Response to some Christian writers

Since a number of Christians investigating the Baha'i Faith will have read books by Miller, Boykin, or Beckwith (I had studied them as well), I thought it appropriate to link in this quick response to some of the main concerns raised by these authors. --GLen
Newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai
Subject: Re: Books that trash Baha'i ........opinions?
From: plample@bwc.org (Paul Lample)
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 1994 22:01:39 GMT

(some of original note deleted)

William Miller, John Boykin, and Francis Beckwith are all Christian writers who have taken upon themselves the task of discrediting the Baha'i Faith. Their writings should be considered in the same context as those non-Christian writers of such materials as "The Passover Plot" who sought to "explain" and discredit the mission of Jesus. The techniques used include misstatements and distortions of fact. The best way to deal with such writings is to understand the approach and to know the actual circumstances related to the issue raised by the author.

Beckwith, for example, seizes on one individual's reported words of `Abdu'l-Baha (such "pilgrim's notes" have no authority in the Baha'i Faith) to try to prove that `Abdu'l-Baha made a false prophecy; he conveniently ignores the dozens of statements in the actual written words of Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha which accurately foretell future events (see the book "The Challenge of Baha'u'llah" from the publisher George Ronald.) Boykin reviews a few of the Teachings of Baha'u'llah related to issues associated with Islamic and Persian culture and proclaims that the Baha'i Faith has no relevance to the problems of the 20th century. This is a particularly odd attack, since other Christian writers have found that the Baha'i Teachings have so much to say about about modern problems that they have proclaimed it a religion "made-to-order" (see the books of Udo Schaefer).

The best analysis of the techniques used by these writers that I have seen is the review of Miller's book written by Douglas Martin and published in World Order magazine. I believe that is the article referred to in another post:

from Glen Little // gplittle@vcn.bc.ca:
>>One source of information is a rebuttal to Miller's book. I have an on-line
>>version of this book at my experimental WWW server. Use this URL to get it:
>> http://www.bcca.org/bahaivision/docs/miller.html

Regarding the few claims raised in the post:

>- the Bab said in the Bayan that another manifestation would not appear
>for 1500 years, and chose Subh-i-Azal (Mirza Yahga), not Mirza Husanyn
>Ali, to succeed his mission.

In fact, the Bab proclaimed the imminent arrival of the next Manifestation, and even told some of His followers that they would meet the next Manifestation and recognize Him. If the prophecies were for a date 1500 years in the future, then why did almost all of the Bab's followers accept Baha'u'llah's claim to be "Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest"? The position held my Mirza Yahya in the religion of the Bab had nothing to do with the position claimed by Baha'u'llah. The argument is equivalent to saying that when Jesus returns He cannot claim authority because the Pope is the authorized leader of the Catholic Church. (For more details see "The Revelation of Baha'u'llah," Volume 1, chapter 18.)

>- in relation to Shoghi Effeni; "Falling to receive full obedience to his
>authority, he excommunicated all of Abdul-baha's family, his brothers,
>sisters and parent.

According to the Will of `Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi was entitled to obedience in matters of faith from all the Baha'is, including his family. Shoghi Effendi did not make his family break the Covenant. Any actions he took were necessary to protect the unity of the Baha'i Faith. The actions of his family caused him great pain; he did all he could to protect them from their own egos. (For details, see "The Priceless Pearl", chapter 5.)

>He created a
>new problem for the Baha'i by neglecting an important principle
>established by Abdul-Baha. Shogi Effendi died in 1957 and, in violation of
>Bahai law, left no will. He had no heir and appointed no successor"

He "created" no problem for Baha'is. `Abdu'l-Baha left explicit criteria in His will to govern who Shoghi Effendi could appoint to be the next Guardian. There was no one alive at the time of the passing of Shoghi Effendi who met these criteria; therefore no one could be appointed. Appointing someone who did not fulfil the criteria would, itself, have been a violation of the writings of `Abdu'l-Baha. (See "Wellspring of Guidance", letters beginning on pages 11, 44, and 81 and "Messages of the Universal House of Justice," letter beginning on page 37)

A few general comments. The thing that gets to me about such attacks is that the writers tend to focus on what they think they can present as vulnerable points to discredit the Baha'i Faith. Yet, I suspect that if they were pressed, they themselves would admit that these are side issues. If a statement could be produced that the Bab said that next manifestation would come in nine rather than 1500 years (there are many), would Miller and Boykin become Baha'is? If it is clearly demonstrated that Shoghi Effendi followed `Abdu'l-Baha's instructions, would Beckwith and Kumar enroll? Do they even accept the station of the Bab or of `Abdu'l-Baha, so that they are truly concerned about whether each and every instruction is fulfilled? Obviously not. In fact, reading these authors one would have to wonder why anyone in their right mind would become a Baha'i. The answer is, simply, that they are not writing about the Baha'i Faith, just their own distorted images of it.

These attacks, then, besides being false, are also irrelevant to the central issues that anyone needs to consider when evaluating the claim of Baha'u'llah. Does God exist? How does He communicate with humanity? What are the evidences and proofs which support the claim of anyone--Moses, Jesus, Muhammad or the Founder of any great religion--Who purports to speak for God? And do these same evidences exist to support the claim of Baha'u'llah?

----------------------------

Paul Lample

These points, of course, represent only my personal understanding.


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