My Apparently Blasphemous View

I believe that the Manifestations of God are the messengers of His word to humanity and that Their word is infallible. Living in Indiana, talk about God usually leads to Christianity. When friends and I talk about God it usually leads to Jesus. They know I am a Baha’i, but I don’t try to bring Baha’u'llah into the discussion too much because Jesus is more familiar with everyone. So, I will be focusing on Jesus more in this post.

My own personal belief that the Manifestations of God are infallible is mixed with the fact that they were also human beings. They were extraordinary, divine human beings but they were human beings nonetheless.

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A prophetology of laughter

{josquote}One comes away from the Bayan with a strong sense that very little of this is to be taken seriously.{/josquote}

We do not often think of prophets as jesters.  I think ex-Baha’i Denis MacEoin has many unfortunate misconceptions in his article, “Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Shari’a: the Babi and Baha’i Solutions to the Problem of Immutability,” but I feel that in his essential thesis he’s onto something very true and powerful: the Báb joked.  I don’t mean that he told funny anecdotes to amuse himself and his companions; I mean his ministry was itself a jest.  Here’s what MacEoin says:

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O God, refresh and gladden my spirit

{josquote}...there is no Persian original for this.{/josquote}

One of the friends asked for the Persian text of the well-known prayer that begins, “O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand….

I had to disappoint him: there is no Persian original for this. It comes from the Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab for May 9, 1914. He would write his diary in Persian, and later translate parts of it into English and distribute the translations. In this case, his handwritten English translation has survived in manuscript (a friend has a copy), and contains this prayer, but when the World Centre’s Research Department was asked to locate the Persian, they reported “although the Archives Office at the Baha’i World Centre holds an untranslated, handwritten diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab covering this time period, the Research Department has been unable to locate this entry.”

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There are many titles used for God in the Bahai scriptures, but the one that has always intrigued me the most was “Godhead.” It is mentioned in the Long Obligatory Prayer and elsewhere. When I looked it up in the dictionary, it had nearly the same definition as the word “God.” If they are interchangeable words, then that made me wonder why both words were used instead of one. But then I came across a few definitions that may be unique to “Godhead”,”the essential being of god; the Supreme Being” and “The essential and divine nature of God, regarded abstractly.” Perhaps when the word “God” is used, it means the “person” of God. Whereas when the word “Godhead” is used, it carries more of an impersonal and philosophical characteristic....

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The Enlightenment of Abraham

There is a story from the Qur’an that has always touched me. It is about Abraham staying up all night and staring at the sky, trying to understand why his tribe worshipped idols. He felt there was something wrong with it, but couldn’t understand why.

(75) And thus did We show Ibrahim the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and that he might be of those who are sure.
وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُرِىٓ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ مَلَكُوتَ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَلِيَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلْمُوقِنِينَ ﴿٥٧﴾
(76) So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star; said he: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: I do not love the setting ones.
فَلَمَّا جَنَّ عَلَيْهِ ٱلَّيْلُ رَءَا كَوْكَبًۭا ۖ قَالَ هَٰذَا رَبِّى ۖ فَلَمَّآ أَفَلَ قَالَ لَآ أُحِبُّ ٱلْءَافِلِينَ ﴿٦٧﴾
(77) Then when he saw the moon rising, he said: Is this my Lord? So when it set, he said: If my Lord had not guided me I should certainly be of the erring people.
فَلَمَّا رَءَا ٱلْقَمَرَ بَازِغًۭا قَالَ هَٰذَا رَبِّى ۖ فَلَمَّآ أَفَلَ قَالَ لَئِن لَّمْ يَهْدِنِى رَبِّى لَأَكُونَنَّ مِنَ ٱلْقَوْمِ ٱلضَّآلِّينَ ﴿٧٧﴾
(78) Then when he saw the sun rising, he said: Is this my Lord? Is this the greatest? So when it set, he said: O my people! surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah).
فَلَمَّا رَءَا ٱلشَّمْسَ بَازِغَةًۭ قَالَ هَٰذَا رَبِّى هَٰذَآ أَكْبَرُ ۖ فَلَمَّآ أَفَلَتْ قَالَ يَٰقَوْمِ إِنِّى بَرِىٓءٌۭ مِّمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ ﴿٨٧﴾
(79) Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of the polytheists.
إِنِّى وَجَّهْتُ وَجْهِىَ لِلَّذِى فَطَرَ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضَ حَنِيفًۭا ۖ وَمَآ أَنَا۠ مِنَ ٱلْمُشْرِكِينَ ﴿٩٧﴾

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