16. Bahá'í-Christians and Worship Centers
This will be my most controversial suggestion, but perhaps the most important.
Problem: Bible-believing Christians (including Mormons) are totally and completely "turned off" by the Faith for a number of reasons:
*It denies that Jesus is Savior (many of the Friends have told me this and say "Bahá'u'lláh is Savior, Jesus was just the forerunner of Muhammad!")
*It denies that Jesus died on the Cross for my sins (many of the Friends deny this, saying the atonement on the Cross was simply a martyrdom)
*It denies that Jesus is the literal Son of God (many of the Friends say Jesus' Sonship is simply a "metaphor")
*It denies the Resurrection of Jesus (the Metaphor-Only View)
*It denies the existence of sin (many of the Friends do indeed deny that "sin" exists--they've told me so)
*It denies the Divine Inspiration of the Bible (many of the Friends think and say that the Bible is "full of error" and "contains many myths").
The situation really seems hopeless. The Bahá'ís and Bible-believing Christians are simply "too far apart" to ever have any reconciliation. But, this can change.
'Abdu'l-Baha was once asked by a Greek Catholic man if he had to stop being a Christian in order to become a Bahá'í. The Master purported replied:
"You can be a Baha'i-Christian, a Baha'i-Freemason, a Baha'i-Jew, a Baha'i-Muhammadan." ('Abdu'l-Baha in London, p.97)The Master is called the "Exemplar" of the Faith. Exemplar means "ThE Example". The Master lived as a Muslim in Akka and Haifa. He attended a Masjid (Mosque) every Friday and participated in Friday prayers along with the Muslims. Why?
The Master apparently taught that one can be a Bahá'í-Christian or a Bahá'í-Muslim. He was a Bahá'í Who lived as a Muslim!
Shoghi Effendi never said that a Bahá'í cannot be a Christian, only that a Bahá'í cannot belong to a Church. There is a difference. Many Christians today do not belong to any "Church". They are independent Christians and belong only to "the Mystical Body of Christ" (a mystical fellowship of Believers worldwide that has no outward or earthly organization).
Question: Do you want Bible-believing Christians in the Faith?
Answer: No! Then keep the status quo.
Answer: Yes, we always have, but only upon our terms, which means they must "give up Jesus" as their Savior and replace Him with Bahá'u'lláh!
Response: Then FORGET IT! Write them off, now and forever! ___It___ won't __work__! Evangelical Christians (BBAAs or otherwise) cannot tolerate the constant, unending discussion of "The Principles" as do Baha'i-Unitarians (and 95% of the Baha'is in the U.S. are of this type). It bores them. It seems too secular for them. It seems too "UNreligious" to them. What they want to do, what brings them joy and spiritual fulfillment, is praising Jesus with song and celebration!
Allow them that! Allow them to worship Jesus in song and praise, as they do now, but as Baha'i-Christians.
Can Bible-believing Christians come into the Faith as Baha'i-Christians?
The correct workable answer is: Yes! They can become Bahá'í-Christians like 'Abdu'l-Bahá said.
That is the correct answer. That is the practical answer. That is the only "workable" answer! The only one!
Many of the Friends say, "There is no Satan!" That is not true. Satan refers to the "ego" in us all.
Some will say (i.e. their ego will say): "Ah, you are trying to divide the Faith into factions!" That is their "ego" speaking.
No, I am not! I'm trying to show that if the Faith wishes to grow in this country, and grow by entry-by-troops, then you must allow for Unity-in-Diversity. Most of the Friends today are really Bahá'í-Unitarians. They think just like the Unitarians (UUs) in almost every respect. They would be comfortable going to a Unitarian church on Sunday. They are Bahá'í-Unitarians. But Bible-believing Christians would NOT feel comfortable among Unitarians. They never will!
In the 1970s, a massive teaching campaign was conducted in the black areas of South Carolina. Fantastic numbers of African-Americans signed Declaration Cards. Where are they now? They are gone, or 90% of them. At least 90% of them did not remain in the Faith over a year. Why?
The reason is simple. These African-Americans were Bible-believing Christians. They do not enjoy "Unitarian" type social discussions. They want to worship JESUS! With shouts, with praise, with song....! But, in the Faith, that was denied them. They were supposed to sit quietly and act like Unitarians. It didn't work. It will never work!
Let the Bahá'í-Unitarians do their thing; sitting in circles and endlessly discussing "The Principles". That is what they enjoy! That is "heaven" for them. But, for Baha'i-Christians, that is "hell". Let the Bahá'í-Christians do their thing; worship Jesus on Sunday mornings or afternoons. Allow all Baha'is the Friday, or Saturday, Salat. Then let all Believers meet together, by Wards, every 19 days for fellowship and feast!
Many times I have asked the Friends Who Jesus was and what His mission on earth was. They have told me:
*"He was a Manifestation of God Who taught world peace and the improvement of the status of minorities and women".
*"He came to unite cities and write a Book of Laws".
*"He was a Prophet Who prepared the way for the greater Revelation of Muhammad".
Jesus did NOT come to teach "peace". He said, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword!" He did NOT come to try to improve the status of minorities and women! That was not His mission. He did NOT come to write a book of laws. He did NOT come to "unite cities" (whatever that means). He did not write ANY book! He came to do exactly what the Gospels and Epistles of Paul said He came to do: to offer His Blood on the Cross as a final sacrifice for sin. His mission was unique. His sireship (begotten by the Holy Spirit) was unique. But Bahá'ís constantly try to UNunique Him!
Let the Bahá'í-Chritians have Sundays for Worship Services; to worship JESUS! Let Bahá'í-Unitarians on Saturday mornings to gather in circles and discuss "The Principles" (World Peace/Race Unity/Equality). Let Muslims who wish to enter the Faith not have to give up Islaam! Islaam is the Religion of God; not the Community of Muhammad! Islaam is the Religion of God, not the Revelation of Muhammad. The Qu'ran itself says that Religion of Abraham was Islaam, the Religion of Moses was Islaam, the Religion of Jesus was Islaam, the Religion of Muhammad was Islaam. I submit: the Religion of The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh was Islaam. The "Revelation" of Jesus was not the "Revelation" of Muhammad. But their Religion was the same! The Bahá'í Revelation is one of the Revelations of Islaam--the last, but not final. "Bab" means "five" (as well as "gate") in Arabic. He thought He was ushering in the Fifth Revelation of Isaam:
V. The Báb
Baha'u'llah is the "Sixth" Angel (Messenger of God) mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Read what 'Abdu'l-Baha had to say about the "Seventh Angel"; meaning the next Messenger of God to come, some 1000 literal years after 1863 A.D.
The Báb was the Fifth Angel (Messenger). That is why the Sacred Symbol of The Báb was a five-pointed star!
'Abdu'l-Baha was a Bahá'í-Muslim. Does that mean all the Friends must become Bahá'í-Muslims; since He was the Exemplar? No! He said that we can be Bahá'í-Christians, or Bahá'í-Freemasons, or Bahá'í-Muslims.
Did Shoghi Effendi abrogate that? Did he say that a person cannot be a Bahá'í and a Christian at the same time? No. He said that Bahá'í-Christians could not be members of churches. Bahá'ís could not be Freemasons; probably because Freemasons did not accept women, and (in his day) Freemasons did not accept blacks (their were separate organizations for white and black Freemasons); which was against Bahá'í principles. That is why he did not allow Baha'is to be Freemasons; because they discriminated. They no longer discriminate according to race.
Let Christians come into the Faith as Bahá'í-Christians. Or, 99.99.99% of them will not come into the Faith at all. Give them Sundays for Worship Services for Jesus. Had this been done, then the majority of the African-Americans who declared in the 1970s would still be their; they or their descendants. Instead, they are gone.
The Faith is a revolving-door for BBAAs (Bible-believing African-Americans). They come in, then go out-forever. This will not change. Why is this happening?
The answer is simple. Bible-believers will never feel comfortable in the Faith when most of the Friends have no "personal relationship" with Jesus, do not view Him as Savior, and do not recognize what His true mission on Earth was. Also, Bible-believers soon grow tired of the constant, unending "discussions" of "The Principles" at Bahá'í meetings.
In every major city the Cluster should provide a Worship Center. A Worship Center is a "store-front church" in the African-American part of town; where many store-fronts are available (very inexpensive); on a major bus line; since most of the worshippers won't have cars. It must resemble, as close as possible, other store-front churches. The more resemblance, the more comfortable African-Americans will be there.
Call these "Bahá'í Worship Centers". But do not limit the Sunday Service to Bahá'ís, but invite all who wish to attend. Many non-believers will attend, and some of these will become Bahá'í-Christians.
The "Ministers" of the Worship Center ideally should be a black Bahá'í couple who grew up attending store-front churches, or at least African-American "Gospel" churches. Start out with a small store-front at first, and more can open later.
Give Sunday mornings and afternoons to the worship of Jesus! The Worship Center can also double as a Feast Center (for the Friends only) in that area; divided into Wards of 9 or 19 Members (and their children) from 1 to 19 Wards.
BBAA Worship Service
If you provide Worship Centers in high-density African-American areas of each major city, then the Faith will "keep" BBAAs, and the Faith will no longer be a revolving door for them.
In 1910, two Bahá'í pilgrims met with the Master in Haifa: a Mr. Meakin and Louis Gregory. Mr. Meakin asked about Jesus among the Prophets.
The Master: "Jesus is the Perfect Mirror, in which the Bounties and Perfections of God are reflected. Jesus is not separateed from God, since He is the perfection of Divine Knowlege."
Mr Meakin: "Are not all the Prophets Manifestatations of the Word?"
The Master: "Yes, but the Word as reflected in Jesus has a special meaning. The Sun shines in all the months, but in July it is brightest." (A Heavenly Vista: The Pilgrimate of Louis G. Gregory, p.5)