Jesus and the Bahai Faith

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by Sean H., Nov 9, 2007.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Scott —

    A reading of the Old Testament will show these three stations as primary components of the Abrahamic Tradition. In fact I think it was Calvin who first coined the phrase, but it has since passed into common usage.

    Prophecy goes without saying. The Priesthood was established by the Sinai Covenant in the House of Levi and the High Priest as descendants of Aaron. Kingship, implicit is in the recognition of Israel's patriachs (eg Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) who provided the pattern. Saul was the first king, annointed by the Prophetic and Priestly office, but David was appointed by God.

    Actually this is not the case. The Sanhedrein had every right, and exercised that right as they chose. Think of the woman taken in adultery who was to be stoned, and Jesus himself 'slipped away' from a mob intent on stoning him when preaching in Jerusalem. The martyrdom of Stephen, a few years later, is another example.

    A careful reading of the text shows that Pilate did not want to execute a Jew on religious grounds, the Sanhedrin could claim it was not their fault, and he would be a martyr. But the sanhedrin made it explicit that Jesus was a threat to Roman order, and if the Romans did not act, they would ferment further discord against Rome (they whipped up the mob to call for his execution). Pilate was caught between 'a rock and a hard place', so he had the man executed, but washed his hands of the affair.

    Neither Moses (nor Mohammed, I think) make such a claim — the Primised Land is not the Kingdom, in Moses' case — both are messengers, whereas Jesus is Himself the Message incarnate.

     
  2. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays New Member

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    Thomas says:
    "The Word of God comes to us from Tradition ... the Christian Tradition produced the Christian Scriptures, as did the Jews, as did Mohammed."

    Actually the Qur'an is directly fromj God it is NOT tradition in any meaning whatsoever.
    In the case of the Torah and the TaNakh in general it is not "tradition" in the sense that you mean it, the Talmud is tradition, but not the TaNakh.

    As to the stonings ( or rather, stonings (aslmost). These were not the act of the Sanhedrin or the priesthood--it was the action of a mob. Mob violence could not be pinned on the Sanhedrin. The arrest of Jesus, on the other hand was directly on the responsibility of the Sanhedrin, and any trial and execution would have been against Roman law and easily pinnable on the Sanhedrin.

    In the lands of Rome ONLY the state had the right to try and execute.

    Regards,
    Scott
     
  3. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Scott

    Sorry, I was using the term 'tradition' in the classical sense of religious revelation, "that which is handed down"

    In this way, the Angel 'handed down' the Word to the Prophet, who handed it on to his people as an oral tradition ...

    God on Mount Sinai 'handed down' the Law to Moses, who handed it on to the people at the foot of the mountain.

    By traition I refer to the Revelation as a whole, I accept I did not make that point clear.

    But it was 'permissable' under Roman Law — the authorities took no action as long as things did not get out of hand.

    Not quite. Jesus' trial was on religious grounds, and the Romans allowed the Jews (almosy uniquely) religious freedom of expression.

    Rome was very pragmatic in the way it worked, allowing a degree of local autonomy within the context of Roman Rule — in Greece trial by jury was in place of which at least half the jury were non-Roman citizens. Across the empire local authorities acted outside of their authority (such as the execution of criminals) without interference ... in effect Rome 'turned a blind eye' so long as things didn't effect the Pax Romana.

    In the days of Christ, a letter could get from the Scottish borders to Asia Minor in about three days ... a fantastic achievement ... and travel was likewise swift and relatively safe ... all this was achieved by Rome by the allowance of a significant local autonomy.

    The Sanhedrin could and did pass sentence of death. The Romans technically then would carry out, but most often the Jews simply went ahead to cut the red tape and spare the hassle.

    In the case of Jesus the Sanhedrin knew He was popular, with significant local support in Judea and Galillee, so they wanted the Romans to be seen to be the villains. Rome would not execute on grounds of blasphemy, but they would a revolutionary. However Jesus was not preaching revolution nor, indeed, anything against Rome. For Pilate this was a religious and an internal affair to be settled by the Jews (that's why he sent Jesus back to Herod, with no case against him).

    Herod let Pilate know that if he did not execute Jesus, Herod would complain to Pilate's superiors that Pilate was allowing insurgency to happen without taking effective measures. It was blackmail.

    Yes, but the Romans were practiced at 'devolved government'.

    Remember the Sanhedrin even had its own militia, quite a freedom, Rome was not in the habit of allowing armed units to be independent of Roman authority.

    Rome was happy to let Herod, who was suspect of murdering the prior members of the Sanhedrin and replaced them with his cronies, enjoy a fair degree of freedom. They had him in their pocket, as far as they were concerned.

    The histories of Josephus and others confirm the practice of local authorities executing even capital crimes.

    Thomas
     
  4. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    the talmud is many things, not just tradition. it includes legends, law, jurisprudence, jokes, history, anecdotes, philosophy, folk wisdom, demonology, magic, precedent, procedure and many, many other things. i recommend this book: Amazon.com: Everyman's Talmud: The Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages: Books: Abraham Cohen if you are interested in getting an overview of the content and structure.

    in fact, if you understand sanhedrin procedure at all, none of these things could have occurred without the sanhedrin itself being technically "arrogant" or "murderous". only a court of 71 people (the "great sanhedrin") is authorised to carry out capital punishment and then only once in 75 years. also, the appeals process is lengthy and lenient. even the procedure for stoning someone is minutely detailed and contains many ways to be commuted. the trial of jesus as described in the gospels could only have been conducted by a corrupt, "kangaroo" court. correct procedure is not followed in terms of either the prosecution, witnessing or any other respect; there is no way on earth that was a halakhically valid trial or anything else if it indeed happened as reported. it is understood that the romans had been able to corrupt the priesthood and much of the legal establishment (see josephus, talmudic sources agree) but even so there was still enough knowledge of the proper procedure for the trial to have been invalidated.

    as for the execution, halakhah provides for only four methods of it and crucifixion is most certainly not one of them. that is a roman method and a particularly nasty one at that. halakhically executed criminals would have to be buried by nightfall, not left out to hang dying by inches. whatever the sanhedrin may have been like at the time, nobody could countenance such treatment but the romans. you should hear what they did to rabbi akiva and the ten martyrs of the hadrianic persecutions.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  5. Popeyesays

    Popeyesays New Member

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    Thomas where did you get the idea a physical letter could travel some 1500 miles in threee days in Roman times? The actual distance from Aberdeen to Ankara is 1,967 miles AS THE CROW FLIES.
    That's a steady travel rate of 28 miles an hour. The Titanic had a speed to accomplish that--horse and sailing ship could not acheive that rate of speed, or were you postulating air mail?

    Regards,

    Scott
     
  6. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, my error ... please discount.

    Thomas
     
  7. Sean H.

    Sean H. Member

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    You certainly do not have to respond if you do not wish. I have no wish in debate, only discussion. In fact it is against the teachings of the Bahai Faith to argue about religion. So if it appears that I am arguing please let me know because that is not my intention. :)


    I feel that Baha'u'llah more directly fulfills the conditions of the Comforter. That is my opinion.

    Baha'u'llah says directly that he is the Comforter. It is up to the individual whether they believe that Baha'u'llah is who he says he is.

    Baha'u'llah doesn't speak about how he fulfills the station. He has led a virtuous life, and given humanity a bounty of divine knowledge, with this one can judge for themselves.

    Care to give some quotes about these 3 spiritual stations? I'd be interested in hearing about them. :)

    I don't think these contradict what I said though. And in fact, the idea of a son of a god was not an uncommon one during the early Christian years. In my opinion, it's possible that this added to the idea of taking the sonship literally.
    Oh I agree that Judaism is monotheistic, but we're not talking about Judaism :)
    I don't agree with everything that Arius said either. Of course that doesn't mean that he was necessarily wrong about everything. I agree with him that Jesus is not literally God.

    (The internet is strange sometimes and certain statements can be interpreted as rudeness when they are not meant to be, and I want you to imagine me saying this to you in person in a calm demeanor with a smile on my face). To be fair, the idea of a 3 person God is contrary to the Hebrew Bible.

    Thanks for the quote and in fact in the Bahai Faith in the Hidden Words, Son of man is used to refer to any man. I was thinking of quotes from the New Testament that could possibly refer to a generic man.

    It's certainly possible that the son of man to come mentioned in Mark, Matthew, and Luke is a generic son of man. On the other hand, it's just as equally likely that its referring to someone like Jesus. And, when looked at with the quotes that refer to Christ speaking about himself coming back, it seems even more appropriate to me to think that it would refer to someone like Christ.

    I don't see how I read any of those out of context. In fact I used the original Greek to remove some of the forced context from previous translators :)

    But, please though, tell me where you think I took something out of context / got something wrong.

    All this quote means is that Jesus is pre-existent (which is kinda cool :cool:), but it doesn't mean that Jesus is God.
    Indeed the beginning of John is great. These two quotes are often given together.

    1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    [...]
    1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

    I've never seen the following line included with it though....

    1:18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
    (King James Bible, John)


    Jesus can't be God because no one has seen God at any time. Thus, the preceding lines need to be interpreted in a spiritual not literal manner.
    Oh I agree with you totally. I still don't think that this means that Jesus is God though, John 1:18 has already aided us.

    I'd like to point out just for the fun of it (;)) that the Jewish scholars of Jesus's time used the traditions and their interpretations of what the messiah was going to fulfill.

    In doing so they failed to recognize his holiness Christ and deprived themselves and their kindred of true hapiness. They should have been the ones to have accepted Christ the easiest since they were aware of all the prophecies, yet it was the Gentiles who, not immersed with literal expectations, were able to see the beauty of Christ and accept him much more than their Jewish counterparts.

    I say that the same has happened again in history. :cool:


    Actually, I would say the exact opposite. John 14:9-14:10 and John 1:18 (which I just showed) present overwhelming evidence I think.
     
  8. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Greetings!

    For the record, the trinity is essentially a man-made doctrine cooked up by a committee several centuries after Christ!

    While there is a single mention of "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" in the Bible, there is clearly nothing to justify the huge edifice of doctrine later Christianity has erected around this concept.

    Peace,

    Bruce
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    The term 'Trinity' was coined by Tertullian (160-235), however the acknowledgement of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as being equal is in St Matthew (although disputed), St John, St Paul (Corinthians), whilst the activity of the three Persons is implicit in Acts.

    The tripartite formulae is written of in the Didache (c110AD), as well as by St. Ignatius (35-107), St. Irenaeus (2nd c), St. Hippolytus (d.235), St. Cyprian (d 258), and St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (213-270) amongst others, so it's late first, early second century at the latest.

    Just for the record.

    Peace,

    Thomas
     
  10. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Oh, if it was written by St. Ignatius, then it was rather early. Did he come into contact, or hear about, the worship of the Egyptian triad Isis, Serapis, and the child Horus? This or some other trinities during the time may have accustomed the early church theologians to the idea of a triune God.
     
  11. Dah-veeth

    Dah-veeth Abeja Maya

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    I like 'Abdu'l-Baha's explanation of the concept of Trinity. He uses the explanation to harmonize strict monotheism with the idea of seeing God in Jesus, because Jesus is a Perfect Mirror reflecting the Light of God.

    Also, on the topic of Jesus and the Baha'i Faith, Baha'u'llah wrote to Napoleon III:

    "Commotions shall seize all the people in that land, unless thou arisest to help this Cause, and followest Him Who is the Spirit of God in this, the Straight Path. Hath thy pomp made thee proud? By My Life! It shall not endure; nay, it shall soon pass away, unless thou holdest fast to this firm Cord." -Baha'u'llah

    ...only a small part of the Tablet.
     
  12. Dah-veeth

    Dah-veeth Abeja Maya

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    I forgot to add that Spirit of God is a title of Jesus.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Hi Ahanu —
    The immediate (but not very useful) answer to this question is no — the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is derived solely from Scripture, and in fact solely from the New Testament.

    A study of the Doctrine itself will soon show that it is clearly different from the triune polytheisms of the Ancient World, be they the familial triunes such as the Egyptian model, or the hierarchical pantheon of the Greeks.

    The Doctrine of the Trinity is a development of and implicit in New Testament Christology, but a discussion of that is probably too far off-topic for this thread.

    Rather, let me offer one of the earliest teachings on the subject by Irenaeus, a 2nd century theologian and the 'Father of Theology' — one of the few Fathers who was not a Platonist — but a Scriptural exegete, a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of St John — this will demonstrate, I think, how the doctrine is uniquely Christian, and owes nothing to previous triune systems:

    "And for this reason the baptism of our regeneration proceeds through these three points: God the Father bestowing on us regeneration through His Son by the Holy Spirit. For as many as carry (in them) the Spirit of God are led to the Word, that is to the Son; and the Son brings them to the Father; and the Father causes them to possess incorruption. Without the Spirit it is not possible to behold the Word of God, nor without the Son can any draw near to the Father for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of the Son of God is through the Holy Spirit; and, according to the good pleasure of the Father, the Son ministers and dispenses the Spirit to whomsoever the Father wills and as He wills."
    Irenause: The Demonstration of the Apostolic Teaching para vii.

    Thomas
     
  14. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    On trinity in Baha'i Faith:

    Thomas:

    I think Platonism has had a deep influence on the Western religions.

    Baha'is don't have "theology" as it is known i think in Christianity... also "theology" probbaly developed over time into maybe creeds of the church...and is still going on .. But we have no "Baha'i theologians".

    We have only some statements about "trinity" that you may already be familiar with which are found in the utterances recorded by Abdul-Baha. TH
    he Bab made some reference to trinity too as I recall.

    Here are some of the references:

    ABDUL BAHA: His Holiness Christ said: "The Father is in me." This we must understand through logical and scientific evidences, for if religious principles do not accord with science and reason, they do not inspire the heart with confidence and assurance.

    It is said that once John of Chrysostom was walking along the seashore thinking over the question of the trinity and trying to reconcile it with finite reason; his attention was attracted to a boy sitting on the shore putting water into a cup. Approaching him, he said, "My child, what art thou doing?" "I am trying to put the sea into this cup," was the answer. "How foolish art thou," said John, "in trying to do the impossible." The child replied, "Thy work is stranger than mine, for thou art laboring to bring within the grasp of human intellect the conception of the trinity."

    Let us, free from past tradition, investigate the reality of this matter. What is the meaning of the father and the son?

    This fatherhood and sonship are allegorical and symbolical. The Messianic reality is like 153 unto a mirror through which the sun of divinity has become resplendent. If this mirror expresses "The light is in me" - it is sincere in its claim; therefore Jesus was truthful when he said, "The Father is in me."
    The sun in the sky and the sun in the mirror are one, are they not? - and yet we see there are apparently two suns

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 152)

    The epitome of the discourse is that the Reality of Christ was a clear mirror, and the Sun of Reality -- that is to say, the Essence of Oneness, with its infinite perfections and attributes -- became visible in the mirror. The meaning is not that the Sun, which is the Essence of the Divinity, became divided and multiplied -- for the Sun is one -- but it appeared in the mirror. This is why Christ said, "The Father is in the Son," meaning that the Sun is visible and manifest in this mirror.
    The Holy Spirit is the Bounty of God which becomes visible and evident in the Reality of Christ. The Sonship station is the heart of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the station of the spirit of Christ. Hence it has become certain and proved that the Essence of Divinity is absolutely unique and has no equal, no likeness, no equivalent. 115
    This is the signification of the Three Persons of the Trinity.

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 113)


    there are necessarily three things, the Giver of the Grace, the Grace, and the Recipient of the Grace: the Source of the Effulgence, the Effulgence, and the Recipient of the Effulgence; the Illuminator, the Illumination, and the Illuminated.

    (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 448)

    and this is from the Writings of the Bab:

    Verily, Christ is Our Word which We communicated unto Mary; 4 and let no one say what the Christians term 61 as ‘the third of three’, 5 inasmuch as it would amount to slandering the Remembrance Who, as decreed in the Mother Book, is invested with supreme authority. Indeed God is but one God, and far be it from His glory that there should be aught else besides Him. All those who shall attain unto Him on the Day of Resurrection are but His servants, and God is, of a truth, a sufficient Protector. Verily I am none other but the servant of God and His Word, and none but the first one to bow down in supplication before God, the Most Exalted; and indeed God witnesseth all things. Chapter LXI.
     
  15. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Thomas, this is interesting because Irenaeus's teaching is not original.

    Yes, this quote reminds me of Philipians 2:6, however, it still reminds me of Egyptian beliefs.

    Pagan and Christian Creeds: XV. The Ancient Mysteries

    To me, of what I see on the surface of the doctrine of the trinty, the idea evolved over time. The mystery religions prepared the way for the trinity we now know in Christianity. Irenaeus unconsciously copied and developed them. Thoughts?
     
  16. Dah-veeth

    Dah-veeth Abeja Maya

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    I started reading something called the Common Catechism (a Protestant and Catholic book) one time, and it said, from what I remember of it, that the concept of Trinity came as a defense because the Jews said there is only one God and the Christians were calling Jesus God. The Christians knew monotheism to be correct and had to explain just how Jesus was God and that God was only one God. I think 'Abdu'l-Baha does an excellent job of it.

    And here is something from the Book of Ceritude:

    "Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: 'I am God!' He verily speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His name and His attributes, are made manifest in the world." -Baha'u'llah


     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: On trinity in Baha'i Faith:

    Hi Arthra —

    Indeed it has. The Christian heritage is twofold: The Revelation in Jesus Christ, and the mature reflection upon its content in the Greek Philosophical tradition.

    Interesting. Does it demand blind faith then? The definition of theology in the Christian Tradition is 'faith seeking understanding'.

    You'll have to forgive me, I'm afraid not.

    We would dispute this on a number of points. The data of revelation is not accessible to reason nor logic, else man would have arrived at it through philosophic inquiry. Nor can it be proved through scientific inquiry, which is dependent on empirical measure. Nor can the content of religion be judged by science and reason, for the same reason ... man would have to be omniscient to judge.

    We do believe however, that the data of revelation, and our doctrines, must be reasonable ... but that's theology. Faith and Reason are the two wings upon which man ascends to the Divine, as we say, but never forget that the heart of the matter is a Mystery beyond all understanding. Man is not omniscient.

    Actually that story is of St. Augustine of Hippo. But the point remains that the Trinity is a Mystery, and beyond reason and science ... St Augustine was one of the first to point out that however we describe it, and whatever analogy we use, it is only an analogy, it is not what the Trinity is.

    Without access to tradition, I would argue we have lost all touch with reality, certainly with the culture and the context. Put tradition on one side, and we can determine a thing to be anything we fancy. Philosophy demands a synchronic and a diachronic investigation (what is said, and the cultural context in which it is said) ... without this, really one is lost. Truth of history is dependent upon a knowledge of culture and context. The erroneous assumptions of what the past tells us is down to this abandonment of tradition.

    If I put tradition aside, I could see the Baha'i faith as someone jumping on the Moslem bandwagon ... taking tradition into account, I see it as a continuation of the Moslem Tradition, placing prophecy at the apex of Revelation.

    Definitely not what traditional Christianity believes.

    If Jesus claimed to be a prophet, this would be true, but he did not, and the error here is in assuming that is what He is. This is why I see bahai's as essentially Moslem-based.

    For us, such a suggestion is a form of Docetism, a view which the Gospel of St John, for one, expressly refutes. It also affirms a radical duality, that the Person of Jesus is simply a reflection of the Divine, and that the human person is of little or no consequence, and disposable. This renders the Passion and Jesus' expiatory sacrifice void and meaningless.

    Such analogies have been used throughout Christendom for centuries. My favourite is the Lover, the Loved, and the Love.

    (But is there not a contradiction here? Above the idea is of one thing, reflected in other things ... the only meaning or value of the mirror is what it reflects ... here one's talking of three things of equal importance, as the capitalisation implies, not mirrors, but actualities?)

    Thomas
     
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Well all gropings toards truth are gropings towards God, so in the religions of Antiquity I can see vestiges and shadows of the truth, and these continue superficially in correspondences, only when you go in deep do you see the difference.

    That's what made Christianity unique, and so shocking.

    Thou, my and him are three distinct individuals, with no relation other than an initiatic bond, the term 'into' above is crucial ... this is not what the Trinity is about:

    The Father is the Son and is the Holy Spirit;
    The Son is the Father and is the Holy Spirit;
    The Holy Spirit is the Father and is the Son.

    The three are one, co-equal and co-eternal, the Son and the Spirit are distinct by the mode of procession:
    "And God (Father) said (Son), let there be light (Spirit)"

    Until then, Word and Light was God, in God and with God, without distinction.
    Son and Spirit are distinct, but the same, as the Father ... the difference is by order of relation.

    St. Augustine offered the analogy of a man, an idea, and an action ... but in man the idea is of the man but not the man, the action is of the man and the idea, but is not the man nor the idea ... in the Trinity, man, idea and action or simultaneous, and each is wholly the other, so the man is the idea is the action, the idea is the man and the action, the action is the man and the idea...

    ... see it now?

    The triunes of Antiquity come nowhere near this, being more concerned (usually) with fertility, reproduction and the agrarian cycle.

    Thomas
     
  19. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Maybe Thomas this has been helpful to you to understand the Baha'i views on the subject.

    We would stipulate that the Baha'i view and the traditional Christian views are different. What would be unfortunate i think is to launch into some sort of argumentation here...

    The statement about trinity above that I cited are the Baha'i views. Your base is clearly more from Christian theology.

    To say that Baha'is are essentially "Muslim based" is in a sense historicallly acurate just as we could probably say teat Christianity was based in Judaism at some point... but later we would say with the emergence of Christian church would be a divergence say in that Judaisers were more or less at odds with some of those who were Hellenized and so on. But doctrinally and as you note theologically, Christianity would have diverged from Judaism.

    In our case, that is from the standpoint of the Baha'i Faith we are not simply "Muslim based" and let me give a few examples of that:

    The ordinances of the Baha'i Faith are distinct from Islam... We have our own obligatory prayers , centers of pilgriamge, calendar and fasting and so on.

    The concept of the Manifestation of God is uniquely Baha'i ...but has somethings in common with from past dispensations... A Manifestation has innate knowledge and reflects God perfectly. Here is where the anology of the pure Mirror reflecting the attributes of God is found. So a Manifestation is not simply "human" as other men, but like the Christian view that Jesus is both human and Divine.

    Baha'is acknowledge that the Gospel of Christ, His teachings were not corrupted or lost as is most often the view among Muslims..

    What we have in common with the early Christians is recognizing that the Bab and Baha'u'llah are the fulfillment of the dispensation of Prophet Muhammad is propably similar to the position of the early Christians who saw Christ the Messiah as the fulfillment of Judaism.

    - Art:)
     
  20. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Point of clarification:

    One additional thing I'd like to mention for clarification Thomas when quoting my post above we need to be clear that the statements I quoted are not my own but are from talks reported by Abdul-Baha and from the Writings of the Bab..



    Originally Posted by arthra [​IMG]
    Let us, free from past tradition, investigate the reality of this matter.

    Originally Posted by arthra [​IMG]
    The Messianic reality is like unto a mirror ...

    Originally Posted by arthra [​IMG]
    It is said that once John of Chrysostom ...

     

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