November 6, 2011

Christianity in the Baha’i Message – by Lady Sitarih Blomfield

"No one has ever loved Christ as I do." – ‘Abdu'l-Baha

"Should a servant desire to make the words, deeds and actions of other servants, learned or ignorant, the standard for knowing God and His chosen ones, he shall never enter the Ridvan of the knowledge of the Lord of Might." - Baha'u'llah

Hundreds of thousands of our Eastern brothers, both Jews and Muslims, have learned, through the teaching of 'Abdu'l-Baha that His Holiness Christ is the Spirit, the divine Son of God.

Some young Jewish men came from Persia on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; after saluting 'Abdu'l-Baha, and being blessed by Him, they said: "Now we go to Jerusalem, to pray for pardon, and to weep for the blindness of our forefathers in that they rejected and crucified our Messiah. Our parents also laid this charge upon us: 'that we should convey their lamentation, and for them implore forgiveness’”.

Again a young Jewish soldier came to 'Abdu'l-Baha saying: "I cannot acknowledge their supposed Messiah, whom they call Jesus Christ, but I can understand and accept Baha'u'llah as our Messiah."

'Abdu'l-Baha said to him: "You cannot become a disciple of Baha'u'llah until you believe that His Holiness Christ is the Spirit, the divine Son of God."

A doctor, who had been in Alexandria, where he saw 'Abdu'l Baha and witnessed His Christ like life, told me that for the first time he was able to understand what the Lord Christ must have been like. "Now I am able to believe," he said.

The Baha'i Teaching has the universality of the Lord Christ's commands.

Baha'u'llah did not counsel us, any of us, to change our religion, but to obey the Law of God found at the core of each religion, in order that our religion might change us; a very different proposition!

No person touched by the spirit of Christianity can fail, after due investigation and consideration, to recognize that the Baha'i revelation is truly the perfection of Christianity.

For to be a real Christian in Spirit and in Truth is to be a Baha'i a follower of the Light and to be a true Baha'i is to be a Christian: for he puts into practice the laws of Christianity, translating the beautiful words into action.

The precepts of Baha'u'llah make the same appeal to the institution as Christianity makes to the individual: forasmuch as a Golden Brotherhood cannot be formed out of leaden individuals -- the work perforce had to begin with individuals. We cannot have a brotherhood without brothers. This teaching does not merely say, "Teach men to be brothers," but "Go ye out into all the world, to the East and the West, to the North and to the South, wherever your calling may take you -- and be brothers to all men -- whether of your own nation, color or creed, or of any other people or race or religion. Be brothers of help and comfort, of sympathy and understanding, showing loving kindness to all without limit." It will help us to attain to this vitalizing Truth, i.e. that the perfection in the teaching of Baha'u'llah is of the same nature as the teaching of the Lord Christ brought to the needs of the present day of this world, which is "wet with tears."

It will help us to understand this sublime Truth if we consider some of the utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha, given in explanation of this connection, and published in the "Wisdom Talks in Paris and London."

"When you meet a stranger be unto him a friend. If he seems to be lonely, try to help him; give him of your willing service; if he be sad, console him, if poor, succour him, if oppressed, rescue him, if in misery, comfort him. In so doing you will manifest (to the world) that, not in words only, but in deed and in truth you think of all men as your brothers.

"What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the Human Race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action they are useless.

"The wrong in the world continues to exist, because people only talk of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of (these) words, the world's misery would very soon be changed into comfort.

"In the past, as in the present, the Spiritual Sun of Truth has always shone from the horizon of the East. On the Eastern horizon arose the Lord Christ. Baha'u'llah lived and taught in the East. Although the Sun of Christ dawned in the East, the Radiance thereof was apparent in the West, where the effulgence of its glory was more clearly seen. The divine light of His teaching shone with a greater force in the Western world, where it has made a more rapid headway than in the land of its birth.

"The perfect man is a polished mirror reflecting the Sun of Truth; manifesting the attributes of God. The Lord Christ said: ‘He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ -- God manifested in man. In the Manifestation of God, the perfectly polished mirror, appear the qualities of the Divine, in a form that man is capable of comprehending.

"In the early days the civilization of Christianity was the best and most enlightened in the world.

"The Christian Teaching was illumined by the Divine Sun of Truth, therefore its followers were taught to love all men as brothers, to fear nothing, not even death; to love their neighbors as themselves, and to forget their own selfish interests in striving for the greatest good of humanity. The grand aim of the Religion of Christ was to draw the hearts of all men nearer to God's effulgent Truth.

"If the followers of the Lord Christ had continued to carry out these principles with steadfast faithfulness, there would have been no need for (this) the renewal of the Christian Message, no necessity for a reawakening of His people! For a great and glorious civilization would now be ruling the world, and the Kingdom of Heaven would have come on earth. But instead of this what has taken place? Men turned away their faces from following the divinely illuminated precepts of their Master, and winter fell upon the hearts of men. For, as the body of man depends for life upon the rays of the Sun, so the celestial virtues cannot grow in the soul without the radiance of the Sun of Truth.

"God leaves not His children comfortless, but, when the darkness of winter overshadows them, then again He sends His Messengers with a renewal of the Blessed Spring. The Sun of Truth appears again on the horizon of the world, shining into the eyes of those who sleep, awakening them to behold the glory of a new Dawn.

"Then again the Tree of Humanity blossoms anew and brings forth the fruit of righteousness for the healing of the nations.

"Because man has stopped his ears to the voice of Truth, and shut his eyes to the sacred light, for this reason has the darkness of war and tumult, unrest and misery, desolated the earth.

"May every child of God be brought into the radiance of the Sun of Truth, that the darkness (of evil) may be dissipated by the penetrating rays of Its glory, and the winter's hardness and cold be melted away by the merciful warmth of its shining.

"The sound of the Song of Christ once echoed over all the lands of the Western world, and entered the hearts of its people. It is a long time since the Sun of Truth, mirrored forth by the Lord Christ, has shed its radiance upon the West, for the Face of God has become veiled by the sin and forgetfulness of Man. But now again, praise be unto God, the Holy Spirit speaks anew unto the world! The constellation of love and wisdom and power is once more shining from the Divine Horizons to give joy to all who turn their faces to the Light of God.

"Baha'u'llah has rent the veil of prejudice and superstition which was stifling the souls of men! May heart and soul be vivified in every man; so will they all rejoice in a 'New Birth.' Then shall humanity put on a new garment in the Light of the Love of God, and it shall be the Dawn of a New Creation. May you all be faithful and loving workers in the Building of the New Spiritual Civilization, the elect of God, in willing, joyful obedience, carrying out His supreme design.

"No worldly power can achieve the Universal Love."

As the Lord Christ "came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill the Law," so Baha'u'llah came to usher in that Kingdom, for which Christ Jesus taught us to pray nigh two thousand years ago. Not anti-Christian, but extra- Christian! is this teaching. And again the following words of 'Abdu'l-Baha to help us to a better understanding.

"His enemies placed upon the head of the Lord Christ a crown of thorns, but before it earthly crowns of gold and jewels have bowed down, humbling their majesty, and might, and power, before the meek and lowly Lord.

"Christ is ever in the world of existence. He has never disappeared from it. Rest assured that Christ is present. The spiritual beauty we see around us in this day is from the breathing of Christ.

"The brilliant star of Christ Jesus rose from the Eastern horizon upon the Israelites, brightening the world, until all sects and creeds and nations were taught the beauty of unity. There cannot be any stronger proof than this that He was the Word of God. As Christ brought His message to the people, so Baha'u'llah brings the same Message, renewing and reiterating the commands that Deeds may take the place of Words."

Each time God sends a Great One to us, we are given new life, but the truth each manifestation brings is the same, and from the same source. The truth never changes, but man's vision changes. It is dulled and confused by the complication of outward forms. What are forms? The truth is easy to understand, although the outward forms in which it is expressed (often) bewilder the intelligence. As men grow (in spirit) they see the unimportance of manmade forms and sometimes despise them. Therefore many leave the churches, because the latter often emphasize the external only.

"Truth is one, though its manifestations may be very different. The notes in the flute are many, the Musician is One!"

Baha'u'llah proclaimed that the truth for this age was the realization of the spiritual brotherhood of man. Accordingly at 'Abdu'l-Baha's table were gathered men of all nations, classes, creeds, and languages of the world. It is the only place on earth where Christians, Jews, Moslems, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists met and ate together in perfect harmony and friendly understanding. "But your caste?"

The Hindu pilgrim replied, "But there is no caste, in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Baha."

"Baha'u'llah taught the oneness of humanity; that is to say, all the children of men are under the mercy of the Great God. He has placed the crown of humanity on the head of every one of the servants of God. Therefore all nations and peoples must consider themselves brethren. They are the branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruits of One Tree.

"To establish this (Kingdom of God on earth) Baha'u'llah underwent great difficulties, hardships, imprisonments and great persecution! But in the prison fortress (of 'Akka) He reared a Spiritual Palace, and from the darkness of His prison He sent out a great Light to the world."

Professor Michael Sadler speaking in this connection said: "Though we all, in our devotional allegiance have our own individual loyalties, to all of us 'Abdu'l-Baha brings a message of Unity of Sympathy and of Peace. He bids us all be real and true in what we profess to believe; and to treasure above everything the Spirit behind the form. With Him we bow before the Hidden Name; before that which is of every life the Inner Life! He bids us worship in perfect loyalty to our own faith, but with ever stronger yearning after union, brotherhood, and love, so turning ourselves in spirit, and with our whole heart, that we may enter more into the mind of God, which is above class, above race, and beyond time."

I could, if time permitted, cite many instances of great thinkers and workers for the human race, who see in the teachings of Baha'u'llah the great remedy for the evil diseases which afflict the sick body of Humanity, indeed a Dynamic Christianity. Dr. David Starr Jordan, of Leland Stanford University, California, USA said: "There is One who is able to unite the East and the West: those two, the spiritual and material civilization; and that one is 'Abdu'l-Baha, for He walks the Mystic Way with practical feet." He tells us what is needed now, in this day.

One morning a number of people, members of various sects awaited an audience to argue their various faiths and usefulness of their respective societies. 'Abdu'l-Baha said: "I respect all who work for the good of mankind, of whatever religion they call themselves. You should learn to recognize truth from whatever point in the horizon it is shining. People think religion is confined in a temple to be worshipped at an altar. In reality it is an attitude to divinity which is reflected through life."

The call of Baha'u'llah is to the waiting servants of God, the "ten thousand times ten thousand" who are not in one church only, or in one country, or in one race, or in one class! But who are everywhere in every country, in every religion, in every race, in every class, constituting the spiritual leaven of the whole human family, and who in their various spheres, are working for the good of mankind. The call is especially to those servants to arise in this Great Day of God and serve the oneness of the whole of humanity by being first of all themselves united. When united, said 'Abdu'l Baha, those of you who have been ants will now become eagles, those who have been drops of water will, when flowing together, make a mighty river, carrying the waters of life into the desert, barren places of the earth! (The Star of the West, vol. 17, no. 11, February 1927)