Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by wil, Apr 3, 2018.
Hello there, Powessy. Nice to hear from you again.
Thanks it is nice to come back and read through some of the posts here.
Looks to me like it's circled back around to Wil's OP eventually.
Progressive Revelation appears then to have a two-fold understanding in Ba'hai: firstly that Ba'hai itself is formed, at least, from what they claim is the highest revelation, being the more recent understanding or interpretation of God's eternal revelation - which leads to the second understanding of PR, understood by both Ba'hai and students of Christian theology at least (including the Fathers but, unfortunately, not all Christians): that God's full revelation is and has always been eternally present - but our awareness of it and then ability to clearly communicate it has been, for the most part, exceedingly slow to develop.
I like to think we're getting there, though.
A more recent understanding does not necessarily comrpise revelation as such, rather its just a contemporary commentary or interpretation on what went before. This is where the established Traditions would dispute with one which sets itself up as able to comment and 'reveal' further or 'new' revelation as such, as well as the assumption that the new is actually right in how it interprets what has gone before.
Thus, for example, the issue over the nature of Christ in dispute with both Jewish and Moslem authorities.
Yes, God is present in and accessible through the dimensions of revelation — the 'Fourfold Meaning of Scripture' in Christianity (literal, moral, analogical and eschatalogical) is not a process unique to Christian Scripture, it's rather e reflection that not everyone sees as far or as deeply.
But the crucial point is that the unfolding, unpacking as we call it, and contemporary commentary on Scripture is what theology is all about. No Tradition is deficient to the extent that it needs explanation or added elements from without.
The assumption that all Traditions say, in essence, the same thing, is a bit misguided. God, in essence, is unknowable, unfathomable, etc., but is approachable through the Tradition, its Scripture, its commentary, and its practice. The elements of different religious traditions are not interchangeable, try that and you just end up with a patchwork where before you had a seamless garment.
For example, anything can be a Eucharist, but not everything thereby necessarily is. That depends on how the particular elements (philosophically the 'accidents') of the Eucharist are received, which is not just the element itself, but its understanding in the light of the Passion narratives of the Last Supper, and subsequent commentary.
The issue the established Traditions have with these kinds of meta-narratives, be they Baha'i, Theosophical, New Age, etc., is they attempt to rationalise the particular according to the general, and all too often strip out — knowingly or unintentionally — the 'one thing necessary' and the 'better part' (Luke 10:24)and replace it with something quite mundane.
Well quite. Thats' what theology is — 'faith seeking understanding'
The point is the information is not 'new' as such, it was always there, it's you who have changed, not it.
In that sense it's progressive understanding.
Theology is a science ... ?
Philo is an interesting case since his dialogue with Roman authorities climaxes during his trip to Rome on behalf of Alexandrian Jews. He is quoted as saying those who are too quick to air their opinion regarding Roman oppressors are "out of their wits":
caution is the proper protection against one's suffering sudden calamity, since it seems to me that caution is for an individual what its wall is for a city. So then are those people not out of their wits, completely mad, who are rash enough to display inopportune frankness, and dare at times to speak and act in defiance of kings and tyrants? They do not seem to perceive that they are not only like animals putting their necks under the yoke, but that they are betraying their whole bodies and souls, as well as their wives and children and that especially kindred crowd and community of companions and relations. [...] Now when occasion offers it is a good thing to oppose our enemies and to destroy their power of attack, but lacking such opportunity it is safe to keep quiet, while if one wishes to get any benefit from them it is advantageous to propitiate them.
Yet he believed in the prophecy. Perhaps he pushed it further in the future? Not sure. I am just noting not everybody who believed in this prophecy was immediately ready for a fight. Many shades of gray.
1 Corinthians 2.6-8 says:
"We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
One view is the phrase "the rulers of this age" in this passage refers to spiritual powers, but does Paul have in mind human ones, such as Caiaphas and Annas?
Here's additional information about the Paraclete from Christopher Buck's book called Symbol & Secret (click on the link to read it online):
Bahá’u’lláh’s first act of exegesis in the Book of Certitude resolves an apparent contradiction in scripture regarding Jesus’s Second Coming. To wit, how can Jesus come again, yet send another “Comforter” in his stead? Bahá’u’lláh has identified two distinct traditions behind Jesus’ farewell discourse as it relates to the parousia:
He [Jesus] the Revealer of the unseen Beauty … referred unto His passing, and, kindling in their hearts the fire of bereavement, said unto them: “I go away and come again unto you.” And in another place He said: “I go and Another will come Who will tell you all that I have not told you, and will [p. 115] fulfill all that I have said.” Both these sayings have but one meaning, were you to ponder the Manifestations of the Unity of God with divine insight.14
Bahá’u’lláh has identified a possible contradiction in the text. If both statements are true, two advents would be expected: the return of Jesus and the advent of the second Comforter. Without reading too much into Bahá’u’lláh’s analysis, his formulation of the textual problem does appear to be an original argument in Islamic circles. Be this as it may, it does anticipate critical questions raised in modern biblical scholarship. Windisch and others have discerned two distinct and incompatible traditions embedded in Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse” (John 14-17): (1) the promise of the returning Son (John 14:28) and (2) the promise of the Comforter (John 14:16).15
In his 1927 monograph on the Comforter (or Paraclete) sayings,16 Windisch took the position that the promise of the Paraclete and the promise of the returning Son were incommensurate. To resolve this problem, Windisch pursued a literary-critical solution, concluding that the Paraclete sayings were secondary.17 Windisch drew attention to the fact that the Paraclete represents a successor to Jesus, one who takes the place of Jesus following inevitable martyrdom. Windisch believes that Jesus’ last act on behalf of the disciples was “to provide a successor.”18
The Paraclete promise is therefore incompatible with the Second Coming of Jesus, except insofar as it has been “mystically reinterpreted” at John 14:18ff.19 The Paraclete, according to Windisch, is the virtual “double” of Christ with respect to function, and both figures function as prophets. The extensive functional parallelism between Christ and Paraclete has also been noted by Isaacs, who systematically develops the extended parallel.20 Are the two figures identical but manifested in different modalities, or are they two distinct figures?
[p. 116] The distinction between the two savior figures originates nominally with the appellative, “another Comforter. “21 Jesus is referred to as a “paráklêtos” in 1 John 2:1 (albeit in a juridical sense). Reflexive evidence is interesting, for, as Riesenfeld has pointed out, currents in early Christian circles continued to look upon Jesus as the “Comforter” despite the identification of the Comforter with the Holy Spirit as reflected in the Gospel of John.22 A further witness occurs in a fragment from the apocryphal Acts of John discovered in one of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, bearing the invocation: “O Jesus, the Comforter” (POxy 850, verso 10).23 Jesus must have been the one originally invoked as Comforter, rather than the Holy Spirit.
In the final analysis, according to Windisch, in the Paraclete sayings there is “a faint gleam of the succession of two reigns or ages: the reign of Christ comes to an end so that the reign of the Paraclete can commence.”24 In the fifth saying, Windisch detects “a sudden glimpse of a thought which ascribes a certain superiority” to the Paraclete.25
Bahá’u’lláh endeavors to resolve, on a higher plane of unity, the problem of the two distinct eschatological figures: the returning Jesus and the “other Comforter.” Historically, the relationship between Jesus and the Paraclete was not an Islamic issue as such. But there was considerable interest in the identity of the Paraclete in relation to Muḥammad. In the Qur’án, Jesus foretells the coming of Muḥammad. The Qur’anic Jesus refers to this future prophet as “Aḥmad” (Qur’án 61:6). Aḥmad is traditionally regarded as one of the five names of Muḥammad (both derive from the same root, HMD). This does not accord with the biblical record. In the Gospel of John, Jesus does not refer to “Aḥmad” at all. A contemporary Muslim response is to suggest that the biblical text (esp. John 16:7) had somehow been altered. We shall return to this problem shortly. In an Islamic context, it is significant that Bahá’u’lláh did not opt for this solution.
Probably both ...
There is no contradiction. The return of Jesus is The Second Coming, the Judgement. The advent of the Paraclete is Pentecost, that happened 50 days after Passion, ten days after the Ascension.
Ah, that explains the 'contradiction'.
And I am not ruling out the possibility the Gospel of John could have had insider information from someone close to the Sanhedrin. It is entirely possible. My disbelief in attributing the Suffering Servant tradition (Isa. 52.13 - 53.12) to the powerhouse within the Sanhedrin - that is, the Sadducees - has more to do with the fact the Gospels themselves state this particular Jewish group did not accept the resurrection (Luke 20.27), so how could they possibly accept the Suffering Servant tradition when it is inseparable from the resurrection unless one argues they believed in a variant of this tradition? Indeed, early Christians used the Song of the Suffering Servant to interpret the death and resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24.25-27; Phil. 2.5-11). Jesus spoke a lot about the suffering and rejection of the son of man (Mark 8.31; 9.12, 31; 10.33). Only in Mark 9.12 does he not mention the resurrection, so it appears certain he connected this tradition with the resurrection. So either way you cut it - whether they believed in some version of the Suffering Servant tradition, another messianic one, or even no messianic tradition at all - they are walking down different roads according to their traditions: neither believed in the same tradition.
It's reckoned John almost certainly was.
I'm not sure where that comes from, or its relevance?
The theology of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) is mentioned explicitly three times in Scripture (Matthew 8:17, Luke 22:37, John 12:38). Matthew identifies Christ as the one who will suffer for all, Luke has Christ quote Isaiah 53 in reference to Himself, and John deploys it to explain why the Jews do not believe.
Quite. The community at large believed that Christ fulfilled the promises made to Israel, they weren't so much bothered with theological niceties, nor particularly with what the Sanhedrin, the Sadducees, Pharisees, etc., believed. They believed in what they believed. Christ lived, Christ suffered, Christ died, ergo ...
It's not so cut and dried as that, I think. They (Christians) all believed in the Messianic tradition, they all believed that Christ suffered — only the odd gnostic group held that the crucifixion was an illusion — how they put that together would vary. The theology of the Cross took centuries to work out, being tied to an understanding of the Incarnation, and Christ's humanity and divinity, but it's there in the really early texts.
No revelation comes with a theological commentary as a complete, done deal.
Not sure what "that" refers to . . . my own disbelief or the relevance of the Suffering Servant?
And they (the Sadducees) believed in what in regards to the messiah? From my research, I discovered nobody is sure. And I really do not follow your analogy. I mean, we already know Josephus and Philo did not follow the Suffering Servant tradition. In Judaism it is better to speak of messianic traditions.
I doubt what the Sadducees believed held little interest for the Christian community. The fact that He was rejected as Messiah by the Jewish authorities, Sadducee, Pharisee) made their opinions largely irrelevant.
But we're not speaking Judaism, are we?
I thought we were discussing the Baha'i interpretation/confusion of the Paraclete texts ... ?
Note the Spirit of Truth is referred to in masculine terms, such as "he" and "him" (John 14.16-18, 15.26, 16.12-14). However, the Holy Spirit is feminine. Hmm . . .
Why were their opinions largely irrelevant? Sorry, I missed that. Why is the Christian version of Jewish tradition held as authentic in comparison to the "inauthentic" Jewish traditions of their contemporaries?
Yes, we are. You think Baha'is and Muslims misconstrue the traditions of their predecessors (e.g., Christians and Jews). My reason for talking Judaism is because, well, many Jews thought Christians did the same thing.
But Jewish Christians tended to believe that the Paraclete would appear in human form. Really, whenever we discuss the Baha'i interpretation of Paraclete texts, we are still on the merry-go-round debate between Jewish Christians and Catholics that Islam resurrected . . .
But its us who make more of gender?
Certainly the Christian Tradition uses the male gender for all three Persons of the Trinity, even though the Holy Spirit is not conceived as a 'person' in the sense that the terms 'Father' and 'Son' evoke in the common mind.
Because the Christian Tradition founded its own theology.
Because the Christians believe Christ to be the Son of God, a revelation rejected by non-Christians.
Separate names with a comma.