Below this entry are three posts related to the relation between Christianity and the Baha’i Faith. They are experimental in nature. My feelings would in no way be hurt if you felt they were dogmatic, extreme, or poorly articulated. They are an attempt to remain faithful to the two month period immediately following my recognition of Baha’u’llah as the Return of Christ over the course of one morning in March 2005. Dogmatic, extreme, and inarticulate are fairly accurate descriptions of me at that time. In that sense, I’m picking up where I left off. So you may have to bear with me.
In one sense, this period was a transition from Christianity to the Baha’i Faith. It was a way station in which I felt I belonged to both, but was not quite at home in either. But in another sense it was a fully fledged spirituality that was not just an amalgamation of two religions but rather a radicalized version of both. I was a Christian following Jesus in his returned form. And I was a Baha’i who believed that because Christ was the only way to salvation, the teachings of Baha’u’llah were the only refuge of a travailing age. Those were bizarre days. Often it is difficult to rekindle the exhilaration and ecstasy I felt at the time. This is largely because I often forget my fidelity to Jesus. I forget that I haven’t always been a Baha’i. For that reason, I am now making a concerted effort to remember; not just to dig through the attic of my long-term memory, but to know spontaneously that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. This remembrance is what reminds me of the greatness of this Day. I have taken it upon myself to explore those zones of indistinction between Christianity and the Baha’i Faith, between Jesus and Baha’u’llah upon which I thrived during that brief period. My purpose is in no way academic. I am looking to provide the conceptual tools for facilitating a spirituality that strengthens Baha’i efforts to build a new civilization.
My main interest in going down this route is to explore the possibilities of a spirituality that dwells within these zones of indistinction, that loves the light from whichever lamp it might shine. One aspect of this is to appreciate every soul God has sent to redeem humanity. But beyond that, the unity of God’s revelations allows us to look at the fulfillment of his promises from the perspective of those saints, apostles, and common believers who earnestly waited centuries for their fulfillment. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus tells his disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see and never saw it; to hear what you hear and never heard it.” To look at religion in its continuity, not as something beginning in 1844, can give a perspective that highlights the urgency, majesty, and untold opportunity brought on by the Bab and Baha’u’llah’s coming. It can remind us that the dreams of the Baha’i Faith are not just the dreams of Baha’is, but rather they belong to all who have come before.
Personal experience moving from one religion to the other is helpful but it is not necessary for developing this sort of spirituality. Most of the Christian Bible predates the arrival of the Messiah. Most Christians may most identify with the New Testament. But knowledge of the cycles of restoration and exile, prophecy and heedlessness in the history of ancient Israel provides a powerful backdrop to the Messianic drama of the New Testament. One need not be a Jew to sympathize with the hope of ancient Israel. The Biblical text speaks across lines of ethnicity and dispensation. The accounts of Jesus’ ministry and the letters to the early churches would not have the same power if the reader was unacquainted with the constant hope for redemption voiced throughout the Hebrew Bible, especially in the books of prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Daniel wherein the coming of the Messiah was prophesied. By incorporating the history of previous Dispensations, the Christian Bible presents that of its most recent Dispensation all the more powerfully. (With that said, Christian readings of Jewish scripture are tied up in an ancient legacy of Christian violence against Jews. Appropriating the scriptures of other communities is a task fraught with many ethical difficulties. Nonetheless, I have no intention of surrendering this terrain to anti-semites. Theologically, I never like to cut and run.)
There is nothing stopping Baha’is from gaining inspiration from the scriptures of previous dispensations. The development of this sort of spirituality, of course, doesn’t happen overnight. An awareness of the power of Christian consciousness can guide the way Baha’is accompany Christians into the Baha’i Faith. They may learn all sorts of new things upon entry into the Baha’i world. But, God willing, they will at the same time look back and remember.
As a final thought, Nabil’s Narrative, Fire on the Mountaintop, and Howard Colby’s Ives’ Portals to Freedom are excellent resources for this sort of spirituality.
 Lk 10.23-24