The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: <>
Subject: Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer)
Date: Tuesday, September 07, 1999 2:06 AM

  "David Fiorito and Jennifer Spotila" <> wrote:
> If I independently investigate the postulation the Baha'u'llah speaks
>with Divine authority and I reach the conclusion that He does how am I
>supposed to disregard His writings in favor of my own interpretation?
Because other than very specific areas of the Law, Baha'u'llah gives
you the right to do so. Read the Kitab-i-Iqan. And how would a given
conclusion necessarily disregard or negate His Writings? It would be a
highly narrow, circumscribed view of the nature of Revelation to argue
that it is. The range and scope of what He says is so infinitely vast
in any given context, that a multiple and plurality of conclusionary
applications are possible at any given time (so long as they are not
touted as being authoritative). This is the difference between seeing
progressive Revelation also applicable in the domain of our
understanding of the Book, and one that sees it only in one domain
(i.e. history) and insists the Book is closed until further notice.
It's the difference between holding to a Logos that is forever active
and immanent and engaging with and within us, and one who has no real
connection to it other than in a peripherally superficial way.
> To me once an investigation has reached a conclusion and the Truth is
>found then all you are left with is the duty to obey and the duty to
>retest your conclusion, but not to disregard some ordinance that you
That's assuming that any given conclusion is a once and for all, one
time-only affair, static and immutable from further understanding(s) or
refinement or fluidity. And who is saying that an ordinance has been
disregarded? Any ordinace itself (because of its spiritual Divine
nature) has a vast applicational range. But if a conclusion is skewed,
it is skewed (no matter where the motivating premises derive from -
albeit that does not negate the underlying principle itself, i.e.
ordinance). No amount of justification is going to make it otherwise.
And certainly Baha'u'llah never meant "rida" (acquiescence) to imply
some sort of blind obediance or sheepish abeyance. That's Calvinism,
ultra-montanist Roman Catholicism, usuli Twelver Shi'ism, but
definitely *not* Baha'u'llah.
> If one  does not agree with Baha'u'llah how can that person possibly
>be a Baha'i?
This is a serious non sequitor. A fallacy of reasoning. The premises
you seem to be setting out to justify in your conclusion are not borne
out by facts in the world. And it also happens to be a red herring
easily refutable. You're claiming that anyone who does not subscribe to
a particularly closed hermenuetical vision of the Baha'i religion is
ipso facto not a Baha'i. Baha'u'llah Himself already challenged that
notion implicitly in the Aqdas, Iqan, his Tablet to Jamal Borujerdi and
> Independent investigation of the truth does not mean constantly
>challenging authority and having things your own way.
Again a non sequitor. It's not simply a matter of someone having their
own way or challenging authority for its own sake. Independent
investigation of truth entails that it be unfettered and not fettered;
unbound, not bound. Meaning, you follow the line of investigation
wherever it might lead. If it be fettered as many fundamentalists would
have us believe (doesn't matter what religion they belong to), then
it's not an independent investigation of truth, but something else. So
if it's something else (or, since there's failure to apply the
unfettered standard to the quest), why call it 'independent' or an
'investigation', let alone of the truth. The type of pseudo-reasoning
that is being called independent investigation of the truth by some
within the Baha'i public sphere these days is in reality some sort of
vacuous tautological doublespeak which does not care to think outside
of its own narrow framework or paradigms. It sets out to demonstrate
that which is already known to it, or rather that which it already has
demonstrated to/and for itself. Now, how would this make it the same
independent investigation of the truth of the sort lauded by
Baha'u'llah? It simply isn't.
>  It means deciding for yourself
> and living with the consequences of your decision.
So what's the problem?
Regards, Nima
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