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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Flesh and Blood or Spirit? On the Resurrection: the Natural Body and the Spiritual Body

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

18 comments:

  1. Marty4:14 PM

    Wow Mariano! I call that some fancy footwork. You lay great emphasis on the word body and the fact that the metaphors he used are about physical things. But what else could he use as a metaphor but a physical thing? That's why we use metaphors in describing spiritual reality, because spiritual reality is not describable otherwise!! Here is my assessment of what happened at the resurrection of Christ. Christ definitely did appear to the apostles, almost certainly to Peter first. The affect of these appearances was electrifying to the apostles and transformed them spiritually. Christ had fulfilled his promise and had arisen on the third day. This belief is obviously from the very beginning of Christianity and acted as the catalyst to the spread of Christ's message. When the apostles began spreading the word that Christ had arisen the Jews may have objected that if so where was his empty tomb? The apostles knew that the resurrection was spiritual and not physical (as 1 Cor 15 clearly reads but I won't argue that with you and will let anyone else who reads it decide for themselves) and this objection of the Jews didn't concern them since they were bringing a new message from God and not just confirming the Jews preconceptions (for example they also had no answer for the Jews objection that the Messiah would deliver them from their oppressors.) But over time later Christians were bothered by this question and so the writers of the Gospels attempted to answer it by introducing the empty tomb into resurrection accounts. Note that these accounts were all written after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE and also after the original apostles had died. Which means their accounts were acts of faith rather than accounts of eyewitnesses.

    Finally I would like to quote the following verse:
    Matthew 28:19 - 'Go ye therefore, and teach all
    nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.'
    If the risen Christ had actually spoken these words, why doesn't Paul mention this clear baptismal formula anywhere in his epistles. In Galatians
    3:27 he merely mentions being baptized in
    Christ. It simply cannot be that such a clear
    formula on the part of the risen Christ would
    not even be mentioned by Paul! But it is also
    clearly a doctrinal formulation that came
    considerably latter than the time of Christ.
    This is just to say that the resurrection accounts cannot be relied on as literal eyewitness accounts of what actually happened that first Easter.

    Martin Bebow

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  2. Thanks for checking back and for your comments.

    I did not lay great emphasis on the body/body comparison—Paul did.

    I think that you are missing the point that he is very clearly comparing body with body.

    I hope that you do not mind a pointed statement as the following is not meant to be an ad hominem but a dissection of a thought process. I do not simply assume that you are not erudite enough to handle the issue fairly. This is a message urging you to please slow down and reconsider carefully:

    Upon your very first reading of Paul’s epistles, and I suspect that you may have had your mind made up already, you topple 2,000 years worth of scholarship. And I would further imagine that this was done without consulting any of that scholarship: no commentary/interpretation, nor any lexicon, nor any concordance, nor any cultural/historical context, nor any greater grammatical/textual context.

    For examples, from cultural/historical context you would know that the idea that the “Messiah would deliver them from their oppressors” was an option (perhaps preferred whilst under Roman rule) yet, the Rabbinic literature is clear that one Messiah could comes twice (once to suffer and die and once to conquer and rule) or that two Messiah’s could come one after the other (one to suffer and die and the other to conquer and rule—I will be posting on Judaism and Christianity later this year).

    You disregard the very many texts to which I pointed which make the physical resurrection extremely clear. And yet you disregard these because you have invent a history without any evidence whatsoever, no ancient histories, nor manuscripts, but merely a “Here is my assessment of what happened” and now this assessment is more authoritative than the neglected 2,000 worth of scholarship.

    You reference 1st Corinthians 15 which states:

    Christ died…
    He was buried…
    He rose again…
    He was seen…
    He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present
    [this means: go ask them]…
    He was seen…
    He was seen…
    He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
    But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
    And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
    Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise.
    For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.
    And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
    Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
    If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
    But now Christ is risen from the dead…
    If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”…
    But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?”
    Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies…
    All flesh is not the same flesh…


    From here he goes on to describe what I elucidated in the post above.

    Yet, this is irrelevant because you want to say that the text is not stating and you declared that you do not want to discuss it, a sure sign of a problematic doctrine—you have, in fact, created your very own dogma.

    Lastly, having invented theology and history without historical or textual evidence, you do something that is sadly typical of various groups: eisegesis/isogesis. You are now taking your preconceived notions and reading them back into the text. You are, pardon the term but, desperately searching for the tiniest little crumb upon which to form your loaf. You are inventing an entire scenario including conspiratorial rewritings of history by false witnesses.

    I could just as easily reverse your history and invent my own:

    “The apostles saw Jesus physically resurrected. But then, much, much later Paul, who was, after all, the apostle to the Gentiles, found it hard to get the Gentiles to swallow a physically resurrected since they were steeped in Greek philosophy and Gnostic body/spirit dualism so he changed the story to it having been a spirit resurrection” (7th Concoction 4:15½).

    We could invent whatever we want—un-viably.

    I think that you will actually find that the accounts were all written before the destruction of Jerusalem which is why the New Testament does not mention it—tantamount to an author writing a history of New York for the year 2001 not bothering to mention 9/11.

    Yet, since you invented a conspiratorial history you can explain this away by claiming that they did not mention it because they were deceivers and wanted to make it appear as if they had written it before 70 AD.

    And this is indicative of the black hole of conspiracy theorizing—anything can be fitted into the theory, no matter how damaging to the original conspiracy since anything can be co-opted as part of the theory, the greater conspiracy, it only grows with every refuting objection, it only gets deeper.

    For instance, the, I suppose, proof for your invented theology/history amounts to one point about baptismal formulas—this does not suffice to substantiate the rewriting of theology/history. And I would further caution you to not think: well, I a pleased with my theology/history so I will further read my preconceived notions in to the Bible to the point that you then ask, “How about this…and this…and this…” but are merely asking others to substantiate your new theology/history.

    As to the, as you have chosen to term it, baptismal “formula” you would know from cultural/historical context that oral tradition was not about reproducing word one followed by word two followed by word three…

    It was meant to put forth the thought/concept (even while allowing that the audience could offer corrections for the sake of accuracy and accountability).

    But what of Galatians 3:27?

    Paul is not baptizing anyone, nor preaching about baptism, nor reciting any formulaic statements.

    You will notice from the context why he singles out Jesus in relation to baptism:

    “…the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe…the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith…For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

    Thus, he is again and again emphasizing Jesus and so it follows that this emphasis would continue to the very next verse “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ…you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

    Baptized into Christ due to the contextual emphasis on Christ and due to the fact that in the New Testament baptism is likened to Jesus being buried and raised from the dead.

    Again, we could make much of this and perhaps even start our own church:

    “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”—does that mean that when you baptize someone you say “I baptize you in the ‘name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost’”?

    Or do you say the actual name?

    Sure, why not?: Jesus was saying that we were to pronounce the, according to cultural/historical context, unpronounced, actual name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

    So when you are baptizing someone you say, “I baptize you in…”

    Oh, oh! Do I say “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “YHWH” or “LORD” or “Adonai” or “El” or “Emet” or ___________ (fill in the blank).

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  3. Marty4:08 PM

    Mariano I have been researching the scholarship that has been done on this issue. There is a great deal of disagreement in the scholarly research that has been done since the 19th century about the reserrection and specifically relating to 1 Cor 15. It's true that I just started looking into it after reading Paul and what I've read confirms that others have made the same points that I am making. I put great importance on Paul's letters because the are the first record we have of Christian beliefs and he goes into a great deal of detail on various issues. I'm not happy with my previous post. I think it was rushed and overlooked maybe the most important point (IMHO) This is that you will not find the Gospel resurrection accounts reflected in his letters. You may be right that those accounts do not repeat word for word what actually took place but I believe that for the most part the early Christian community did a good job of collecting what Jesus acutally said. So certainly if Jesus actually and physically appeared to the disciples and spoke the things that they report that he spoke, WHY doesn't Paul mention ANYTHING that Jesus said after His resurrection?? WHY doesn't Paul mention an empty tomb?? If the empty tomb was so important to the Christian story why doesn't Paul even mention it??

    I would also like to respond to your accusation of following my preconcieved notions. First, I've just been following the thread that is there for anyone to follow. I had no idea I would find Paul saying that flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. I just wanted to see if he affirms anywhere that the resurrection (which we both agree occurred) was a physical one. I couldn't find that anywhere (just saying Christ has risen does not imply that He rose physically any more than his saying that he was buried and then rose implies that there is an empty tomb - this was an argument made in the research I did.) But all my responses have not been my own thinking but stem from my beliefs as a Baha'i. My only reason for responding to your post was that you were attacking something Abdul Baha said and as a Baha'i I have a right to defend my beliefs. But Bahais do not go around attacking others beliefs. We state our beliefs and let others decide for themselves.

    Finally I would like to make a counterargument to your assertion that Paul saw the physical body of Christ on the way to Damascus. In the account it says there was a light and he heard a voice. It further says that the men who were with him heard of voice but saw no man. Then Paul lost his sight. The way to distinguish a spiritual appearance is that different people will experience it in different ways depending on their spiritual development. It seems clear from this account that Paul and his companions had different experiences of this event which would indicate a spiritual vision.

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  4. Marty;
    Great to hear (or, read) from you again.

    I must say that when I read the words “accusation” and worse yet, “attacking,” in your comment I hoped that I had not come across unduly harsh or dismissive. It is hard to gauge emotion via letters on a screen, for us both, but be assured that my intent is not to accuse or attack (in a derogatory sense). I was stating an “estimation” shall we say.
    That I disagree does not mean that I am attacking. I, and the overwhelming majority of Christian all over the planet for the past 2,000 years, believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus. You say that “Bahais do not go around attacking others beliefs” but by denying the physical resurrection Baha'is are doing just that by telling us that we are wrong and Baha'is are right—and yet, I do not consider this an “attack.”
    The Baha'i Faith invites an independent investigation of their claims. I have conducted an independent investigation and find that, for example in this case, their claims are not correct. If I report that the results of my investigation are disagreement with Baha'ism and I am then said to be on the “attack” I would question the sincerity of the invitation to conduct an independent investigation.

    Now, I must carefully point out that, as it turns out, I may have been right after all. I understand that you are studying the subject now but: since you are a Baha'i (which I did not know before) you have already been told that you must believe in the spirit/non-physical resurrection of Jesus. You cannot disagree with this and remain a faithful Baha'i. Thus, you did come to the texts with not only preconceived notions but with the force of authority of your faith telling you that there is one infallible interpretation and that you cannot disagree with it—“something Abdul Baha said.” The only way that you could come to a different conclusion is if you are willing to become a covenant breaker. In other words, even while you are reading and studying you know that you may be excommunicated if you come to an alternate conclusion.

    Now, I wish to note something: the Bible is the word of God and while you may not think that I am understanding it correctly I assure you that I am not out to do fancy footwork in order to make something say what it is not saying—I take this very seriously and am honestly only attempting to help us both gain a better understanding.

    It seems to me that you are now going about to solidify the Baha'i interpretation by asking questions like the ones I will review below and suggesting that the only answer is that the Baha'i interpretation is correct.

    Now, to your points:
    WHY doesn't Paul mention ANYTHING that Jesus said after His resurrection??
    If Jesus resurrected as a spirit why doesn’t Paul mention anything that Jesus said?
    You will note that Paul is, almost exclusively, writing his epistles to answer questions from the various churches and was therefore, not providing a history of Jesus not collecting sayings but was dealing with the minutiae of church life and community. Moreover, Paul traveled with Luke and would know that Luke was writing the history and sayings. Overall, it is noteworthy that Paul did not know the pre-resurrection Jesus he did not spend three years in His company walking and talking with Him as the other apostles did.
    Yet, we may note that Paul wrote,
    “Concerning this thing [“a thorn in the flesh”] I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2nd Corinthians 12:8-9).
    And,
    “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-21).

    WHY doesn't Paul mention an empty tomb…why doesn't Paul even mention it??...saying Christ has risen does not imply that He rose physically any more than his saying that he was buried and then rose implies that there is an empty tomb
    As you continue your studies you will come to find that claiming that Paul saying that He was buried and then rose does not imply an empty tomb is like saying that when a Baha'i states that Jesus rose a spirit they mean that He rose physically. This is where both textual/grammatical as well as historical/cultural context come into play.
    At the time there were two major divisions amongst the Jews: Pharisees and Sadducees. One of the main differences between the two is that the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and the Sadducees did not.
    Paul was a Pharisee and so for him to say that Jesus was buried and then rose most certainly implies that he was very clearly professing a physical resurrection and therefore an empty tomb.

    In fact, you will note that when Paul was brought before the chief priests and all his council,
    “Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!’ And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both” (Acts 23:6-8).

    your assertion that Paul saw the physical body of Christ on the way to Damascus
    While I did assert that Paul saw a physical body I also made it clear that the account was not detailed enough to come to a direct conclusion either way and so I alluded to the fact that he “could not see” (Acts 22:11) that “when his eyes were opened he saw no one” (Acts 9:8) and yet that Paul stated that Jesus “was seen by me” and Jesus stated that He appeared to Paul (“I have appeared to you” Acts 26:16). I also correlated this appearance to the transfiguration where Jesus was physically present (see Matthew 17; Mark 9 and Luke 9).
    I would be perfectly willing to affirm that Paul saw a vision of some sort. Now, at this point you have stated that since Paul likens the apostles’ seeing Jesus after the resurrection to his own they all must have seen a mere vision or seen a spirit. However, this does not necessarily follow: there is no reason to logically conclude that Paul’s purpose was to make a one to one correlation between the apostles manner of seeing and his own and if there is then Paul saw Jesus physically as it is exceedingly clear that the apostles did so. You may say, “I saw generic actress on a California sidewalk” and I could say “I saw her too, in a movie.” Or I may say, “I saw my son’s soccer game the other day” and you may say, “I know that he is on a team I saw a team photo.”

    Also, and this is very, very important in considering the greater context and historical/cultural context there were other resurrections recorded in the Bible and they are all physical. Paul himself raised a young man from the dead and there is no indication at all that he discerned a difference.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  5. Marty4:48 PM

    I was again not happy with my use of the word attack. What I was trying to say is that Bahais do not intentionally draw attention to the differences in their beliefs with the beliefs of others. We simply state our beliefs and answer any questions that may arise. The point is that you wrote a blog that drew attention to something Abdul Baha said over 100 years ago to a Baha'i of Christian background who was asking Him to explain certain Christian beliefs from a Baha'i perspective. There was no reason for you to do this. You have your beliefs and we have ours. People who are interested can decide for themselves. So when you created this post I was alerted to it by a Google alert on the key word baha which brings up any item relating to the Baha'i faith. Since you were saying that Abdul Baha was wrong I needed to respond to the best of my ability. So in as sense you were attacking since no Baha'i put out a post saying Christians were wrong in believing in a physical resurrection.

    Having said that I would like to go back to a previous response of yours when I mentioned Christ's saying that that which is born of flesh is flesh etc. There are many unresolved issues in our continuing correspondence so I would like to pick what is for me the most compelling argument as I see it right now. You say the Paul is a Pharisee and that Pharisees believe in the Resurrection of the dead. I said previously that Christ had not come to confirm Jewish preconceptions. A good example of this is Christ's exchange with Nicodemus as follows:

    1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
    3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]"

    4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"

    5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit.

    So Nicodemus was also a Pharisee and he also had notions that seemed to mix flesh and spirit. It seems clear to me here that Christ is trying to lead Nicodemus away from this confusion and tells him clearly that he must distinguish between flesh and spirit. So it really doesn't matter what the Jews believed. It only matters what Christ believed.

    As to what Christ believed we have the following:

    Matthew 22:30 (New International Version)
    30At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

    Now if, as you claim, the body is resurrected (I assume you also believe your body will be resurrected at the Day of Judgement?) what do you think Christ meant by this? Surely the angels were never believed to have bodies? Also if we never marry in heaven will our bodies (excuse this question but it is to the point) have sexual organs? One of my beliefs about heaven is that I will finally be relieved of that particular burden.

    It isn't hard to imagine what life would be like without a body. Just think of a particularily vivid dream. We have no bodies in dreams but we do have consciousness. The founder of the Baha'i Faith (Baha'u'llah) says that the world of dreams is another world we go to when we are released from our bodies. Dreams are only confusing because we are still so attached to our bodies that when we wake this attachment acts as a veil.

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  6. Marty,
    Thanks again for the continued discussion and for being considerate enough to even reconsider previous statements it is a testament to your character.

    I am afraid that perhaps as an insider you are not considering certain things that are as clear as day to outsiders. For example, you may think that “Bahais do not intentionally draw attention to the differences in their beliefs with the beliefs of others.” But of course, the whole purpose of the Baha'i Faith is to let everyone know that they are not understanding their own religions and holy books correctly since only Baha'u'llah and subsequent Baha'i leadership truly understand them since they all point to Baha'u'llah. Thus, the Baha'i Faith is premised upon drawing attention to the differences in their beliefs with the beliefs of others and to proclaim certain religious practices heretical and that that those who do not accept Baha'u'llah/Baha'ism are not saved.

    Regardless of when and why Abdul Baha openly sought to refute traditional, orthodox, biblical Christian doctrine—the fact is that the Bab, Baha'u'llah, Abdul Baha, Shoghi Effendi, the UHJ and individual Baha'i authors have all, with one voice, refuted this essential Christian doctrine consistently. Thus, you are right to state, “no Baha'i put out a post saying Christians were wrong in believing in a physical resurrection.” Although, I jest to a certain extent as I am not convinced that you know what every Baha'i has written and I am sure that it would take us mere search-engine-seconds to find such a post by a Baha'i. But, if I were to grant this statements I would say, “True enough, no miscellaneous, anonymous, random Baha'i guy who just happens to have a blog made such statements but the infallible leaders of the Baha'i Faith have made saying that Christians were wrong in believing in a physical resurrection part of the official dogmas of the Baha'i Faith.”
    Now, note that my faith, my religion, my God, my holy book states that I should: accept no other gospel, to always be ready with an answer, to test all things, to point out false teachers by name, to refute arguments, etc. Thus, when you tell me that there was no reason for me to post a refutation I hear that I am being asked to not practice the dictates of my faith, my religion, my God, my holy book. Moreover, as aforementioned; the Baha'i Faith invites an independent investigation and I posted the results of my investigation of this and other issues.

    I must take a moment to state that I do not believe that the Baha'i rejection of the physical resurrection has anything to do with a consideration of any text(s) but it is due to the fact that admitting a physical resurrection would cause problems to the claim that Baha'u'llah is the return of Christ.
    Likewise, I believe that denying that Christ had came to confirm Jewish preconceptions is stated as to explain, or explain away by correlation, why Baha'u'llah did not fulfill Christians preconceptions or just conceptions.
    I will grant you that if by “Jewish” we mean something that the Jews believed at the time that was not biblical you may have a point but there is hardly aspect of Jesus’ life that I could not find expected in authoritative Rabbinic writings when they speculate about the Messiah. This is true even of authoritative Rabbinic writings that were penned after the time of Jesus which is even more astonishing as they would have been careful not to liken their expectations to His life.

    But fine, what about Christ’s exchange with Nicodemus? Let us primarily note that this has nothing to do with the resurrection.

    Here I agree that Jesus tells him that “he must distinguish between flesh and spirit” but not because he “seemed to mix flesh and spirit.” He did not mix them since he actually only considering the flesh. This is why when Jesus tells Him about being born again his question is strictly fleshly, “…enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!” just like the first time. So he was being told that the birth of which Jesus spoke was a spiritual rebirth, “Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Again, nothing to do with the resurrection.

    Now, to something that I attempted to warn you about previously: going too fast and seeking only the bits and pieces of texts in which you think that you can justify your notions.
    “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”
    You reason that since angels are not physical, we will not be physical.
    But there is simply no reason to speculate about what the text is referring to or about what the purpose of the correlation is—it has nothing to do with whether the resurrection is physical or spirit.
    The Sadducees where challenging Jesus about the resurrection by bringing up some tall tale about a woman who was widowed many times over and so they ask to whom she will be married in heaven—this is the context: not physicality or spirit per se but resurrection in general and marriage in particular.
    Thus, Jesus answer is not about physicality or spirit per se but resurrection in general and marriage in particular.
    Since “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage” it is in this way and this way alone that “they will be like the angels in heaven.” Thus, their question about the widow is fallacious.

    But again I point out that we could have fun with this one also (if we disregard context): angels are not physical but clearly do, on occasion and temporarily, take on physical form so in heaven we will be spirit and occasionally and temporarily take on physical form.

    As to sexual organs I know of not text which is that, shall we say, specific.

    I do not want to get into a discussion about the dream state, of which I have virtually no opinion, but I can relate that I had at least one dream in which I was pinched and felt it.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  7. Marty3:42 PM

    Well Mariano I think we've gone about as far as it makes any sense to go. I'm comfortable with what I've said about this issue and will let any reasonable person follow our exchanges and decide for themselves. You did say something that I would like to follow up on though:

    Thus, the Baha'i Faith is premised upon drawing attention to the differences in their beliefs with the beliefs of others and to proclaim certain religious practices heretical and that that those who do not accept Baha'u'llah/Baha'ism are not saved.


    Bahais are not taught to bring attention to the differences in their beliefs with other religions beliefs. Just the opposite. We are a religion of unity and we are taught that all the major world religions are from God. For a Baha'i to deliberately bring attention to some difference in dogma would be to violate the spirit of the Baha'i Faith. As I said we are taught to teach our religion with wisdom and moderation. Also the individual investigation of truth is another fundamental teaching of the faith. Reason and argumentation can only go so far in discussing religious truth. In the end it comes down to what a given person believes. As an example, I was brough up a Catholic (when the mass was still in Latin.) When I finished high school I started reading the New Testament for the first time (Catholics were not encourged to read the Bible at that time) and I soon left the Catholic Church because I couldn't accept the doctrine of the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. I wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit which led me to a poster at my college that had a bird like the Holy Spirit with an invitation to a presentation of the Baha'i Faith. I went and was very impressed by the woman who gave the presentation. I started going to the meetings of the college Baha'i club but couldn't convert because of my belief that Christ was God and the only Way to God. Even though I was very impressed by the writings of Baha'u'llah I couldn't get over that obstacle. But finally I said to myself that if Baha'u'llah wasn't from God then neither was Christ and I became a Baha'i. So that is the story of one individuals private search for truth. I'm not saying you have to become a Baha'i. I will say that unless we (the people of the world) stop seeing each other as strangers we are in for a very bad period ahead. Take care.

    Marty

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  8. Marty,
    While I am saddened to see you go, sort to speak, I must follow up and hope that it does not seem like a “get the last word” game.

    The way that you describe the Baha'i Faith is very accurate in that there are two levels of the Baha'i Faith: surface and deep.

    You are describing the surface level, the public image level, the appeal to tolerance level and, I certainly do not know, but perhaps the level at which you are stuck.

    Moreover, in my writings I am describing the Baha'i Faith while you are describing how you are taught. Yes, I know that you are taught the surface level and I also know just how appealing it is. Yet, having conducted an independent investigation I have carefully considered both levels.

    For example, I note that you did not respond at all to my comments that the Baha'i Faith proclaim certain religious practices heretical and that that those who do not accept Baha'u'llah/Baha'ism are not saved. Certainly, you are not saying that I have to become a Baha'i but you know that Baha'ism claims that if I do not become a Baha'i then I cannot be saved—in which case you should be saying that I have to become a Baha'i.

    It is a surface level understanding of Baha'ism to state that “we are not taught to bring attention to the differences” because “all the major world religions are from God.” The fact is that Baha'ism does teach that “all the major world religions are from God” but that—what? But that they have all been fulfilled, are null and void, and the very fact that Baha'u'llah came meant that they had become corrupted (this is the reason why a manifestation comes).

    Thus, Baha'ism teaches that the differences are in style not substance (or ceremony versus actual theology) which is clearly fallacious but even granting this—the Baha'i understanding is that only Baha'ism has the one true understanding, infallible interpretation, of the holy books of the world and that they are the only one true religion to the point that one major Baha'i goal is to establish Baha'ism as the one and only religion for the whole world.

    If “all the major world religions are from God” and that was the end of it; then why seek to establish Baha'ism as the one and only one? Why seek to establish what Baha'u'llah referred to as “a new world order”?

    Also, note carefully a logical, and theological, point:

    I affirm the physical resurrection.
    Christianity affirms the physical resurrection.

    You deny the physical resurrection.
    Baha'ism denies the physical resurrection.

    You have been diligently attempting to persuade ms and my readership that you are right and I am wrong, you are deliberately bringing attention to some difference in dogma and are in violation of the spirit of the Baha'i Faith.

    Yes, I understand that you will “let any reasonable person follow our exchanges and decide for themselves” (as if we could do anything but “let”) but the point being that you and Baha'ism bring attention to some difference in dogma.
    Why would Baha'u'llah write to the Pope but to bringing attention to some difference in dogma between them?
    Why would you reject Roman Catholicism over difference in dogma? But that was back then, ok.
    But then why even mention that difference in dogma today?

    I agree to only a certain extent that “Reason and argumentation can only go so far in discussing religious truth.” I also reject transubstantiation but do so for logical, historical, scientific and biblical reasons (which I outlined here). Rejecting a dogma that is particularly, and peculiarly, Roman Catholic does not logically lead to rejecting Christianity, the “church,” the Bible or Jesus (as these things define themselves and not as the Baha'i redefine them).

    I must also state that I find the statement, “if Baha'u'llah wasn't from God then neither was Christ and I became a Baha'i” to be a false dichotomy.

    Lastly, I do not want to sound condescending and I do not for a nanosecond doubt both your sincerity but must state that you need to dig deeper into Baha'ism; beyond, below, the surface and truly attempt to make sense of the vast difference between what you are being taught and in what way you are being taught it with what Baha'ism really is—a new world order that looks forward to having the entire world under its sway and you know that this will be in the form of a one world language, literature, currency, weights and measures, military, government, religion, etc.

    Why does a religion that preaches the ultimate in tolerance and equality between the sexes have a dogma that their infallible leaders, the Universal House of Justice, is restricted to males?

    Why does Baha'ism claim that it does not have “missionaries” but it does have “pioneers” whose jobs are the very same thing?

    Why does Baha'ism claim to have no “sects” but does have “covenant-breakers” which means the same thing?

    Etc.

    Because of surface versus deep.

    Believe me, I get it; when I first began my independent investigation I got the leaflets and pamphlets and the things that Baha'is chose to put into my hands. I attended meetings, services, had Q&A sessions and got a full dose of the tolerant, unifying, syncretistic, appealing message.
    Yet, I did not stop there since as I kept considering Baha'i claims it went from wonderful, to noticing some clear errors and fallacies to digging deeper and deeper until I could clearly parse the surface appeal from the deeper bottom line.

    Allow me to offer just one example of this:
    Dann J. May compiled “The Bahá'í Position on Christianity” in which he quoted Abdu'l-Baha thusly,

    “The fundamental principles of the religion of Christ…are the greatest virtues of humanity.”

    Certainly, this is the sort of statement that would lead me to think that Baha'ism teaches that “all the major world religions are from God.” Dann May’s was precisely like that, with ellipses points. And so, I conducted an independent investigation by checking the primary source material, by checking his footnote which stated that the quote was from Abdu'l-Baha’s Some Answered Questions, 47, #11

    This is what Abdu'l-Baha actually stated,

    “the fundamental principles of the religion of Christ, which are the greatest virtues of humanity, have disappeared.” [Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1908, reprinted 1999, p. 47]

    See what I mean? The way that you are taught is “The fundamental principles of the religion of Christ…are the greatest virtues of humanity.”
    The surface level message is “The fundamental principles of the religion of Christ…are the greatest virtues of humanity.”
    When attempting to appeal to Christians we hear that “The fundamental principles of the religion of Christ…are the greatest virtues of humanity.”

    Yet, just below the surface lies the true teaching “the fundamental principles of the religion of Christ, which are the greatest virtues of humanity, have disappeared.”

    1) This troubles me in the same way that it troubles me that you come to the Bible with a preconceived notion the rejection of which would get you excommunicated.
    2) You read the text for the first time (although, when you finished high school you started reading the New Testament for the first time, I suppose this means that you did not finish reading it).
    3) You committed very common first timer hermeneutical errors.
    4) You considered the fragments of texts, out of context, into which you thought you could read your preconception.
    5) And now your mind is made up and you will discuss it no longer.

    Again and lastly, I urge you to keep digging both into Baha'i texts and the Bible as I do not think you dumb or lazy but, perhaps, a little complacent and self-assured.

    I love you very, very much and if I can ever do anything for you please do let me know.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  9. Marty4:16 PM

    I'm afraid I can't let this discussion end like this Mariano. I have to answer several points you made. First you said the following:

    "Certainly, you are not saying that I have to become a Baha'i but you know that Baha'ism claims that if I do not become a Baha'i then I cannot be saved—in which case you should be saying that I have to become a Baha'i."

    Never in any of my readings of the Baha'i scripture does the concept 'saved' appear. That is a uniquely Christian concept which you are mistakenly applying to the Baha'i Faith. I will repeat that we simply state our beliefs and respond to any questions people may have. We are also allowed to defend our beliefs when they are challanged which is what you did with this post. As I said before I would never have initiated such a discussion since Bahais have no wish to disturb the faith of people who are at peace with their beliefs. This is a CRUCIAL difference in our viewpoints. You insist that Abdul Baha was attacking Christianity when he stated Baha'i beliefs about the resurrection to a Baha'i who asked him about the issue. This is SURELY not true. In your view simply HAVING different beliefs than yours is an attack on your beliefs. The Baha'i view on differences in beief are the same as Christ's view when he said that if you are met with indifference to your message simply shake the dust off your sandles and move on. Yes Bahais do believe that Baha'u'llah speaks with God's voice for this time. But we are commanded to consort with all religions with a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. This is not a superfical pose but is at the deepest level of Baha'u'llah's message because without such an attitude the goal of the unity of the world can NOT be achieved. Bahais do not speculate about their own relationship with God much less speculate about other people's relationship with Him. Thus we have absolutely no notion of anyone's being saved. Everything depends on God's will.

    Yes there is the concept of convenant-breaking in the Baha'i Faith. But this is an issue for those who have willingly enrolled in the Faith. Once you take that step there are obviously going to be rules you have to follow if you want to be considered a Baha'i. But compare being expelled from the Faith to the kinds of Christian against Christain violence that has marred the history of Christianity since the 4th century when Constantine converted to Christianity. Almost as soon as Christians were no longer oppressed by the Roman empire they began the orthodoxy wars. A point that Gibbons makes in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is that many more Christians died at the hands of other Christians than were ever killed by the Roman emperors.

    As for my not being willing to discuss this any longer you are mistaken. I just said that I was comfortable with what I've said so far and am willing to let any reasonable person read through our responses and come to their own conclusions. But if you have any further points you want to discuss raise them and I will try to address them. But I do have one request. Could we keep our exchanges to one point at a time from now one. I hate reading through long posts where a lot of different points are made. I'm sure I'm as guilty as you are although I think you responses have generally be longer than mine.

    One last point (breaking my own rule :)) I was not making a logical statement when I said what I said about Baha'u'llah and Christ. It was a turning point in my life. I have never regreted becoming a Baha'i and am always willing to engage in these kinds of discussions.

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  10. Marty,
    Shalom to you and yours.
    My friend, again, I urge you to keep digging deeper particularly as we have stumbled upon another aspect of surface vs. deep level Baha'ism. When, for example, Baha'is are appealing to Christians they employ Christian “words” and both sides end up thinking that they must be in agreement since they are both using the same “words.” Yet, upon digging deeper one finds that just about any and every Christian “word” that Baha'is use means something completely different. It is only then that one comes to the conclusion that we are not agreeing at all since while we are using the same “words” we are defining the words in a completely different way.

    Now, if I was not skeptical, was not studious, was not conducting an independent investigation I would as a Baha'i what Baha'ism believes about salvation and may be told, “Never in any of my readings of the Baha'i scripture does the concept 'saved' appear. That is a uniquely Christian concept which you are mistakenly applying to the Baha'i Faith.”
    Well, I would just say, “There you have it,” take their word for it and repeat the same to anyone who would ask.
    Yet, as part of my independent investigation I have noted that referencing the Dalá'il-i-Sab'ih¬—Seven Proofs written by the Báb, Shoghi Effendi wrote,
    “censuring the failure of the Christian divines to acknowledge the truth of Muhammad’s mission, makes this illuminating statement…The learned of Christendom are held to be learned by virtue of their safeguarding the teachings of Christ, and yet consider how they themselves have been the cause of men’s failure to accept the Faith and attain unto salvation!”
    [Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come (Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1961), p. 17]

    In the same book (p. 118) he wrote,
    “Bahá'u'lláh, the Divine Organizer and Saviour of the whole human race.”

    He also wrote,
    “the Prophet [Bahá'u'lláh] has subjected Himself to a thousand calamities for the salvation of the world.”
    [God Passes By (Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1944), p. vii]

    From Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas we learn that,
    “the Most Great Luminary of Peace and Salvation in this Age, to talk of the Blessed Perfection [Bahá'u'lláh].”
    [vol. 2 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Society, 1915), pp. 469-70]

    Also from Bahá'í World Faith which are selected writings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá,
    “Concerning your question whether all the souls enjoy eternal life: Know thou those souls partake of the eternal life in whom the spirit of life is breathed from the Presence of God and all beside them are dead.”
    [(Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1956), pp. 387-388]

    Also, from Shoghi Effendi’s translation of Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh we learn that,
    “No man can obtain everlasting life, unless he embraceth the truth of this inestimable, this wondrous, and sublime Revelation.”
    [(Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1952), p. 183]

    This is perfectly in keeping with what the official Baha'i website for the USA, bahai.org, has to say on the issue,
    “Bahá'u'lláh repeatedly stressed that only revealed religion can save us from our imperfections…This is the ‘salvation’ that religion brings. It does not save us from the stain of some ‘original sin’…the essential reason for such widespread unhappiness and terrible social conflict and crises in the world today is that humankind has turned away from true religion and spiritual principles. The only salvation in any age, Bahá'ís believe, is to turn again towards God, to accept his Manifestation for that day, and to follow his teachings.”

    And these are a merely sampling of what I uncovered in the course of my independent investigation. I tried to provide the quotes that either actually employed the word “salvation” or make very clear reference to the concept. I could also provide many, many more in which the concept is discussed otherwise and many, many others about not attaining salvation such as,
    “I swear by the Day Star that shineth above the horizon of Divine power! They that are the followers of the one true God shall, the moment they depart out of this life, experience such joy and gladness as would be impossible to describe, while they that live in error shall be seized with such fear and trembling, and shall be filled with such consternation, as nothing can exceed.”[i]
    [Shoghi Effendi, trans., Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh (Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1952), p. 171]

    And,
    “O the pity! that man should deprive himself of this goodly gift, this imperishable bounty, this everlasting life. It behooveth him to prize this food that cometh from heaven.”
    [Shoghi Effendi, trans. of Bahá'u'lláh’s, Kitáb-i-Íqán (Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1931, 1950 ed.), p. 23]

    I could also provide many, many more by non-infallible Baha'i authors on salvation and loss of eternal life.

    Please note carefully that I never used the term “attack” and when you did, I dissuaded you from doing so. What I have consistently claimed is simply the fact that Abdul Baha (and the Bab, Baha'u'llah, Shoghi Effendi, the UHJ and Baha'i authors) claimed that Christianity is wrong and Baha'ism is right.

    You are misreading and/or misrepresenting the New Testament with your allusion to shaking the dust off our sandals and moving on: this was stated to the apostles and was stated with specific regards to preaching the gospel “whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them” (Mark 6:11).
    This was not about differences in belief. Differences in belief were dealt with by reasoned discourse, the calling together of “councils,” in fact, certain epistles were written with the express purpose responding to differences in belief.

    “As for my not being willing to discuss this any longer you are mistaken…am always willing to engage in these kinds of discussions.” I may have simply misunderstood this previous statement, “I think we've gone about as far as it makes any sense to go.”

    I could used your help on one issue: there is a website that claims to be the Official UHJ Website but has some pretty odd stuff on it. I wrote to bahai.org to ask them about it but have not heard back yet. What do you think about it?
    Find it here:
    http://www.uhj.net/index.html

    Also, look at this page of theirs:
    http://www.uhj.net/picture-of-bahaullah.html

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  11. Marty4:38 PM

    You love to make me look foolish don't you Mariano? :) Ok you got me on the 'saved'. I was thinking of it in Christian evangelical terms where you are only 'saved' if you are born again in Christ. Of course the Baha'i Faith has the concept of salvation otherwise what would be the point in God's sending His Messengers to guide mankind? Both as individuals and as a species we can only be saved by turning to God. But what is meant was that we, as individuals, can never be sure what our relationship with God is as is made clear by Baha'u'llah in the following quote:

    "He should forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate, for none knoweth what his own end shall be. How often hath a sinner attained, at the hour of death, to the essence of faith, and, quaffing the immortal draught, hath taken his flight unto the Concourse on high! And how often hath a devout believer, at the hour of his soul’s ascension, been so changed as to fall into the nethermost fire!
    Our purpose in revealing these convincing and weighty utterances is to impress upon the seeker that he should regard all else beside God as transient, and count all things save Him, Who is the Object of all adoration, as utter nothingness."

    So I guess what I'm driving at is that it is all a question of attitude. An evangelical Christian will tell you that you must be born again to be saved. A Baha'i will tell you about the Baha'i Faith but will not tell you that you must become a Baha'i to be saved nor will the Baha'i believe that because we know that each individual has his/her own relationship with God that has its own trajectory. And since Bahais are taught that all of the major religions are from God we know that even if they don't respond to the Baha'i message there is still a genuine connection to God in whatever religion they do belong to. So there is no idea in a Bahais mind that that person will burn in hellfire for not becoming a Baha'i.

    You have to realize how important the concept of the unity of mankind is in the Baha'i teachings. How can the Baha'i Faith be a force of unity if it teaches that people who don't convert to it are damned? Salvation in this day, according to Baha'u'llah is for people of different races, creeds and nations to associate with love an harmony:

    "I confess that Thou hast no desire except the regeneration of the whole world, and the establishment of the unity of its peoples, and the salvation of all them that dwell therein."

    This cannot be accomplished by telling people of other creeds that they must accept your creed or be damned. This is completely contrary to the spirit of the Baha'i Faith and is consistent with my 30 years of reading the writings of Baha'u'llah.

    I checked out http://www.uhj.net/index.html and I don't believe it is a legitimate Baha'i website. Go here http://www.bahai.org/ as a starting point for the faith on the web. The second site you gave me is what made me suspect that it may be a covenant-breaker website since the Bahais do not publish pictures of Baha'u'llah. The only one is at His shire in Haifa. I didn't look at the picture.

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  12. Marty,
    I am grateful that you put a “:)” in your first sentence because surely I do not intend to embarrass or make a fool of you, my friend. Pardon the lengthy comment to follow but it mostly consists of quotations.
    Thanks for checking out http://www.uhj.net/index.html. I doubted its legitimacy for various reasons; the photo and also their claim that women are allowed to serve in the UHJ for example. Also, I had already written to http://www.bahai.org/ to ask about that website. Also, I am very sorry for my neglect as I failed to mentioned that you may run across their page with Bahá'u'lláh’s photo on it.

    Now, you did notice that it was from http://www.bahai.org/ that I got the quote which stated,
    “…The only salvation in any age, Bahá'ís believe, is to turn again towards God, to accept his Manifestation for that day, and to follow his teachings.”
    You will note that according to the official Bahá'í website for the USA the only salvation is to accept his Manifestation “for that day, and to follow his teachings.”
    Note that it is not “accept whichever Manifestation throughout history you choose” but it is very specific: accept Bahá'u'lláh (for this day) and follow his teachings.
    If they are wrong, and I am not jesting here, please write to them, correct them, and then send me your email exchange and I will post it on this website.

    Let me review a couple of points.
    Christianity: you are only 'saved' if you are born again in Christ as John 3.

    Bahá'ísm: not so.

    Bahá'ísm: we, as individuals, can never be sure what our relationship with God is.

    Christianity: not so. In fact, John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1st John 5:13). That you may “know” not wonder, guess, think or worry that you “have” not could have, might have, may get eternal life.

    Voluminous examples could be offered of fundamental disagreements yet, apparently and employing common parlance—it’s all good. I can completely disagree with and disbelieve Bahá'u'lláh and his teachings and I am just fine. Yet, not according to the official Bahá'í website for the USA.

    Also, did I misunderstand, again? You wrote, “there is no idea in a Bahais mind that that person will burn in hellfire for not becoming a Baha'i” but you quoted Bahá'u'lláh as referencing “the nethermost fire!”

    Keep in mind that while it is true that “Bahais are taught that all of the major religions are from God” they teach that all of those religions are null and void having become so corrupted to the point of being “heretical” that a new Manifestation was required.

    I certainly do not know how the Baha'i Faith can be a force of unity if it teaches that people who don't convert to it are damned. But I do know that one of the goals of the Baha'i Faith is to establish itself and the one and only world religion and that it will exercise “unchallengeable authority.”

    Lastly, I wished to note the following statements:

    Bahá'u'lláh wrote,
    “I swear by the Day Star that shineth above the horizon of Divine power! They that are the followers of the one true God shall, the moment they depart out of this life, experience such joy and gladness as would be impossible to describe, while they that live in error shall be seized with such fear and trembling, and shall be filled with such consternation, as nothing can exceed.”
    [Shoghi Effendi, trans., Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh (Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1952), p. 171]
    If there is “one true God” there must be false gods and followers of the false gods are in for, something, perhaps “the nethermost fire!”

    Bahá'u'lláh wrote,
    “O the pity! that man should deprive himself of this goodly gift, this imperishable bounty, this everlasting life. It behooveth him to prize this food that cometh from heaven.”
    [ibid., p. 171]
    We can be “deprived” of “everlasting life.”

    He continues by noting, in metaphorical terminology, that the chance for obtaining “everlasting life” will be passing away,
    “Make haste…while there is yet time…the breeze of life…cannot last…must needs be stilled…cannot for ever remain open…will have winged its flight away…its melody be heard no more…cease to shine. Seize the time…hath spent itself…ceased to warble…”

    He continues by explaining what happens when you missed your chance,
    “the rewards of the other world are the eternal life which is clearly mentioned in all the Holy Books…In the same way the punishments of the other world, that is to say, the torments of the other world, consist in being deprived of the special divine blessings and the absolute bounties, and falling into the lowest degrees of existence. He who is deprived of these divine factors, although he continues after death, is considered as dead by the people of truth…”

    He also wrote,
    “Whoso hath been re-born in this Day, shall never die; whoso remaineth dead, shall never live.”
    [ibid., p. 213]

    He also stated,
    “The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence…Whose hath failed to recognize Him will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire.”
    [ibid., pp. 70-71]
    There is that “nethermost fire” again.

    And also,
    “Likewise apprehend thou the nature of hell-fire and be of them that truly believe. For every act performed there shall be a recompense according to the estimate of God, and unto this the very ordinances and prohibitions prescribed by the Almighty amply bear witness. For surely if deeds were not rewarded and yielded no fruit, then the Cause of God—exalted is He—would prove futile. Immeasurably high is He exalted above such blasphemies! However, unto them that are rid of all attachments a deed is, verily, its own reward.”
    [Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, Súriy-i-Vafá (Tablet to Vafa), p. 189]

    Abdu'l-Bahá agrees,
    “For those who believe in God, who have love of God, and faith, life is excellent—that is, it is eternal; but to those souls who are veiled from God, although they have life, it is dark, and in comparison with the life of believers it is nonexistence…In the same way, the souls who are veiled from God, although they exist in this world and in the world after death, are, in comparison with the holy existence of the children of the Kingdom of God, nonexistence and separated from God.”
    [Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions (Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1908, reprinted 1999), p. 243]

    He also wrote,
    “the state and the personality of the rational soul may be strengthened in this world; it will make progress and will attain to the degrees of perfection, or it will remain in the lowest abyss of ignorance, veiled and deprived from beholding the signs of God.”
    [ibid., p. 240]
    It will either make progress OR remain… deprived…

    From the Selected Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá,
    “If it be faithful to God, it [the soul] will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.”
    [Bahá'í World Faith (Wilmette, IL.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1956), p. 121 ]
    Note the dichotomy: “If” versus “If it fail.”

    Also, from the Selected Writings,
    “You ask if, through the appearance of the kingdom of God, every soul hath been saved. The Sun of Reality hath appeared to all the world. This luminous appearance is salvation and life; but only he who hath opened the eye of reality and who hath seen these lights will be saved.”
    [ibid., pp. 389-390]
    “only he…will be saved.”

    More from the Selected Writings,
    “If, however, he persisteth in his error, God will, assuredly, send down one who will deal mercilessly with him. Terrible, indeed, is God in punishing! Whosoever interpreteth this verse otherwise than its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy which incompasseth all created things. Fear God, and follow not your idle fancies. Nay, rather follow the bidding of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Wise.”
    [ibid., p. 211]
    The “he” was anyone who claimed to be a prophet before 1,000 from Bahá'u'lláh’s time.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  13. Marty3:47 PM

    Very good response Mariano. You bring up some excellent points. First I want to quote another saying of Baha'u'llah:

    "The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity. This is the straight Path, the fixed and immovable foundation. Whatsoever is raised on this foundation, the changes and chances of the world can never impair its strength, nor will the revolution of countless centuries undermine its structure. Our hope is that the world's religious leaders and the rulers thereof will unitedly arise for the reformation of this age and the rehabilitation of its fortunes. Let them, after meditating on its needs, take counsel together and, through anxious and full deliberation, administer to a diseased and sorely-afflicted world the remedy it requireth..." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 215)

    This is at the core of Baha'u'llah's teaching for this time. Everything that any Baha'i says must be judged with reference to this standard. So we have to reread the quotes you quoted in light of this quote because it is the standard. Note that in the above quote Baha'u'llah says "safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race". The Baha'i Faith is thus not concerned to create some seperate space for itself and work for the salvation of its own members but rather is focused on the salvation of all mankind. This is a fundamental change from previous religions. I'm currently reading a facinating book called 'The Gospel of Paul' by Joong Suk Suh who is the Dean and Professor of New Testament at Yonsei University College of Theology, Seoul Korea. He has a chapter in the book on the Lord's Supper. Here is a quote:

    "The Lord's supper is the ritual which seperates its participants from the outer world which does not have the same symbolic world as the 'new covenant'. By maintaining the boundaries between the participants and th non-participants, the Lord's supper sustains and strengthens the inner solidarity.
    In this effort Paul faces an awkward dilemma. It was Paul who has criticized the jewish boundaries and hte consciousness of their national privilege separating them from the pagan world. And now he is himself establishing the base for the Christian demarcation that separate him and his congregation of the Lord's supper which the Christians alone practice.
    I believe that Paul was awaree of this contradiction, but does not openly discuss it. He had come to and understanding that the presence of demarcation was an inevitable factor of a religion or a sect."

    It's a long quote but makes a critical point. All religions before the Baha'i faith had rituals that separate them from those not of their faith. The Baha'i Faith has no rituals and no clergy. Baha'u'llah did not want to create unnecessary barriers between believers and unbelievers.

    I've said enough for this post and will analyse your quotes above in light of what I've said above next Monday.

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  14. Marty9:03 AM

    Ok I'll start with the following quote:

    He continues by noting, in metaphorical terminology, that the chance for obtaining “everlasting life” will be passing away,
    “Make haste…while there is yet time…the breeze of life…cannot last…must needs be stilled…cannot for ever remain open…will have winged its flight away…its melody be heard no more…cease to shine. Seize the time…hath spent itself…ceased to warble…”

    This quotation come from the Book of Certitude in which Baha'u'llah unlocks the seals of the Scriptures of the past and explains the concept of the Divine Springtime and the need for religion to be periodically be renewed with the appearance of a Manifestation of God. The 'ceased to warble' is explained in the following verse:

    "The day will surely come when the Nightingale of Paradise will have winged its flight away from its earthly abode unto its heavenly nest. Then will its melody be heard no more, and the beauty of the rose cease to shine."

    This refers to the passing from this world of the Manifestation when mankind will be bereft of the beauty of the rose as embodied by Him. So in this verse Baha'u'llah is not addressing any individual but mankind as a whole and that mankind must make the best of its advantage in having such a Presence in its midst. It thus can have nothing to do with the individuals chance for eternal life since obviously only a tiny percentage of humans can actually live during the time of a Manifestation.

    In the interest of keeping each post to a managable length I will stop here and continue with the next response. But feel free to respond to this.

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  15. Marty3:58 PM

    Next I'll respond to the following quotes you mentioned in your previous response:

    “the rewards of the other world are the eternal life which is clearly mentioned in all the Holy Books…In the same way the punishments of the other world, that is to say, the torments of the other world, consist in being deprived of the special divine blessings and the absolute bounties, and falling into the lowest degrees of existence. He who is deprived of these divine factors, although he continues after death, is considered as dead by the people of truth…”

    He also wrote,
    “Whoso hath been re-born in this Day, shall never die; whoso remaineth dead, shall never live.”
    [ibid., p. 213]

    He also stated,
    “The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence…Whose hath failed to recognize Him will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire.”
    [ibid., pp. 70-71]
    There is that “nethermost fire” again.


    First I don't see anything in any of these quotes that say you have to convert to the Baha'i Faith to know God, which is the sole prerequisite for attainment to a blissful eternal life. The 'misery of remoteness' is a remoteness from God. Here is a quotation that shows that a person can be considered a Baha'i even though he/she may not have converted to the Faith:

    "Blessed is he who prefereth his brother before himself. Verily such a man is reckened,by virtue of the will of God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise, with the people of Baha who dwell in the Crimson Ark." Word of Paradise by Baha'u'llah

    So a person who prefers his brother before himself is considered an honorary Baha'i. Consider also the condition of Muslims in the Middle East. Many would be executed if they were to publicly convert to the Baha'i Faith. There are many conditions that prevent people even in this country from becoming Bahais. They may be good people but sincerely attached to some form of Christianity. So long as they don't actively attack people of other faiths and have a genuine relationship with God there is no reason they should not experience an appropriate level of bliss in the next life. It is the relationship with God and one's fellow man that is the criteria for judging how we will experience the next life. And this judgment is in God's hands. In my next response I want to deal more at length with the Baha'i concept of salvation.

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  16. Marty4:25 PM

    I said I was going to deal at more length with the Baha'i concept of salvation but after doing a search of the word salvation in the writings of Baha'u'llah and Abdul Baha I couldn't find any specific Baha'i meaning for the word. Salvation is obtained by the Word of God as embodied in His Manifestations in each age. But the usage is generic in the writings and is applied to the whole of mankind rather than to the individual. Baha'u'llah does say 'Seize ye the chalice of salvation' but here as in many places he is addressing all men rather than the individual man.

    Finally I think I can address the point you made as follows:

    “…The only salvation in any age, Bahá'ís believe, is to turn again towards God, to accept his Manifestation for that day, and to follow his teachings.”
    You will note that according to the official Bahá'í website for the USA the only salvation is to accept his Manifestation “for that day, and to follow his teachings.”
    Note that it is not “accept whichever Manifestation throughout history you choose” but it is very specific: accept Bahá'u'lláh (for this day) and follow his teachings.


    Salvation here is being used to apply to mankind as a whole. The meaning of religion is God's guidance of man. Without that guidance man would not have survived because man has gifts that are lethal without God's guidance.

    Finally I'd like to quote from Luke 10:

    25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" 27 And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live."

    This is the same thing Baha'u'llah is saying. There is no qualification about believing in a specific prophet of God. So this is how an individual is saved and is based solely on that individuals relationship with God and his neighbor.

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  17. Marty,
    Thank you so much for all of the feedback.

    I wanted to take a moment to let you know that I will not be able to get back to you until next week.

    I am reading a book about Nazism that was sent to me so that I am write a review, it comes out on April 20th (Hitler’s birthday) and I have to focus on getting it read and the review written by them.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  18. Marty3:52 PM

    Sounds interesting. I'm myself am studying Freudian psychoanalysis. They were both in Vienna about the same time and may have passed each other on the street. Freud a well-to-do Jew and Hitler a down-and-out artist. Of course when Hitler returned in 1938 the tables were turned. Freud was dying of jaw cancer and Hitler was approaching a pinnacle of power. I'm trying to understand what really happened then. Good reading.

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