Limits to promoting ideas

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jimhabegger
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Limits to promoting ideas

Postby jimhabegger » Sat Apr 30, 2005 4:03 pm

I think it's better for Baha'u'llah's purposes for every person, including every follower of Bahau'llah, to promote whatever she believes in, even if it's contrary to the words of God Himself. I think some Baha'is feel inhibited about promoting some things they believe in, because of some people's interpretations of some actions of the Universal House of Justice.

In the writings of the Faith, I see limits placed on the *manner* in which views can be promoted, but I do not see any limits placed on the *kinds* of views we can promote, whether it's about women on the House of Justice, infallibility, racial supremacy, a Guardian after Shoghi Effendi, "voting with dollars," administrative reform, homosexuality, or anything else.

I would like every Baha'i to make a habit of studying and practicing what is written about *how* to promote our interests and ideas, and then feel free to promote whatever she believes in.

If anyone has seen anything in authoritative Baha'i writings, including messages of the House of Justice, that you think places limits not only on the *manner* in which views can be promoted, but on the *kinds* of views we can promote, please give me the references. It may be a few weeks or months before I respond. Right now, I just want to compile all the reasons anyone sees for placing limits on the *kinds* of views we can promote.

Jim

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Re: Limits to promoting ideas

Postby Hasan » Sun May 01, 2005 2:18 am

jimhabegger wrote:I think it's better for Baha'u'llah's purposes for every person, including every follower of Bahau'llah, to promote whatever she believes in, even if it's contrary to the words of God Himself.


The action to promote an idea by an individual has not always beneficial results, more if such ideas are contrary to the exalted words and teachings of God. One person could think his idea is good, but most of times this idea is not good even for him. The teachings of God through His Manifestation are always the cure and salvation for mankind.

The action to promote *any* idea by a bahá’í individual is of different order. To promote the Bahá’ís Principles, Teachings, Laws and exhortations is always beneficial for the community and the mankind, but to promote, i.e. “to work for” *any* idea is not always good, especially if these ideas are against the teachings or the authority of the Scripture or Institutions. There are all kind of ideas no matter the way of promoting it, if these ideas are not encompassed by the Teachings are always personal views (views that are always changing).

In this panorama, what you think is *better* to do for Bahá’u’lláh’s purposes is dangerous and reflect a mind that not take the Revelation of God seriously, but is oriented by what is currently in vogue and by a positivistic methodology, makes everything look relative and in the end questionable.

I suggest you to read this article about Loyalty to the Covenant and Critical Thought:
http://bahai-library.com/?file=schaefer ... y_covenant

This quote of the House is helpful:
35.13 A clear distinction is made in our Faith between authoritative interpretation and the interpretation or understanding that each individual arrives at for himself from his study of its teachings. While the former is confined to the Guardian, the latter, according to the guidance given to us by the Guardian himself, should by no means be suppressed. In fact such individual interpretation is considered the fruit of man's rational power and conducive to a better understanding of the teachings, provided that no disputes or arguments arise among the friends and the individual himself understands and makes it clear that his views are merely his own. Individual interpretations continually change as one grows in comprehension of the teachings. As Shoghi Effendi explained: "To deepen in the Cause means to read the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master so thoroughly as to be able to give it to others in its pure form. There are many who have some superficial idea of what the Cause stands for. They, therefore, present it together with all sorts of ideas that are their own. As the Cause is still in its early days we must be most careful lest we fall under this error and injure the Movement we so much adore. There is no limit to the study of the Cause. The more we read the Writings, the more truths we can find in them and the more we will see that our previous notions were erroneous."+F102 So, although individual insights can be enlightening and helpful, they can also be misleading. The friends must therefore learn to listen to the views of others without being overawed or allowing their faith to be shaken, and to express their own views without pressing them on their fellow Bahá'ís. The Covenant -- the cord to which all must cling
[F102. Written by the Guardian's secretary on his behalf to an individual believer, on 25 August 1926.]
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 87)

jimhabegger
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Postby jimhabegger » Sun May 01, 2005 6:40 am

Hasan, thank you very much! That's very helpful!

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Sun May 01, 2005 7:11 am

Besides writings that anyone thinks place limits on the *kinds* of ideas we can promote, I would also like help finding writings that encourage us to promote whatever seems good to us, regardless of how unpopular it might be. For example:

"It is incumbent upon every man, in this Day, to hold fast unto whatsoever will promote the interests, and exalt the station, of all nations and just governments."

- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 94

"The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth."

- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 250

My personal understanding of this is that every one of us is called by God to arise to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth.

"O SON OF SPIRIT!
The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes."

- The Arabic Hidden Words

As I see it, in arising to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth, for the sake of justice each of us needs to use our own best understanding of what those interests are.

We should also not be deterred by opposition from any source:

"And be thou so steadfast in My love that thy heart shall not waver, even if the swords of the enemies rain blows upon thee and all the heavens and the earth arise against thee."

- Baha'i Prayers, p. 210

If anyone thinks of any other writings about our responsibility to promote the best interests of all people, according to our own best understanding of those interests, in spite of all opposition, even from our fellow believers, please post them here.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Sun May 01, 2005 7:34 am

Also, I would welcome writings about *how* to promote our ideas. For example, from Hasan's post above:

"provided that no disputes or arguments arise among the friends and the individual himself understands and makes it clear that his views are merely his own."

"express their own views without pressing them on their fellow Bahá'ís."

There is also what Abdu'l-Baha wrote about teaching with wisdom:

"O ye servants of the Blessed Beauty!... It is clear that in this day, confirmations from the unseen world are encompassing all those who deliver the divine Message. Should the work of teaching lapse, these confirmations would be entirely cut off, since it is impossible for the loved ones of God to receive assistance unless they teach.

"Under all conditions, the teaching must be carried forward, but with wisdom. If the work cannot proceed openly, then let them teach in private, and thus engender spirituality and fellowship among the children of men. If, for example, each and every one of the believers would become a true friend to one of the unheeding, and, conducting himself with absolute rectitude, associate with this soul, treat him with the utmost kindness, himself exemplify the divine instructions he hath received, the good qualities and behaviour patterns, and at all times act in accord with the admonitions of God -- it is certain that little by little he will succeed in awakening that previously heedless individual, and in changing his ignorance to knowledge of the truth.

"Souls are inclined toward estrangement. Steps should first be taken to do away with this estrangement, for only then will the Word take effect. If a believer showeth kindness to one of the neglectful, and, with great love, gradually leadeth him to an understanding of the validity of the Holy Cause, so that he may come to know the fundamentals of God's Faith and the implications thereof -- such a one will certainly be transformed, excepting only those seldom-encountered individuals who are even as ashes, whose hearts are 'hard as rocks, or harder still.'

"If every one of the friends should strive in this way to guide one soul aright, the number of believers will double every year; and this can be accomplished with prudence and wisdom, and no harm whatever would result therefrom.

"Furthermore, the teachers must travel about, and if spreading the Message openly should cause a disturbance, then instead, let them stimulate and train the believers, inspire them, delight them, rejoice their hearts, revive and refresh them with the sweet savours of holiness."

- Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 264

As I see it, all of that applies just as much to promoting ideas and pursuits that are unpopular among Baha'is, as to promoting any other ideas and pursuits that we see as serving the best interests of all people. When we are promoting ideas and pursuits that are unpopular among Baha'is, we need to befriend them, conduct ourselves with absolute rectitude, associate with them, treat them with the utmost kindness, ourselves exemplify the divine instructions we hath received, the good qualities and behaviour patterns, and at all times act in accord with the admonitions of God. Then, according to Abdu'l-Baha, it is certain that little by little we will succeed in awakening our fellow Baha'is to whatever knowledge we may have.

When we encounter opposition from our fellow believers, we should first take steps do away with the estrangement. Then we should show kindness to them, one by one, and, with great love, gradually lead them to an understanding of what we are promoting.

Whenever spreading our message openly should cause a disturbance among Baha'is, then instead, we should stimulate and train them, inspire them, delight them, rejoice their hearts, revive and refresh them with the sweet savours of holiness, until we find some new ideas for spreading the message openly without disturbance.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Sun May 01, 2005 7:38 am

Finally, I come back to my original request, which is for writings that anyone thinks place limits on the *kinds* of ideas we can promote. Does anyone see any writings, including those of the Universal House of Justice, that specify ideas that we are forbidden to promote?

Letters to individuals, that have never been publicized by Baha'i institutions, are of no use to me, for this purpose.

Jim

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Postby Hasan » Sun May 01, 2005 10:11 am

jimhabegger wrote:Finally, I come back to my original request, which is for writings that anyone thinks place limits on the *kinds* of ideas we can promote. Does anyone see any writings, including those of the Universal House of Justice, that specify ideas that we are forbidden to promote? Jim


What limits do you want? I think any idea that goes against the foundations of the Faith and the authority of the Institutions. How such ideas could be promoted without being disloyal to the Covenant?

If you want to know what the limits are, you can find them studying the history of the Faith, reading about the heresies and intentions of the Covenant-breakers and antagonistic people of the Faith. I want to mention an example that illustrates this:

A bahá'í who *promotes* the idea that “the House of Justice is only infallible in certain of its functions and therefore we should not obey it”. The first part of this idea is correct since the scope of the House's infallibility has immanent limits, but the discussion of this issue should be carry to an academic context with humility and wisdom, but the second part which promotes disobedience to this exalted institution goes directly against the authority of the House and the Covenant, an authority that has been mentioned by the Central Figures of the Faith, the Guardian and the House itself.

We should understand that the authority of the House of Justice is not due to the fact of possessing the special charisma of conferred infallibility for certain (and essential) of its actions, but rather simply because Bahá'u'lláh has ordered it. The Divine Guidance (hudá) has been promised to all Houses of Justice (UHJ, NSAs, LSAs), it is just one aspect of that Divine Guidance that is called “infallibility”, but the authority of the Universal House of Justice could work even without that charisma (as Dr. Schaefer explains), because it is not based on the charisma of infallibility. Or should the bahá'ís obey their Governments because they are infallibles? No, it is just because Bahá'u'lláh says it.


Several explicit warnings advices us to not make schism in the community, this can be surely an answer to your question.

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun May 01, 2005 8:01 pm

Thank you, Hasan.

I see you saying that warnings in the writings against schism place limits on the kinds of ideas we can promote, and that one example of what is outside the limits would be the idea of disobeying the Universal House of Justice. You imagine it would be impossible to promote disobedience to the Universal House of Justice, without creating a schism.

What if it were possible to promote disobedience to the Universal House of Justice, without creating a schism?

Can you think of any other Baha'i writings that you think specify limits on the kinds of ideas we can promote?

Just for information, in case you're wondering, I personally am practicing and promoting not only obedience, but faithfulness towards the Universal House of Justice, I have no grievances against it whatsoever, I turn to its writings for guidance in everything I do, and I love everything it's promoting.

Jim

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Postby Hasan » Mon May 02, 2005 1:20 am

Jim, I see now you are bahá'í, a first glimpse of your first messages seemed you are not.

Jim wrote: What if it were possible to promote disobedience to the Universal House of Justice, without creating a schism? Can you think of any other Baha'i writings that you think specify limits on the kinds of ideas we can promote?


To promote disobedience to the Institutions is also an act of disloyalty to the Covenant as well as promoting any idea against the foundations of the Faith as I said before, and it is not possible to promote such ideas without being disloyal to the Covenant.

Promoting ideas that are against the Authoritative Writings are common (but not so much) in the field of religious studies, a few authors which support these ideas (Cole, MacEoin, Miller etc.) mostly follow methodological positivism and agnosticism and don’t have a strong belief in the revealed Word, or others who promote these ideas are simply antagonists.

This is different of theological opinions. For example, (a friend of mine say this) Covenant-breaking is basically a schismatic activity which is often based on heretic assumptions and views of the Faith. The term “heresy” was used by the Guardian, but, in contrast to church history it is not of that relevance. For the Church with its narrow definitions and dogmatizations of truth every deviation from the letter of a dogmatic formula was considered a heresy, with mortal consequences. In the Bahá’í Faith there is no dogmatization, the revealed truth is not put into dogmatic formulas. The holy texts impart a multiplicity of meanings, as it is said: “Every knowledge has seventy meanings . . . We speak one Word and by it We intend one and seventy meanings” (Kitáb-i Iqán 283 (255)). The word of God can never be exhausted. Thus there is a diversity of opinions in the community, which, according to the Universal House of Justice, is welcome. Because of these reasons, in the Bahá’í community heresy has not the dimension as it has in the Catholic Church.

I think is possible many bahá’ís ask theirselves why women can’t be elected for the Universal House of Justice since the Teachings advocate the equality of genres’ capacities. This question is natural I think, but it must not be of much weight that could shake believers’ faith. It is a question of confidence. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says: “The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men; this for a wisdom of the Lord God's, which will erelong be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon”. We should not use our personal opinions to make doubts in the hearts of our fellow believers.

This quote illustrates the basis for deprivation of voting rights, one never should seek reach that limits or know how far can go, on the contrary a strong firmness in the Faith is encouraged, action, devotion, learning, etc.
The Guardian mentioned he is infallible in the Protection of the Faith, in these days is of course possible (but not usual) that a believer had been deprived wrongly of his voting rights, but we have to obey without exception.

I have said all I know of this issue so far, and therefore I can conclude my comments.

178. Basis for Deprivation of Voting Rights
"The general basis for the deprivation of voting rights is of course gross immorality and open opposition to the administrative functions of the Faith, and disregard for the laws of personal status; and even then it is the duty of the National Assembly, before exercising this sanction, to confer with the individuals involved in a loving manner to help them overcome the problems; second, to warn them that they must desist; three, to issue further warning of the original warnings are not followed; and finally, if there seems no other way to handle the matter, then a person may be deprived of voting rights
"The Guardian however, wishes the National Assemblies to be very cautious in using this sanction, because it might be abused, and then lose its efficacy. It should be used only when there seems no other way to solve the problem…
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, March 7, 1955)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 50)

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One last thing

Postby Hasan » Mon May 02, 2005 1:50 am

One last thing, I forget to put an example of disloyalty and contention with the Authoritative Writings.

For example, if one promote the idea insisting that Bahá’u’lláh permits two wives, then he is going against the Authoritative interpretation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the infallible Interpreter and designated Successor of Bahá’u’lláh.
Peace,

Hasan

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Postby jimhabegger » Mon May 02, 2005 7:54 am

Thank you, Hasan.

As I understand it, you would say that even if it were possible to promote disobedience to the House of Justice without creating schism, it would still be wrong because it would be disloyal to the Covenant.

I didn't find anything in the writings about being loyal to the Covenant. I did find some things about being faithful to the Covenant.

"This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue."

- Arabic Hidden Words

"Recite ye the verses of God every morn and
eventide. Whoso faileth to recite them hath not been
faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament,
and whoso turneth away from these holy verses in this
Day is of those who throughout eternity have turned
away from God."

- The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 73

When you say that promoting disobedience to the House of Justice would be disloyal to the Covenant, are you thinking of the following passages?

"The sacred and youthful branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God, as well as the Universal House of Justice to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of the Exalted One (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God. May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him!"

- Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 11

"Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn, and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the truth and the purpose of God Himself. Whoso doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord, hath shown forth malice, and turned away from the Lord of the Covenant."

- Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 19

"To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error."

- Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 25

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Mon May 02, 2005 8:14 am

I'll use an example to explain what I'm looking for.

Imagine a follower of Baha'u'llah who believes that it's contrary to Baha'u'llah's purposes and prescriptions to exclude women from the Universal House of Justice.

As I see it, she has a responsibility first to study and practice the writings on teaching with wisdom, examples of which I've already posted, then to promote the inclusion of women on the Universal House of Justice, continually praying and making efforts to do so in a manner which accords with Baha'u'llah's purposes and prescriptions. As I see it, the appearance of promoting something contrary to what the House of Justice says, does not relieve her of the responsibility of promoting it, as long as she believes that it's in everyone's best interests.

As another example, imagine a follower of Baha'u'llah who believes that the concept of infallibility being promoted by the House of Justice is detrimental to Baha'u'llah's purposes.

As I see it, he has a responsibility first to study and practice the writings on teaching with wisdom, then to promote his understanding of the fallibility or infallibility of the Universal House of Justice, continually praying and making efforts to do so in a manner which accords with Baha'u'llah's purposes and prescriptions. As I see it, the appearance of promoting something contrary to what the House of Justice says, does not relieve him of the responsibility of promoting it, as long as he believes that it's in everyone's best interests.

What I'm looking for is writings that anyone thinks prohibit promoting ideas contrary to what the Universal House of Justice says.

For example, the following passage might be understood as prohibiting the promotion of ideas contrary to what the Universal House of Justice says.

"To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error."

- Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 25

Does anyone know of any other writings that appear to prohibit promoting ideas contrary to what the Universal House of Justice says?

Jim

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon May 02, 2005 1:06 pm

I preclude my quote here a bit by saying that we can believe what we want. Promote what we want. But in the long run our egos drive us to ruin. It isn’t about being strong and fighting for what we think is right. It also isn’t about silencing the critics when a critical voice is necessary. But there is a constant need for a check in the ego balance.

"CLIX. Consider the pettiness of men's minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. They are, indeed, of those that are far astray. We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.

Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames none can quench. Thus warneth you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. 336 That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the certain truth. We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All-Knowing.

Say: True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 335)"

So many of us think that what will hurt us the most will save us. Only when we allow the contrary, if spoken from the will of God, to meditate within us, that we can understand more fully the messages left for us.

I cannot see a reason for no women in the UHJ or why we cannot accept homosexuality as a true station of humanity, and not a disease. But I can let that sit in me and realize this might have to do with a women’s station and her nurturing nature may not be an attribute needed at that level. I have heard many more women NOT have a problem with this then do to tell you the truth since EQUALITY does not mean "the same" We do have innate qualities that go with our gender do to the chemicals produce in our bodies and the function of our bodies on this plain of existence. Homosexuality is hard for me as well. I am not gay but I have very close family that are and I can see it as both an affliction AND as a natural state of humanity. Then I think we over emphasize our sexuality to the point of identification. I am Gay it is the same as saying what religion you belong and believe in. That is lifting sexuality to a VERY lofty status. Whish is completely inappropriate. But our capacities are what they are in this day and age. And we are to LOVE all humanity no matter what their capacity or persuasion in life.

So after my exceedingly long winded response has everyone gone to sleep:) Sorry just a weighty subject to me. I am just a servant of God's will. I strive for it to replace my own will everyday. Failing sometimes and succeeding sometimes but always guided.

Mat

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Postby jimhabegger » Mon May 02, 2005 3:11 pm

In case it wasn't clear, what I'm looking for in this thread is not arguments for or against any of the ideas I used in the examples. The only purpose of the examples was to help clarify what I'm looking for, which is writings that prohibit promoting views contrary to what the Universal House of Justice says.

Also, if anyone knows of any writings that prohibit promoting views contrary to what Shoghi Effendi said, or what Abdu'l-Baha said, or what God Himself says, I would be interested in that, too.

So far, the only passage from the writings, that I've seen in this thread, that might prohibit promoting views contrary to what the House of Justice says, is this:

"To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error."

- Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 25

Does anyone know of any other writings that might prohibit promoting views contrary to what the House of Justice says?

Jim

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue May 03, 2005 12:42 am

Mat says:
I preclude my quote here a bit by saying that we can believe what we want. Promote what we want. But in the long run our egos drive us to ruin. It isn’t about being strong and fighting for what we think is right. It also isn’t about silencing the critics when a critical voice is necessary. But there is a constant need for a check in the ego balance.


Mat, of course believers can think and believe whatever they want, there is freedom of thinking, but we are not talking about that (bye the way, nobody could know what you think until you say it to another person).

If I understand, Jim wants to know if there is any authoritative writing which put limits to the ideas a bahá’í can promote.

I am really astonished to see the way of thinking of many bahá’ís, I want to quote what Mat said:
“we can… Promote what we want.”
And:
I cannot see a reason for no women in the UHJ or why we cannot accept homosexuality as a true station of humanity, and not a disease.

I have to write again, it seems that Mat and Jim think the same, i.e. bahá’ís can promote *what* we want or *whatever* we believe.

There is a logical game here: When you say “we can promote *whatever* we want”, I say: YES, of course because we have mouth, but the matter here is: Should we promote *whatever* we want, believe, think, imagine, etc.? NO. There is a difference between “can” and “should”, the first has no limits because of free will, the second has limits for bahá’ís (assuming that bahá’ís are under the Covenant), these limits represent the line of loyalty to the Covenant.

I agree that a bahá’í should study and seek guidance in those aspects of the teachings/laws he don’t comprehend clearly (or simply don’t understand) in order to get better understanding. But I don’t think that this bahá'í who is studying should promote his own ideas when (specially when) they are contrary to Authoritative Writings or the authority of our supreme body.

There are warnings to not promote schisms and to not challenge the authority of the Head of the Faith, as I mention before Covenant Breakers are very familiar with these dangerous attitudes.

To promote disobedience to the Head of the Faith is an act of disloyalty to the Covenant and therefore I think this act will be punished (first, following all steps of the procedure (love, warnings, etc.).

Let’s take a look to the basis for deprivation of voting rights:

“gross immorality and open opposition to the administrative functions of the Faith, and disregard for the laws of personal status”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, March 7, 1955)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 50)

Mat said:
I cannot see... why we cannot accept homosexuality as a true station of humanity, and not a disease.


The people (even psychologists) who think homosexuality is ok, and is an “option” are lost. The Revelation is normative in character, no bahá'í should opportunistically try to adapt the doctrines and norms of the Faith to the currents of society. In this view, especially in USA and Europe some could say some of our laws are medieval, but it is not. I friend of mine say this:

Labelling others (or oneself) as “liberal” or “conservative” invokes categories which had evolved in a particular historical context, denoting specific cultural and social developments. But these categories are of little use in the context of a new revelation. In these terms the Bahá'í revelation could just as well be called either “liberal” or “conservative”. Indeed, the Faith is progressive, even revolutionary, in issues such as human rights, universal peace, universal order, the universal concept of revelation, the attitude of amity to other religions and their believers, the abolishment of clergy, etc. But the Faith is also “conservative” (outsiders are tempted to say “mediaeval”) with regards to penal law, morality (especially sexual ethics) and so on. But what has been gained by this insight? In the Gospel it is said that nobody puts “new wine into old bottles”, and I feel one should not squeeze a new faith into outworn categories.

I hope you can *see* why after reading these links:

http://bahai-library.com/?file=winters_ethics_survey
bahai-library.com/uhj/homosexuality.discussion.html
bahai-library.com/unpubl. compilations/homosexuality.comp.html
bahai-library.com/uhj/homosexuality.uhj.html
bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_homosexuality_biology
bahai-library.com/?file=compilation_homosexuality_bwc
bahai-library.com/nsa/homosexuality.uk.html

For the repeated question of Jim:
Does anyone know of any other writings that might prohibit promoting views contrary to what the House of Justice says?


It looks turbid what is behind this question. The obedience of the House is the axis of all, it will be good to know what you exactly mean with “what the House of Justice says”, as you know the House has powers of legislation, administrative and judicial. It is rare to see the House expressing outside this.

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Postby jimhabegger » Tue May 03, 2005 5:26 am

"It looks turbid what is behind this question."

What is behind this question is what I said in earlier posts.

----

"It is incumbent upon every man, in this Day, to hold fast unto whatsoever will promote the interests, and exalt the station, of all nations and just governments."

- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 94

"The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth."

- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 250

My personal understanding of this is that every one of us is called by God to arise to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth.

"O SON OF SPIRIT!
The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes."

- The Arabic Hidden Words

As I see it, in arising to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth, for the sake of justice each of us needs to use our own best understanding of what those interests are.

We should also not be deterred by opposition from any source:

"And be thou so steadfast in My love that thy heart shall not waver, even if the swords of the enemies rain blows upon thee and all the heavens and the earth arise against thee."

- Baha'i Prayers, p. 210

I think it's better for Baha'u'llah's purposes for every person, including every follower of Bahau'llah, to promote whatever she believes in, even if it's contrary to the words of God Himself. I think some Baha'is feel inhibited about promoting some things they believe in, because of some people's interpretations of some actions of the Universal House of Justice.

In the writings of the Faith, I see limits placed on the *manner* in which views can be promoted, but I do not see any limits placed on the *kinds* of views we can promote, whether it's about women on the House of Justice, infallibility, racial supremacy, a Guardian after Shoghi Effendi, "voting with dollars," administrative reform, homosexuality, or anything else.

I would like every Baha'i to make a habit of studying and practicing what is written about *how* to promote our interests and ideas, and then feel free to promote whatever she believes in.

----

That's what is behind this question. I'm not talking about freedom. I'm talking about a *responsibility*, according to Baha'u'llah, for every person to promote whatever she thinks is in the best interests of all people. As I said, in my view an appearance of contradicting the House of Justice does not relieve a person of that responsibility.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Tue May 03, 2005 5:40 am

What is behind this question is that I think it's unhealthy, for individuals and for the community, and detrimental to the progress of the Cause, for people to be imagining that the Universal House of Justice is drawing boundaries around the *kinds* of views that anyone can promote.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Tue May 03, 2005 5:42 am

"The obedience of the House is the axis of all, it will be good to know what you exactly mean with 'what the House of Justice says,' as you know the House has powers of legislation, administrative and judicial."

I'll rephrase the question.

Does anyone know of any other writings that might prohibit promoting views contrary to what is written in messages of the House of Justice?

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Tue May 03, 2005 5:49 am

So far I've seen the following responses to my question:

1. Warnings to not promote schism and to not challenge the authority of the Head of the Faith.

2. "To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error."

- Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 25

Does anyone know of any other writings that might prohibit promoting views contrary to what is written in messages of the House of Justice?

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Tue May 03, 2005 6:02 am

I think it's an abuse of the writings of the Universal House of Justice to interpret them as placing boundaries around the kinds of ideas we can promote. In fact, it seems to me that one of the aims of the campaign of internal opposition has been to plant that very idea in people's minds, to create an atmosphere of censorship and repression, and then blame it on the House of Justice.

Jim

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Quotes

Postby Hasan » Tue May 03, 2005 10:18 am

jimhabegger wrote:I think it's an abuse of the writings of the Universal House of Justice to interpret them as placing boundaries around the kinds of ideas we can promote. In fact, it seems to me that one of the aims of the campaign of internal opposition has been to plant that very idea in people's minds, to create an atmosphere of censorship and repression, and then blame it on the House of Justice.


One can ask knowledgeable believers or the House if one thinks that something of the Teachings are contrary one thinks or don't understand. There is freedom of thinking, and encourage to study, to promote ideas is different, when you accept the Faith with the brain and heart no problem, if you ONLY use your reason without faith, many problems arise. In my last message I said: I agree that a bahá’í should study and seek guidance in those aspects of the teachings/laws he don’t comprehend clearly (or simply don’t understand) in order to get better understanding. But I don’t think that this bahá'í who is studying should promote his own ideas when (specially when) they are contrary to Authoritative Writings or the authority of our supreme body.

Jim, here are some quotes of the Writings (with emphasis in bold), that could help you:

LXXXIX. Know assuredly that just as thou firmly believest that the Word of God, exalted be His glory, endureth for ever, thou must, likewise, believe with undoubting faith that its meaning can never be exhausted. They who are its appointed interpreters, they whose hearts are the repositories of its secrets, are, however, the only ones who can comprehend its manifold wisdom. Whoso, while reading the Sacred Scriptures, is tempted to choose therefrom whatever may suit him with which to challenge the authority of the Representative of God among men, is, indeed, as one dead, though to outward seeming he may walk and converse with his neighbors, and share with them their food and their drink.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 174)

C… How great, how very great, the gulf that separateth Us from them who, in this Day, are occupied with their evil passions, and have set their hopes on the things of the earth and its fleeting glory! Many a time hath the court of the All-Merciful been to outward seeming so denuded of the riches of this world that they who lived in close association with Him suffered from dire want. Despite their sufferings, the Pen of the Most High hath, at no time, been willing to refer, nor even to make the slightest allusion, to the things that pertain to this world and its treasures. And if, at any time, any gift were presented to Him, that gift was accepted as a token of His grace unto him that offered it. Should it ever please Us to appropriate to Our own use all the treasures of the earth, to none is given the right to question Our authority, or to challenge Our right . It would be impossible to conceive any act more contemptible than soliciting, in the name of the one true God, the riches which men possess.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 201)

One is entirely free to accept or reject the system of belief Bahá'u'lláh teaches. The Bahá'í Faith is a religion which believes ardently in freedom of spiritual choice. No one is -- or can ever be -- compelled to be a Bahá'í, nor does any discredit attach to one who, having decided, for whatever reason, that he or she cannot continue to accept the Teachings, may decide to renounce them. What one cannot properly do is to behave in a way that undermines the unity of the Bahá'í community, by challenging the institutional authority that is an integral part of the Faith one professes to have accepted
This is precisely what Michael has persisted in doing. He has made it unmistakably clear that he does not accept the nature of the authority conferred in Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant on either the Guardianship or the Universal House of Justice, in important areas of belief. Indeed, some of his statements give the impression that he does not accept Bahá'u'lláh's many statements about the nature of the authority of a Manifestation of God.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Jul 25, Removal of Baha'i Membership, M. McKenny)

Had the situation continued at this level, Michael's confusion would have remained his personal spiritual problem. That it did not remain at this level was the result solely of his deliberate decision to continue a series of open Internet postings in which he challenged the authority of Bahá'í institutions in language alternating between conventional professions of respect and contemptuous reflections on the integrity and actions of those institutions. As had been made clear during review with him by the advisor mentioned above, of the relevant passages from the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, such deliberate contention is entirely unacceptable in one who claims to believe in Bahá'u'lláh. Indeed, as a general rule, it would raise a question about the loyalty to the Covenant of an individual behaving in this fashion. In Michael's case, the Universal House of Justice reached the conclusion that he neither understands the basic implications of Bahá'í membership nor has any real desire to do so. His subsequent behaviour will doubtless be read by most dispassionate observers as confirming the accuracy of this assessment.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Jul 25, Removal of Baha'i Membership, M. McKenny)

Scholarship has a high rank in the Cause of God, and the Universal House of Justice continually consults the views of scholars and experts in the course of its work. However, as you appreciate, scholars and experts have no authority over the Institutions of the Cause. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, on 14 March 1927, to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Istanbul, it is pointed out how, in the past, it was certain individuals who "accounted themselves as superior in knowledge and elevated in position" who caused division, and that it was those "who pretended to be the most distinguished of all" who "always proved themselves to be the source of contention." "But praise be to God" he continued, "that the Pen of Glory has done away with the unyielding and dictatorial views of the learned and the wise, dismissed the assertions of individuals as an authoritative criterion, even though they were recognized as the most accomplished and learned among men and ordained that all matters be referred to authorized centres and specified assemblies. Even so, no assembly has been invested with the absolute authority to deal with such general matters as affect the interests of nations. Nay, rather, He has brought all the assemblies together under the shadow of the one House of Justice, one divinely-appointed Centre, so that there would be only one Centre and all the rest integrated into a single body, revolving around one expressly-designated Pivot, thus making them all proof against schism and division."
(The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation)


As you recognize, the authority of the Universal House of Justice is unchallengeable. This is stated in numerous places in the Writings. In the same passage of the Will and Testament quoted above, 'Abdu'l-Bahá goes on to say of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice: "Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself, and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God."

Furthermore, at the very end of the Will and Testament, in warning against the danger of Covenant-breaking, 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote: "Beware lest anyone falsely interpret these words, and like unto them that have broken the Covenant after the Day of Ascension (of Bahá'u'lláh) advance a pretext, raise the standard of revolt, wax stubborn, and open wide the door of false interpretation." In this context, He continues: "To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Centre of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error."

It is natural that the friends would discuss such matters among themselves, as you and your correspondent have been doing on your Internet discussion group; how otherwise are they to deepen their understanding of the Teachings? But they should recognize that the resolution of differences of opinion on such fundamental questions is not to be found by continued discussion, but in referring to the Universal House of Justice itself, as you have done. Prolonged, unresolved, public discussion of these fundamental questions can do nothing but breed confusion and dissension.

Some people have put forward the thesis that in place of the Guardian's function of authoritative interpretation, a check on the Universal House of Justice should be set up, either in the form of the general opinion of the mass of the believers, or in the form of a body of learned Bahá'ís -- preferably those with academic qualifications. The former is in direct contradiction to the Guardian's statement that the members of the Universal House of Justice are not "allowed to be governed by the feelings, the general opinion, and even the convictions of the mass of the faithful, or of those who directly elect them." "They are to follow", he writes, "the dictates and promptings of their conscience. They may, indeed they must, acquaint themselves with the conditions prevailing among the community, must weigh dispassionately in their minds the merits of any case presented for their consideration, but must reserve for themselves the right of an unfettered decision. God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth,' is Bahá'u'lláh's incontrovertible assurance." As to the latter alternative: this would constitute usurpation of a function of the Guardian.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Jun 03, Interpretational Authority of the House of Justice)

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue May 03, 2005 10:28 am

i think I was mis-understood. And I think I mis-understood the question.

First off, I now understand what your getting at Jim. Sorry, you wanted just quotes not a rebuttel of an agenda but justification from scripture where the limts are.

Now to guest I am not promoting for women to be on the UHJ. At first I didnt understand why women were excluded but on meditating and not automaticly shunning the idea in my head I allowed some understanding of why or how this can be. Same with homosexuality. I just pointed out the reason that made most sense to me not every reason for the teachings that I now believe are correct and just.

There are several quotes on infalliblity that might shed some light on your question Jim. To me those teachings are the most constraining and definite as far as promotion of possible alternative views.

Mat

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Why promote first?

Postby Hasan » Tue May 03, 2005 11:07 am

In fact, I don't understand why the first choice of one should be *promote* an idea contrary to the messages of the House instead of studying them, more knowing that promoting (disseminate, work for) an idea which is contrary to the House’s views could provoke confusion and then commotion inside the bahá’í community.
The study of the Faith has no limits; it is always good study the teachings of the Faith, indeed the study of the foundations and laws of the Faith (which many materialistic see as antiquated) is vital for apologetic purposes.

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Postby jimhabegger » Tue May 03, 2005 11:27 am

Thank you, Mat. No harm done.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Tue May 03, 2005 11:29 am

Thank you, Hasan, for those quotes. That's all very helpful.

I won't try, now, to respond to all your concerns about what I'm doing. Right now I'm only trying to answer any questions that might help clarify what I'm looking for.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Tue May 03, 2005 11:36 am

Here are the passages I've seen so far, in response to my question:

"Whoso, while reading the Sacred Scriptures, is tempted to choose therefrom whatever may suit him with which to challenge the authority of the Representative of God among men, is, indeed, as one dead."

- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 174

"Should it ever please Us to appropriate to Our own use all the treasures of the earth, to none is given the right to question Our authority, or to challenge Our right."

- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 201

"What one cannot properly do is to behave in a way that undermines the unity of the Bahá'í community, by challenging the institutional authority that is an integral part of the Faith one professes to have accepted…"

- The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Jul 25, Removal of Baha'i Membership, M. McKenny

"As you recognize, the authority of the Universal House of Justice is unchallengeable."

- The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Jun 03, Interpretational Authority of the House of Justice

"To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error."

- Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 25

Does anyone know of any other writings that might prohibit promoting views contrary to the words of the House of Justice, or of Shoghi Effendi, or of Abdu'l-Baha, or of God?

Jim

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Postby Hasan » Mon May 09, 2005 1:27 am

jimhabegger wrote:Thank you, Hasan, for those quotes. That's all very helpful.
I won't try, now, to respond to all your concerns about what I'm doing. Right now I'm only trying to answer any questions that might help clarify what I'm looking for.
Jim


JIM: Ok, I found what you want.

I have a book of a famous scholar, which talk about many things and in one part, exactly what you are looking for, but I have no authorization to put an extract of it, because I want to avoid copyright problems. However, I can put some quotes of authoritative writings *which I can see* related to the issue cited there for your benefit.

Every knowledge has seventy meanings . . . We speak one word, and by it we intend one and seventy meanings.
hadíth, quoted from Kitáb-i-Íqán 283 (p. 255).

We should not restrict the liberty of the individual to express his own views so long as he makes it clear that these views are his own . . . God has given man a rational power to be used and not killed. This does not, however, mean that the absolute authority does not remain in the revealed Words. We should try and keep as near the authority [i.e. the scripture] as we can and show that we are faithful to it by quoting the Words of Bahá’u’lláh in establishing our points. To discard the authority of the revealed Words is heretic and to suppress completely individual interpretation of those Words is also bad. We should try to strike a happy medium between these two extremes.
Principles of Bahá’í Administration, pp. 24f.

‘The believers should be careful not to deviate, even a hair-breadth, from the Teachings. Their supreme consideration should be to safeguard the purity of the principles, tenets and laws of the Faith’ (Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 61).

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Postby jimhabegger » Mon May 09, 2005 10:56 am

Thank you, Hasan. Those suit my purpose very well!

Jim


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