I am a member of the Bahá'í Faith. As a Baha'i I believe that Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith, represents the fulfillment of all religious expectations. Thus I believe that He is, in Himself the return of Christ come in the Glory of the Father. I don't come to argue about that, obviously everyone here disagrees, I just needed to state that to explain my questions in context.
I am very interested in Apostolic Christianity, and I believe that the Orthodox Church represents the Church of the Apostles, rather than the Catholic or Anglican Churches. I have a few questions about Biblical passages which present a problem for me:
Matthew 16:27 "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works."
What does it mean for Jesus to return in the Glory of His Father? Does it mean that He was not fully incarnate, lacking the presence of the first person of the trinity, when He first appeared? Does this even refer, as most Christians I am familiar with assume, to the second coming of Christ?
Yes, when He will appear to all as He appeared on Mount Tabor (Mat. 17:2,5) which answers the other part of your question.
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John 10:15-18 "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."
How does the Orthodox Church interpret Christ's statement that He is to bring other sheep who are not of this fold? Also, what does the Church believe Christ meant by "because I lay down my life, that I might take it again", does Christ die many times?
The Resurrection: unlike other "gods," like Osiris and Tammuz, Christ rises, He is not raised by another. A one time event.
He is talking on the Sabbath, to Jewish religious authorities. The "other sheep" are the Gentiles.
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Matthew 16:18-19 "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."[/i]
This is the biggest reason I am interested in the Orthodox Church. As a Baha'i I unequivocally recognize the divine origins of Christian religion, I also believe the Church has an eternal mission from God and is a major part of His salvific plan for the world. Baha'is believe that while traditions can be divinely inspired, more often than not they tend to alter the form of religions away from the original shape God intended, and reflect the wayward ideas of sinful people. This quote causes difficulty for me, because it seems to imply that the traditions of the Church could not lead it away from Christ's intent. What does the Orthodox Church have to say about the meaning of this verse from scripture?
That it is impossible that the Traditions of the Church can lead it away from Christ's intent.
This is the problem with Muhammad's claim to renew Christianity: if you ask the Jews, they are still waiting for the Messiah, the Christians saying He came in Christ. The Muslims claim that Muhammad is the prophet promised by Christ, but if you ask and look at our writings from the New Testament onward, we are not waiting for a Prophet (as the Jews, rejecting Christ, are awaiting for the Messiah) because Christ didn't say a Prophet was coming. He said "It is finished."
I am aware that this conflicts with the Baha'i idea of the Greater Covenant and the Lesser Covenants (plural). But that is of course the problem: what is accepted as "Lesser Convenant" contradict each other, and cannot be all true. The New Covenant (Testament is the Latin word for "covenant") demands recognition of Christ as God, this contradicts the Jewish Talmudic (but not the Hebrew pre-NT and Christian) interpretation of the Old Covenant, and contradicts the explicit teaching of the covenant of the Quran. All three cannot be harmonized without some serious editing to some other "covenent" which is given priority. A story, oft repeated, of the Indian interpretor of a English Baha'i: the woman explained that God was like the sun, but Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Baha'ullah etc. were windows through which the sun was seen. The Indian interpreted, but added "I have to disagree with the gentle lady: Jesus is not a window. He is the sunlight." This verse is Christ's claim: all progressive revelation progresses to and ends in Him. Hence why the Gates of Hell will never prevail against His Church, and His Greater Covenant with Her will never be in need of another.