Faith

Jul 2017
421
Olympia, WA, USA
#61
"...Though we cannot imagine exactly what the Manifestations of the remote past were like, we can be sure of two things have been able to reach their fellow-men in a normal manner- as Bahá'u'lláh reached His generation, and They were sent from God and thus Divine Beings. The crucifixion as recounted in the New Testament is correct. The meaning of the Qur'ánic version is that the spirit of Christ was not Crucified. There is no conflict between the two.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1943)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 491)
Thanks Duane. You always come up with the answers...
So, one of my logical possibilities -- (3) that this verse has another meaning that is not obvious -- is how the "apparent" conflict is resolved.
 
Feb 2019
164
Chicago
#62
"...Though we cannot imagine exactly what the Manifestations of the remote past were like, we can be sure of two things have been able to reach their fellow-men in a normal manner- as Bahá'u'lláh reached His generation, and They were sent from God and thus Divine Beings. The crucifixion as recounted in the New Testament is correct. The meaning of the Qur'ánic version is that the spirit of Christ was not Crucified. There is no conflict between the two.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1943)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 491)
Thanks Duane for sharing that information. I am open to better interpretations. It is an interesting interpretation which is not shared by Muslims and I will come to that shortly. "Spirit of Christ" is not a physical thing and so it cannot be crucified on a physical object like the cross. That simple truth would have been known to the people who killed Jesus and also to the people who lived during the time of Mohammed. So why does the Quran state something that is so obvious over which there would have been no disagreement.

Coming to the interpretation of Muslims, I would refer anyone interested to this web site an-Nisa` 4:157 that has interpretation of Quran 4:157 from several authors. All them seem to refer to son of Mary and messenger of God/Allah. I did not find a single reference to Spirit of Christ. I would like to think "son of Mary and messenger of God/Allah" refers to the physical person of Jesus and not "Spirit of Christ". However, I do not rule out the possibility that Shoghi Effendi's interpretation was right but it is incredible that all of the mainstream Islamic leaders in the 1400 years of Islam have failed to correctly understand this Quran verse. Here is an Islamic web site with commentary on Quran 4:157. It describes the history of killing prophets in Israel and how Jesus was raised to heaven before he could be killed and someone else was put in his place.

Excerpt from Surah 4. An-Nisa, Ayat 157-158

This verse categorically states that Jesus was raised on high before he could be crucified, and that the belief of both the Jews and the Christians that Jesus died on the cross is based on a misconception. As a result of a comparative study of the Qur'anic and Biblical versions we are persuaded that, so far as the trial at the court of Pilate is concerned, it was probably Jesus who was tried. Pilate sentenced him to death after the Jews showed their deep hostility to Truth and righteousness by openly declaring that, in their view, the life of a thief was of higher value than that of a man with such a pure soul as Jesus. It was then that God raised Jesus up to heaven. The person the Jews subsequently crucified was someone else who, for one reason or another, was mistaken for the person of Jesus. The fact that the person who had actually been crucified was someone other than Jesus does not in any way detract from the guilt of those Jews, for in their minds it was Jesus whose head they were crowning with thorns, in whose face they were spitting, and whom they were subjecting to crucifixion. We are not in a position now to find out how and why such a confusion arose. As no authentic source of information is available to us, it would be inappropriate to conjecture and speculate about the cause of the misapprehension which led the Jews to believe that they had crucified Jesus, the son of Mary, whereas he had already passed far beyond their grasp.
 
Feb 2019
164
Chicago
#63
Venu:

How elementary and over simplified, at this point in time, is our concept of the great Principle of what we as Bahá'ís promote as “Progressive Revelation”. Given that, I will offer some words from Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Cause of God related to the overall subject.

“The fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh, the followers of His Faith firmly believe, is that Religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is a continuous and progressive process, that all the great religions of the world are divine in origin, that their basic principles are in complete harmony, that their aims and purposes are one and the same, that their teachings are but facets of one truth, that their functions are complementary, that they differ only in the non-essential aspects of their doctrines and that their missions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society.” (Shoghi Effendi, Summary Statement – 1947, Special UN Committee on Palestine)

Perhaps because of the investigative work of others outside the Faith, like yourself, and the challenging questions asked of the Bahá'ís, will those of us within the Bahá'í community then be motivated to look beyond our over simplified version of the “fundamental principle” of the relativity of religious truth and the progressive process of Divine Revelation and advance toward fuller understandings.

Thank you Venu for providing that challenge. Throughout this process, may you grow in your appreciation of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh as well.

LR
Dear Larry,

Thank you for your kind words and wishes. I love Bahaullah's mysticism and his writings where he expounds spiritual truths vibrate with such spiritual power and vitality that I feel in my heart he is a great avatar or manifestation of God. This is something I cannot prove to anyone but I personally do not need evidence of a vibration I experience within myself.

With regards to Shoghi Effendi's words you quoted, I think it is important that terms like "Religious truth", "basic principles" are clearly defined. Often times, folks have different understanding of these terms. Does "Religious truth" mean everything found in a religious scripture. What if the religious scripture contains some social laws meant for a particular time and geography but also esoteric truths that are universal. Can we reject the former if they are outdated for our times and embrace the latter. What does religion itself mean and given that different religions seem to have different foundational beliefs which people often times equate with basic principles, how convincing is the assertion that all "basic principles" of different religions are in complete harmony.

The word "religion" comes from the Latin word "religare" which means "to bind". A true religion is meant to bind the soul to God which is the same as union/reunion of the soul with God. In the Hidden Words, Bahaullah repeatedly emphasizes on this sole purpose of religion. In his mystical poems like Ode of the Dove, it is the same theme again. To me, this emphasis on union of soul with God is the foundation of all true religions. I would like to know your thoughts.

-Venu
 
Feb 2019
164
Chicago
#64
I don't think anything in the Bible promotes slavery, but it does permit slavery, and that is not due to anyone corrupting the scriptures.
“ ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. - Leviticus 25:44-45

Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. - 1 Peter 2:18

To me there is no question that for thousands of years all the religious systems permitted the enslavement of other humans, or said nothing against it. This includes the Caste system, which is virtual enslavement of the lower castes.
I agree. The caste system deteriorated and became something it was never meant to be. Just so that you know the background, I wanted to share some information about the caste system. People have physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual faculties. But not all people use all these faculties in their full measure. In any society, there will be some who are mostly using their physical abilities and they end up as laborers doing manual work. Those mostly using intellectual faculties end up as businessmen. Others mostly using intellectual and emotional faculties become great leaders and warriors for righteousness and those predominantly using spiritual faculties become saints. You will find these four categories of people in all societies because of human nature and these were the only four natural castes mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. People in one of these fours castes were allowed to move to another caste through personal effort and demonstrating appropriate qualifications and it was never meant to be hereditary. But with the passage of time, the four natural castes got divided in sub-castes and the caste system became hereditary with the result that a king's son who did not have the qualifications to succeed him became a king and the son of a laborer who may have qualified to become the king was denied the opportunity. Further, the lower castes were exploited and pretty much treated like slaves but there was never any religious sanction for it in the sense that Hindu scriptures never supported slavery or exploitation of weaker sections of the society.
 
Jul 2017
421
Olympia, WA, USA
#65
If this Quran verse was mistranslated from Arabic in to English, is it not strange that native Arabic speakers are not correcting it. Truth is that even native Arabic speakers who can understand the Quran in Arabic assert that Jesus was not crucified. You can find YouTube videos of such Islamic preachers. There are many Arabs whose native language is Arabic and they also speak English. How is it that they are not able to translate the Quran correctly?
I said that was one possibility but it is not the most likely one. The most likely possibility is that certain verses have another meaning that is not obvious. Just because Muslims interpret certain verses a certain way does not mean that is correct.
If this Quran verse has another meaning, how are we supposed to understand the Quran's assertion that another person was placed in Jesus' place and that Jesus was never killed. Who was the other person?
Duane posted what that verse means according to Shoghi Effendi, in case you missed that post:

"...Though we cannot imagine exactly what the Manifestations of the remote past were like, we can be sure of two things have been able to reach their fellow-men in a normal manner- as Bahá'u'lláh reached His generation, and They were sent from God and thus Divine Beings. The crucifixion as recounted in the New Testament is correct. The meaning of the Qur'ánic version is that the spirit of Christ was not Crucified. There is no conflict between the two.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1943)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 491)
This is not the only verse in the Quran I have a problem accepting as a divine revelation. For example Quran 2:65 and 7:166 say that Jews were turned or cursed to become apes for breaking the Sabbath. I know many Muslims who do not pray 5 times a day as required by Islam but God has not turned them in to apes. However God according to the Quran was so displeased with Jews that broke Sabbath that they were cursed to become apes. And Quran 5:60 says some Jews were turned to swine. There is at least one Hadith that says Jews were turned in to rats. Quran 33:50 allows Muslims to take women as prisoners of war and have have sex with them. Yes, Quran promotes sex slavery of women and muslims have used verses like Quran 33:50 to rape women even in this day and age. Ask the Yazidi women taken captive by ISIS. I cannot agree that God after giving us freedom would teach men to violate the freedom and basic rights of women and sexually abuse them. This is just a tribal custom of the Arabs that was incorporated in to the Quran. It cannot be a divine revelation. There is nothing divine about taking helpless women captive, trading them as commodities and then forcing them in to sexual acts. I can give examples of other questionable verses in the Quran but I think I have made my point. I realize there are great spiritual truths in the Quran but that does not mean parts of the Quran are not corrupted as evidenced by the verses I referenced.
Then I guess you would have the same problem with what the Old Testament says that God did. This is the problem with referring to scriptures that cannot be verified to have been written by a Manifestation of God. Nobody can really know how accurate they are.

I do not know the Qur’an so I cannot comment on it as a whole, but when I did a web search on Quran 5:60 and looked at several of the English translations they were all different. Do you understand the logical problem?
We cannot be sure of the authenticity of all the verses in the Quran either. I gave some examples above. There is an entire chapter in the Quran dedicated to looting the property of the infidels during the time of war because it is considered booty of the war. A war must be fought to uphold principles of righteousness and the war is fought only between two armies. Civilians and their property must never be touched because the war is not fought for women, children or civilian wealth. If you ever read the life stories of Hindu avatars like Krishna and Rama, you will notice they never touched civilians or their property when they fought their enemies. Taking women captive and having sex with them was considered a crime. You will never see Jesus or Buddha teaching their followers to loot civilian property, sell children and women in slave market as commodities, take women captive and have sex with them even during the time of war. How did these tribal traditions and practices get in to the Quran if it is the protected word of God?
I do not know what Shoghi Effendi meant, that we can be sure of words cited or quoted in the Quran. I do not know the Qur’an so I have to decline to comment on what you said. There are other Baha’is on this forum who know the Qur’an so they could comment.
I am not sure how Bahauallah's teachings on Resurrection deny the possibility of physical resurrection. The gospels (John 11:1-44) tell us that Jesus brought Lazarus back to life 4 days after he died which was clearly a physical resurrection of Lazarus. If Jesus had the ability to physically resurrect Lazarus, why should it be surprising that Jesus could physically resurrect himself.
I did not say that what Baha’u’llah wrote precluded the physical resurrection of Jesus but why does it even matter? Moreover, what is written in the gospels does not prove anything at all. I do not believe that that Jesus brought Lazarus back to life 4 days. Nobody is going to make me believe that because there is no reason to believe it just because it was written in a book and it goes against science.

Do you consider the physical body to be important? Jesus didn’t, so why would He resurrect a physical body? As far as I am concerned it is just a story and there is absolutely no proof it happened.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Miracles don't help us realize the spiritual truths in the teachings of prophets. Miracles do not purify the human heart. Miracles do not increase our attunement with Divine will. Miracles don't take us closer to God. But when a prophet finds himself amidst sceptical people who reject his teachings and question his spiritual stature and mission, God sometimes prompts the prophet to perform some miracles so he can win over the sceptics and to enable his teachings to start taking root. I personally don't care much about miracles. It makes no difference to me if Bahaullah was not born to a virgin or if he did not resurrect himself after death. His teachings carry the same spiritual vibration and vitality as those of Jesus. Christians make a big deal of the miracles of Jesus. Buddha did not have a human father either but the Buddhists hardly ever talk about it. Buddha performed many miracles but the Buddhists don't care. They are busy cleaning their hearts, making their minds strong and resurrecting their souls in Spirit that are now imprisoned in the physical bodies and that's the best way of following a religion.
You are preaching to the choir so to speak. Abdu’l-Baha said as much about miracles. I love the Buddhist faith and if I were not a Baha’i, I would most likely be a Buddhist.

Question.—It is recorded that miracles were performed by Christ. Are the reports of these miracles really to be accepted literally, or have they another meaning? It has been proved by exact science that the essence of things does not change, and that all beings are under one universal law and organization from which they cannot deviate; and, therefore, that which is contrary to universal law is impossible.

Answer.—The Holy Manifestations are the sources of miracles and the originators of wonderful signs. For Them, any difficult and impracticable thing is possible and easy. For through a supernatural power wonders appear from Them; and by this power, which is beyond nature, They influence the world of nature. From all the Manifestations marvelous things have appeared.

But in the Holy Books an especial terminology is employed, and for the Manifestations these miracles and wonderful signs have no importance. They do not even wish to mention them. For if we consider miracles a great proof, they are still only proofs and arguments for those who are present when they are performed, and not for those who are absent.....

For example, if we relate to a seeker, a stranger to Moses and Christ, marvelous signs, he will deny them and will say: “Wonderful signs are also continually related of false gods by the testimony of many people, and they are affirmed in the Books. The Brahmans have written a book about wonderful prodigies from Brahma.” He will also say: “How can we know that the Jews and the Christians speak the truth, and that the Brahmans tell a lie? For both are generally admitted traditions, which are collected in books, and may be supposed to be true or false.” The same may be said of other religions: if one is true, all are true; if one is accepted, all must be accepted. Therefore, miracles are not a proof. For if they are proofs for those who are present, they fail as proofs to those who are absent.

But in the day of the Manifestation the people with insight see that all the conditions of the Manifestation are miracles, for They are superior to all others, and this alone is an absolute miracle. Recollect that Christ, solitary and alone, without a helper or protector, without armies and legions, and under the greatest oppression, uplifted the standard of God before all the people of the world, and withstood them, and finally conquered all, although outwardly He was crucified. Now this is a veritable miracle which can never be denied. There is no need of any other proof of the truth of Christ.

The outward miracles have no importance for the people of Reality. If a blind man receives sight, for example, he will finally again become sightless, for he will die and be deprived of all his senses and powers. Therefore, causing the blind man to see is comparatively of little importance, for this faculty of sight will at last disappear. If the body of a dead person be resuscitated, of what use is it since the body will die again? But it is important to give perception and eternal life—that is, the spiritual and divine life. For this physical life is not immortal, and its existence is equivalent to nonexistence. So it is that Christ said to one of His disciples: “Let the dead bury their dead;” for “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” 1

Observe: those who in appearance were physically alive, Christ considered dead; for life is the eternal life, and existence is the real existence. Wherever in the Holy 102 Books they speak of raising the dead, the meaning is that the dead were blessed by eternal life; where it is said that the blind received sight, the signification is that he obtained the true perception; where it is said a deaf man received hearing, the meaning is that he acquired spiritual and heavenly hearing. This is ascertained from the text of the Gospel where Christ said: “These are like those of whom Isaiah said, They have eyes and see not, they have ears and hear not; and I healed them.” 2

The meaning is not that the Manifestations are unable to perform miracles, for They have all power. But for Them inner sight, spiritual healing and eternal life are the valuable and important things. Consequently, whenever it is recorded in the Holy Books that such a one was blind and recovered his sight, the meaning is that he was inwardly blind, and that he obtained spiritual vision, or that he was ignorant and became wise, or that he was negligent and became heedful, or that he was worldly and became heavenly.

As this inner sight, hearing, life and healing are eternal, they are of importance. What, comparatively, is the importance, the value and the worth of this animal life with its powers? In a few days it will cease like fleeting thoughts. For example, if one relights an extinguished lamp, it will again become extinguished; but the light of the sun is always luminous. This is of importance.” Some Answered Questions, pp. 100-102
 

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