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If Jesus Christ returned today, what would he say? What more could he say—would there be a new Gospel, a new New Testament, or a new Bible?
Would Christ, on his return, teach us more about God? About the human soul? About morals and ethics?
Would Christ rule the world? Or would the world rule itself through Christ’s new teachings?
Would Christ, on his second advent, talk about the principles of good governance? What would Jesus say about other world religions? What would Jesus say about science and religion, or the equality of men and women?
What would Jesus say about the world today?
What would Jesus say in this day and age, now that the world has changed so dramatically over 2000 years?
Think about these questions in another way: Christ promised to return. Why? There must be a reason and purpose for Christ’s return. Have you ever wondered about that? What would Christ’s mission be the second time around?
The answer may be implied in prophecy. The general consensus from those who interpret such prophecy is that Christ would return in glory, in the full plenitude of earthly as well as spiritual power. In this sense, Christ’s return completes his mission, his message, his Gospel.
So if someone, like Baha’u’llah, advances a claim that he is the return of Jesus Christ, how would you decide whether or not that claim is true? Here’s one way: by the “spirit and power” of his new teachings.
Think about it this way: If we need a divine messenger like Christ to save the world, or to fix it—how would this occur, short of a miracle? What changes would have to take place?
If prophecy is like a job description, then what does the job of a world messiah necessarily entail?
This much is fairly obvious: the new Christ should renew the world through new teachings, fit for this day and age.
Such a world messiah should address the world’s greatest problems: war, hunger, violence, gender inequality, illiteracy, prejudice, ignorance, hatred, corruption, the economy, politics, the climate, and how to achieve world peace.
Popular interpretations of Christ’s prophecies—like the best-selling “end-times” novels—have created a certain set of expectations. Those expectations typically give little or no consideration to what our real expectations should be. In other words, one way to recognize the return of Christ is to try to expect what teachings Christ would be likely to bring to the world today. Wouldn’t it make sense that whatever Christ would have to say would be in response to humanity’s greatest needs?
Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith from 1921–1957 and the great-grandson of Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, had this to say regarding the message of Baha’u’llah compared with the original message of Christ:
The other day a man asked Shoghi Effendi: “What is the object of life to a Baha’i?” … Had he told the man that to us the object of life is to know God, or perfect our own character? I never really dreamed of the answer he had given, which was this:
The object of life to a Baha’i is to promote the oneness of mankind. The whole object of our lives is bound up with the lives of all human beings: not a personal salvation we are seeking, but a universal one. We are not to cast eyes within ourselves and say “Now get busy saving your soul and reserving a comfortable berth in the Next World!” No, we are to get busy on bringing Heaven to the Planet. That is a very big concept.
The Guardian then went on to explain that:
Our aim is to produce a world civilization which will in turn react on the character of the individual. It is, in a way, the inverse of Christianity which started with the individual unit and through it reach out to the conglomerate life of men. – Shoghi Effendi, as reported by Ruhiyyih Khanum, “What it is to be a Baha’i?: A letter to the Baha’i youth.”
What Shoghi Effendi refers to as the “inverse of Christianity” might also be thought of as the “completion of Christianity.” In other words, Christ’s teachings in the 21st century should address 21st-century issues. Wouldn’t that make sense?
So think about how Christ’s core teachings, as set forth in the “Sermon on the Mount” (in Matthew) or the “Sermon on the Plain” (in Luke), would be “updated” for today.
Isn’t it true that Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, talked about how an individual should behave towards other individuals?
Would, or should, the new Christ give a global “Sermon on the Mount”—a sermon that teaches how nations should treat each other? Wouldn’t Christ, in all his wisdom, have something to say about international relations?
So here’s something to consider: if Baha’u’llah’s teachings address all of the issues outlined above, would it be fair to say that his teachings fulfill what we might expect Jesus to say today?
If there is fair agreement on this issue, then is it too far a stretch to say that if Baha’u’llah teaches what the world needs today, then why not accept Baha’u’llah as the return of Christ?
Food for thought. Soul food, literally. Just another approach to “Figuring Out Prophecy.”
From Baha’u’llah’s “Tablet to the Christians:”
We, verily, have come for your sakes, and have borne the misfortunes of the world for your salvation. Flee ye the One Who hath sacrificed His life that ye may be quickened? Fear God, O followers of the Spirit, and walk not in the footsteps of every divine that hath gone far astray. Do ye imagine that He seeketh His own interests, when He hath, at all times, been threatened by the swords of the enemies; or that He seeketh the vanities of the world, after He hath been imprisoned in the most desolate of cities? Be fair in your judgement and follow not the footsteps of the unjust.