Monday, April 26, 2010

Flint and Steel

"...consultation must have for its object the investigation of truth...A spark is produced when flint and steel come together." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72)

The new on-line Journal of Comparative Theology has a great essay that I wanted to encourage readers to take a look at. There's also a little shout out to the Baha'i Faith that made me smile. I found the following paragraph particularly illuminating:

"Lack of faith expresses itself in fear of being affected by the wisdom of other communities. If we trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have no reason to fear that truth from any source will undercut our faith. Indeed, we have every reason to believe that all truth, wisdom and reality cohere in him…faith in Jesus Christ encourages and even requires us to assimilate into our tradition what others have learned…It is incumbent upon us as Christians to transform ourselves by being open to this wisdom and goodness and learning all we can from it. It is also incumbent upon Christians to share the saving wisdom that we have derived from our own tradition. Listening to others and witnessing to them are not in conflict; in fact, as we are transformed by what we learn from others, our witnessing may become far more convincing to them." (Read the whole thing here)

The ideas expressed in this essay will sound right at home with ideas expressed in the Baha'i Writings. Here are a few that came to mind:

"Likewise the divine religions of the holy Manifestations of God are in reality one though in name and nomenclature they differ. Man must be a lover of the light no matter from what day-spring it may appear. He must be a lover of the rose no matter in what soil it may be growing...The word of truth no matter which tongue utters it must be sanctioned. Absolute verities no matter in what book they be recorded must be accepted. If we harbor prejudice it will be the cause of deprivation and ignorance. The strife between religions, nations and races arises from misunderstanding. If we investigate the religions to discover the principles underlying their foundations we will find they agree, for the fundamental reality of them is one and not multiple. By this means the religionists of the world will reach their point of unity and reconciliation." (Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 15)

"Likewise, when you meet those whose opinions differ from your own, do not turn away your face from them. All are seeking truth, and there are many roads leading thereto. Truth has many aspects, but it remains always and forever one. Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow-men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts. Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends. Every edifice is made of many different stones, yet each depends on the other to such an extent that if one were displaced the whole building would suffer; if one is faulty the structure is imperfect."(Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 53)

"So fundamental a reorientation religious leadership appears, for the most part, unable to undertake. Other segments of society embrace the implications of the oneness of humankind, not only as the inevitable next step in the advancement of civilization, but as the fulfilment of lesser identities of every kind that our race brings to this critical moment in our collective history. Yet, the greater part of organized religion stands paralyzed at the threshold of the future, gripped in those very dogmas and claims of privileged access to truth that have been responsible for creating some of the most bitter conflicts dividing the earth's inhabitants." (The Universal House of Justice, 2002 April, To the World's Religious Leaders, p. 2)

While you're at it, check out this piece from the Journal of Inter-religious Dialogue about a recent conference in Cambridge exploring changes emerging in educating seminarians.