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…in every age and dispensation the Prophets of God and His chosen Ones have appeared amongst men, and have evinced such power as is born of God and such might as only the Eternal can reveal. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 67.
…the prophets are causative of the improvements and the progress of the nations. They are the leaven of existence and the greatest means for the appearance of sciences and arts in this world. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 4, p. 189.
Baha’is definitely believe in progress. The Baha’i teachings say that we human beings each progress spiritually in this world through our own actions and efforts; and that the human race itself progresses, too, moving from one stage of collective knowledge, education and understanding to the next.
In fact, Baha’is base their entire understanding and belief system on the ineffable progression that religion exemplifies and demonstrates.
From time immemorial, humanity has received its primary moral and spiritual guidance from God’s messengers and prophets. Every era and culture can point to a spiritual leader who inspired, created and uplifted its aspirations, reformed its aims and reinvigorated its entire life. The world’s civilizations have built their legal systems, their moral orders and their spiritual traditions from the teachings and the examples of those messengers. Christ, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Abraham, Muhammad—each of the prophets of God created not only a global religious community, but engendered entire civilizations.
Baha’is believe that this outpouring of divine inspiration has continued, and will continue, to help humanity progress throughout history:
The centers of progress for each age are the manifestations of God as seen in his prophets. In whatever country or at whatever time they appear, they are the focus of the creational day—for as the sun in the material heaven develops the material beings, so do these spiritual suns develop the world of minds and souls.
Let us turn toward the spiritual sun and acquire a light which will render the world luminous, so that we may be freed from matter and acquire celestial qualities, that this limited life may merge into the eternal.
When man thus adorns himself, he will progress every day with new vigor; his soul will become more and more sensitized and the laws and morals of the world will be reconstructed with divine conviction. Then man will make real discoveries, penetrate the mysteries and so reflect them that he will become the image of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 58.
The Baha’i teachings call this process of continuous guidance progressive revelation, because it reveals and re-states the core message of faith, while adapting each new revelation to the exigencies and needs of the time:
…the foundation of the religion of God remains permanent and unchanging. It is that fixed foundation which insures the progress and stability of the body politic and the illumination of humanity. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 94.
This re-formation and renewal of the fundamental reality of religion constitute the true and outworking spirit of modernism, the unmistakable light of the world, the manifest effulgence of the Word of God, the divine remedy for all human ailment and the bounty of eternal life to all mankind. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 10.
This kind of progress—the renewal of the spirit and the re-establishment of the divine principles—leads humanity into a new era. It infuses our progress with new purpose. It offers everyone a new opportunity to believe:
The Baha’i Faith upholds the unity of God, recognizes the unity of His Prophets, and inculcates the principle of the oneness and wholeness of the entire human race. It proclaims the necessity and the inevitability of the unification of mankind, asserts that it is gradually approaching, and claims that nothing short of the transmuting spirit of God, working through His chosen Mouthpiece in this day, can ultimately succeed in bringing it about. It, moreover, enjoins upon its followers the primary duty of an unfettered search after truth, condemns all manner of prejudice and superstition, declares the purpose of religion to be the promotion of amity and concord, proclaims its essential harmony with science, and recognizes it as the foremost agency for the pacification and the orderly progress of human society…. – Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, pp. v-vi.
Accepting this new message from Baha’u’llah means committing to the deeply spiritual idea that humanity can make progress; that we can unite; that peace can come; and that we are one:
He is a true Baha’i who strives by day and by night to progress along the path of human endeavor, whose cherished desire is so to live and act as to enrich and illumine the world; whose source of inspiration is the essence of Divine Perfection, whose aim in life is to conduct himself so as to be the cause of infinite progress. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World, Volume 1, p. 12.