jesus tells the Samaritan woman,
    “‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water’…Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”


  6. Thanks for the reply Mariano. I'm not satisfied however with what you say about the Matthew verses. Hear are the preceding verses:

    4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
    5"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
    'See, your king comes to you,
    gentle and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' "[a]

    The writer of Matthew is answering objections from Jews by showing that Jesus fulfilled this Old Testament prophecy? And this is perfectly legitamite (sp). However it is only legitamite (sp) if you hold the view that part of the Bible is inspiration and part is interpretation. And interpretation is the use of reason on the part of the writer. And human reason, unlike divine inspiration, is fallible.

    Now another point that I brought up previously. Here is Mark 16 up to verse 8:

    Mark 16
    The Resurrection
    1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
    4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

    6"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

    8Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

    ((The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.))

    Mark is believed by scholars to be the earliest of the gospels and is used as a source by both Matthew and Luke (the synoptic gospels.) Mark was written about 60 years or so after Christ's death. Yet it ends with the women fleeing the empty tomb. It is beyond believable that if Christ had appeared not only to the disciples but to 500 witnesses that Mark would not have mentioned that fact. I have a theory about the bodily appearance of Christ that Mark doesn't have but the others do but I want to hear your reponse to what I've said so far since there are several points to address.

  7. Marty;

    I hope that you do not mind but I am not certain that we should move on before I understand why you see a problem where, as I thought I demonstrated, there is none.

    Also, we are due to have a baby any day now so if I do not get back to you for a few days, at least, it is because I am focusing on the family.


  8. Ok I will respond to your sportscaster example. Are you really comparing the composition of the New Testament to the inaccuracies that are found in differing accounts of a sporting event by sportscasters?? Then how can you contend that the Bible is accurate? I would also like you to clarify what you mean by accurate. My brother believes that the Bible is inerrant. That every word is inspired by God directly. This is perhaps the most extreme view that can be taken of it. It is clear that in Mark's account the disciples fetch one animal and in Matthew's they fetch two animals. When I pointed this out to my brother he just invented an addition to the story to make them jibe in his mind. My brother is doing what I believe many have done to account for inconsistencies in the Bible including the earliest believers who, because they believe, are able to recouncil things that Christ intentionally left unclear. This is from John 16:
    12"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

    So I guess I'm confused by your attiude to the Bible. Is it inerrant in your opinion? But where does this belief come from? Not the Bible since it doesn't refer to itself.

  9. By the way congratulations and best wishes on your baby. Hope everything goes smoothly.

  10. Marty;
    Good to hear (or, read) from you again.
    I must apologize for my brevity but my wife just had a baby yesterday.

    If I were to read that “Y got the ball, took it down the court and slammed it” I would conclude that Y was solely responsible for the point.
    However, if I read elsewhere that “X got the ball away from the opposite team, passed it to Y who took it down the court and slammed it” I would not conclude that the first account was false but only succinct.

    At first I would have thought that only one player was involved but would subsequently ascertain that it was two. This would not be a contradiction as the first account did not state “Y got the ball all by herself, took it down the court all by herself and slammed it all by herself without any assistance of any other player anywhere alone the way.”

    If we only had Mark and Luke to go by surely we would conclude that there was only one animal involved.

    Yet, upon reading Matthew we learn that there were two. It is perfectly legitimate for Mark and Luke to mention one since they tell us upon which one Jesus sat which Matthew did not, as elucidated earlier.

    Mark and Luke do not say “One and only one.” You are forcing them to say what they are not saying.
    This is not the invention of an addition to the story, not done to account for inconsistencies, etc.


  11. Just a quick addition Mariano. 1 Corinthians 15:44 and 50:

    1 Corinthians 15:44 (New International Version)
    44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
    If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

    1 Corinthians 15:50 (New International Version)

    50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

    Actually most of chapter 15 is very good reading. I have to confess that I haven't read Paul's epsistles before now. I am finding treasures.


  12. Thanks for checking in again, although I am not sure that I get your drift.


  13. My drift is that in reading through Paul's epistles I have yet to find anything which indicates he believed Christ rose physically from the dead rather than spiritually. In fact those two quotes from 1 Corinthians clearly state the opposite. Also in the quotation from Paul that you quoted (1 Corinthians 2-6) if you add verses 7 and 8 you get a new insight:

    7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

    Note that he equates Jesus's appearance to the apostles to Jesus's appearance to himself. But that appearance was clearly a spiritual appearance. Unless I find something to contradict what I'm saying it seems to me clear that Paul believed in a spiritual rather than a physical resurrection. And the importance of Paul's belief on this is that his epistles are the earliest Christian records we have.

  14. Marty;

    Thanks for the elucidation.

    I hope that you do not mind that I mention that I would be wary if upon my very first reading of a text I thought that I have surpassed, or undone, two millennia of scholarship :o)

    I say that in a lighthearted manner and yet, in order to honestly offer you the caution of slowing down a bit. Believe me, I very much appreciate your honest skepticism (the sort recommended in the Bible).

    Also, I hope that you do not mind but I realized that I ended up writing enough, in response to you, that I might as well make it into a new post. Note that I, generically, interweaved your statement into that post so as to respond directly while not, as it where, calling you out or any such thing.

    The post will be entitled “Flesh and Blood or Spirit? On the Resurrection: the Natural Body and the Spiritual Body.”


  15. Ok. I look forward to the new posting.

  16. Perhaps a valuable resource:


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.