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[Editor’s Note: This is the eighth installment of a multi-part essay called “Questions from a Clergyman”. Click here to read from the beginning.]
I had expected that my new friend Pastor Dan would be pleased to hear that Baha’is have such a strong focus on the word of God — but he had other ideas. His response to the assurance that we did not regard Christ as a runner-up to Baha’u’llah, or store our reverence for Him on some lower shelf, was this pointed question:
“Doesn’t this focus on the Word of God mean Baha’is aren’t looking to the Person of Christ?”
While this might seem to be a new frontier in the effort to find a dark cloud wrapped around a silver lining, I wasn’t surprised, because Baha’is often get that question.
First, I must observe again that the word of God was Christ’s focus. He emphasized it repeatedly and in the strongest terms. He ascribed to it a great number of effects in the believer’s life: it purified and cleansed the soul, it conferred life, it was the very bread of life, it led to rebirth, obeying it made you His friend, connected you to God, and allowed you to abide in His love.
The one singular thing that gives humanity the capacity to make the effort active faith requires is, itself, the purifying Word of God. In other words, it is the grace of God that gives us the capacity to be receptive to His Word.
Baha’u’llah, in His writings, notes that:
The vitality of men’s belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it … the corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 199.
We need a change of heart, one sufficient to cause us to beat our swords into plowshares and begin living up to Christ’s commandment to love one another. Baha’u’llah affirms that:
The Word of God alone can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity required for so great and far-reaching a change. – Gleanings, p. 200.
So, in answer to the question above, a Baha’i would say: if we were not looking to the Person of Christ, His word would mean nothing to us.
If we didn’t believe in Christ, we might accord Him the respect due a wise human being, but we would not take His word as the Word of God. But Baha’is do accept the word of Christ as the Word of God. Because we look to the Divine Person of Christ, we place great importance on what He chooses to tell us about God, Himself, His mission, and our relationship with the Divine.
Baha’is consider the word of Christ to be the living, creative Word of God—the cause of Creation, the impetus behind millennia of evolution. Further, we consider Christ Jesus, Himself, to be the creative Word of God made flesh.
Read the next article in the series: False Prophet?
Read the previous article in the series: Saved or Unsaved — How to Know