How do Baha’is view the Bible?

 “Reflect: the words of the verses themselves eloquently testify to the truth that they are of God.”  ~ Baha’u’llah

Baha’is adopt a very figurative and symbolic interpretation of the Bible. Baha’is believe that the Bible is an inspired work and that it contains the Word of God. In reference to the Bible, Baha’u’llah states, “Reflect: the words of the verses themselves eloquently testify to the truth that they are of God.” (KI, pg 84). But Baha’is take a measured approach when interpreting the stories of this Holy Book. Baha’is are weary of being too dogmatic or attached to past interpretations. We know that interpreting the Word of God is a most dangerous profession for mortals to embark on. Interpretations belong to God, as was written, “…no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:19)

Baha’is believe that in the book entitled The Book of Certitude, Baha’u’llah has revealed the hidden meanings of the prophesies of the Bible that have weighed on the minds of humanity for thousands of years. In The Book of Certitude, Baha’u’llah offers a number of interpretations for mankind to bring all the worlds religions together in a single theology. These interpretations involve ancient prophesies about the coming of the Son of Man, the Day of Resurrection, the Day of Judgment, the Return of Christ, and so forth. Baha’is are well aware that these interpretations are vastly different from the ones that many Christians have accepted over the centuries. Baha’is are totally conscious that Christian leaders have taken a very different approach to understanding the Bible. Baha’is believe that Baha’u’llah has fulfilled these prophesies at long last, and has laid out the hidden meanings that were forbidden to the minds of men until their fulfillment, as the Bible states, “And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Daniel, 12:8-9)

Baha’is turn to the history of religion to understand the future. Baha’is see a seemingly endless cycle of men’s rebellion against their Messiahs. Leaders of religion in every period of fulfillment have risen up against God. Moses faced the Egyptian priests, Jesus faced the Jewish scholars, Muhammad faced the tribal shaman, and Baha’u’llah’s followers today face the entire body of religious leaders around the world.  As Baha’u’llah wrote, the leaders of religion of every age cling desperate to their own interpretations of their Holy Books, interpretations they have spent their lives developing and codifying, and they deny anything that might seem to deviate lest it refute their life’s work.

Baha’u’llah would often offer multiple meanings for the same passage in a Holy Book. This is not because Baha’u’llah could not decide what it meant. It is rather because the Word of God has unlimited implications. Baha’u’llah wrote that “manifold are the meanings they have intended for these terms. (KI, p. 32). Baha’is, therefore, do not believe that there is only one interpretation for any passage. As many individuals have found, the Word of God can have many meanings to us as we pursue our lives. When we are young, a passage may mean one thing, yet when we grow old, it may mean a totally different thing. The power is in the fact that it is always relevant, and it is always applicable. But one must not cling to one interpretation throughout their lives. Unfortunately, many people of faith cannot accept that the same passage might have multiple meanings. This is why Christianity has split into over 20,000 different sects.

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