Infallibility, again

I was thinking about the post I made the other day about the fear of God and my reference in there to infallibility. I wanted to explain more about that.

There has been lots of discussion about what infallibility means. We know that there are two kinds of infallibility—absolute and contingent. Absolute infallibility is often called the Most Great Infallibility and this belongs to Baha'u'llah only. In the passage from Spendors (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, page 108), Baha'u'llah explains at length what it means. In large measure, it comes to the one principle: God can do whatever God wants.

Early on in that discussion, Baha'u'llah cites the Qur'anic verse (21:23): "Verily, He shall not be asked of His doings but all others shall be asked of their doings." This means that everyone except Baha'u'llah shall be asked of their doings.

It also gives us a clue as what the second kind of infallibility - contingent or conferred infallibility—does not mean. Reflecting this second degree of infallibility does not put a person in the category where they shall not be asked of their doings. A person who manifests contingent or conferred infallibility shall be asked of their doings.

This second category takes in everybody including Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, the members of the House of of Justice, Hands of the Cause, members of the International Teaching Centre, and any other person you believe has a high station in the Faith. It doesn't matter how high the station is, the principle still applies—they will be asked of their doings.

I think this is the best way to understand the difference between the manifestation and everybody else, and it helps us to understand where the Baha'is have gone astray with their concept of the infallibility of the House of Justice. The common notion of infallibility for the house effectively comes down to the principle that the House will not be asked of its doings. It doesn't matter what the House does or says, it's right by fiat.

But this can never be true of any one or any institution other than the manifestation. The members of the House of Justice will be asked of their doings. Just because they act as a part of that institution does not mean that they are not answerable to God for what they do. Their actions are not automatically acceptable to God just because they have acted as members of this institution.Baha'u'llah stresses the point that, in the end, the acceptability of our actions is entirely up to God.

For example, in the Naw Ruz prayer, Baha'u'llah says that a person who has not fasted could be viewed as having fasted and a person who has fasted could be viewed as having not fasted. In the end, it is God who has the final say. There is always a question mark over whether our actions are acceptable and we cannot predict what God will do. The actions of no one are automatically acceptable, even if, on the face of it, they appear to be within the law.

Go to the original blog entry...