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COLLECTIONUnpublished articles
TITLETruth Triumphs: A Bahá'í Response to Misrepresentations of the Bahá'í Teachings and Bahá'í History
AUTHOR 1Peter Terry
ABSTRACTRebuttal of Francis Beckwith's thesis "Bahá'í, A Christian response to Bahá'ísm, the religion which aims toward one world government and one common faith."
NOTES Documents relevant to this issue include:
TAGS- Interfaith dialogue; - Symbolism; Authenticity; Báb, Laws of; Bhagavad Gita; Bible; Buddha; Buddhism; Christianity; Confucius; Covenant; Creation; Criticism and apologetics; Daniel (Bible); Emanation; Esslemont; Francis Beckwith; God; Hinduism; Interpretation; Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ, Resurrection of; Kitáb-i-Íqán (Book of Certitude); Krishna; Manifestations of God; Monotheism; Names and titles; Polytheism; Primal Will; Progressive revelation; Proofs; Prophecies; Prophecies; Relativism; Return; Trinity; Unity of religion; Word of God; Zoroaster; Zoroastrianism
CONTENT Dr. Francis J. Beckwith wrote a Master's thesis on the Bahá'í Faith, which he revised and published as "Bahá'í, A Christian response to Bahá'ísm, the religion which aims toward one world government and one common faith" (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1985). He has organized his material in the following manner:
    Chapter 1: A History of the Bahá'í Faith
         The Ministry of the Bab (1844-1850)
         The Ministry of Bahá'u'lláh (1853-1892)
         The Ministries of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, 
              and the Years that Followed
    Chapter 2: A Presentation of Bahá'í Dogmatics
         The Bahá'í Doctrine of God
         Bahá'ísm and Jesus Christ
    Chapter 3: A Critique of Bahá'í Dogmatics
         A Critique of the Bahá'í Doctrine of God
         Bahá'ísm and Jesus Christ
    Chapter 4: The Bahá'í Use of the Bible
         Daniel 8:13-17
         Isaiah 11:1-10
         John 16:12-13
         Isaiah 35:1-2
         Isaiah 9:1,6,7
         Bahá'í Watergate: A False Prophecy and Its Cover-Up
    Chapter 5: On the Truth of Christianity
         Judging Religious Truth Claims
         Verification of the Resurrection
         The Awesome Conclusion
    Chapter 6: Conclusion

      Dr. Beckwith's book is a mere 57 pages in length. Only 41 of those pages, chapters 1-4 and 6, are actually occupied with consideration of the Bahá'í Faith. Chapter 6 will be left out of our consideration, as it does not present any new information nor any new arguments. The remaining 39 pages contain some accurate information about the Bahá'í Faith, but, unfortunately, many misrepresentations of the Bahá'í Teachings and of Bahá'í History. It will be assumed by the author of this treatise that the reader has read Dr. Beckwith's book, or that he will do so along with reading this response to his book. Therefore, it seems fitting that we follow his sequence of presentation rather than offering a differing format which might confuse the reader and thereby detract from the efficacy of this treatise.

      In Chapter 1, prior to setting forth a brief history of the Bahá'í Faith, Dr. Beckwith makes some introductory remarks and cites some statements by others regarding the nature of the Bahá'í Faith. The aim of this treatise will be to identify errors and point them out to the reader. Dr. Beckwith writes:

      "The primary and basic Bahá'í belief is that all religions derive from the same source." (p. 5)

      Actually, to quote Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, regarded by all Bahá'í as the authoritative spokesman for Bahá'í doctrine, the Teachings of the Bahá'í Faith "revolve around the fundamental principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is progressive, not final. Unequivocally and without the least reservation it proclaims all established religions to be divine in origin, identical in their aims, complementary in their functions, continuous in their purpose, indispensable in their value to mankind." (WOB, p. 58) This is very different from the doctrine referred to above, which has more in common with certain sects of Hinduism.

      Dr. Beckwith then lists Confucius among the Manifestations of God recognized by Bahá'í. This is also erroneous, given the statement by Shoghi Effendi: "Confucius was not a Prophet. It is quite correct to say that he is the founder of a moral system and a great reformer." (From a letter dated 26 December 1941, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand; LG:1988:#1684) Undoubtedly Dr. Beckwith has encountered references to Confucius as a Prophet in Bahá'í literature, but perhaps he is not aware of the fact that statements by individual Bahá'í do not constitute Bahá'í doctrine, that this is confined to the statements of the Founder, the Interpreter and the Guardian of the Faith.

      We also find the statement that Bahá'ís believe the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, in comparison with the other Prophets of God "as the last and greatest of them all". In actuality, the Bahá'í Teaching is that Bahá'u'lláh is the latest rather than the last of the Prophets, and that He has ushered in the most complete Revelation of God's Will to mankind but not that this Revelation is superior in any regard to the Revelations of the past, except in the matter of its degree. Shoghi Effendi writes: "Indeed, the categorical rejection by the followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh of the claim to finality which any religious system inaugurated by the Prophets of the past may advance is as clear and emphatic as their own refusal to claim that same finality for the Revelation with which they stand identified." (WOB, p. 115) According to Shoghi Effendi, the Bahá'í Faith affirms "the principle, underlying the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh--utterances that have established for all time the absolute oneness of all the Prophets, Himself included, whether belonging to the past or to the future." (WOB, p. 166) Furthermore, he explains the Bahá'í teaching regarding the overwhelming majesty of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh in these words: "If the Light that is now streaming forth upon an increasingly responsive humanity with a radiance that bids fair to eclipse the splendor of such triumphs as the forces of religion have achieved in days past; if the signs and tokens which proclaimed its advent have been, in many respects, unique in the annals of past Revelations; if its votaries have evinced traits and qualities unexampled in the spiritual history of mankind; these should be attributed not to the superior merit which the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, as a Revelation isolated and alien from any previous Dispensation, might possess, but rather should be viewed and explained as the inevitable outcome of the forces that have made of this present age an age infinitely more advanced, more receptive, and more insistent to receive an ampler measure of Divine Guidance than has hitherto been vouchsafed to mankind." (WOB, p. 60)

      Dr. Beckwith also quoted Vernon E. Johnson's characterization of the Bahá'í focus on the Manifestation of God: "The Bahá'í faith, indeed, is a religion which centers in devotion to a person believed to be God's manifestation for the modern age; it demands unreserved acceptance of his person as God's latest revelation to the world and requires absolute submission to his every word and command." (pp. 5-6) Bahá'u'lláh's teaching is cited by Shoghi Effendi: "The door of the Ancient of Days [God] being thus closed in the face of all beings, He, the Source of infinite grace...hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit...All the Prophets of God, His well-favored, His holy and chosen Messengers are, without exceptions, the bearers of His names and the embodiments of His attributes..." (WOB, pp. 113-114) Shoghi Effendi himself has written: "That Bahá'u'lláh should, notwithstanding the overwhelming intensity of His Revelation, be regarded as essentially one of these Manifestations of God, never to be identified with that invisible Reality, the Essence of Divinity itself, is one of the major beliefs of our Faith--a belief that should never be obscured and the integrity of which no one of its followers should allow to be compromised." (WOB, p. 114) Bahá'ís believe that each Manifestation of God is the representative of God to humanity for the Age in which He makes His appearance, and that we can choose to accept or reject Him, to obey or to disobey Him, but regardless of our actions, He manifests the Will of God for that Age, and until the appearance of another Manifestation of God. In this way, Bahá'ís affirm the divine authority of Moses in His Dispensation, Jesus Christ in His Dispensation, and of Muhammad in His Dispensation, and likewise, all of the Manifestations of God in Their Dispensations.

      In his short description of Bábí and Bahá'í history, Dr. Beckwith seems to have relied more upon Lewis M. Hopfe's "Relgions of the World" than on Shoghi Effendi's "God Passes By," or other carefully researched historical studies of this subject. Also, in quoting from the Writings of the Báb, he has cited references in Vernon J. Johnson's doctoral dissertation rather than reading the French translation of A.L.M. Nicolas or the Persian original text (both of which have been published and are readily available in university and public libraries). This has resulted in some errors of attribution. Dr. Beckwith's first group of historical errors are related to the following affirmation: "Muhammed's son-in-law and legitimate successor, Ali, had twelve legitimate descendants. These twelve descendants (Imams), often called "gates," were considered the means (a gate) by which a believer could have access to the true Faith." (p. 6) 'Alí-i-Ibn-i-Abí-Tálib, the first cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the first believer in His Revelation and His constant companion was the father of two sons, both of whom were, along with their father, regarded as spiritual successors (called Imáms) to the Prophet Muhammad by later generations of Shí'í Muslims (Shí'í identifying the "party" loyal to 'Alí, the fourth Calif chosen by the companions of the Prophet Muhammad). There are two principal groups of Shí'í Muslims, and the group which predominated in Írán are called the Ithná 'Asharí [Twelver] Shí'í, as they recognized altogether twelve Imáms who carried the lineage of spiritual sovereignty after the passing of the Prophet Muhammad. After the mysterious disappearance of the twelfth Imám, in 260 according to the Islamic calendar (which is, indeed, in the late 9th century C.E., as indicated by Dr. Beckwith), there were four persons known as "Gates" (Abvab), who mediated between the hidden twelfth Imám and his followers for a period of 69 years. Hence, the Imáms were not called "Gates".

      The "Bayán-i-fársí" (Persian Exposition) of the Báb is cited by Dr. Beckwith, sometimes accurately, and at other times, not so. He indicates that the Báb called for all books to be destroyed, with the exception of the Qur'án. Actually, He called for all books but those associated directly with divine Revelation, including the Qur'án and His own Writings to be destroyed. The severity of His laws has been explained by Shoghi Effendi: "The severe laws and injunctions revealed by the Báb can be properly appreciated and understood only when interpreted in the light of His own statements regarding the nature, purpose and character of His own Dispensation. As these statements clearly reveal, the Bábí Dispensation was essentially in the nature of a religious and indeed social revolution, and its duration had therefore to be short, but full of tragic events, of sweeping and drastic reforms. These drastic measures enforced by the Báb and His followers were taken with the view of undermining the very foundations of Shí'í orthodoxy, and thus paving the way for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. To assert the independence of the new Dispensation, and to prepare also the ground for the approaching Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh the Báb had therefore to reveal very severe laws, even though most of them were never enforced. But the mere fact that He revealed them was in itself a proof of the independent character of His Dispensation and was sufficient to create such widespread agitation, and excite such opposition on the part of the clergy that led them to cause His eventual martyrdom." (Letter of Shoghi Effendi to the NSA of India, dated 17 February 1939; published in "Dawn of a New Day," pp. 77-78)

      Severe as some of His laws may have been, the Báb did not forbid women from going on pilgrimage--He exempted women from having to make the pilgrimage, so as to save them from the rigors of what was then a treacherous sea voyage across the Persian Gulf, followed by an arduous desert march across the Arabian Desert. The Báb did enjoin kings who became His followers to evangelize their subjects, but He did not ask for them to drive followers of other religions out of their territories...with the exceptions of those lands which were inhabited by Ithná 'Asharí Shí'í Muslims, and He indicated that the inhabitants of those lands had no excuse for not becoming Bábís. They were not to be threatened with death, but it is clear that He wanted them all to become Bábís. Lastly, the Báb did predict that a Manifestation of God would appear after Him, but He did not indicate that "He Whom God shall manifest" would "form a universal religion." (p. 6) The Báb represented His Faith as a "universal religion" indeed, as the one Faith of God, the same religion as that revealed to Moses on the Sinai peninsula, to Jesus in Palestine, to Muhammad in Arabia.

      Dr. Beckwith then states that Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned for identifying Himself with the Bábís, and that due to "his family name, he avoided execution but was imprisoned in Tehran." (p. 6) Actually, it seems much more likely that Bahá'u'lláh was saved from execution after a Bábí attempted to kill the Shah because of the intervention of the minister of the Czar of Russia at the Court of Násiri'd-Dín Sháh, than because of His family 1852 the Núrí family was no longer so highly regarded at this Court. Nor is it true that the "attempted assassination caused greater persecution for Mirza's followers." It resulted in the unleashing of a tide of fury directed against the Báb's followers. At this time Mírzá Husayn 'Alí Núrí, later known as Bahá'u'lláh, did not have any followers of His own. He was known as a Bábí, not as a Manifestation of God. Here Dr. Beckwith begins the practice of referring to the leaders of the Bahá'í community in a disrespectful and nonsensical fashion. Bahá'ís would not dream of abbreviating the name of Jesus Christ in reference to Him, and Dr. Beckwith might consider showing the same courtesy to Bahá'u'lláh. "Mírzá" in Persian means "Mister" and so it is nonsensical to refer to anyone as "Mírzá". Later on, in his depiction of the life of the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, known as Shoghi Effendi, Dr. Beckwith refers to this great-grandson of Bahá'u'lláh as "Effendi" and considering that "Effendi" means "Mister" in Turkish, this is as nonsensical and discourteous as calling someone "Mírzá" in Persian. Dr. Beckwith also states, erroneously, that Bahá'u'lláh made a public declaration of His prophethood to the Bábís in Baghdad "on the evening before they journeyed" to Constantinople. Actually, Bahá'u'lláh made this declaration to a small group of closest companions, and over a twelve-day period prior to their departure from Baghdad. Nor is it true that Bahá'u'lláh took His Name from that time, for He actually assumed the name "Bahá'" in 1848, at the Conference of Badasht, a Name conferred upon Him by the Báb, and also assumed by Himself. Later this Name was modified and became Bahá'u'lláh. The followers of Bahá'u'lláh were not called Bahá'ís until many years later.

      Dr. Beckwith begins his description of the ministry of 'Abdu'l-Bahá by stating that this son of Bahá'u'lláh was first called 'Abbas Effendi. (p. 7) This is erroneous. Bahá'u'lláh named His first son 'Abbás, and He was known to the Bahá'ís by various titles, including "Áqá" ("Master"--a term of respect and reverence commonly employed by Persians), "Sírru'lláh" ("Mystery of God"--one of the titles bestowed upon Him by Bahá'u'lláh), and 'Abdu'l-Bahá ("Servant of Bahá"--indicating His absolute servitude to Bahá'u'lláh). In the Holy Land, then under Ottoman Turkish domination, He came to be called 'Abbás Effendi out of respect, for "Effendi"--as noted earlier--means "Mister". Dr. Beckwith has written that 'Abdu'l-Bahá "had the religion's leadership passed on to him" and that "unlike his father or the Bab, 'Abdu'l-Bahá never claimed to be a manifestation of God." While these two statements are strictly accurate, they do not adequately convey the manner in which 'Abdu'l-Bahá was appointed to His unique station in the Bahá'í Faith, nor the distinctions made between that station and the station of Prophethood which pertains only to the Manifestations of God. Dr. Beckwith reports that "after being released" from prison, "'Abdu'l-Bahá spent the remaining years of his life travelling throughout Europe and North America proselytizing potential new converts and forming Bahá'í assemblies." This is grossly inaccurate, inasmuch as 'Abdu'l-Bahá was released from prison in 1908, but did not venture to leave Palestine until 1911, returning from journeys to Egypt, Europe and North America in 1913. He spent the last 8 years of His life in Palestine, not travelling, and He did not have a direct hand in forming a single Bahá'í assembly, although He advised and guided the formation of many such assemblies, in Iran and North America.

      Nor is the appointment of Shoghi Effendi as the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith treated fairly by Dr. Beckwith. He writes that "after 'Abdu'l-Bahá passed away in 1921, Bahá'í leadership was placed in the hands of his grandson, Shoghi Effendi." 'Abdu'l-Bahá specifically appointed Shoghi Effendi to the Guardianship of the Faith, even as Bahá'u'lláh had specifically directed that all Bahá'ís should turn to 'Abdu'l-Bahá upon His own passing. Finally, he states that "the transition from Effendi's leadership [that is, Shoghi Effendi's Guardianship] to the elected body of Bahá'í representatives (the Universal House of Justice) did not go as smoothly as the Bahá'ís would like to depict it." Bahá'í historians are completely straightforward in their treatment of the crises which have beset the Bahá'í community at each juncture in its evolution, the transition from the Báb to Bahá'u'lláh; from Bahá'u'lláh to 'Abdu'l-Bahá; from 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Shoghi Effendi; and from Shoghi Effendi to the Universal House of Justice. The identification of the followers of Mason (who is incorrectly named Jason) Remey as an "allegedly heretical Bahá'í sect" is nothing less than ridiculous considering the documents, written by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, which have preserved the unity of the Bahá'í community, an in-and-of-itself unparalleled development in religious history. There are a few hundred Iranians who claim to follow Mírzá Yahya, the half-brother of Bahá'u'lláh who refused to accept Him as "Him Whom God shall manifest" promised by the Báb. There are a few hundred Americans who claim to follow Mason Remey, the formerly eminent Bahá'í who refused to accept the end of the Guardianship and the election of the Universal House of Justice. Do they represent credible challenges to the unity of the Bahá'í Faith? not in the least. The Founder, Interpreter and Guardian of the Faith have all affirmed that such separatists are like the foam on the mighty sea, and that they will disappear and only the body of unified believers will remain and continue to grow. Dr. Beckwith betrays his partisan agenda in citing these hopeless schismatics, for their illegitimacy is universally acknowledged by all fair-minded students of Bahá'í history. At the very core of the Bahá'í Teachings is that the unity of humanity cannot be brought about save through the power of the Covenant, and that Covenant stipulated that the Bahá'ís remain united at all times and under all circumstances, united and obedient to the leadership appointed by the Founder, the Interpreter and the Guardian of the Faith--leadership now vested in that magnificent Institution whose existence will reign supreme amongst mankind for at least a thousand years, the Universal House of Justice.

      We come to Chapter 2, and "The Bahá'í Doctrine of God" which is also treated in Dr. Beckwith's article, "Bahá'í-Christian Dialogue: Some Key Issues Considered" (in "Christian Research Journal," Elliot Miller, editor; Winter/Spring, 1989), in which he affirms that the teachings of the various religions regarding the nature of God are extremely variable, and indicate that the Founders of those religions are not all Manifestations of one God, but that some are false prophets and others are true prophets.

God and the Major World Religious Leaders (1985)
Moses God is personal. Strict, uncompromising monotheism.
Krishna Polytheistic, but ultimately pantheistic and impersonal.
Zoroaster Two Supreme Beings. Philosophical dualism.
Buddha God not relevant. Essentially agnostic.
Confucius Polytheistic.
Jesus Christ God is personal, able to beget a son. Strict, uncompromising monotheism.
Muhammad God is personal, unable to beget a son. Strict, uncompromising monotheism.

The Doctrine of God Taught by the Alleged Manifestations (1989)

Moses One personal God. The universe is not eternal, but was created by God (Gen. 1-3; Deut. 6:4; etc.).
Krishna Mix of polytheism and impersonal pantheism. The universe is eternal.
Zoroaster One good god and one evil god (religious dualism).
Buddha God not relevant; essentially agnostic.
Confucius Polytheistic.
Muhammad One personal God who cannot have a Son.
Jesus Christ One personal God who does have a Son (Mark 12:29; John 4:24; 5:18-19; etc.).
Bahá'u'lláh God and the universe, which is an emanation of God, are co-eternal.

      In Chapter 2 of his book, Dr. Beckwith depicts the Bahá'í doctrine of God accurately, by citing specific written statements made by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. However, it should be noted that he does not cite the doctrinally binding word of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. Speaking of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi writes: "Let no one meditating, in the light of the afore-quoted passages, on the nature of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, mistake its character or misconstrue the intent of its Author. The divinity attributed to so great a Being and the complete incarnation of the names and attributes of God in so exalted a Person should, under no circumstances, be misconceived or misinterpreted. The human temple that has been made the vehicle of so overpowering a Revelation must, if we be faithful to the tenets of our Faith, ever remain entirely distinguished from that "innermost Spirit of Spirits" and "eternal Essence of Essences"--that invisible yet rational God Who, however much we extol the divinity of His Manifestations on earth, can in no wise incarnate His infinite, His unknowable, His incorruptible and all-embracing Reality in the concrete and limited form of a mortal being. Indeed, the God Who could so incarnate His own reality would, in the light of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, cease immediately to be God. So crude and fantastic a theory of Divine incarnation is as removed from, and incompatible with, the essentials of Bahá'í belief as are the no less inadmissible pantheistic and anthropomorphic conceptions of God--both of which the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh emphatically repudiate and the fallacy of which they expose." (WOB, pp. 112-113)

      Notwithstanding Bahá'u'lláh's affirmation that the Essence of God is beyond the comprehension of human beings, and even beyond the knowledge of the Manifestations of God, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá 's elaboration of that principle, Shoghi Effendi yet affirms that Bahá'ís are not agnostics by any definition of the term. In "God Passes By" (p. 139), Shoghi Effendi states that in "Kitáb-i-Íqán" (Book of Certitude) Bahá'u'lláh "proclaims unequivocally the existence and oneness of a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty." In clarification of this reference, the Guardian wrote through his secretary: "What is meant by personal God is a God Who is conscious of His creation, Who has a Mind, a Will, a Purpose, and not, as many scientists and materialists believe, an unconscious and determined force operating in the universe. Such conception of the Divine Being, as the Supreme and ever present Reality in the world, is not anthropomorphic, for it transcends all human limitations and forms, and does by no means attempt to define the essence of Divinity which is obviously beyond any human comprehension. To say that God is a personal Reality does not mean that He has a physical form, or does in any way resemble a human being. To entertain such belief would be sheer blasphemy." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated April 21, 1939; LG, 5th edition, page 478) This depiction of God can be found in the Torah of Judaism, associated with Abraham and Moses; in the Gathas of Zoroastrianism, attributed to Zarathushtra; in the Bhagavad-Gita of Hinduism, spoken by Krishna; in the Qur'án of Islám, dictated by Muhammad; in the Gospel of Christianity, revealed by Jesus Christ; and in the Writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.

      Dr. Beckwith's tables, published in his article (1989) and book (1985) purport to represent the doctrines taught by the Founders of Judaism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islám and (in the case of the article) the Bahá'í Faith. Both tables indicate that Bahá'ís regard Confucius and Buddha as Manifestations of God, but, as indicated earlier, Bahá'ís do not regard Confucius as a Manifestation. Buddha on the other hand is regarded as a Manifestation of God, and Dr. Beckwith cites the consensus of most students of Buddhism, who have reached the conclusion that Gotama Buddha did not refer to God in His discourses. This conclusion has been challenged by some modern scholars of comparative religious studies, drawing on Buddhist texts of the Hinayana and Mahayana traditions. Also, it might be noted that there were close ties between Muslim mystics (Sufis), Buddhist monks and Hindu holy men during the Moghul dynasty during which Muslim kings ruled over much of India, and that the Sufis did not regard all followers of these two religions as polytheists. Given the uncompromising monotheism of Islám, it is notable that at least some Muslims were convinced that Buddhists and Hindus could be considered monotheists. Dr. Beckwith writes that "the original teachings of the Buddha do not present God as a relevant topic" (p. 17). 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi have indicated that the original teachings and writings of the Buddha are lost, and that what remains does not accurately represent what Gotama Buddha Himself taught. 'Abdu'l-Bahá addressed this subject as follows: "Buddha also established a new religion...The beliefs and rites of the Buddhists and Confucianists have not continued in accordance with their fundamental teachings. The founder of Buddhism was a wonderful soul. He established the Oneness of God, but later the original principles of his doctrines gradually disappeared, and ignorant customs and ceremonials arose and increased, until they finally ended in the worship of statues and images...The meaning is that the Buddhists and Confucianists now worship images and statues. They are entirely heedless of the Oneness of God, and believe in imaginary gods like the ancient Greeks. But in the beginning it was not so; there were different principles and other ordinances." ('Abdu'l-Bahá, "Some Answered Questions," XLIII:189,190)

      In another talk, 'Abdu'l-Bahá is reported to have uttered these words: "The real teaching of Buddha is the same as the teaching of Jesus Christ. The teachings of all the Prophets are the same in character. Now men have changed the teaching. If you look at the present practice of the Buddhist religion, you will see that there is little of the Reality left. Many worship idols although their teaching forbids it...The teaching of the Buddha was like a young and beautiful child, and now it has become as an old and decrepit man. Like the aged man it cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot remember anything. Why go so far back? Consider the laws of the Old Testament: the Jews do not follow Moses as their example nor keep His commands. So it is with many other religions." ('Abdu'l-Bahá in London, pp. 63-64 passim.) The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith expressed the following views: "The Buddha was a Manifestation of God, like Christ, but His followers do not possess His authentic Writings." (From a letter dated 26 December 1941, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand; LG:1988:#1684)

      Dr. Beckwith represents Zarathushtra as teaching the existence of "two Supreme Beings" (p. 17), "philosophical dualism" (p. 17), "one good god and one evil god (religious dualism)" (1989 article). In support of this claim he cites an authority who himself declares that the name of the "evil Supreme Being...occurs only twice in the teachings of Zoroaster." (p. 17) The one source identified is entitled "Yasha" (45:2). While Bahá'í sources unequivocably affirm the prophethood of Zarathushtra, they also state that very few of the original Writings and teachings of this Manifestation of God have survived to the present day. While there does not seem to be an authoritative document in which Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá or Shoghi Effendi has specifically indicated the fate of the Scriptures of Zoroastrianism, we should not take this as an indication of their survival; rather, this silence is indicative of the unreliability of the extant traces. The Founder, Interpreter and Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith have quoted copiously from the Scriptures which they regarded as authentic and reliable. Nevertheless, we have the clear statement of Shoghi Effendi indicating that Zarathushtra was one of the true Manifestations of God: "The nine religions to which you have referred include both the Bábí and Bahá'í Dispensations, Bahá'u'lláh being the Ninth Prophet in the series. The other Prophets included are Zoroaster, Krishna, Moses, the Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, the Prophet of the Sabeans whose name is unrecorded, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, cited in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 15 September 1983: "...Bahá'í Revelation which constitutes the ninth in the line of the existing religions...The eighth is the religion of the Báb and the remaining seven are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islám, and the religion of the Sabeans...These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world but they are the only ones still existing. There have always been divine Prophets and Messengers, to many of whom the Qur'án testifies. But the only ones existing are those mentioned above." (From a letter of Shoghi Effendi, dated 28 July 1936, published in "Bahá'í News," No. 105, pp. 2,3) "The only reason there is not more mention of the Asiatic prophets is because their names seem to be lost in the mists of ancient history. Buddha is mentioned and Zoroaster in our scriptures--both non-Jewish prophets or non-semitic prophets. We are taught there always have been Manifestations of God, but we do not have any record of their names." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated 4 October 1950; LG:1988:#1696) "Zoroaster was not Abraham...we believe that they were two distinct Prophets." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, published in "Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand," p. 41; LG:1988:#1690) "Regarding the beginning of the Zoroastrian era, in one of His Tablets 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that Zoroaster lived about 750 years after Moses. In a letter to an individual believer the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf: "Zoroaster lived about a thousand years before Christ. There is no exact date in the teachings regarding the beginning of His Dispensation." (From a letter written by the Department of the Secretariat on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 13 May 1979) "...Buddha or Zoroaster, both of whom were Divinely-appointed and fully independent Manifestations of God..." (From a letter dated 10 November 1939, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; LG:1988:#1694)

      As to the Writings and teachings of Zarathushtra, in two separate conversations with individual Bahá'ís, Shoghi Effendi stated that all that remained of the Writings of Zarathushtra were a few hymns: "We do not have the original writings of Buddha, nor of Krishna, not even of Zoroaster. We have the Gathas of Zoroaster which are authentic, but these are only prayers. That is why Bahá'u'lláh and the Master do not quote these Prophets, as we do not have their original writings. There are many books in these religions, but they are not the original works." (Words of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated 16 February 1956, from a personal, unpublished diary, entitled "Haifa Notes";; checked against copy in private collection) "There are a also a few authentic verses of Zoroaster--prayers (the Gathas)." (Words of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated 15-24 January 1956, from a personal, unpublished diary, entitled "Haifa Notes," private collection) In one of His talks, at the Church of the Ascension in New York City, on 2 June 1912, 'Abdu'l-Bahá is reported to have said these words about the teachings of Zarathushtra: "As regards the inculcation of morality and the development of human virtues, there is no difference whatsoever between the teachings of Zoroaster, Jesus and Bahá'u'lláh. In this they agree; they are one...the essential foundation of the teachings of Moses, Zoroaster, Jesus and Bahá'u'lláh is identical, is one; there is no difference whatsoever." ("The Promulgation of Universal Peace," pp. 168, 169) Inasmuch as the Bahá'í Writings assert that all of the Manifestations of God have taught the oneness of the Unknowable Essence, and as Bahá'í doctrine recognizes the prophethood of Zarathushtra, it is thus evident that Bahá'í doctrine also affirms that Zarathushtra Himself was a champion of the unity of God, and not of a "religious dualism," with "two Supreme Beings," "one good god and one evil god" as alleged by Dr. Beckwith. Once more, it is not the present beliefs of Zoroastrians which determines the veracity of the Founder of Zoroastrianism, but rather the original teachings of that Manifestation of God.

      Dr. Beckwith stated that Hinduism is "polytheistic, but ultimately pantheistic and impersonal" (p. 17), and quotes Juan Mascaro's translation of Bhagavad-Gita in support of this judgment. While it is undeniably true that most of those who would be identified as Hindus are polytheists, and that some Hindus are pantheists, it is likewise the case that a particular branch of Hinduism, often called Vaisnavite by Western writers is definitely theistic, primarily vesting its devotion to God in the Person of Lord Krishna. The tremendous influence and popularity of this branch of Hinduism is attested by many authorities, including the eminent writer on Indian philosophy and religion, Dr. Sarvapali Radhakrishnan. He devotes much of Chapter X of the second volume of his masterful "Indian Philosophy" to the exposition of this Vaisnavite doctrine. It is this doctrine which has the most in common with the Bahá'í understanding of the original teachings of Krishna, which are explained in this brief statement attributed to 'Abdu'l-Bahá : "The Message of Krishna is the message of love. All God's prophets have brought the message of love. None has ever thought that war and hate are good. Every one agrees in saying that love and kindness are best." ('Abdu'l-Bahá talk in Paris on 24 October 1911, in "Khitábát," pp. 78-82; "Paris Talks," p. 35) While Dr. Beckwith has cited some verses from Bhagavad-Gita which may be regarded as polytheistic, pantheistic and/or impersonal, those same verses and many others have been interpreted in a monotheistic, theistic and personal manner by Vaisnavite saints, theologians and philosophers over the course of the past thousand years or more. Furthermore, Shoghi Effendi indicated, in a letter written on his behalf by his secretary, that the Scriptures identified with Hinduism, as also those of Buddhism, cannot be regarded as altogether reliable: "We cannot be sure of the authenticity of the scriptures of Buddha and Krishna, so we certainly cannot draw any conclusions about virgin births mentioned in them. There is no reference to this subject in our teachings, so the Guardian cannot pronounce an opinion." (From a letter dated 25 November 1950, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; LG:1988:#1696) Shoghi Effendi encouraged Bahá'ís to study Hindu Scripture with the aim of discovering sources of the original teachings which might be legitimately identified with Krishna: "As regards your study of the Hindu religion. The origins of this and many other religions that abound in India are not quite known to us, and even the Orientalists and the students of religion are not in complete accord about the results of their investigations in that field. The Bahá'í Writings also do not refer specifically to any of these forms of religion current in India. So, the Guardian feels it impossible to give you any definite and detailed information on that subject. He would urge you, however, to carry on your studies in that field, although its immensity is well-nigh bewildering, with the view of bringing the Message to the Hindus." (Letter dated 17 April 1936, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer in India; "Dawn of a New Day," p. 198)

      In summation, the Bahá'í teaching is that Krishna, Moses, Zarathushtra (Zoroaster), Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh have each and every one taught the existence of a single Deity to whom all reverence is due. Bahá'í doctrine does not take, as its source, the Scriptures ascribed to all of these Manifestations of God, nor the present practice of the religions associated with these Manifestations of God. Dr. Beckwith takes the surviving Scriptures attributed to the Founders of all religions, as well as the contemporaneous beliefs of practicing Jews, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians and Bahá'ís as representative of the true teachings of the Founders of these various Faiths. He writes in this vein: "In order to be fair to any world religious leader, one should accept what the leader says at face value, instead of twisting it in order to fit a predetermined belief...It could be said, without fear of contradiction, that the religious leaders who the Bahá'í faith believes to be manifestations, are 'authorities' with wax noses--noses which can be twisted in any way the Bahá'í apologist sees fit, in order to keep his religious beliefs 'consistent.'" (p. 19) In this context, Dr. Beckwith is referring not to the clergy of the various religions, but to the Founders Themselves. On this critical point Bahá'í doctrine indicates that we do not have accurate representations of the original teachings of Krishna, of Zarathushtra, of Buddha, and that the references to those Manifestations of God in the Bahá'í Writings are more accurate than most of the teachings which are espoused in Their Names by Their followers. In the light of the Bahá'í doctrine of the progressive revelation of religious truth, this should not be regarded as surprising in the least. Consider that in the Gospel of John, Jesus is reported to have spoken the following words: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth..." (16:12-13) Bahá'u'lláh affirms that all of the Manifestations of God have taught one fundamental spiritual body of truth, and that Their followers have distorted that body of truth over time, creating dogmas that have little or no resemblance to the original truths revealed to them by God. He has also asserted that the truth is revealed progressively, and that many realities are made clear in His Revelation which were obscure in the teachings of the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'án, not for any lack in those Holy Scriptures, but because of the limitations of the people to whom those Scriptures were revealed, thousands of years ago. In the time of Jesus, the Apostle Paul wrote: "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12) Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed the appearance of the Spirit of Truth, Who "will guide you into all truth" and the time in which we may see "face to face" and "know even as also I am known." Many teachings of Moses were revealed in their spiritual significance for the first time by Jesus Christ. Bahá'u'lláh likewise clarifies the meaning of many of the teachings of Jesus Christ for the first time, revealing their spiritual purpose and indicating that they are not meant to be understood in a purely literal manner.

      As Dr. Beckwith has taken the texts of all extant Scriptures and the convictions of contemporary religionists as the standard for understanding the professions of the Founders of Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism, he has reached the following conclusion, as stated in his article: "The fact that the various alleged manifestations of God represented God in contradictory ways implies either that manifestations of God can contradict one another or that God's own nature is contradictory. If the manifestations are allowed to contradict one another, then there is no way to separate false manifestations from true ones or to discover if any of them really speaks for the true and living God. Yet the Bahá'ís obviously do not accept every person who claims to be a manifestation of God (e.g., Jim Jones, founder of Jonestown). If, on the other hand, God's own nature is said to be contradictory, that is, that God is both one God and many gods, that God is both able and not able to have a Son, both personal and impersonal, etc., then the Bahá'í concept of God is reduced to meaninglessness." He reads back his contention that the various religious understandings of God are irreconcilable in order to invalidate the Bahá'í doctrine of God. Inasmuch as the Bahá'í doctrine of God is virtually identical to that recognized by classical and contemporary Judaism and Islám, Dr. Beckwith indicates his disapproval of two out of the three largest monotheistic religions on the planet. Furthermore, in his article, he groups the doctrine of God with the doctrines of creation and incarnation, thereby confusing them with one another. Finally, he cites the Bahá'í doctrine of the eternality of the creation, and its emanation from the Creator without making any reference to the role of the Primal Will, the Word or Holy Spirit of God in determining that eternality and in serving as the agency for that emanation. The Primal Will is the very concept which defines Bahá'í doctrine, and which reconciles the hitherto contradictory concepts of emanationism and creationism, by indicating that creation is a process of emanation through the agency of the Word of God. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has defined this process with direct reference to the opening verses of the Gospel of John in "Some Answered Questions" (Chapters 38 and 54).

      According to Dr. Beckwith, "Christian thinkers take an entirely different attitude toward their problematic doctrines than the Bahá'ís. For example, many Christian philosophers and theologians have spent much time trying to explain these doctrines in a way that is coherent and philosophically sound. Christians believe that these problematic doctrines are logically reconcilable because they are in fact ultimately non-contradictory. On the other hand, the Bahá'ís do not seem particularly concerned about whether their doctrine of God is internally consistent." Bahá'ís may not seem "particularly concerned" about whether or not the Bahá'í doctrine of God is "consistent" because this doctrine is not defined by theologians in the Bahá'í Faith but rather by the Founder, the Interpreter and the Guardian of the Faith. 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi are not Bahá'í apologists--they are the authoritative and infallibly-guided interpreters of the words and teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, according to the explicit instructions set forth in the "Kitáb-i-Aqdas" (Most Holy Book) and "Kitáb-i-'Ahd" (Book of the Covenant) of Bahá'u'lláh and the "Will and Testament" of 'Abdu'l-Bahá . 'Abdu'l-Bahá took the time to explain numerous proofs for the existence of God and to explain the true nature of God, in a number of public and private talks and in letters which have been translated and published. The Bahá'í teachings on this question are absolutely consistent, much more so than those of any other religion, for the simple reason that no writings other than the Scriptures and their authoritative interpretation by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi are formative influences on Bahá'í doctrine. There is no one to disagree with.

      Dr. Beckwith also asserts that "the paradoxes inherent in the Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity are not comparable to the contradictions inherent in the Bahá'í concept of God. When the Bible asserts both the humanity and the deity of Jesus it is not asserting something that is self-contradictory by definition. Christians do not believe that Jesus was both God and not-God, but rather that Jesus was both God and man. In other words, when Christians assert that God became man they are not asserting that God became merely man (although He was fully man), but rather that the Son of God took on a human nature in addition to His divine nature. Although we may not fully comprehend how the divine and human natures interacted in the person of Jesus, this is not the same thing as saying that the concept of a God-man is self-contradictory. Likewise, the doctrine of the Trinity, although paradoxical, is not self-contradictory. The doctrine of the Trinity asserts that three divine persons share the same substance or essence (i.e., the three persons are one and the same God). It does not assert that there are three individual substances which are one substance or that there are three gods which are also one god, either of which would be contradictory. That is, Christians are not saying that God is both one substance and not-one-substance, but rather that God is both one substance and three persons. Even if God's triunity cannot be fully comprehended by man, at least the Christian is not involved in a contradiction when he asserts that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God." The purpose of this treatise is not to criticize the doctrines of any branch of Christianity. Nonetheless, it should be noted that Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, and, in the case of the last of these Manifestations of God, His authoritative interpreters ('Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi) as well have all rejected the doctrines of divine incarnation and theistic trinity, whether those espoused by many Christians or those proclaimed by many Hindus. The Gospel verses which have been interpreted by many Christians to be in support of such doctrines, have simply been interpreted differently by Muslims, Bábís and Bahá'ís, and in accord with their Scriptures, which claim to vouchsafe a more complete Revelation of the divine Will to humanity than that found in the Gospels. Those verses of the Bhagavad-Gita and other Hindu Scriptures which have been interpreted by Hindus in a literal fashion are likewise given a different interpretation by Bahá'í apologists.

      Dr. Beckwith correctly indicates that, "According to Bahá'í doctrine, revelation is a continuous process." (p. 10) On the other hand, Dr. Beckwith writes: "The statement, 'revelation is relative,' which is allegedly a revelation spoken by Bahá'u'lláh must be either relative or absolute. If the statement is relative, it is not absolutely binding, and it is possible that absolute revelation does exist. If the statement, 'revelation is relative,' is absolute, then the statement, 'revelation is relative,' cannot be true. Thus, the Bahá'í doctrine of relative revelation is self-defeating and untrue." (pp. 20-21) Bahá'u'lláh never said "revelation is relative"; nor did 'Abdu'l-Bahá, nor did Shoghi Effendi. Shoghi Effendi wrote of the Bahá'í Faith: "Its teachings revolve around the fundamental principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is progressive, not final" (WOB:58); "those who have recognized the Light of God in this age, claim no finality for the Revelation with which they stand identified, nor arrogate to the Faith they have embraced powers and attributes intrinsically superior to, or essentially different from, those which have characterized any of the religious systems that preceded it" (WOB:59); "the fundamental principle which constitutes the bedrock of Bahá'í belief, the principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is orderly, continuous and progressive and not spasmodic or final. Indeed, the categorical rejection by the followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh of the claim to finality which any religious system inaugurated by the Prophets of the past may advance is as clear and emphatic as their own refusal to claim that same finality for the Revelation with which they stand identified" (WOB:115); "the Author of such a Faith, Who repudiates the claim to finality which leaders of various denominations uphold has, despite the vastness of His Revelation, disclaimed it for Himself I have, likewise, felt it necessary to prove and emphasize." (WOB:131) Shoghi Effendi has indicated that Bahá'u'lláh's words in reference to this theme may be found in the following verses: "Know thou of a certainty, that in every Dispensation the light of Divine Revelation has been vouchsafed to men in direct proportion to their spiritual capacity..." (WOB:59;117); "We have revealed Our Self to a degree corresponding to the capacity of the people of Our age..." (WOB:116); "God hath sent down His Messengers to succeed to Moses and Jesus, and He will continue to do so till 'the end that hath no end'; so that His grace may, from the heaven of Divine bounty, be continually vouchsafed to mankind." (WOB:116) Divine Revelation, according to Bahá'í doctrine is relative in the sense that it is progressively revealed, and no single bestowal of that revelation can be considered final and immutable, rather it is continuous and related to the evolving capacity of humanity to apprehend and actualize spiritual truth. This is not "relative revelation" is "progressive revelation". According to Dr. Beckwith, "The Christian faith teaches that God has progressively revealed Himself in particular books, culminating in the ultimate revelation of God" (p. 21) and he cites various New Testament verses in support of this belief. Bahá'ís interpret those same verses differently, and indicate that many verses found in the New Testament, including prophecies uttered by Jesus Christ Himself refer to His Return, to the advent of the Spirit of Truth, of the Comforter, of the Son of Man coming in the Glory of the Father, and that these prophecies are fulfilled by Bahá'u'lláh. But it is not the Bahá'ís who make this is Bahá'u'lláh Himself.

      Dr. Beckwith writes: "Since there have been innumerable religious movements and leaders in history, how does the Bahá'í religion distinguish between a true manifestation and a false one? In order to solve this problem, several Bahá'í writers have put forth some criteria." (p. 11) As has been stated earlier, the doctrinal statements of individual Bahá'ís are not representative of the authenticated Bahá'í doctrines--these can be found in the Bahá'í canon, that is, the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, and the infallibly-guided interpretation of those Writings by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. Inasmuch as Dr. Beckwith repeatedly fails to distinguish between the individual and the authoritative, it may be necessary to repeat this principle several times in the course of this treatise. It is of paramount importance in studying the Bahá'í Faith. This is by no means a "do it yourself" religion. The objective criteria or "proofs" by which one may distinguish the true from the false Prophet are set forth in some detail in the "Kitáb-i-Íqán" (Book of Certitude) of Bahá'u'lláh, in "Some Answered Questions" by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and in various other writings by the Founder, the Interpreter and the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. The present author has prepared an overview of over thirty such "proofs" but this required a lengthy dissertation, and here we will be limited to a cursory introduction to the theme. Dr. Beckwith cites two of his "chief criteria" (pp. 11,12) from authoritative Bahá'í sources, the first from a Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh, the sixth from an authenticated talk by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The second of these is described by 'Abdu'l-Bahá as an attribute of the Manifestations of God, but not a "proof" of their prophethood. The other eight "criteria" are cited from introductory works written by Bahá'ís. These have no doctrinal authority. Consequently, Dr. Beckwith's comments (pp. 18-20) regarding the applicability of these "criteria" to the various Manifestations of God are unfounded...this is a straw man, a paper tiger.

      Dr. Beckwith finds fault with the fact that Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi make mention of different Manifestations of God in varied contexts. He notes that Bahá'u'lláh referred to Noah, Hud, Salih, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and the Báb in "Kitáb-i-Íqán" (pp. 7-65), and contrasts this with 'Abdu'l-Bahá 's references to Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh in "Some Answered Questions" (Chapter XLIII, p. 189). He then contrasted this with the text of a talk given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá ("The Promulgation of Universal Peace," p. 346), where it is alleged that He listed Moses, Jesus, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh as Manifestations of God. As we have seen, Shoghi Effendi has defined Bahá'í doctrine as indicating that Confucius was not a Manifestation of God, but that the other Persons named in this list are recognized by Bahá'ís as Manifestations of God. Dr. Beckwith also cites a list excerpted from one of the letters of Shoghi Effendi (quoted earlier and in "One Universal Faith," Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, n.d., p. 5), listing "the nine revealed religions of the world" as "the Sabean religion, Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islám, the Bábí religion, and the Bahá'í religion." (p. 12) Last among the lists he cites is one drawn up by Mr. Hugh E. Chance, a Bahá'í, but we will not include this list into consideration because it is not authoritative for Bahá'ís. As a matter of general principle, there are many verses revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá which indicate that there will always be Messengers sent by God to educate humanity. Shoghi Effendi has translated a pertinent passage from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh on this subject, and added to it his own words of interpretation: "'All the Prophets of God,' asserts Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, 'abide in the same tabernacle, soar in the same heaven, are seated upon the same throne, utter the same speech, and proclaim the same Faith.' From the 'beginning that hath no beginning,' these Exponents of the Unity of God and Channels of His incessant utterance have shed the light of the invisible Beauty upon mankind, and will continue, to the 'end that hath no end,' to vouchsafe fresh revelations of His might and additional experiences of His inconceivable glory." (WOB:58) In reference to the nine religions listed by Shoghi Effendi in the source quoted above, the Guardian wrote: "These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world but they are the only ones still existing. There have always been divine Prophets and Messengers, to many of whom the Qur'án testifies. But the only ones existing are those mentioned above." (From a letter of Shoghi Effendi, dated 28 July 1936, published in "Bahá'í News," No. 105, pp. 2,3) In another letter, he directed that his secretary write: "We are taught there always have been Manifestations of God, but we do not have any record of their names." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated 4 October 1950; LG:1988:#1696) Hence, the fact that there are references to different sequences and names of Manifestations of God in the Bahá'í canon is related to context and not a sign of inconsistency or contradiction. A careful student of the Bahá'í source literature will find references to yet other Manifestations of God besides those found in the lists cited by Dr. Beckwith. There simply isn't a master list of Manifestations of God found anywhere in the Bahá'í canon. The Guardian did not indicate that only nine Manifestations were authentic, but rather he stated that only nine living religions derived from authentic Manifestations are presently in existence.

      Anyone who has perused the actual Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá , and the collections of public and private addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá is well aware of the hundreds of references to Jesus Christ, to the Gospels and to the Christian Faith in authoritative Bahá'í sources. The Bahá'í Faith proclaims the Sonship of Jesus; that humanity cannot approach the Fatherhood of God save through His Sonship; that He is the Messiah promised in the Scriptures of Judaism; that His mother was a virgin when He was conceived; that He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; that His appearance was predicted by Moses; that He was blessed by God with innate wisdom and knowledge; that His Word was the Word of God; that He changed certain Mosaic laws, revealing their spiritual purpose; that recognition of His station is required of all souls seeking authentic spiritual life; that obedience to His teachings was made incumbent upon all those who recognize His station; that He considered the essential commandments to be the love of God and the love of one's neighbor. These affirmations can be supported by countless citations from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, as well as from the Tablets and talks of 'Abdu'l-Bahá , and the letters of Shoghi Effendi.

      Nevertheless, Dr. Beckwith states that "The Bahá'í faith denies the chief characteristics attributed to Christ." (p. 21) What then are the "chief characteristics attributed to Christ" and by whom? The answer to the second question is of course that these characteristics are attributed to Jesus Christ by Christian clergy, by theologians. All of the affirmations cited above, which are derived directly from the text, the very wording of the Gospels, are found confirmed in the Bahá'í canon. The first of the "chief characteristics" cited by Dr. Beckwith is "incarnation"--while Dr. Beckwith cites various passages which he and countless other Christian theologians have interpreted to refer to this doctrine, Bahá'ís have interpreted these same passages in an entirely different fashion. It should be pointed out that not all professed Christians profess the doctrine of "incarnation"--there are indeed many Christians, in the course of history and presently living who have come to the conclusion from their reading of the Gospel that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the incarnation of the Word of God, but not the incarnation of God Himself, of the Father. They have understood those few references to Jesus as God, by His Jewish detractors (John 10:33) and His doubting disciple (John 20:28-29) as similar in character to the teaching found in the Torah: "And he [Aaron] shall be thy [Moses'] spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God" (Exodus 4:16); "And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet." (Exodus 7:1) Even as the people could have no direct relationship with God, so the only way they could relate to God in the time of Moses was through Him; and the only way they could relate to the Father in the time of Jesus was through His Sonship. It is not Jesus Who is the Intermediary, in Bahá'í doctrine, rather it is the Christ (Messiah, the Anointed One of God).

      It is evident to any fair-minded student of the Bahá'í Faith that Dr. Beckwith has misunderstood the teaching of Bahá'u'lláh when he interprets the following words of Bahá'u'lláh ("Kitáb-i-Íqán," in GL:XXII, p. 54)--
"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 names and His attributes, are made manifest in the world."

--with these remarks: "In order to avoid the impact of the passages that clearly demonstrate Christ's Deity, the Bahá'í faith has put forth a type of theological escape clause...In other words, though Jesus claimed to be God, He really didn't mean it. According to the Bahá'ís, Christ's claims merely refer to the attributes of God manifested through His person, not to any incarnation." (p. 23) Of course, Dr. Beckwith has entirely ignored the original context in which Bahá'u'lláh revealed these remarks, namely, in His response to the questions of an Iranian Muslim who was doubtful of claims of the Báb to a prophetic station. It was in an Islamic rather than in a Christian context that Bahá'u'lláh's statement is perhaps most clearly understood.

      Nevertheless, if we allow for the present that Jesus identified Himself directly with God in the Gospel of John (8:56-58)--Bahá'í apologists would certainly interpret these verses in a different fashion--then Bahá'u'lláh does address this statement fair and square in the above-quoted passage, by indicating its spiritual content. In some passages of His last book, "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," Bahá'u'lláh has further elaborated on this spiritual content: "This station is the station in which one dieth to himself and liveth in God. Divinity, whenever I mention it, indicateth My complete and absolute self-effacement. This is the station in which I have no control over mine own weal or woe nor over my life nor over my resurrection." (ESW:41) "Men have failed to perceive Our purpose in the references We have made to Divinity and Godhood. Were they to apprehend it, they would arise from their places, and cry out: 'We, verily, ask pardon of God!' The Seal of the Prophets [Muhammad]--may the souls of all else but Him be offered up for His sake--saith: 'Manifold are Our relationships with God. At one time, We are He Himself, and He is We Ourself. At another He is that He is, and We are that We are.'" (ESW:43) "Such references as have been made to Divinity and Godhead by the holy ones and chosen ones of God have been made a cause for denial and repudiation. The Imám Ja'far-i-Sádiq [the 6th Imám of the Ithná 'Asharí Shí'ís] hath said: 'Servitude is a substance, the essence of which is Divinity.'" (ESW:111) Hence, when the Manifestation of God identifies Himself with God, it is not to glorify Himself, to raise Himself to the station of God, but rather, it is to indicate His absolute self-surrender in servitude to God, His nothingness before the everythingness of God.

      The second of the "chief characteristics attributed to Christ" is, according to Dr. Beckwith, that He will "come again in bodily form in the skies." (p. 23) He interprets certain verses found in the Book of Acts (1:9-11) in a literal fashion.

      In "Kitáb-i-Íqán" Bahá'u'lláh has given a symbolic interpretation to those Biblical verses which refer to the coming of the Manifestation of God "from heaven" and "with the clouds" and "in the sky", and 'Abdu'l-Bahá has reaffirmed and elaborated on these interpretations in "Some Answered Questions" and in His other talks and Tablets. That there is evidence that a number of the early Christians would have agreed with such an interpretation, and this is also the case with some Christian denominations in our own time. The third of these "characteristics" is "the long-held Christian doctrine that Jesus rose bodily from the grave." (p. 14) Once again, Dr. Beckwith cites 'Abdu'l-Bahá (correctly), and mistakes Him for a Bahá'í apologist (incorrectly). Not only does 'Abdu'l-Bahá give a symbolic interpretation of "raising the dead" (here cited from "Some Answered Questions") but, in texts not cited by Dr. Beckwith, 'Abdu'l-Bahá also gives a symbolic interpretation of the "feeding the four thousand and the five thousand." (Mark 8:17-21) Likewise, the specific verses which Dr. Beckwith cites as teaching "the physical resurrection of Jesus" (p. 25), John 2:19-21, are interpreted in symbolic manner by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Once more, the encounter of Thomas with Jesus after His resurrection (John 20:27-29) is likewise interpreted in a symbolic manner by 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Lastly, Bahá'í doctrine is entirely in agreement with the Apostle Paul when he writes: "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." (1 Corinthians 15:14) It is the spiritual resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His teaching that He and His followers will have eternal life which is referred to in this verse, and without that promise of eternal life, all the preaching of all the Prophets and the faith of all the believers is null and void.

      Last to be considered, Dr. Beckwith states that "Jesus Christ is the only Savior for all eternity" (p. 14), and while he allows that Bahá'ís do not deny that Christ was the only way to heaven during His Dispensation, He indicates that "This dispensation ended with Muhammed and the religion of Islam." (p. 26) Bahá'í doctrine is much more inclusive and subtle than that. While Bahá'u'lláh affirms that the prophethood and Dispensation of Muhammad followed that of Jesus Christ, He also affirms that Jesus Christ and Muhammad are actually one reality, that all of the Manifestations of God are one reality, and are only differentiated in their appearance to human beings. 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that the prophetic reality of Jesus Christ is not Jesus but Christ, and that the Messianic Spirit is identical in each Dispensation, only differing in the degree of its manifestation. "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6) is interpreted by Bahá'ís to refer to the Sonship of Jesus Christ, which mediates between God and His creation. From one perspective, one Dispensation comes to an end and a new Dispensation begins anew. There are references to this cycle in the Gospels, including the reference to the "end of the age" in the Book of Matthew (24:3; 28:19-20). There are also references to the unity of the Manifestations of God in the Gospels, but these may only be apparent to those who have studied the teachings of Jesus Christ in light of the interpretations of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi.

      Before we consider the fourth chapter of Dr. Beckwith's book, let us turn our attention to some subjects which are found in his later article (1989), and which may effectively bridge between the third and fourth chapters. Dr. Beckwith indicates that to accept "as literal only those texts which seem to fit one's doctrinal views while pleading for a non-literal interpretation for passages which contradict one's position is a favorite tactic of pseudo-Christian groups. For example, this interpretive technique is employed by the Unification Church to show that Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah. With this method of interpreting biblical prophecy Bahá'ís employ circular reasoning (in which the arguer assumes what he or she is trying to prove)." What Dr. Beckwith fails to note is that the interpretation of Scripture found in authoritative Bahá'í literature follows one basic principle, articulated in "Kitáb-i-Íqán" by Bahá'u'lláh circa 1862: "It is evident that the Birds of Heaven and Doves of Eternity speak a twofold language. One language, the outward language, is devoid of allusions, is unconcealed and unveiled...The other language is veiled and concealed, so that whatever lieth hidden in the heart of the malevolent may be made manifest and their innermost being be disclosed." (pp. 254-255) Bahá'u'lláh goes one step further, and informs His reader of the manner in which he may become informed of the meaning of the "veiled and concealed" language of Scripture: "The people, therefore, must not allow such utterances to deprive them of the divine bounties, but should rather seek enlightenment from them who are the recognized Expounders thereof, so that the hidden mysteries may be unravelled, and be manifest unto them. We percieve none, however, amongst the people of the earth who, sincerely yearning for the Truth, seeketh the guidance of the divine Manifestations concerning the abstruse matters of his Faith...they have ignored His Presence in His day." (p. 256) Bahá'u'lláh states this principle also in the very beginning of "Kitáb-i-Íqán": "man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious...unless and until he ceased to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets." (pp. 3,4) Likewise, in His "Tafsír Súratu'l-Shams" (Commentary on the Súrah of the Sun, Qur'án 91), Bahá'u'lláh writes: "Know assuredly that just as thou firmly believest that the Word of God, exalted be His glory, endureth for ever, thou must, likewise, believe with undoubting faith that its meaning can never be exhausted. They who are its appointed interpreters, they whose hearts are the repositories of its secrets, are, however, the only ones who can comprehend its manifold wisdom. Whoso, while reading the Sacred Scriptures, is tempted to choose therefrom whatever may suit him with which to challenge the authority of the Representative of God among men, is, indeed, as one dead, though to outward seeming he may walk and converse with his neighbors, and share with them their food and drink." (GL:LXXXIX:175-176). According to Bahá'í doctrine, we human beings are utterly unable to come to a true understanding of the "veiled and obscure" verses of Scripture except by turning to the Prophet of God and His chosen ones for guidance. This is neither an arbitrary and self-serving, nor a circular approach to the interpretation of Scripture. It is entirely consistent, and dependent upon divinely-guided insight.

      Dr. Beckwith then cites certain arguments made in favor of the Bahá'í Faith by individual believers. He cites Dr. Robert H. Stockman's "assertion that just as the Jews were mistaken about Jesus' fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (that is, the Jews as a nation; many individual Jews accepted Jesus), the Christians of today are mistaken about Bahá'u'lláh's fulfillment of New Testament prophecy." He allows that Dr. Stockman may intend "to argue only that the Christian rejection of Bahá'u'lláh is based on the same sort of error that led the Jews to reject Jesus. Bahá'ís generally argue that in both cases the error that led to the rejection of the "manifestation" was an overly literal interpretation of biblical prophecies." Dr. Beckwith then proceeds to state that this argument is erroneous because "the Jews rejected Jesus as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy not because they interpreted it too literally, but because they did not interpret it literally enough. The Bible clearly predicted that the Messiah would be God (Psalm 45:6; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6), but the Jews found Jesus' claim to be God scandalous and blasphemous in the extreme. The Bible also clearly announced that the Messiah would suffer and be killed as an atonement for Israel's sins (Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:26), but the Jews regarded Jesus' crucifixion as proof that He was not the Messiah." He then indicates that the only standard for recognizing the return of Jesus Christ is a purely literal interpretation of Scripture. As indicated earlier, the Bahá'í standard for the interpretation of Scripture is neither literal nor symbolic--it is divine. Only the Prophet and His designated interpreters are assured of infallibility in their interpretations of Scripture. It does not matter how reasonably Dr. Beckwith's arguments are, how many verses he can muster in support of his views...he is not a Manifestation of God, nor has he been designated as divinely-guided by a Manifestation of God, and consequently his views are no more authoritative than those of Rev. Moon or Rev. Jones. Dr. Beckwith writes: "Certainly there is no reason to accept Bahá'u'lláh's claim to be that Messiah. He failed to fulfill any of the biblical prophecies concerning Christ's second coming, and Bahá'í's cannot produce a single text from the Bible that suggests that Jesus will not Himself fulfill those prophecies." There is no reason to accept Bahá'u'lláh's claims--and He did not claim to be Messiah (indeed, He stated unequivocably that Jesus was the Messiah) but rather to be the Spirit of Truth promised in the Gospel of John--unless one studies those claims carefully, dispassionately, weighing them in the light of Scripture. But Dr. Beckwith has not studied Bahá'u'lláh's claims in this spirit. For example, he says that "Bahá'ís cannot produce a single text from the Bible that suggests that Jesus will not Himself fulfill those prophecies" while Bahá'u'lláh Himself has clearly indicated that all of the prophecies of the Holy Scriptures refer to His own appearance, and that He is the Return of Jesus promised in the Gospels. Bahá'u'lláh has cited many Biblical verses in support of His claims, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi have also done so.

      Dr. Beckwith's last argument in his article is that Bahá'ís claim that the Bahá'í "must be God's true religion for this age because, unlike Christianity, it has not suffered any schisms." Nowhere in the entirety of the authoritative Bahá'í literature has the present author discovered such an allegation. On the other hand, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi repeatedly stated that one of the distinctive and most important provisions of Bahá'u'lláh is His selection of a particular individual to assume the leadership of His Faith upon His demise, and His provision for the appointment of subsequent leaders. This is termed the Lesser Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, and is stated in authoritative sources to be the cause for the unification of humanity in one common Faith. Dr. Beckwith points out that there have been divisions among those who identify themselves as Bahá'ís, in effect suggesting that the Bahá'ís who acknowledge no schisms in their Faith are ignorant or liars. In fact, many more persons have defected from the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh since its earliest inception than those few cited by Dr. Beckwith. However, these defections have not weakened the unity of the Bahá'í community, nor besmirched its integrity one iota, and this is because of the written documents which have effected the unchallengeable transfer of authority, from Bahá'u'lláh to 'Abdu'l-Bahá ; from 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Shoghi Effendi; from Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi to the Universal House of Justice.

      The Bahá'í canon assures the faithful that those who break the Covenant will be forgotten in the sands of time, like the foam on the waters of the ocean, disappearing into thin air. Perhaps the most eloquent argument in favor of the Bahá'í doctrinal position on schism is that penned by Shoghi Effendi: "Were anyone to imagine or expect that a Cause, comprising within its orbit so vast a portion of the globe, so turbulent in its history, so challenging in its claims, so diversified in the elements it has assimilated into its administrative structure, should, at all times, be immune to any divergence of opinion, or any defection on the part of its multitudinous followers, it would be sheer delusion, wholly unreasonable and unwarranted, even in the face of the unprecedented evidence of the miraculous power which its rise and progress have so powerfully exhibited. That such a secession, however, whether effected by those who apostatize their faith or preach heretical doctrines, should have failed, after the lapse of a century, to split in twain the entire body of the adherents of the Faith, or to create a grave, a permanent and irremediable breach in its organic structure, is a fact too eloquent for even a casual observer of the internal processes of its administrative order to either deny or ignore." (Shoghi Effendi, "Messages to America," p. 50)

Dr. Beckwith also argues that "it simply does not follow that a religion that is undivided must be the true religion, or that a religion that is divided cannot be the true religion." Nor does the Bahá'í canon make such a claim. The Bahá'í doctrine is that the unity of humanity, which is the aim and purpose of the present and subsequent periods in the evolution of our species, can only be effected through a divinely-ordained instrument which is in itself unified. Hence, it is affirmed that only a united Faith can bring about the unification of the peoples of the world. Dr. Beckwith alleges that "This is not a biblical teaching: unity of the faith is presented in the Bible as a goal for the church to reach, not a prerequisite for the church to be God's people (Ephesians 4:11-16)." Humanity was at a different stage in its development during the Dispensation of Jesus Christ. The manner in which He called for a degree of unity among peoples are set forth in these two statements: (1)"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27); and (2)"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another" (John 13:34). But it was left to Bahá'u'lláh, the Spirit of Truth, to proclaim the universal love of all humankind, a love which transcends the love of neighbor and the love of fellow believer, which embraces every human being.

      We now return to Dr. Beckwith's book, and to our examination of "The Bahá'í Use of the Bible" (Chapter 4), the last chapter of his short book which actually addresses some of the Bahá'í teachings. Here he cites Bahá'í interpretations of verses from the books of Daniel (8:13-17; 12:12-13), and Isaiah (9:1,6,7; 11:1-10; 35:1-2), and from the Gospel of John (16:12-13). 'Abdu'l-Bahá has interpreted the verses from the book of Daniel which are cited, although there is some confusion regarding the meaning intended by the second citation because the author who has quoted 'Abdu'l-Bahá was not aware of all of His references to this theme. Likewise, 'Abdu'l-Bahá has given the interpretation of Isaiah 11:1-10, but the other interpretations are taken from a book authored by an individual Bahá'í whose views are not authoritative in any sense, Ms. Elizabeth H. Cheney ("Prophecy Fulfilled," Wilmette: BPT, 1972). Indeed, Bahá'u'lláh Himself has given His interpretation of John 16:12-13 and Isaiah 35:1-2, and Shoghi Effendi has penned his interpretation of Isaiah 9:1,6,7. It is unfortunate that Dr. Beckwith did not study and discuss these authoritative Bahá'í interpretations rather than preoccupy himself with the personal views of an individual believer. The larger question which we face is seeking to decipher prophetic passages of Scripture is this: who is qualified to interpret them for us? In the Book of Daniel it is written: "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end" (12:4) and "Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end" (12:9). Hence, we are given to understand that the "words" and "book" of God will be "shut up...closed up and sealed till the time of the end" and while this may refer to the same "end of the age" as Jesus Christ cited in the Gospel of Matthew (24:3; 28:19-20), this is not clear to the reader unless we consult the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) of St. John, and find the same wording there, referring to the Return of the Anointed One: "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not, behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof." (5:2-5) "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (20:12) According to the prophet Daniel, the only One Who can unseal the books is the Ancient of days: it still does not answer the question of who is qualified to open and unseal the book for us at that time. In the Book of Daniel it is written: "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened." (7:10) Do these verses hold the answer to our question? The books are opened, are unsealed on the Day of Judgment, the Day of God. Regarding the unsealing of the books, Bahá'u'lláh wrote: "Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed. Meditate upon this, O men of insight!" ("Kitáb-i-Aqdas," K5) As to the Day of God, Bahá'u'lláh wrote: "The Promised One hath appeared in this glorified Station, whereat all beings, both seen and unseen, have rejoiced. Take ye advantage of the Day of God." (Ibid., K88) According to Bahá'í doctrine, it is Bahá'u'lláh and His appointed interpreters who have unsealed the books revealed by the Prophets of old, and hence, it is only by referring to their interpretations that we can come to understand the inner meaning and significance of the divine verses, whether found in the books of Daniel and Isaiah or in the Gospel of John.

      At the conclusion of his fourth chapter, Dr. Beckwith introduces "Bahá'í Watergate: A False Prophecy and its Cover-Up" (p. 37). He then cites two different interpretations of one prophecy found in the book of Daniel (12:12), both of which are ascribed to 'Abdu'l-Bahá in differing editions of "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era," by Dr. John E. Esslemont. This is a case of much ado about nothing. A careful analysis of the sources, undertaken at the request of an individual Bahá'í by the Research Department of the Bahá'í World Centre in reply to Dr. Beckwith's allegations (and available to all readers at, indicates that this particular prophecy can be legitimately interpreted in more than one fashion, and hence the terminal dates 1957 and 1963 may both be correct depending upon the specific context in which Daniel 12:12 is interpreted. There has been no cover up, merely the substitution of one source for another, on the grounds that the first was based on the author's personal recollection of an aural statement whereas the second (discovered some time after the publication of the first) was based on Shoghi Effendi's translation of a passage from a Tablet written in Persian by 'Abdu'l-Bahá . The interpretation of Daniel 12:12 is thoroughly discussed in the above-cited research memorandum, and the reader is referred thereto for further consideration of this subject. While Dr. Beckwith states that 'Abdu'l-Bahá 's interpretation of prophecy, His indicating that the end of the 1335 days of Daniel 12:12 would take place "a century...from the dawn of the Sun of Truth [Bahá'u'lláh's declaration of prophethood, in 1863]...the teachings of God will be firmly established upon the earth, and the divine light shall flood the world from East even unto West" (p. 38) is a false interpretation, a "false prophecy" (p. 39), according to Shoghi Effendi, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was right on the money. As to Dr. Beckwith's outrage at the modification of this short passage in Dr. Esslemont's book subsequent to his demise, "indeed a black mark upon all Bahá'ísm" (p. 39), it might interest him to know that "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era" was a collaborative work from the start, and it was its author's wish that the text be revised after his death so as to keep it up-to-date, accurate and altogether an appropriate introduction to the Bahá'í Faith for future generations of seeking souls.

      We will conclude this treatise with these words of Bahá'u'lláh, as revealed in the Most Holy Book ("Kitáb-i-Aqdas," K168):

      "We, verily, see amongst you him who taketh hold of the Book of God and citeth from it proofs and arguments wherewith to repudiate his Lord, even as the followers of every other Faith sought reasons in their Holy Books for refuting Him Who is the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Say: God, the True One, is My witness that neither the Scriptures of the world, nor all the books and writings in existence, shall, in this Day, avail you aught without this, the Living Book, Who proclaimeth in the midmost heart of creation: 'Verily, there is none other God but Me, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.'"

  1. Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, "Bahá'í, A Christian response to Bahá'ísm, the religion which aims toward one world government and one common faith," Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1985 (still in print).

  2. LG: Helen Hornby, editor, "Lights of Guidance," Delhi: BPT, 1988.

  3. WOB: "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh," Shoghi Effendi; Wilmette: BPT, 1955.

  4. Shoghi Effendi, "God Passes By," Wilmette: BPT, 1944.

  5. Shoghi Effendi, "Dawn of a New Day," Delhi: BPT, 1970.

  6. Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, "Bahá'í-Christian Dialogue: Some Key Issues Considered," Christian Research Journal, Elliot Miller, editor; Winter/Spring 1989.

  7. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Some Answered Questions," Wilmette: BPT, 1970.

  8. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Abdu'l-Bahá in London," London: BPT, 1987.

  9. From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, cited in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 15 September 1983 (

  10. From a letter of Shoghi Effendi, dated 28 July 1936, published in "Bahá'í News," No. 105, pp. 2,3.

  11. Words of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated 16 February 1956, from a personal, unpublished diary, entitled "Haifa Notes";; checked against copy in private collection.

  12. Words of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated 15-24 January 1956, from a personal, unpublished diary, entitled "Haifa Notes," private collection.

  13. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace," Wilmette: BPT, 1982.

  14. Dr. Sarvapali Radhakrishnan, "Indian Philosophy," London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1931, volume II, Chapter X, pp. 737-765.

  15. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Khitábát," Germany: Bahá'í-Verlag, 1984.

  16. From a letter of Shoghi Effendi, dated 28 July 1936, published in "Bahá'í News," No. 105, pp. 2,3.

  17. GL: "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh," Wilmette: BPT, 1971.

  18. ESW: "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," Bahá'u'lláh, Wilmette: BPT, 1953.

  19. Shoghi Effendi, "Messages to America," Wilmette: BPT, 1947.

  20. Elizabeth H. Cheney, "Prophecy Fulfilled," Wilmette: BPT, 1972.

  21. Bahá'u'lláh, "Kitáb-i-Aqdas," Haifa: Universal House of Justice, 1992.

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