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PostBaha'i Beliefs on Future Revelation (Vincent Littrell, USA, 10/15/19 12:01 pm)
On 28 June John Eipper asked, "Do the Baha'i leaders have a process by which they can acknowledge future revelations from God? Especially, what about a new Prophet who might come from outside the Baha'i tradition?"
The Baha'i scriptures and a body of Baha'i scholarly works derived from scripture and the recorded histories of the 19th-century twin Manifestations of God, the Bab and Baha'u'llah, discuss at depth the qualities of the Manifestations of God (those who reveal the teachings and laws of God through divine revelation). Baha'i scriptures also describe why so many of the peoples of these prophetic founders of the great religions deny or miss them. In fact, most peoples, according to Baha'i scripture, miss or deny the station of these founders of religion during their lives on earth. However, the religions these figures leave behind after their lives on earth have ended, expand--sometimes very swiftly--into human civilizational and human soul-advancing realities. In Baha'i understanding, these religions' epochal and universally salvational efficacies are to last but for a divinely appointed time that is followed by their recession (in terms of their broad spiritual abilities to advance human civilization). They make way for a new revelation and attendant religion--and so on in continuing theophanic/dispensational cycles through human history past, present and future. This is explained in the Baha'i doctrinal teachings on "Progressive Revelation."
Baha'u'llah (the prophet founder of the Baha'i Faith) does state there will be future Manifestations of God after him, though he does emphasize that none will appear prior to the passing of 1000 years from the year 1863 when Baha'u'llah made his own public claim in this regard:
"Ere the expiration of one thousand years whosoever advanceth a prophetic claim is false. By 'year' a full year is intended, and no exegesis or interpretation is permitted in this matter." (Bahá'u'lláh, Days of Remembrance, Section 9).
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Book of Laws), Baha'u'llah stated:
"Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor. We pray God that He may graciously assist him to retract and repudiate such claim. Should he repent, God will, no doubt, forgive him... Whosoever, interpreteth this verse otherwise than its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy..." (Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 1873)
With regard to John's question about a prophet who might come from outside the Baha'i tradition, Baha'u'llah stated:
"The Faith of God hath in this Day been made manifest. He Who is the Lord of the world is come and hath shown the way. His faith is the faith of benevolence and His religion is the religion of forbearance. This faith bestoweth eternal life and this religion enableth mankind to dispense with all else. It verily embraceth all faiths and all religions. Take hold thereof and guard it well." (Baha'u'llah, The Pen of Glory: Tablet of the Seven Questions: p. 100).
Baha'u'llah made the stupendous claim to be the fulfillment of all eschatological prophecies of "a return" through the past cycles and dispensations of religious history. In the Baha'i view, as evidenced by the above quotation from Baha'u'llah and with regards to the idea of religious truth, there is no prophetic tradition outside the Baha'i tradition. All prophetic truth comes from God. All religious cycles and past dispensations through all human history were from God and therefore fall within the Baha'i tradition.
I'll conclude this post for interested readers with the following (and authoritative for Baha'is) sample describing in commanding terms Baha'u'llah's "all religion" embracing station by the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith Shoghi Effendi (written in 1944):
"He Who in such dramatic circumstances was made to sustain the overpowering weight of so glorious a Mission was none other than the One Whom posterity will acclaim, and Whom innumerable followers already recognize, as the Judge, the Lawgiver and Redeemer of all mankind, as the Organizer of the entire planet, as the Unifier of the children of men, as the Inaugurator of the long-awaited millennium, as the Originator of a new 'Universal Cycle,' as the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, as the Fountain of the Most Great Justice, as the Proclaimer of the coming of age of the entire human race, as the Creator of a new World Order, and as the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization.
"To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the 'Everlasting Father'; the 'Lord of Hosts' come down 'with ten thousands of saints'; to Christendom Christ returned 'in the glory of the Father,' to Shí‘ah Islám the return of the Imám Ḥusayn; to Sunní Islám the descent of the 'Spirit of God' (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Sháh-Bahrám; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.
"In the name He bore He combined those of the Imám Ḥusayn, the most illustrious of the successors of the Apostle of God-the brightest 'star' shining in the 'crown' mentioned in the Revelation of St. John-and of the Imám ‘Alí, the Commander of the Faithful, the second of the two 'witnesses' extolled in that same Book. He was formally designated Bahá'u'lláh, an appellation specifically recorded in the Persian Bayán, signifying at once the glory, the light and the splendor of God, and was styled the 'Lord of Lords,' the 'Most Great Name,' the 'Ancient Beauty,' the 'Pen of the Most High,' the 'Hidden Name,' the 'Preserved Treasure,' 'He Whom God will make manifest,' the 'Most Great Light,' the 'All-Highest Horizon,' the 'Most Great Ocean,' the 'Supreme Heaven,' the 'Pre-Existent Root,' the 'Self-Subsistent,' the 'Day-Star of the Universe,' the 'Great Announcement,' the 'Speaker on Sinai,' the 'Sifter of Men,' the 'Wronged One of the World,' the 'Desire of the Nations,' the 'Lord of the Covenant,' the 'Tree beyond which there is no passing."' He derived His descent, on the one hand, from Abraham (the Father of the Faithful) through his wife Katurah, and on the other from Zoroaster, as well as from Yazdigird, the last king of the Sásáníyán dynasty."
Shoghi Effendi's writings say much more about the stations of both the twin Manifestations of God the Bab and Baha'u'llah in this vein. There is much for Baha'is and interested readers to contemplate in this regard to be sure.
JE comments: The thousand-year interval closes the door for a long, long time. Significantly for Baha'u'llah, his appearance came 1200 years after that of Muhammad. Still, this raises a troubling question: if the Baha'is cannot admit the possibility of Divine revelation until the year 2863, can they fault the Muslims for viewing the Baha'is as apostates?
A simpler question: Do the Yazidis derive their name (and beliefs) from Yazdigird [Yazdegerd]? Apologies in advance for my theological ignorance, but I'm sure others are wondering the same thing.