The Fundamental Principles of Religion
In thine esteemed letter thou hadst inquired which of the Prophets of God should be regarded as superior to others. Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God, the Creator, saith: There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My Message. They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret. To prefer one in honor to another, to exalt certain ones above the rest, is in no wise to be permitted. Every true Prophet hath regarded His Message as fundamentally the same as the Revelation of every other Prophet gone before Him. If any man, therefore, should fail to comprehend this truth, and should consequently indulge in vain and unseemly language, no one whose sight is keen and whose understanding is enlightened would ever allow such idle talk to cause him to waver in his belief. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 78, 79)
A few days ago I heard a pastor on the radio talk about the nature of religion. He said there was a belief that all religions were fundamentally the same but superficially different. He disagreed. In his estimation, all religions are superficially the same but fundamentally different. He went on to explain that there were some who did not accept the physical crucifixion of Jesus. This he held to be a fundamental principle. At this point I stopped listening but went on analysing and it struck me that this was the reason for war.
You see that although all religions teach love for God and love for one another, according to this pastor that is only a superficial belief and can be ignored, but the physical nature of Jesus must be believed one hundred percent because that was a fundamental principal of his religion. So if he were to meet someone that accepted every teaching of Christ, believed that Christ was the Manifestation of God and that we must adhere to every principal that Christ proclaimed, but that person did not agree with him as to the smallest detail of the physical nature of Jesus, this person should be regarded as an enemy and an infidel and therefore we should hate him, war with him and even kill him. This even though Christ said; “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
My belief is that religion is fundamentally spiritual and in the spiritual aspects all true religion is the same. I believe that God, who is All Powerful, has sent Messengers to us throughout history. These messengers were Manifestations of Himself in much the same way as the sun becomes manifest in the mirror that is directed towards it. These pure and sanctified Mirrors revealed God to us to the extent that we were capable of understanding. As our understanding grows, He sends New Messengers that reveal more to us. The only problem with my belief is that it leaves no excuse for war, so no war mongering hateful person could accept what I believe.
Jesus taught Love. He said; “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35) You judge if this is a fundamental principle of Christ or if it should be treated as superficial.
John questions Jesus; “Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.” (Luke 9:49)
Jesus answered; “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.” (Luke 9: 50)
Does this sound like we should hate everyone who doesn’t follow what we believe. Throughout the New Testament the boastful self righteous are rebuked while the humble sinner is forgiven and praised.
Here is an account of a parable told by Jesus:
It is extremely important that we seek truth for ourselves. Many will twist the truth so they can persuade you toward their own believe. Some well meaning souls may not even be aware they are doing it, but even the Devil quoted scripture when he tried to temp Jesus.
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18: 9-14)
O SON OF BEING!
Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds. (Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words #31)
Yes we must always be on guard that we do not fall victim to our own lusts and desires. What are our motivations for what we do? I must internalize this even more and say, “I must always be on guard,” for if I point a finger at you I find I have three pointed back at me and anything I urge you to do I must put three times the effort into urging myself. We live in a wonderfully glorious new day and although it is such an honour to be chosen to live in this day, it is also very humbling. We see the magnificence of God’s power, His grace and His forgiveness. We seem so small and insignificant, yet we are called upon to do a great work. How can we accomplish this? Surely not by our own efforts, but only by allowing ourselves to be selfless channels through which God’s power can flow.
This is where I get stuck. How do I do this? How do I get my ego out of the way so God can work through me? I must bounce my ideas off of others. I must study with them and discover with them the ways of God. In this way we can help others as we help ourselves grow ever closer to God.
Naturally your comments are welcome. I have only presented my own personal view, as imperfect as it is, and I welcome your thoughts and ideas which will make it more complete.