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Religion

Turning to the Light, No Matter What Lamp

David Langness | Jun 21, 2014

PART 3 IN SERIES The Evolution of Religion Itself

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Jun 21, 2014

PART 3 IN SERIES The Evolution of Religion Itself

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

The Baha’i teachings emphatically say that science and religion must agree:

Until now it has been said that all religions were composed of tenets that had to be accepted, even if they seem contrary to science. Thanks be to God, that in this new cycle the admonition of Baha’u’llah is that in the search for truth man must weigh religious questions in the balance of science and reason. God has given us rational minds for this purpose, to penetrate all things, to find truth. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 101.

In the same way, Abdu’l-Baha said, faith and reason have a unified purpose: to combat and destroy ignorant superstition:

How can a man believe to be a fact that which science has proved to be impossible? If he believes in spite of his reason, it is rather ignorant superstition than faith. The true principles of all religions are in conformity with the teachings of science. The Unity of God is logical, and this idea is not antagonistic to the conclusions arrived at by scientific study. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 141.

Religion, the Baha’i teachings say, has a critically important place in the evolution of humanity. It inspires; it guides; it offers moral direction and counsel; it moves mankind forward in the progressive development of knowledge, science, the creative arts; but most importantly it educates us all:

What, then, is the mission of the divine Prophets? Their mission is the education and advancement of the world of humanity. They are the real Teachers and Educators, the universal Instructors of mankind. If we wish to discover whether any one of these great Souls or Messengers was in reality a Prophet of God, we must investigate the facts surrounding His life and history, and the first point of our investigation will be the education He bestowed upon mankind. If He has been an Educator, if He has really trained a nation or people, causing it to rise from the lowest depths of ignorance to the highest station of knowledge, then we are sure that He was a Prophet. This is a plain and clear method of procedure, proof that is irrefutable….

In further consideration of this subject, I wish you to be fair and reasonable in your judgment, setting aside all religious prejudices. We should earnestly seek and thoroughly investigate realities, recognizing that the purpose of the religion of God is the education of humanity and the unity and fellowship of mankind. Furthermore, we will establish the point that the foundations of the religions of God are one foundation. This foundation is not multiple, for it is reality itself. Reality does not admit of multiplicity, although each of the divine religions is separable into two divisions. One concerns the world of morality and the ethical training of human nature. It is directed to the advancement of the world of humanity in general; it reveals and inculcates the knowledge of God and makes possible the discovery of the verities of life. This is ideal and spiritual teaching, the essential quality of divine religion, and not subject to change or transformation. It is the one foundation of all the religions of God. Therefore, the religions are essentially one and the same. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 364-365.

Religious pendants

“The religions are essentially one and the same,” Abdu’l-Baha said. This cyclical, progressive, unified view of religion sees its consistent core teachings of love, kindness, ethical actions and the encouragement of human growth and development as “one light in many lamps.” The same essence and spirit, the Baha’i teachings proclaim, returns with each of God’s messengers, renewing religion, reinforcing the previous revelations and reinvigorating the souls of people everywhere.

As a consequence of this concept, Baha’is consider themselves believers in all the Prophets of God. Baha’is revere Christ, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad and all of the Founders of the world’s great religions:

All the teaching of the Prophets is one; one faith; one Divine light shining throughout the world. Now, under the banner of the oneness of humanity all people of all creeds should turn away from prejudice and become friends and believers in all the Prophets. As Christians believe in Moses, so the Jews should believe in Jesus. As the Muhammadans believe in Christ and Moses, so likewise the Jews and the Christians should believe in Muhammad. Then all disputes would disappear, all then would be united. Baha’u’llah came for this purpose…. He has uplifted the standard of the oneness of faith and the honour of humanity in the centre of the world. Today we must gather round it, and try with heart and soul to bring about the union of mankind. – Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 42.

Even the word “Baha’i” exemplifies this idea of the organic unity of all religions. The word comes from Baha’u’llah, an Arabic title which means “The Glory of God.” Baha’is follow the teachings of Baha’u’llah, and the letter “i” in the name means “follower of”—so the word “Baha’i” literally means “follower of the Glory.”

Baha’is endeavor to follow the glorious light God has revealed in the lamp of every Faith.

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Comments

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  • Marchita Ruhl
    Jul 14, 2020
    -
    False prophets!!
  • Jun 22, 2014
    -
    Once again, I really love your use of the sacred text and weave that with your ability to observe and write. Marvelous! Thank you.
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