Monday 14 June 2010

Some Reactions to My Post on Bahá’í Scholarship

As my blog is dedicated to defending the Bahá’í Faith, it is interesting to see that there are already some strong reactions to things I have written. In particular, my recent post on Bahá’í Scholarship has had some potent reactions, one could say. Recently, for instance, there was a comment saying that it is "difficult to believe" that we have another attack on Bahá’í scholarship. I want to point out that I am not interested in attacking Bahá’í scholarship. On the contrary, my post reflects on the origins of Bahá’í scholarship, gives some quotes about the dangers of religious scholarship (as a priestly/scholarly class were the main opponents of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh during their ministries) and, furthermore, gives some reflections on the future direction of Bahá’í scholarship. Bahá’í scholarship should be a positive thing, and there are many Bahá’í scholars who are loyal to the Covenant and upholders of the Bahá’í teachings. The only attack that exists in my blog, is an attack on the position of those who would criticise the decisions or positions of the Universal House of Justice (a thing no real Bahá’í scholar would consider doing). Bahá’í scholarship must be based on a belief in divine revelation and the infallibility of the Universal House of Justice and cannot be separated from that. Any one who does criticise the Universal House of Justice's decisions or attacks Bahá’í principles, will find his views are not supported by Bahá’ís, now or a thousand years from now. Bahá’ís will always defend their religion. The aforementioned individual should not, therefore, be surprised by a defense of Bahá’í teachings.

It is not surprising that my blog post should receive such criticism, especially from a disgruntled minority who have, for various reasons, left the Bahá’í Faith. There are many negative blogs out there. Truth is mixed with much untruth, exaggeration and misinterpretation. That is why blogs by Bahá’ís about the Bahá’í Faith are important, to counter the negativity that comes from "ex-Bahá’ís" or so-called "liberal Bahá’ís" (there are no liberal or conservative Bahá’ís in reality) who criticise the institutions of the Faith and the authority of the Universal House of Justice. There are many blogs which do uphold the Bahá’í Teachings and this blog, Crossing the Bridge, is just one more attempt to do so. Whether they like it or not, the discontent of a disenchanted few will never prevail. Indeed, God's irresistable Faith will continue to march onwards towards inevitable success, while the opposition of the few who oppose the Light will melt away like a castle built in the sand. The Lord Jesus has said: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." (Matthew 7:24-27, The Bible: Authorized King James Version) And as 'Abdu'l-Bahá has written: "The Covenant of God is like unto a vast and fathomless ocean. A billow shall rise and surge therefrom and shall cast ashore all accumulated foam." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 223)

I would like to make one point of correction, as the attacking blog post had, in particular, taken a sentence from my post out of context. I appeared to refer to a particular list as a forum for unrest. If one reads my blog post in context, one will find that I meant that a vocal minority within this forum does question the House's positions on women on the House, homosexuality, etc. This is not a reflection on the list as a whole. Any forum can become a place of unrest if a few vocal individuals make it such. While I hope my original comments were clear in upholding the value of Bahá’í scholarship and could not be taken as an attack on the list itself, I have removed the list's name from the blog post. Religious e-mail groups and forums can be positive places, as long as mutual respect is maintained and fundamental principles are not attacked. It is just unfortunate that a few individuals can make such groups very unpleasant places indeed. In the context of Bahá’í e-mail groups and forums, these can only be fruitful places of discussion, in my opinion, if all the participants respect Bahá’í teachings and the authority and infallibility of the Universal House of Justice. As soon as that goes out the window, negative feelings will arise. Bahá’ís must be united in their beliefs and feel a sense of solidarity. This can be achieved through defending the Faith, not through internal conflict.

'Abdu'l-Bahá has written:

"The beloved of the Lord must stand fixed as the mountains, firm as impregnable walls. Unmoved must they remain by even the direst adversities, ungrieved by the worst of disasters. Let them cling to the hem of Almighty God, and put their faith in the Beauty of the Most High; let them lean on the unfailing help that cometh from the Ancient Kingdom, and depend on the care and protection of the generous Lord. Let them at all times refresh and restore themselves with the dews of heavenly grace, and with the breaths of the Holy Spirit revive and renew themselves from moment to moment. Let them rise up to serve their Lord, and do all in their power to scatter His breathings of holiness far and wide. Let them be a mighty fortress to defend His Faith, an impregnable citadel for the hosts of the Ancient Beauty. Let them faithfully guard the edifice of the Cause of God from every side; let them become the bright stars of His luminous skies. For the hordes of darkness are assailing this Cause from every direction, and the peoples of the earth are intent on extinguishing this evident Light. And since all the kindreds of the world are mounting their attack, how can our attention be diverted, even for a moment? Assuredly be cognizant of these things, be watchful, and guard the Cause of God." ('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 9-10)

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