Abdul'l Baha and Paul

lunamoth

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Dear Baha'i Friends,

I was just pondering today that there are a lot of parallels between Abdu'l Baha and Saul/Paul of Christianity. Both were the immediate followers of the Manifestation, both were eloquent, both were vital in spreading the Word to the world, etc.

What do you think?

lunamoth
 
It's true that Abdul-Baha travelled to Europe (1911) and later America (1912)... this was possible after His release from prison in Akka.

He was the authorized Interpreter of His Father's Writings and had many interviews with Western pilgrims, seekers. His life along with that of His Father was mostly in exile and imprisonment.

I see Paul though as not having the same authority as in the case of Abdul-Baha but nonetheless inspired by his conversion on the way to Damascus... His missions to the West might be a rough parallel to Abdul-Baha's journeys to Europe and America.

As far as we know Paul never met Jesus. He was opposed to the new religion and attempted to eliminate it as when he encouraged the martyrdom of Stephen and tried to round up the Nazarenes.

- Art
 
Hi Art, thank you for the reply. I guess I was also thinking that Abdu'l Baha really shaped the Baha'i Faith for the western world and also had so many writings addressing the questions and concerns of Christians, much as Paul shaped the Gospel message for Greeks and gentiles. I respect your belief they had different stations.

Kind of related to this, my understanding is that Abdu'l Baha upheld the authority of Paul in Christianity, while in Islam at the time of Baha'u'llah there perhaps was confusion about the righteousness of Paul's influence on Christianity. Is this how you understand it as well?

peace,
lunamoth
 
arthra said:
As far as we know Paul never met Jesus. He was opposed to the new religion and attempted to eliminate it as when he encouraged the martyrdom of Stephen and tried to round up the Nazarenes.

- Art

I guess these are the relevant quotes from the Bible:

11I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when God, who set me apart from birth[a] and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. (Gal 1)

Then Paul said: 3"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

6"About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'

8" 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked.

" 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. 9My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

10"'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked.
"'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.' 11My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me. (Acts 22)

peace,
lunamoth
 
Luna moth wrote:

I guess I was also thinking that Abdu'l Baha really shaped the Baha'i Faith for the western world and also had so many writings addressing the questions and concerns of Christians, much as Paul shaped the Gospel message for Greeks and gentiles. I respect your belief they had different stations.

My reply:

I think Baha'is regard Abdul-Baha as not really shaping the Baha'i Faith for the western world but rather explaining it and responding to questions about it... Abdul-Baha was always teaching the principles of Baha'u'llah, not shaping them or modifying them for the West. Here's an example of Abdul-Baha's reference to His Father's principles:

"Bahá'u'lláh declared the "Most Great Peace" and international arbitration. He voiced these principles in numerous epistles which were circulated broadcast throughout the East. He wrote to all the kings and rulers encouraging, advising and admonishing them in regard to the establishment of peace..."

So what He was about was teaching and representing what Baha'u'llah brought.

Luna moth wrote:

Kind of related to this, my understanding is that Abdu'l Baha upheld the authority of Paul in Christianity, while in Islam at the time of Baha'u'llah there perhaps was confusion about the righteousness of Paul's influence on Christianity. Is this how you understand it as well?

My reply:

Paul as an Apostle and his Epistles were always accepted by the Baha'is as well as the New Testament generally:

"Physical nearness or remoteness is of no importance; the essential fact is the spiritual affinity and ideal nearness. Judas Iscariot was for a long time favored in the holy court of His Holiness Christ, yet he was entirely far and remote; while Paul, the apostle, was in close embrace with His Holiness."

(Tablets of 'Abdu'l- Baha Abbas, vol. 3 (New York: Baha'i Publishing Committee, pp. 719-20.

When missionaries brought the New Testament to Persia the Baha'is accepted them and shared them in areas the missionaries could not go.

Baha'u'llah revealed in the Kitab-i-Iqan:

"We have also heard a number of the foolish of the earth assert that the genuine text of the heavenly Gospel doth not exist amongst the Christians, that it hath ascended unto heaven. How grievously they have erred!"

In contrast most Moslems believed and still do to this day, that the text of the Bible and the New Testament had been corrupted. Baha'is never believed this, but rather that the interpretation of scripture by the Church had been incorrect...

- Art
 
lunamoth said:
...my understanding is that Abdu'l Baha upheld the authority of Paul in Christianity, while in Islam at the time of Baha'u'llah there perhaps was confusion about the righteousness of Paul's influence on Christianity. Is this how you understand it as well?

peace,
lunamoth
Indeed - Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p.223-4
“One's conduct must be like the conduct of Paul, and one's faith similar to that of Peter."

It is not often the Exemplar calls others as Examples. (and as incredible as it seems this one sentence really does stradle two pages!)
 
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