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Author Topic: What is the Bahá'í Faith?  (Read 6164 times) Average Rating: 0
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Sen McGlinn
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« Reply #45 on: February 24, 2011, 09:25:05 PM »


What if God chose to give man knowledge that was not communicated in words, text, imaginings or through the senses at all?


That's the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which gives certain, but not complete, knowledge. However we can be mistaken about receiving such guidance, therefore we should not discard the senses, reason, and scripture and tradition. We can be relatively assured of what is in harmony with all of these
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« Reply #46 on: February 24, 2011, 10:09:29 PM »

That's the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which gives certain, but not complete, knowledge.
Would "complete knowledge" mean all knowledge that exists, or a complete "catholic/whole" knowledge regarding a particular truth?

I guess what I'm getting at is where you draw the line between what you consider knowable "partial" truth versus absolute.
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« Reply #47 on: February 24, 2011, 10:45:03 PM »

Can't help but feel this is an extreme form of skeptism that ultimately we cannot know anything. This is destructive to almost everything anyone says, the bahai under this logic has no reason to be bahai than be of any other religion.

Though I would submit God has given us knolwedge and that our senses are not completely flawed, though they can be misguided at times, but not at all times.
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« Reply #48 on: February 24, 2011, 10:56:32 PM »

Can't help but feel this is an extreme form of skeptism that ultimately we cannot know anything. This is destructive to almost everything anyone says, the bahai under this logic has no reason to be bahai than be of any other religion.

Exactly what I was about to get at.
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« Reply #49 on: February 24, 2011, 10:57:07 PM »

Can't help but feel this is an extreme form of skeptism that ultimately we cannot know anything(pr very little). This is destructive to almost everything anyone says, the bahai under this logic has no reason to be bahai than be of any other religion.

Though I would submit God has given us knolwedge and that our senses are not completely flawed, though they can be misguided at times, but not at all times.
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« Reply #50 on: February 24, 2011, 11:53:21 PM »

Can't help but feel this is an extreme form of skeptism that ultimately we cannot know anything. This is destructive to almost everything anyone says, the bahai under this logic has no reason to be bahai than be of any other religion.

Though I would submit God has given us knolwedge and that our senses are not completely flawed, though they can be misguided at times, but not at all times.
I don't think that this Baha'i is saying that our knowledge is misguided at all times.
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« Reply #51 on: February 25, 2011, 12:08:32 AM »

Can't help but feel this is an extreme form of skeptism that ultimately we cannot know anything. This is destructive to almost everything anyone says, the bahai under this logic has no reason to be bahai than be of any other religion.

That seems to be the Bahai theme. Except you have to choose a somewhat consistent cosmological interpretation (dualism, for one) regarding all the different faiths to make bahai itself plausible; that is why they have to deny the resurrection and the trinity. and of course, you must believe that the prophet of Bahai has most clearly expressed this truth (that truth cannot ultimately be fully known)... which is a bit self-contradictory.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 12:10:48 AM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

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« Reply #52 on: February 25, 2011, 06:44:34 AM »

Can't help but feel this is an extreme form of skeptism that ultimately we cannot know anything(pr very little). This is destructive to almost everything anyone says, the bahai under this logic has no reason to be bahai than be of any other religion.

Though I would submit God has given us knolwedge and that our senses are not completely flawed, though they can be misguided at times, but not at all times.

Yes, our senses are a good source of knowledge, so is our reason, and our understanding of scripture, and inspiration by the Spirit. We have many sources of knowledge, and should use them together, because none of these sources is absolutely reliable. This is not scepticism at all, let alone extreme scepticism: it is prudence and humility. Because each of us has at best partial truth - and generally mixed with untruths we have mistaken in some way for truth - it is also prudent and modest for us to learn from one another. This is the epistemological foundation for what we all -- Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Bahais -- do in practice: we enter into a community of the intellect (as well as a community of worship, of service, etc...).

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« Reply #53 on: February 25, 2011, 04:19:47 PM »

Here is the problem I have with what you've said, though:

Man cannot expect both a bodily general resurrection as believed by Christians, AND the re-incarnation expected by Bahais.

Man cannot expect both the eventual eternal unity of the spiritual and material man, AND the lack of this in Bahai.

Man cannot believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead AND did not rise bodily from the dead, as Bahai claims.

So you *are*, in fact, making a claim that your Truth is superior to ours. Or that much of the truth we possess we misunderstand, where Bahai correctly understands. If I believe things about Jesus, about human spiritual anthropology, eschatology, cosmology, that the prophet of Bahai explicitly disagreed with, then I cannot be Bahai, can I?
« Last Edit: February 25, 2011, 04:22:29 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

"You are philosophical innovators. As for me, I follow the Fathers." -Every heresiarch ever
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« Reply #54 on: February 25, 2011, 04:37:11 PM »

So you *are*, in fact, making a claim that your Truth is superior to ours. Or that much of the truth we possess we misunderstand, where Bahai correctly understands.

I make no claim to superiority. If you think back to what Christians believed and preached in the first three centuries, you will realise that there was a great deal of nonsense, even among the orthodox (Origen's spherical souls for example), and a great deal of downright heresy. Time and testing has added a great deal to the Christian tradition, and I am perfectly ready to say that the Bahai tradition is young, that much of what Bahais think they know is nonsense (if only we knew which bits!), and that we can learn from older traditions.

Neither I, nor I think any Bahai, has said that all people agree. There are disagreements within the Bahai community, and within the Christian and the Orthodox community - which is why there are points to discuss on forums like this!

If I believe things about Jesus, about human spiritual anthropology, eschatology, cosmology, that the prophet of Bahai explicitly disagreed with, then I cannot be Bahai, can I?

No. (or  - maybe, if you ask very nicely  Cheesy ). However I never said that everyone could become a Bahai regardless of belief, and I didn't invite anyone here to become Bahais. The general question is "what is the Bahai Faith," and I am willing to answer more specific questions to the best of my knowledge.

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« Reply #55 on: February 25, 2011, 04:43:06 PM »

If you think back to what Christians believed and preached in the first three centuries, you will realise that there was a great deal of nonsense, even among the orthodox (Origen's spherical souls for example), and a great deal of downright heresy.

Many of the  Origen's teachings were heterodox.
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« Reply #56 on: February 25, 2011, 04:53:56 PM »

Well first of all Origen’s theology was later condemned at an ecumenical coucil, I cannot recall which one its something I need to remember. But Origen was a great scholar and he did influence later Christians in his field, though his theology was way off.

Now by time testing and adding what do you mean? You are saying that Christianity specifically orthodox Christianity has been added to? Well major Orthodox christian doctrines can be found in that same bible you accept as well as the early church fathers. But hers the problem you seem to be justifying why you don’t choise Christianity when you have seemed to have suggested that none of us can have full truth, thus it does sound contrary to what you said you are trying to make the bahai look superior to Christianity.

I suppose the question is, since we only have bits of knowledge and you claim to be not superior in religion that is other religins are better or just as good as Bahai, why believe in it in the first place?
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« Reply #57 on: February 25, 2011, 06:41:12 PM »

But why wouldn't God give us just Truth then? Why fragments?

I have faith that God does sent us Truth, in the form of Christ, and Baha'u'llah, and others (Truth is persons, not propositions). However we are limited beings, and conditioned by all sorts of factors. So we not only cannot know any absolute truth, we cannot prove that such a thing exists. At most we accept it on faith

Hi Sen.  Welcome to the forum! Smiley

If I may ask a few questions of you.  You state above that God has sent us Truth in the form of Christ, Baha'ullah, possibly the Buddha and others.  What was Baha'ullah's criterion for Truth?  How did he recognize it?  What was his criterion for rejecting non-truth.  By abandoning those parts of the Qur'an, the Bible and the Dhammapada that are at odds with one another (as much of them are), do you suppose the Baha'ullah threw the baby out with the bath water?  For example, Christianity tells us that Jesus is God but the Qur'an denies this.  Christianity tells us that we must be baptized to enter into heaven but the Qur'an mentions nothing of baptism and instead sets forth laws that must be adhered to in order to reach heaven.  How did Baha'ullah reconcile these disparities?  Additionally, being well-read, what did Baha'ullah think about these verses from the Bible;

 "...if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Galatians 1:9-10

"If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation  22:18-19

  Thanks in advance.

 Gabriel
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« Reply #58 on: February 25, 2011, 06:42:28 PM »

If you think back to what Christians believed and preached in the first three centuries, you will realise that there was a great deal of nonsense, even among the orthodox (Origen's spherical souls for example), and a great deal of downright heresy. Time and testing has added a great deal to the Christian tradition...
But those heresies were later additions, "innovations" if you will, to the apostolic faith. So time has not added to the *holy* tradition of Christianity; rather it has exposed the innovations to be houses built on sand. C.S. Lewis said it quite accurately regarding religious texts:

"A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it.  It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light."

Quote
No. (or  - maybe, if you ask very nicely  Cheesy ). However I never said that everyone could become a Bahai regardless of belief, and I didn't invite anyone here to become Bahais. The general question is "what is the Bahai Faith," and I am willing to answer more specific questions to the best of my knowledge.
Alright then, thank you for doing so and being so helpful.
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« Reply #59 on: June 21, 2011, 02:05:33 PM »

Hello Sen, and welcome!         ---Truthseeker630 Smiley                                                                                                                                     
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« Reply #60 on: June 21, 2011, 11:22:44 PM »

Welcome Sen.

I don't mean to harp on the point, but if the Baha'i faith says Christ did not rise from the dead, and yet Christianity says he in fact DID rise from the dead, and this is what is found throughout all of the New Testament, and is what the Apostles (more than just the 12 by the way) were executed for, then aren't you by default either saying:

1.) Christianity is wrong and Baha'is is right; or

2.) Baha'i may well be wrong and Christianity right?
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« Reply #61 on: June 21, 2011, 11:33:52 PM »

Yes James, that's one of the reasons I left the Baha'i Faith for Eastern Orthodoxy.  I couldn't imagine all of those people choosing to be martyred over an allegory.  Maybe one day I'll post my journey since I've been through several different religions.
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« Reply #62 on: June 22, 2011, 03:27:19 AM »

Welcome Sen.

I don't mean to harp on the point, but if the Baha'i faith says Christ did not rise from the dead, ...

That's a big if. The Bahai scriptures say Christ did rise, and is living today.

Abdu'l-Baha says:

Quote
… the breezes of Christ are still blowing; His light is still shining; His melody is still resounding; His standard is still waving; His armies are still fighting; His heavenly voice is still sweetly melodious; His clouds are still showering gems; His lightning is still flashing; His reflection is still clear and brilliant; His splendor is still radiating and luminous; and it is the same with those souls who are under His protection and are shining with His light.
(Some Answered Questions, 152 - see:
http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-38.html#pg152
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« Reply #63 on: June 22, 2011, 06:20:28 AM »

Nay, the Word of God from all eternity has always been, and will be, in the exaltation of sanctification.

I found this interesting in the words of Abbas Effendi, as the word who is Jesus christ he seems to suggest is eternal. Yet the bahai reject that of Christ and say he was a creature (arianism heresy).
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« Reply #64 on: June 22, 2011, 06:46:34 AM »

Sen, are you a fan of Icewind Dale 2?
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« Reply #65 on: June 22, 2011, 09:53:09 AM »

Christ may be risen, but not the man Jesus as that would defy reason and science.  Sounds like Nestorianism to me.
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« Reply #66 on: June 22, 2011, 04:28:37 PM »

Sen, are you a fan of Icewind Dale 2?

No - my avatar comes from a time when my son had a one-month trial of World of Warcraft. I was looking over his shoulder when this dwarf fellow appeared. It looks very much like me, when I used to keep my beard trimmed, and had more hair, and a waist, so I asked him to take a screenshot. You can see the real me on my facebook page.






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« Reply #67 on: June 22, 2011, 04:46:58 PM »

Christ may be risen, but not the man Jesus as that would defy reason and science.  Sounds like Nestorianism to me.

If you mean, the Bahai Faith is like Nestorianism, I suggest that if you want to know "what is the Bahai Faith" you should first learn something about it. Historical parallels may possibly be illuminating, but only after one has learned what the Bahai Faith is in itself. The same goes for the supposed parallel to Arianism.

From what I know of Nestorianism, Bahai Christology is not like that, because (as I understand it) Nestorianism taught or was accused by its opponents of teaching, that the human and divine natures of Christ were parallel phenomena, whereas I think Bahai Christology would (if translated into Christian terms) say something like Christ had two natures, the human being totally taken up into the divine. Compare it to the animal nature and human nature of every human - the animal does not cease to exist because we are humans, but our human nature incorporates the animal, while transcending it and within limits controlling it. This is my own analogy, not one made in Bahai scripture.

As for Arianism, it is generally understood (via the descriptions of its opponents) to have taught that the Son was created, whereas the Bahai teachings speak rather of the Son as the first emanation or proceeding from the Father, and of creation coming about through the Son.

For what it's worth, Shoghi Effendi, who was the great grandson of the Founder and was western-educated, commented (en passant) on the similarities between Bahai and Roman Catholic theology. One example is that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, or in Bahai terminology:

Quote
"The Holy Spirit Itself hath been generated through the agency of a single letter revealed by this Most Great Spirit, if ye be of them that comprehend. (Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 26)


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« Reply #68 on: June 22, 2011, 05:20:30 PM »

For what it's worth, Shoghi Effendi, who was the great grandson of the Founder and was western-educated, commented (en passant) on the similarities between Bahai and Roman Catholic theology. One example is that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, or in Bahai terminology:

Quote
"The Holy Spirit Itself hath been generated through the agency of a single letter revealed by this Most Great Spirit, if ye be of them that comprehend. (Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 26)

I bow to your genius . . .

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« Reply #69 on: June 22, 2011, 07:19:00 PM »

Forgive me brother Sen, my understanding is that if you say Christ is of a different essence, person or nature from the man Jesus then that is Nestorianism.  To say that the divine Christ nature swallowed up the human nature would be the monophysitism of Eutyches.
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« Reply #70 on: June 22, 2011, 08:41:45 PM »

Sen, I noticed your quote says nothing that would require Jesus Christ of Nazareth to have risen bodily (that is, for his physical body to have risen from the dead).  Is it the case that the Baha'i believe that Christ did not in fact rise from the dead bodily?  If so, my questions still remain, (and also, they remain because the Christology you described is, at least, monophysite) how does the Baha'i faith NOT claim to be true and the Christian (at least Orthodox) faith to be false, or alternatively that the Baha'i faith may well be false and the Christian faith true?
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« Reply #71 on: June 23, 2011, 01:52:29 PM »

Forgive me brother Sen, my understanding is that if you say Christ is of a different essence, person or nature from the man Jesus then that is Nestorianism. 

I didn't say that, rather I said that there are two natures, divine and human (and I might add, animal) in Christ. THAT there are two natures is hardly an innovation, it is in the Chalcedonian creed, the one that begins

Quote
"We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead...

That leads on to two questions: the relationship between the natures, and the relationship between the divine nature of Christ and the Godhead. Various churches and creeds have different positions on these, but before pressing on to decide for or against one or the other, I think it's worth noting that the doctrine of two natures itself is remarkably widely shared, and that it is also a Bahai teaching.

Abdu'l-Baha writes:

Quote
The Holy Manifestations of God possess two stations: one is the physical station, and one the spiritual. In other words, one station is that of a human being, and one, of the Divine Reality. If the Manifestations are subjected to tests, it is in Their human station only, not in the splendour of Their Divine Reality.

And further, these tests are such only from the viewpoint of mankind. That is, to outward seeming, the human condition of the Holy Manifestations is subjected to tests, and when Their strength and endurance have by this means been revealed in the plenitude of power, other men receive instruction therefrom, and are made aware of how great must be their own steadfastness and endurance under tests and trials. For the Divine Educator must teach by word and also by deed, thus revealing to all the straight pathway of truth.
   (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 55)


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« Reply #72 on: June 23, 2011, 02:03:03 PM »

Sen, I noticed your quote says nothing that would require Jesus Christ of Nazareth to have risen bodily (that is, for his physical body to have risen from the dead).  Is it the case that the Baha'i believe that Christ did not in fact rise from the dead bodily?  If so, my questions still remain, (and also, they remain because the Christology you described is, at least, monophysite) how does the Baha'i faith NOT claim to be true and the Christian (at least Orthodox) faith to be false, or alternatively that the Baha'i faith may well be false and the Christian faith true?

That's true - Bahais do not teach bodily resurrection in general, or the bodily resurrection of Christ. Abdu'l-Baha says:

Quote
The resurrections of the Divine Manifestations are not of the body. All Their states, Their conditions, Their acts, the things They have established, Their teachings, Their expressions, Their parables and Their instructions have a spiritual and divine signification, and have no connection with material things. For example, there is the subject of Christ's coming from heaven: it is clearly stated in many places in the Gospel that the Son of man came from heaven, He is in heaven, and He will go to heaven. So in chapter 6, verse 38, of the Gospel of John it is written: "For I came down from heaven"; and also in verse 42 we find: "And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?" Also in John, chapter 3, verse 13: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."

Observe that it is said, "The Son of man is in heaven," while at that time Christ was on earth. Notice also that it is said that Christ came from heaven, though He came from the womb of Mary, and His body was born of Mary. It is clear, then, that when it is said that the Son of man is come from heaven, this has not an outward but an inward signification; it is a spiritual, not a material, fact. The meaning is that though, apparently, Christ was born from the womb of Mary, in reality He came from heaven, from the center of the Sun of Reality, from the Divine World, and the Spiritual Kingdom. And as it has become evident that Christ came from the spiritual heaven of the Divine Kingdom, therefore, His disappearance under the earth for three days has an inner signification and is not an outward fact. In the same way, His resurrection from the interior of the earth is also symbolical; it is a spiritual and divine fact, and not material; and likewise His ascension to heaven is a spiritual and not material ascension.
   (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 103)


The Bahai Faith does not claim to be true, and other religions false. The Bahai teachings in some cases offer different understandings of the same thing - in this case, of the resurrection. If you find this way of understanding resurrection illuminating, it may expand your understanding of the Gospel message. That does not mean that your previous way of understanding was false, but that it was not -- and never will be -- complete. There are no limits to our growth in understanding.
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« Reply #73 on: June 23, 2011, 05:11:36 PM »

The Gospel Message is best illuminated through the Physical ressurection as the Church has taught for 2000 years since the time of the apostles. But if you believe the words of Mirza Husayn in that he said Christ did not ressurect physically, how can you say this position is not false? this seems to completely violate the law of non contradiction. Both cannot be right, it is logically and historically impossible.
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« Reply #74 on: June 23, 2011, 05:19:30 PM »

this seems to completely violate the law of non contradiction.

Probably best known as the law of the excluded middle. Not saying that you ain't right here, but you must realize that much of Orthodox theology is built upon a rejection of the law of the excluded middle as such in light of its adoption of neo-Platonic thought, especially that of Plotinus.

See:

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite for the most obvious example.
St. Gregory Palamas
etc.
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« Reply #75 on: June 23, 2011, 05:23:59 PM »

I realise the Orhtodox church might not be so scholastic, but I do think this is an absolute law of logic which makes things a tonne easier to understand.
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« Reply #76 on: June 23, 2011, 05:29:28 PM »

I realise the Orhtodox church might not be so scholastic, but I do think this is an absolute law of logic which makes things a tonne easier to understand.

Well it ain't in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #77 on: June 23, 2011, 05:39:30 PM »

The Gospel Message is best illuminated through the Physical resurrection as the Church has taught for 2000 years since the time of the apostles. But if you believe the words of Mirza Husayn in that he said Christ did not ressurect physically, how can you say this position is not false? this seems to completely violate the law of non contradiction. Both cannot be right, it is logically and historically impossible.

I don't think the law of the excluded middle will get you much traction in reading poetry, or understanding religion, or building a relationship or community or society. Doesn't most of the millennia-long discussion about the trinity and divine unity suppose that both are somehow true? Doesn't orthodox christology teach that Christ is both God and man?

I also have some trouble with the law of the exuding middle, but a wider belt should take care of that
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« Reply #78 on: June 23, 2011, 05:42:14 PM »

Distinct in two natures, humanity and divinity, the two are not contradictory for we see the Humanity is not the divinity, two essences, not one claiming to be both. But it stands to reason the Bahai religion and Christianity cannot both be true.
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« Reply #79 on: June 23, 2011, 06:15:22 PM »

Distinct in two natures, humanity and divinity, the two are not contradictory for we see the Humanity is not the divinity, two essences, not one claiming to be both. But it stands to reason the Bahai religion and Christianity cannot both be true.

Is it possible for Judaism and Christianity to be both true? If so, how?
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« Reply #80 on: June 23, 2011, 11:29:00 PM »

Ancient Judaism, Yes, modern day Phariseeism with its direct denial of Jesus, No. The understanding of the jews before the time of Jesus was mch different than it was for modern day jews. But Judaism has ceased to be a valid religion (Both old and New), one could not go to that Judaism before Christ because that Judaism cannot exist without a temple and therefore Judaism had to change and in this change it responded alot to Christianity, specifically on the plurality of persons within God and prophecies regarding the Messaiah. It ceased to be that becuase Christianity has fulfilled everything that was lacking int he OT.

This cannot be the case with bahai which directly contradicts Christianity and everything before it.

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« Reply #81 on: June 24, 2011, 01:20:56 AM »

The Gospel Message is best illuminated through the Physical resurrection as the Church has taught for 2000 years since the time of the apostles. But if you believe the words of Mirza Husayn in that he said Christ did not ressurect physically, how can you say this position is not false? this seems to completely violate the law of non contradiction. Both cannot be right, it is logically and historically impossible.

I don't think the law of the excluded middle will get you much traction in reading poetry, or understanding religion, or building a relationship or community or society. Doesn't most of the millennia-long discussion about the trinity and divine unity suppose that both are somehow true? Doesn't orthodox christology teach that Christ is both God and man?

I also have some trouble with the law of the exuding middle, but a wider belt should take care of that

The thing about the trinity is that we are not capable of fully (or even well) understanding it.  We admit that it is a conundrum for us because our human intellects are not great enough to comprehend the unknowable God.  However, that is a far cry from claiming that a historical event both happened and didn't happen.

Did Hitler run Germany?  Either Hitler did or Hitler did not.  Was Einstein a real person?  Either he existed, or he did not.  In Orthodoxy, it has been taught from the time of Christ Himself (and can be found in the Gospels), that if Christ did not rise in the body, our faith is in VAIN.  Our faith is a foolish waste of time, and we might as well eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.  Without a bodily ressurection, Christianity is pointless.  Furthermore, how is it that you can claim that either your religion is quite possibly wrong or my religion is when your's says Christ did not rise in the body and mine says he did?  If it is simply a matter of better understanding the Gosepl message, and your religion is right, that would still result in the truth being that Christ's body did NOT rise.  Whereas if my religion is true, then by necessity yours is wrong (at least on this point) because Christ DID rise in the body.  These are two historical claims and only one of them is capable of truth. 

Would you refuse to tell someone who thinks George Washington was a Romanian transvestite that he was wrong?  Or would you at least be willing to admit you might be wrong and that might be true?  Because the fact of the matter is that George Washington either WAS a Romanian or he was NOT a Romanian.  The fact of the matter is George Washington either WAS a transvestite or he was NOT a transvestite.  You can't have it both ways or you fail to assert anything at all, and if you refuse asserting anything as true, there is no point in agreeing with your beliefs because you don't really believe them.
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« Reply #82 on: June 24, 2011, 08:45:53 AM »

... Was Einstein a real person?  Either he existed, or he did not.  In Orthodoxy, it has been taught from the time of Christ Himself (and can be found in the Gospels), that if Christ did not rise in the body, our faith is in VAIN. 

I would like to suggest to you that the Gospels are written to tell us something more, and much more important, than history. You can accept that or not - I just suggest you consider it.

The verse you refer to is presumably in 1 Corinithians:

Quote
15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain."
This speaks of the resurrection of Christ and of the dead (which Bahais believe and preach), it does not mention the resurrection of the body, and it is most unlikely that a bodily resurrection is meant. 1 Corinthians is one of the epistles written by Paul himself, somewhere around 53 to 57 AD. It is too early, and too Pauline, to have the bodily resurrection in it. Paul's own experience of the resurrected Christ is of a spiritual presence:

Quote
Acts 9:3 ... as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. ... And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

The earliest New Testament documents do not contain the bodily resurrection, for one of two reasons (1) although Christians taught it, they did not write it down because Pharisees believed in bodily resurrection, and they did not want to be seen to be like the Pharisees, or (2) Christians did not yet believe in bodily resurrection. They proclaimed the resurrection in the form of the risen and present Christ, a living reality, rather than as a physical miracle which had happened in the past. Either possibility is compatible with the fact that the earliest form of Mark stops with the resurrection, not including the ending with the various post-resurrection appearances (bodily resurrection), which are added by a different author later. Mark does enable us to date when the idea of bodily resurrection entered the tradition: some time soon after 64 AD, and before Mark 16:19, Luke and Acts were composed - so before 70AD, since the destruction of the Temple is not reflected in Luke and Acts.

There's an outline of the arguments here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection_of_Jesus#Origin_of_the_narrative

As I understand the tradition, the bodily resurrection was not an innovation in doctrine, but another way of transmitting the doctrine of the risen Christ, in the form of post-resurrection appearances and then (because the body of Christ obviously was no longer present), the Ascension. Narrative as a means of transmitting teachings is a common feature of religious discourse, certainly in the Abrahamic traditions. Consider the creation stories, which teach that one God is Lord of all, or the parables of Christ, each with its own moral, or the stories in Rabbinical literature, some of which are reflected in the Quran. Or the story of Joseph, "the best of stories."

I certainly don't advocate throwing out the later way of telling the resurrection in favour of the earlier. The Catholic (in the sense of universalist, inclusive) approach has always been to include multiple approaches, and this can be seen in the canon: it has not one gospel synopsis but 4 different gospels, not one creation story but two in Genesis, and so on. This catholicism gives us two or more different ways of looking at a truth that cannot be conveyed to us completely in any one way, because it is ineffable.
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« Reply #83 on: June 24, 2011, 10:03:28 AM »


The verse you refer to is presumably in 1 Corinithians:

Quote
15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain."
This speaks of the resurrection of Christ and of the dead (which Bahais believe and preach), it does not mention the resurrection of the body,

Resurrection of the dead means resurrection of the dead body, for the soul is immortal.

and it is most unlikely that a bodily resurrection is meant.

Why?

1 Corinthians is one of the epistles written by Paul himself, somewhere around 53 to 57 AD.

So what?

It is too early, and too Pauline

So what?

Paul's own experience of the resurrected Christ is of a spiritual presence:

Quote
Acts 9:3 ... as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. ... And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Yet Paul NEVER says that the vision he saw was what Jesus' resurrection meant. Where does Paul use the phrase "spiritual resurrection" in the same context as Jesus' resurrection?

The earliest New Testament documents do not contain the bodily resurrection

so what? Besides, what enables you to know for sure which are the earliest New Testament documents?

, for one of two reasons (1) although Christians taught it, they did not write it down because Pharisees believed in bodily resurrection, and they did not want to be seen to be like the Pharisees,

Pharisees also believed in the books of the prophets. Why did the Evangelists refer to those books in their documents at the expense of looking like Pharisees? Pharisees also believed in angels. Why did the Evangelists teach the same doctrine then?

or (2) Christians did not yet believe in bodily resurrection.

Evidence for this assertion?

They proclaimed the resurrection in the form of the risen and present Christ, a living reality, rather than as a physical miracle which had happened in the past. Either possibility is compatible with the fact that the earliest form of Mark stops with the resurrection, not including the ending with the various post-resurrection appearances (bodily resurrection), which are added by a different author later.

Marcan priority is not a Christian dogma. It is only a presumption. There were some Church Fathers who taught that Matthew's Gospel came first.

Mark does enable us to date when the idea of bodily resurrection entered the tradition: some time soon after 64 AD, and before Mark 16:19, Luke and Acts were composed - so before 70AD, since the destruction of the Temple is not reflected in Luke and Acts.

It seems u have not read the resurrection narrative in the supposedly earliest New Testament document. Let me lead you those verses:

Then as they went into the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been raised! He is not here. Look, there is the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:5-6)

If Jesus' resurrection was not in the body, why did the angel tell the women - who had gone to see the body - that Jesus was no more in the place they had laid Him? How come Jesus' body was not in the tomb if the resurrection had only a spiritual meaning? (Note that the angel associates Jesus' resurrection with His body's not being in the tomb anymore)
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« Reply #84 on: June 24, 2011, 12:29:54 PM »

Sen, so at the very least you would say that Christians fail to understand their own books but your religion is wiser and therefore can understand them properly?

Firstly, Paul was writing to Greeks and Hellenized Jews.  These people by their presuppositions believed in the soul's continuance at the death of the body.  However, they did not believe in the general resurrection (that of all people in the body) because their presuppositions were that the body was a prison to the soul, and so they had the attitude of "good ridance" when they were free of it.  Yet, Paul wrote "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen." because to deny the general resurrection while affirming the bodily resurrection of Christ (something that has ALWAYS been believed since the time of Christ Himself, which is why the Greeks laughed at Paul when he preached Christ's Gospel to them) would be to deny the fullness of Christ's humanity.  I would also recomment you read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 15, so that your quote is in context.  For instance, Paul continues "Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-if in fact the dead do not rise.  For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen.  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!"  The vast majority of Jews (especially those Jews who lived outside of Judea, where the Sadducees lived) believed in the immortality of the soul.  As such, it would be ludicrous for Paul to speak of Christ's soul being raised, as the Jews already believed Christ's soul was alive (and, as well, it would be a terrible choice of words, for it certainly has a connotation of a bodily resurrection, if it doesn't by necessity mean as much. 

Don't you think someone would have noticed when, in the 50's AD Christians were not claiming Christ's physical resurrection, but less then thirty years later in the other Gospels (save John which was closer to the end of the first century), were claiming Christ rose physically?  Don't you think this would have been a major argument against the Christians, by the Pagans and Jews "Oh those fool Christians, they can't keep their story straight.  Why would anyone be swayed by them" is a line I could see being delivered against them.  Yet, there is no such claim.  Rather, the claim was generally that the 12 moved Christ's body after His death, and hid it.  Why would anyone fight the Christians by claiming they really just moved His body, if the Christians weren't claiming Christ rose in the body?
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« Reply #85 on: June 24, 2011, 01:03:59 PM »

Sen, so at the very least you would say that Christians fail to understand their own books but your religion is wiser and therefore can understand them properly?

What I outlined above is the fruit of modern scholarship, largely conducted by Christians. I learned it from Christian teachers, in a Presbyterian institution and a Catholic seminary, where I studied theology.

I think it is possible for the present generation to understand something more fully than people of a thousand or 1900 years earlier. That is, I do not believe that understanding in religion inevitably declines - it may do so, but progress is also possible. Or things may be first forgotten, and then rediscovered. The Bahais, among others, can share in an enlarging understanding, and can contribute to it.

Both defensiveness, and a belief in one's own superiority, get in the way of learning 
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« Reply #86 on: June 24, 2011, 01:53:18 PM »

Firstly, Paul was writing to Greeks and Hellenized Jews. ... .

...   Yet, there is no such claim.  Rather, the claim was generally that the 12 moved Christ's body after His death, and hid it.  Why would anyone fight the Christians by claiming they really just moved His body, if the Christians weren't claiming Christ rose in the body?

Both good arguments, but both are arguments from silence, and there's another argument from silence against them: if there was a bodily resurrection, wouldn't the earliest Christian documents report it, and the earliest anti-Christian apologies focus on it?

What persuades me is, first of all, that there is a sequence of development from spiritual encounters to increasingly specified bodily appearances, in the New Testament documents; second, that if there was a tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, empty or otherwise, the Jerusalem Christians would surely have clustered around it (another argument from silence, admittedly), third, that the bodily resurrection requires a physical heaven in the sky to which the body ascended; and fourth, Abdu'l-Baha's analysis in Some Answered Questions of the ways the gospels speak, which I quoted above ... "the Son of man came from heaven, He is in heaven, and He will go to heaven." ( http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-23.html )
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« Reply #87 on: June 24, 2011, 10:01:02 PM »

Firstly, Paul was writing to Greeks and Hellenized Jews. ... .

...   Yet, there is no such claim.  Rather, the claim was generally that the 12 moved Christ's body after His death, and hid it.  Why would anyone fight the Christians by claiming they really just moved His body, if the Christians weren't claiming Christ rose in the body?

Both good arguments, but both are arguments from silence, and there's another argument from silence against them: if there was a bodily resurrection, wouldn't the earliest Christian documents report it, and the earliest anti-Christian apologies focus on it?

What persuades me is, first of all, that there is a sequence of development from spiritual encounters to increasingly specified bodily appearances, in the New Testament documents; second, that if there was a tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem, empty or otherwise, the Jerusalem Christians would surely have clustered around it (another argument from silence, admittedly), third, that the bodily resurrection requires a physical heaven in the sky to which the body ascended; and fourth, Abdu'l-Baha's analysis in Some Answered Questions of the ways the gospels speak, which I quoted above ... "the Son of man came from heaven, He is in heaven, and He will go to heaven." ( http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-23.html )

Firstly, have you never heard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre?  This is in fact believed to be Christ's tomb by Christians in Jerusalem, and many visit it frequently.  And why can there not be other states of physical being?  I mean, science is now under the impression there are multiple dimensions and various forms of matter that are invisible to human eyes.  Why is it so difficult to believe, then, that there is a physical heaven of a sort?

As well, why would Christians need to - in the early decades anyways - write down something that is known to everyone?  The earliest Christian documents are letters written for specific purposes.  How often do you write a letter to a friend and say "Oh, by the way, this has nothing to do with your question, but by any chance do you recall that time we both got ten million dollars?  I know it was only ten years ago, but I can barely recall it."  Big events are things people remember, so why would they have a need to comment on it?  And, in fact, St. Paul does so in 1 Corinthians.  In fact, while you accuse me of using an argument from silence, that is precisely what you are doing.  You are claiming that the lack of mention of Christ's resurrection (or your perceived lack of mention) is itself evidence that it was an unknown event.  That is the very definition of an argument from silence.

As well, I would have to do some digging, but I suspect that in fact the resurrection of Christ IS mentioned and argued against in the earliest known anti-Christian polemics. 

Furthermore, this paragraph from your link:

Therefore, we say that the meaning of Christ’s resurrection is as follows: the disciples were troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ. The Reality of Christ, which signifies His teachings, His bounties, His perfections and His spiritual power, was hidden and concealed for two or three days after His martyrdom, and was not resplendent and manifest. No, rather it was lost, for the believers were few in number and were troubled and agitated. The Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body; and when after three days the disciples became assured and steadfast, and began to serve the Cause of Christ, and resolved to spread the divine teachings, putting His counsels into practice, and arising to serve Him, the Reality of Christ became resplendent and His bounty appeared; His religion found life; His teachings and His admonitions became evident and visible. In other words, the Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body until the life and the bounty of the Holy Spirit surrounded it.

is foolishness.  If Christ didn't actually rise - as He Himself predicted - then why on earth would the disciples (which includes more than the 12) all of a sudden become moved to go out living a terrible life and dying in cruel and inhumane ways for a man who lied to them or who was deluded into thinking He could see the future?  As well, the message of the Resurrection of Christ was one of the first things that the apostles (which includes more than the 12) would preach in the synagogues.  After all, they spoke to the Jews of the Messiah who came.  Do you think it logical that they said "Hey, we met the Messiah!  But then he died.  Oh, and now he's not here any more".  Why would any Jews have believed a dead man is the Messiah?
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« Reply #88 on: June 24, 2011, 10:06:07 PM »

Sen, so at the very least you would say that Christians fail to understand their own books but your religion is wiser and therefore can understand them properly?

What I outlined above is the fruit of modern scholarship, largely conducted by Christians. I learned it from Christian teachers, in a Presbyterian institution and a Catholic seminary, where I studied theology.

I think it is possible for the present generation to understand something more fully than people of a thousand or 1900 years earlier. That is, I do not believe that understanding in religion inevitably declines - it may do so, but progress is also possible. Or things may be first forgotten, and then rediscovered. The Bahais, among others, can share in an enlarging understanding, and can contribute to it.

Both defensiveness, and a belief in one's own superiority, get in the way of learning 

Modern scholarship conducted by Christians has determined there was no bodily resurrection?  I don't buy that.  Certainly some Christians don't believe in the bodily resurrection, but they really shouldn't then be called Christians because for 2000 years one of the key pieces of Christianity was the ressurection of Christ.  You see, the point of the death of Christ wasn't to accomplish something on the Cross.  Rather, it was the Resurrection of the Lord and God of Mankind, that accomplished a task - the destruction of death.  How is death destroyed if Christ is not risen?

Frankly, what Catholics and Presbyterians teach isn't to do with my question.  Here we are talking of Orthodoxy and the Baha'i faith.  If Orthodoxy requires believers to believe in the physical bodily resurrection of Christ, and Baha'i say it didn't happen, this is not merely a different way of understanding something.  Even if it is, you are still claiming that the Baha'i understand it better than the Orthodox.  Or, alternatively, you must admit that the Baha'i faith could well be wrong on this point, and Orthodoxy true.  You cannot have it both ways if you are to have ANY intellectual honesty.

As well, this isn't about defensiveness or a belief in my superiority.  I do not believe I am superior to anyone, least of all someone I don't even know.  Rather, I believe that the Orthodox Church is superior to the Baha'i faith.
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« Reply #89 on: June 25, 2011, 09:22:55 AM »

I don't see how Sen missed the bodily resurrection that's in the Gospels.  Huh
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