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The Baha’i writings clearly explain the concept of the “return” of the prophets—including, in principle, the return of Christ:

The explanation is this: not the personality, but the reality of the perfections, is meant—that is to say, the same perfections that were in Elias existed in John the Baptist and were exactly realized in him. Therefore, John the Baptist was the promised Elias. …

In the same way, if we regard the return of the individual, it is another individual; but if we regard the qualities and perfections, the same have returned.

Therefore, when Christ said, “This is Elias,” He meant: this person is a manifestation of the bounty, the perfections, the character, the qualities and the virtues of Elias. John the Baptist said, “I am not Elias.”

Christ considered the qualities, the perfections, the character and the virtues of both, and John regarded his substance and individuality. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, pp. 133–134.

When I read this many years ago, shortly after I became a Baha’i on December 15, 1972, I was profoundly struck. It confirmed my faith so immediately and so deeply, that I started hyperventilating in sheer wonder at this insight. It was as though I had experienced a sudden enlightenment!

It was late at night. I wandered the rain-slick streets of Tacoma, Washington at around 2 in the morning.

man readingWhile meandering in mystic, euphoric stupor, I physically had to clasp hands firmly on the top of my head, for fear that I was going to rise up into the air! I felt as though I was going to fly into the sky, so I had to hold my head down with my hands. It was a very odd, extraordinary, mystical experience.

I came to the home of my spiritual parents, who taught me the Baha’i Faith. I threw pine cones at their window to wake them up. They didn’t wake up, but I had suddenly awoken to a new understanding of the meaning of “Return.”

To return to my original riddle regarding the return of Christ, the above explanation makes clear that Christ’s return would not be a reincarnation of the person and personality of Jesus Christ.

And now for the answer to this question: “When Christ returns, what will His name not be?”

Answer: Jesus Christ.

“The Bible doesn’t say that!” my Christian friends would retort in righteous thunder.

“Yes, it does,” I answered. “Twice, in fact, as if for emphasis.”

Then I cited my scriptural authorities:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. – Revelation 2:17

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. – Revelation 3:12

“My new name,” the Bible says, referring to the return of Christ—the reality of the perfections of Christ, returned in a new garb. Can you recognize the reality of those perfections in Baha’u’llah?

1 Comment

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  • Nov 25, 2014
    i love coincidences christopher
    your epiphany occurred on dr zamenhof's birthday (december 15) and mine when tiananmen exploded after the berlin wall fell