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Revelation comes in three distinct parts: God, the Holy Spirit, and the prophets.

There is God the Creator from Whom emanates the Holy Spirit, the spiritual force that animates all creation and all created beings. Then there are the prophets themselves who, though functioning as conduits for that creative and energizing force of the Holy Spirit, do not manifest the essence of God. They are not pieces of God, though they are able to dramatize perfectly in human character and actions all divine names or attributes of God. That gives each revelation, each new religious cycle, three distinct parts: God the Father/Creator; the Holy Spirit emanating from God; and the prophets charged with translating the will or wish of God into increments of information, education, and transformation.

When I learned this unique Baha’i perspective, this essential jewel or gift offered me demonstrable evidence of the unity of the world religions, clear proof that all the religions throughout human history are really a single religion, the religion of God, revealed in successive and progressive stages.

Part of this realization derived from my studying the frequency with which Christ alludes to his relationship to the prophets who preceded him—particularly to Abraham and to Moses. I noticed that in virtually every passage spoken by Christ, he employs explicit allusions to the Old Testament scripture, particularly those passages that refer to Christ’s own appearance. For example, I saw in a footnote to Mark 15:34 a rather important explanation as to why in his dying utterances Christ “cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” This is interpreted, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” It had always bothered me that Christ, exemplar of Godliness, would sink into despair, even so briefly and under such dire circumstance. Now I came to realized that he was reciting for the Jews the first verse from Psalm twenty-two, a psalm which goes on to prophecy the crucifixion in exacting detail.

All this meant, for me, that I wanted to better understand the Holy Spirit. I found that understanding in the Baha’i teachings, especially in Abdu’l-Baha’s mystical and yet practical explanation:

By “the Holy Spirit” is meant the outpouring grace of God and the effulgent rays that emanate from His Manifestation. Thus Christ was the focal centre of the rays of the Sun of Truth, and from this mighty centre — the reality of Christ — the grace of God shone upon the other mirrors which were the realities of the Apostles.

The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles means that that glorious and divine grace cast its light and splendour upon their realities. For otherwise egress and regress, descent and inherence are characteristics of bodies and not of spirits — that is, egress and inherence pertain only to sensible realities, not to intelligible subtleties; and intelligible realities, such as reason, love, knowledge, imagination, and thought, do not enter, exit, or inhere, but rather denote relationships.

For example, knowledge, which is a form acquired by the mind, is an intelligible thing, and to speak of entering into the mind or exiting from it is absurd. Rather, it is a relationship of acquisition, even as images are reflected in a mirror.

Thus, as it is evident and established that intelligible realities do not enter or inhere, it follows that it is in no wise possible for the Holy Spirit to ascend, descend, enter, exit, commingle, or inhere. At most it appears as the sun appears in a mirror.

Moreover, in certain passages of the Sacred Scriptures where allusion is made to the Spirit, a specific person is intended, as it is conventionally said in speech and conversation that such-and-such a person is spirit personified, or is the embodiment of mercy and generosity. In this case the focus is not upon the lamp but upon the light.

For instance, in reference to the Promised One that must come after Christ, it is said in John 16:12: “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: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.”

Now consider carefully that the words “for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak” clearly imply that the Spirit of truth is embodied in a Man Who has a soul, Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak. Likewise Christ is called the “Spirit of God”, in the same way that we speak of the light and yet mean both the light and the lamp. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, pp. 122-123.

Next: Let Deeds Be Thy Adorning

1 Comment

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  • Emily Sheppard
    Sep 26, 2017
    My God... I never realized that Christ crying out that line was confirming the prophecy of Psalm 22... I too struggled with that moment, incredulously asked myself 'Wouldn't a Manifestation know that God had never and would never forsake Him?'