February 10, 2021

The Old Churches and the New World-Faith – by George Townshend, M. A. (Oxon) (Sometime Canon of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, and Archdeacon of Clonfert)

Having identified myself with the Faith of Baha'u'llah and sacrificed my position as a canon and a dignitary of the Church of Ireland that I might do so, I now make this statement on the relation of this Faith to Christianity and to the Churches of Christ.

It is submitted to all Christian people in general but more especially to the bishops and clergy and members of my own communion, with the humble but earnest and urgent request that they will give it their attention as a matter of vital concern to the Church. Only through an impartial investigation of the Cause of Baha'u'llah will they find, I fully believe, a means of reviving the fortunes of the Church, of restoring the purity and the power of the Gospel and of helping to build a better and more truly Christian world.

Baha'u'llah (Whose approaching advent had been announced in Persia nineteen years before by His prophetic Herald, the Báb, Himself a world-famous figure) made His public declaration as a Messenger of God in Baghdad in the year 1863. He affirmed that His appearance fulfilled the promised Return of Christ in the glory of the Father. He brought a Teaching which though ampler and fitted to a more advanced Age was in spirit and purpose the same as that of Christ. He revealed those "other things" which Jesus told His disciples He had to give them but which they could "not bear" at that time. His mission was to bring the work of Christ to its completion and realization, to reconstruct the social order of the world and build the long-promised Kingdom of God in very fact.

He addressed individual letters or specific messages to the monarchs of the West and to the members of the various ecclesiastical orders of the Christian Churches, and directed numerous and repeated exhortations and warnings to the entire Christian world. These without exception were ignored by Christendom when they were made, and they have now been set aside and disregarded for some eighty years. During that period the long established influence of Christ in Christendom has suffered a decline so unprecedented, so precipitous that the Bishops gathering for the Lambeth Conference were greeted in the London press with the challenge that "Christianity is fighting for its life"; while the Baha'i Faith proclaimed at that time by one lone Prophet shut in a Turkish prison has spread through the whole globe, has led the constructive thought of our time, has created a spiritual world-community joining the East and the West, and is fast making good its right to a place in the age-long succession of world-faiths.