Questions for the Baha'i – from a primarily Christian perspective.

Thomas

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The Baha’i teaches that God is unknowable in his essence (Christianity refutes that, btw), but that God does reveal something of Himself through his “manifestations” (ie. Krishna, Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Baha’u’llah, et. al.). If I have it right, these manifestations possess something of the attributes of the divine in a particular and unique way, unlike the rest of humanity.

The Baha'i regards all manifestations of God as essentially one and the same in essence, indeed sharing a common soul and as such are one being in multifarious forms – This stands in stark contrast to the self-declarations and identifications of the aforesaid manifestations – one cannot simply, reasonably and rationally equate Krishna with Abraham, or John the Baptist with the Buddha and say the all share one soul (indeed, the Buddha denies the soul altogether).

When we take in Prophets such as Jeremiah or Ezekiel, Isaiah or Hosea, then the situation is all the more stark – the Prophets of Judaism were men and women called by God. They were not seen as, nor declared themselves to be, 'manifestations of God'. Strictly speaking, the most one can say is that God manifested his Word and his Will through them – He was present in them and to them, but not as them. Nor was this manifesting state a permanent state of being – God came and went, as it were – not every word uttered by, and every moment of the existence of, a prophet, is Revelation.

In short, it's hyperbole. It is perhaps laudatory in certain circumstances, but it's not true.
 
The fact that, across religions, God is presented (where the ideas of God is presented) in often contradictory ways implies either that religions contradict one another, or that God’s own nature is contradictory. Abrahamic religions are monotheist. Hinduism is polytheist. Buddhism is agnostic. Taoism ... all have their own unique flavour ... God can't be One God and Many Gods, the True religion can't declare God as 'the one thing necessary' whilst simultaneously declaring the idea of God is an irrelevance ...

Assuming that God is not self-contradictory or irrational (any idea religion is dead in its tracks if that’s the case), then we can, for contingent reasons – the nature of the world (time, place, audience) – allow the idea that the manifestations can appear to contradict one another.

That being so, the then problem is how to resolve the apparent contradictions?

We cannot rely on the words of the Messengers themselves, as they each declare themselves absolute and infallible. One is therefore obliged to accept (in the absence of a viable alternative) that no single religion is more or less reliable than any other, and furthermore that no single religion can offer a reliable commentary on any other religion without promoting and projecting its own bias – all religion suffer bias to a greater or lesser degree which renders their assertions tragically flawed.

Only a universal metaphysic – such as that inherent in Hindu/Buddhism, or in Abrahamic/Neoplatonism, a system not wedded to any specific religion expression, but rather a theory of ontological philosophical principles – in which the idea of religion as such is axiomatic – according to which all religions can accord to, without intrinsic or extrinsic contradiction, offers at least a reasoned and rational argument and explanation in support of a Transcendent Unity, whilst simultaneously upholding their particular determinations and individual and unique expression.

Only here, by the identification of common ontological metaphysical principle, rigorously applied, can the sifting of sacra doctrina take place with a view to identifying the Real, the True and the Eternal from the relative and the contingent – the discernment between atma and maya, essence and veil, the formless and the formal.

Only then can one approach, from without, a religion with a view to establishing at least the hope of its veracity, its authenticity and its efficacy.

To be continued...
 
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The Baha'i regards all manifestations of God as essentially one and the same in essence, indeed sharing a common soul and as such are one being in multifarious forms – This stands in stark contrast to the self-declarations and identifications of the aforesaid manifestations – one cannot simply, reasonably and rationally equate Krishna with Abraham, or John the Baptist with the Buddha and say the all share one soul (indeed, the Buddha denies the soul altogether).
Good morning Thomas. For the Bahai, today 19th of March 2024, this is the last day of the Fast and Naw Ruz is tomorrow. May all have a happy Naw Ruz.

I hope you do not mind, but it is the Bab and Baha'u'llah that has answered these questions, so I hope you do not mind me giving Baha'u'llah's answers, in that way, I will not muddy the waters too much with my own view of the answers.

This is one of the Major aspects of Faith that is very important to understand, it is the "Twofold Station of The Messengers"

There is a link that introduces this, as it is said that this Twofold Station (The human and the divine) manifested in this age as the Two Messengers in close succession.


Baha'u'llah said this about the Bab in the Kitab-i-iqan

"...No understanding can grasp the nature of His Revelation, nor can any knowledge comprehend the full measure of His Faith ….All else save Him are created by His command, and move and have their being through His law. He is the Revealer of the divine mysteries, and the Expounder of the hidden and ancient wisdom..."

That is the Divine Station of Oneness that all the Messengers share, the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bab told us of his human Station the station of distinctions, which is born from the human nature.

"...God beareth Me witness, I was not a man of learning, for I was trained as a merchant. In the year sixty (1260, or 1844) God graciously infused my soul with the conclusive evidences and weighty knowledge which characterize Him Who is the Testimony of God—may peace be upon Him—until finally in that year I proclaimed God’s hidden Cause and unveiled its well-guarded Pillar, in such wise that no one could refute it. (Selections from the Writings of the Báb, page 12)

So this reflects Jesus. The human aspect of Jesus was as a carpenter, the Divine was the Son of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, the first the Last, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega, Christ! All Annointed of God, the chosen ones.

This has many, many volumns of explanations Thomas. Thank you for the questions, they truly ignite the soul.

There are many ways this question can be answered.

Regards Tony
 
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When we take in Prophets such as Jeremiah or Ezekiel, Isaiah or Hosea, then the situation is all the more stark – the Prophets of Judaism were men and women called by God. They were not seen as, nor declared themselves to be, 'manifestations of God'. Strictly speaking, the most one can say is that God manifested his Word and his Will through them – He was present in them and to them, but not as them. Nor was this manifesting state a permanent state of being – God came and went, as it were – not every word uttered by, and every moment of the existence of, a prophet, is Revelation.
The book Baha'u'llah gave to answer all these questions is the Kitab-i-iqan (Book of Certitude)

Baha'u'llah wrote that book in answer to a question from the Uncle of the Bab. The Uncle wanted to know how his Nephew could be the promissed one. The Book was the reply to that question.


The light God gives humanity in each age varies in intensity according to God's Will and God's plan for humanity. Baha'u'llah explains this in the Kitab-i-iqan and states that just because the light of some Prophets, Messengers, Manifestations did not appear as bright, it is not because God withheld the full intensity of light from them, it was because of the capacity of humanity that the full intensity could not be shown.

On this note, Baha'u'llah destroyed a large amount of His Revelation, as we were not ready to see it. Humanity rejected the Most Great Peace. It is a sad reflection that so much wonder has been lost, but I can see why, we still can not embrace a Lesser Peace.

Regards Tony
 
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We cannot rely on the words of the Messengers themselves, as they each declare themselves absolute and infallible. One is therefore obliged to accept (in the absence of a viable alternative) that no single religion is more or less reliable than any other, and furthermore that no single religion can offer a reliable commentary on any other religion without promoting and projecting its own bias – all religion suffer bias to a greater or lesser degree which renders their assertions tragically flawed.
Thomas I am of the opinion we can rely 100% on the Word of God.

The quandary is what was actually said by the Messengers in contrast to what men have added to it.

It is a major warning of the Holy Books. They tell us not to add to the Word.

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:2.)

I hope you can see why Baha'u'llah has offered that past doctrine built on addition to the recorded word, does become erroneous. The Tanakh and New Testament also gave us prior warning not to do this.

Regards Tony
 
..When we take in Prophets such as Jeremiah or Ezekiel, Isaiah or Hosea, then the situation is all the more stark – the Prophets of Judaism were men and women called by God. They were not seen as, nor declared themselves to be, 'manifestations of God'. Strictly speaking, the most one can say is that God manifested his Word and his Will through them – He was present in them and to them, but not as them. Nor was this manifesting state a permanent state of being – God came and went, as it were – not every word uttered by, and every moment of the existence of, a prophet, is Revelation..
Hmmm .. here's what wiki has to offer..

The Manifestation of God (Persian: مظهر ظهور maẓhar ẓohūr) is a concept in the Baháʼí Faith that refers to what are commonly called prophets. The Manifestations of God are appearances of the Divine Spirit or Holy Spirit in a series of personages, and as such, they perfectly reflect the attributes of the divine into the human world for the progress and advancement of human morals and civilization through the agency of that same Spirit.
Manifestation_of_God_(Bahai_Faith)

Personally, I see nothing inherently troublesome about that.
I don't think it means that they become God, but reflect God.
 
The fact that, across religions, God is presented (where the ideas of God is presented) in often contradictory ways implies either that religions contradict one another, or that God’s own nature is contradictory. Abrahamic religions are monotheist. Hinduism is polytheist. Buddhism is agnostic. Taoism ... all have their own unique flavour ... God can't be One God and Many Gods, the True religion can't declare God as 'the one thing necessary' whilst simultaneously declaring the idea of God is an irrelevance ...
Right .. and that is because while Hinduism might have started off as teaching monotheism, it no longer does, as it is an ancient religion and has evolved to become what it is today.

Prophets were sent to Bani Israel over a few decades, neverMIND centuries, in order to correct mistaken beliefs!
 
I think perhaps in Hinduism the different gods are more like department managers in a cosmos where all comes from Brahma and all returns to Brahma – the One?

It is true that Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita 4:7 appears as the (periodic) manifestation of Vishnu ‘God’ himself:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself."

And in the Bhagavad Gita 11:10-11 Krishna reveals Himself in his divine form to Arjuna, in a transfiguration passage similar to that in the New Testament Matthew 17:1-8

Remembering that in terms of Hindu literature, the Bhagavad Gita is relatively recent, as @Aupmanyav has observed
 
"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself."
This is explained by Baha'u'llah as the Station of the Messengers, this is Christ.

"The Annointed Self of God".

Regards Tony
 
I think perhaps in Hinduism the different gods are more like department managers in a cosmos where all comes from Brahma and all returns to Brahma – the One?
Remembering that in terms of Hindu literature, the Bhagavad Gita is relatively recent, as @Aupmanyav has observed
Some are like department managers, Yama for example. But there are three chairpersons - Vishnu, Shiva and the Mother Goddess.
Yeah, not much before the Christian era as per scholars.
 
Right .. and that is because while Hinduism might have started off as teaching monotheism, it no longer does, as it is an ancient religion and has evolved to become what it is today.
Hinduism was never monotheist. And the people who got mixed with them, also were polytheists (Aryans). All pagans.
 
“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:2.)
It is OK for Abrahamic religions, but Hindus do not believe your books. No God/Goddess told us to worship him/her. It was always a personal choice which one to worship. Gods/Goddesses in Hinduism are not jealous autocrats like the one in Abrahamic religions. It does not worry them if you don't worship any. They will not send you to hell for this reason. They are more reasonable. I am one of those Atheist Hindus.
 
The light God gives humanity in each age varies in intensity according to God's Will and God's plan for humanity.
Hindu Gods have established an eternal law. It is like evolution where changes occur by themselves. No second, third or fourth feed is required.
Plan of Hindu Gods is extremely simple - Fulfill your duty (to your family, to society and to your country).
 
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Hinduism was never monotheist..
..and that is YOUR belief.
How far do you want to go back in history?
Do you think that ancient documents are that reliable? I don't.

I often see when discussing weather the phrase "since records began", and that often
refers to a few decades ago at most. :D
 
'Anointed'? What is that? Does God need a bath in River Jordan?
God chooses the Messenger, who though they are born a human like us, they are in rality pre-existing in the Holy Spirit and that Spirit is then Annointed to the man born in the age that God has chosen to guide humanity. That man becomes the example, the mouth and the pen that will deliver what God inspires them to deliver.

God does not decend into creation, the Most Great Spirit enspires the Holy Spirit to tell humanity of God, to be an example of the attributes of the Guidance and Laws that God gives humanity in each age.

They are not men like us, that is why the proof is their person and their life, they are 100% trustworthy and truthful. They possess innate knowledge, they possess unlimited power of the creative spirit.

There is many, many things to consider as they adequately prove that this is so, only to those that sincerely choose to determine if they are trustworthy and truthful.

Regards Tony
 
It is OK for Abrahamic religions, but Hindus do not believe your books. No God/Goddess told us to worship him/her. It was always a personal choice which one to worship. Gods/Goddesses in Hinduism are not jealous autocrats like the one in Abrahamic religions. It does not worry them if you don't worship any. They will not send you to hell for this reason. They are more reasonable. I am one of those Atheist Hindus.
That is a choice as to which guidance one chooses in life.

I am not here to change that choice, just offer different frames of references, new concepts about what Faith is, the possibilities.

I also see in the Abrahamic line that God also does not send anybody to hell. I see God warns us that hell is our own material choices above the virtues God offers us to live. God warns us that we are our own demon's, that we are satan as the result of bad choices.

Heaven and hell is but a state of mind and manifests in this world by not living the attributes enspired by Love, not the hell of hate.

Regards Tony
 
Hindu Gods have established an eternal law. It is like evolution where changes occur by themselves. No second, third or fourth feed is required.
Plan of Hindu Gods is extremely simple - Fulfill your duty (to your family, to society and to your country).
That would to me become a garden that has no gardener, which will eventually be overtaken by weeds.

Mankind needs an educator, the multi colour garden of humanity, needs a Gardener.

Otherwise our duty becomes clouded, we can think that duty can include various predudices against other human beings, we could think our duty overrides the well-being of all humanity.

Regards Tony
 
That would to me become a garden that has no gardener, which will eventually be overtaken by weeds.
Mankind needs an educator, the multi colour garden of humanity, needs a Gardener.
Otherwise our duty becomes clouded, we can think that duty can include various predudices against other human beings, we could think our duty overrides the well-being of all humanity.
Why are you against weeds? Even weeds have their uses. Go organic.
It is because of these educators that there is strife in the world.
Hindu duties are very clear, as mentioned above (family, society, country). We do not profess fake love and brotherhood for proselytization.
 
That being so, the then problem is how to resolve the apparent contradictions?
Baha'i teachings introduce the concept of relational logic, which suggests our understanding of spiritual truths deepens over time. Just like scientific understanding evolves, our concepts of the divine may also.

To provide a brief example, the ancient world often relied on supernatural explanations for what they observed in nature. This results in contradictory descriptions of similar phenomena between ancient Christians and modern Christians. For example, ancient Christians believed the idea of a spirit indwelling someone could explain mental health issues. Mental health issues weren't well understood at the time. Epilepsy was often believed to be caused by possession of a god or a demon in ancient times. The way Mark describes epilepsy shows the writer understood it through a supernatural lens (Mark 9.14-29). It was caused by spirit possession. Thankfully, modern medicine offers a different framework for understanding such conditions. And, thankfully, most modern Christians I know choose a modern way of describing the same phenomena.

Jesus Heals a Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit
14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.

17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

19 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.[a]”
 
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