A Catholic Reply to the Commentary on Verses of John by Abdu’l-Bahá

Thomas

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“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”
(John 16:7-15 KJV).

The reply is deemed necessary because of the following accusation (author's text in colour):
The concourse of the Gospel have presently fallen lost in the wilderness of error and purblindness and thus have considered as naught these assertions of the Gospel which are explicitly clear and without allusiveness.

Thus they (Christians) say that the purpose of the above verses is the descent of the Holy Spirit, the descent that occurred after the ascension of His holiness Christ upon the disciples

Having opened thus, its incumbent upon the author to explain the 'error' fallen into, and what assertions made in the Gospel that are considered 'as naught'.

Firstly. He sayeth: He shall not come unless I go away. This utterance indicates that He, the Spirit, the Comforter was not there at the time of Christ and that He would come afterwards. But the Holy Spirit was inseparably and always co-existing with Christ.

This is part of His farewell discourse (John 13-17), and should be read in that context. By so doing, apparent contradictions are made clear.

Christ refers to himself as 'going away' numerous times (eg 13:36) yet elsewhere says "I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you." (eg 14:18).
Throughout this discourse, Christ is talking about His mission, and it is in the context of His mission that Scripture talks of Christ’s coming and going (the Hebrew Scriptures speak in the same way of God and the Spirit of God) and it should be understood in that sense.
This introduces the mission of the Holy Spirit "whom the Father will send in my name" (14:26) to continue the mission initiated by Christ according to the Will of the Father.

So there would otherwise be no meaning to the saying: He shall not come unless I go away.

When viewed in the context of a mission discourse, the meaning becomes clear. The Father wills, the Son works, the Spirit perfects – but Father, Son and Spirit are One, and in that transcendent sense are ever immanently present in and to the world, but here Christ is talking about unfolding events.

Now consider further ... Could it be the case that ...
There’s much conjecture, but no substance to this section ... it’s an opinion.

Thus it has become clear and proven from those blessed Johannine verses that after the Beauty of Jesus another Honoured Soul and Great Beauty will appear ...
Closer examination of the text will clearly show that the paraclete of whom Christ speaks is not ‘another soul’, He is spirit – so this an erroneous statement.

Whose training will be even greater than the education imparted by Christ, the Spirit of God.
Well Scripture makes no reference of 'training', and again, what do those ‘blessed Johannine verses' actually say of the mission of the Paraclete?
"And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. Yet a little while: and the world seeth me no more. But you see me: because I live, and you shall live. In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (14:16-20 my emphasis)
It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who 'reveals' the Son and the Father. St Paul understood this: "And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father." (Galatians 4:6 and the same is expressed in Romans 8:15).

“But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.” (14:26)

“But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me.” (15:26)

The mission of the Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is the same as the Son's, and is a continuation of the Son's. In that sense it cannot be 'greater' because the mission of Christ is universal salvation, ordained by God, so cannot be surpassed.

In a contingent sense the works may well be greater (cf John 14:12), but obviously then in a quantitative sense, not qualitative.

Thirdly He said: That Comforter will not speak from Himself. That means He shall be aided by the hosts of divine Revelation.
Here, clearly, the importance of context as a guard against error. Before that, it needs saying that the Holy Spirit needs no ‘assistance’ in His mission. There is no reference to 'the hosts of divine revelation'.

The text:
I have yet many things to say to you: but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you. He shall glorify me; because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you. All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine. Therefore I said, that he shall receive of mine, and shew it to you. (16:12-15)
He shall speak not of Himself, but of Christ: 'because he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it to you' and, as 'All things whatsoever the Father hath, are mine' then the Father has given to the Son, and the Son (in this context) to the Holy Spirit. Context because the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, and the mission of the Spirit is the mission of the Son, according to the Will of the Father.

The text explains itself without the need to evoke Consider again, how clear it is. This means that that Comforting Spirit is a Person.
According to the understanding of 'Person' in the context of the Trinity, yes.

Who wilt be inspired with heavenly Inspirations and be the Repository of Lordly Revelations.
The Spirit of God inspires, but is not Himself inspired, which supposes an inspirer.

Further, the Holy Spirit doth not have ears with which to hear.
A frankly risible statement. The use of anthropomorphic analogy is redolent throughout Scriptures, as it is in the Baha'i writings, so a somewhat specious comment.

+++

Let's be clear: I do not offer this as an apologia for the Doctrine of the Trinity, simply I have shown how that doctrine accords with the text, and as an objection to that doctrine, i have shown the document fails to make its case, and fails significantly and substantially.
 

Tone Bristow-Stagg

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Let's be clear: I do not offer this as an apologia for the Doctrine of the Trinity, simply I have shown how that doctrine accords with the text, and as an objection to that doctrine, i have shown the document fails to make its case, and fails significantly and substantially.

Abdul'baha talks specifically about the Trinity.


Abdul'baha addresses many Christian subjects.


It is most likely many Christians will find these Challenging.

Yet even Priests have embraced the Baha'i Message, so that worth considering.

Regards Tony
 

RJM

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Abdul'baha talks specifically about the Trinity.


Abdul'baha addresses many Christian subjects.


It is most likely many Christians will find these Challenging.

Yet even Priests have embraced the Baha'i Message, so that worth considering.

Regards Tony
What is your reaction to @Thomas thoughtful and reasoned post? Can you respond to his points? Preferay one by one? Or are you just going to go on abusing us by scattering more verbose Baha'i tracts around the forums?
 

Tone Bristow-Stagg

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What is your reaction to @Thomas thoughtful and reasoned post? Can you respond to his points? Preferay one by one? Or are you just going to go on abusing us by scattering more verbose Baha'i tracts around the forums?

The explanation of the Trinity, by Abdul'baha, for me is the answer to what Thomas posted.

The Station of Jesus, as Christ is what this is all about.

Regards Tony
 

RJM

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The explanation of the Trinity, by Abdul'baha, for me is the answer to what Thomas posted.

The Station of Jesus, as Christ is what this is all about.

Regards Tony
But who's going to read through all the tracts and bumph you post? These are discussion forums, not a document drop off exchange
 

Thomas

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It is most likely many Christians will find these Challenging.
To be fair, I though my response to the above demonstrates those challenges to be neither as conclusive, compelling or as convincing as perhaps they might seem. I can understand the author feels a necessity to refute it, but here he fails in his endeavour to do so.
 

Tone Bristow-Stagg

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To be fair, I though my response to the above demonstrates those challenges to be neither as conclusive, compelling or as convincing as perhaps they might seem. I can understand the author feels a necessity to refute it, but here he fails in his endeavour to do so.

I guess where our challenges lay is with our frames of references Thomas.

When I read what Abdul'baha has offered, I read it in the light of seeing Jesus as the Christ, a Messengers of God.

Jesus as the Christ, is to us the 'Self of God', but we must understand that in offering that, God does not decend into creation. This is an important aspect in the understanding of the Divinity of Jesus. Abdul'baha has also explained that topic.

We can throw verses back and forth all day, but I can only offer I am seeing the same verses with a different frame of reference.

I would offer to you, was that not what Jesus did when talking to the Jews, He was asking them to look at the scripture in a new way?

John 5:46
If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.

This is exactly what happens each time Christ gives a Message. We must look at the Word with new eyes and hear it with new ears.

It is by the fruit we know God Thomas. Is what a Baha'i lives for any different from what a Christian lives for? Love and service to all Humanity under the Love of devotion to One God.

Regards Tony
 
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RJM

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When I read what Abdul'baha has offered, I read it in the light of seeing Jesus as the Christ, a Messengers of God.

Jesus as the Christ, is to us the 'Self of God', but we must understand that in offering that, God does not decend into creation. This is an important aspect in the understanding of the Divinity of Jesus
Thanks for yet another proselytizing lecture about how Christians should understand their own faith
Abdul'baha has also explained that topic.
But others do not accept his explanation. They think it's a load of old tripe, to be honest. That's freedom of religion, you see?
This is exactly what happens each time Christ gives a Message. We must look at the Eord with new eyes and hear it with new ears.
Why do you keep telling others what they must think?
Is what a Baha'i lives for any different from what a Christian lives for? Love and service to all Humanity under the Love of devotion to One God.
It's very different. A Baha'i takes an oath of fealty to Baha'u'llah alone for 1000 yrs. It couldn't be more different. Imo

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RabbiO

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There are two detention chairs out by the front gate where the forum’s mission statement is engraved. A couple of folks here need to go sit on them and stare at that statement for awhile.

Seriously, this conversation, and others, have deteriorated into exactly the kind of angry “My god is bigger than your god, but you’re just too (choose 1 or more or add your own) stupid/blind/arrogant/unaware/ignorant to see it.” rants that this forum was meant to combat, to provide a respite from, to be an antidote for.

@Cino - Will essays be required after an appropriate time for meditation?
 

Cino

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There are two detention chairs out by the front gate where the forum’s mission statement is engraved. A couple of folks here need to go sit on them and stare at that statement for awhile.

Seriously, this conversation, and others, have deteriorated into exactly the kind of angry “My god is bigger than your god, but you’re just too (choose 1 or more or add your own) stupid/blind/arrogant/unaware/ignorant to see it.” rants that this forum was meant to combat, to provide a respite from, to be an antidote for.

@Cino - Will essays be required after an appropriate time for meditation?

The plenary session will have to decide on that, but I would favor my car getting washed or my lawn mowed. ;)
 

Thomas

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I guess where our challenges lay is with our frames of references Thomas.
Yes, I think so. The Christian frame of reference is Christ, His words and His deeds.

When I read what Abdul'baha has offered ...
And there's the difference, as your frame is what Baha'u'llah says.

God does not decend into creation.
If God does not descend into creation, and surely creation cannot ascend into God, then the chasm between God and creation is absolute, unbridgeable and irrevocable. There would be no God at all, no Abraham, no Moses.

Who then speaks on the tongue of the prophets? How can there be a 'Messenger' without God communicating the message, and how can we have faith in the 'message', if God is not there?

I would sympathise with anyone thinking that, for then that is a world without God, a world without Love. Following Scripture, we believe quite differently. We believe God is immanently present in and to His creation. The noble Quran says: "Indeed, We created humankind and know what their souls whisper to them, and We are closer to them than their jugular vein." (50:16)

If God were not immanently present in creation, then all religion is a blind groping into a dark and fathomless void, and as St Paul said: "You faith is in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:17).

This is an important aspect in the understanding of the Divinity of Jesus. Abdul'baha has also explained that topic.
But that explanation is flawed. If Abdul'baha understood the meaning of hypostatic union, then he would see his objection is ill-founded.

I would offer to you, was that not what Jesus did when talking to the Jews, He was asking them to look at the scripture in a new way?
You do see that's a green light for anyone to set themselves up as a prophet? I could say the same, and ask why you don't believe me?

In the end the Baha'i repeats the arguments of Islam – it misrepresents Christian doctrine in its arguments, and then believes it has refuted it.
 

RJM

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There are two detention chairs out by the front gate where the forum’s mission statement is engraved. A couple of folks here need to go sit on them and stare at that statement for awhile.

Seriously, this conversation, and others, have deteriorated into exactly the kind of angry “My god is bigger than your god, but you’re just too (choose 1 or more or add your own) stupid/blind/arrogant/unaware/ignorant to see it.” rants that this forum was meant to combat, to provide a respite from, to be an antidote for.

@Cino - Will essays be required after an appropriate time for meditation?
There is stuff going on under the hood. There are other Bahá'ís afraid to participate here, for fear of being swept up with the type of aggressive proselytizing and taking over of threads for that purpose on other forums and now on IO -- which they believe gives them a bad name, and makes it difficult for their voice to be heard.

So, sorry ...
 
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