Thank you to all of you who prayed for me and/or contributed financially to my trip to Toronto to be part of The Parliament of the World's Religions. There were many seeds of truth planted! There were approximately 7,500 people in attendance representing about 220 different faiths.
Bahá'ís regard the major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, though varied in social practices and interpretations. Bahá'ís teach that all religions are worshipping the same god who has appeared and will appear as a manifestation in human form, including Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha. Some Bahá'ís believe that Jesus was manifest as a babe in Bethlehem; yet already has returned as a reflection of god in the form of Bahá'u'lláh. These Bahá'ís are not looking for Jesus to return again.
“E and “EP”
I have been in phone and email contact with “E” of the Baha’i faith for several months. We finally met each other in person in Toronto. Her husband, “EP”, is a former Jew, and a practicing Baha’i for 45 years, and he also joined our conversations. We discussed our differing beliefs regarding the physical manifestations of Jesus, specifically regarding His anticipated return to Earth. Matthew 24:30 says, “And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (New Living Translation, underlined emphasis mine). I pointed out that I believe that all will see Him, not just a few.
“EP” told me that this would be a long conversation to talk about another time. I went to lunch with “E”, “EP”, and their daughter “A”. We enjoyed getting to know each other during lunch. A man named “S” asked to join us for lunch. He is a former Jew and has been a Baha’i for three years, while his wife and child continue in their Jewish traditions and beliefs. “EP” introduced me to “S” as an Evangelical Christian.
“S” asked me to convince him why my faith is true. I asked him if he believed that Jesus was a historical person, and he said that he does. I asked him to consider a quote from C.S. Lewis, “Jesus is a liar, a lunatic or really who He said He is” (Mere Christianity, 1952). I presented the idea that Jesus is God, not just a manifestation of God; therefore, when people argue that He was a good and moral teacher, His claim of being God has to be addressed. “S” believes that Jesus was fully human, but not Deity. He stated, “A painter can’t become its’ painted picture.”
We then moved onto whether Jesus was raised in physical form or spiritual form. John 2:19-21says, “…Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body” (NLT).
Steve knew where I was going to go with this, but unfortunately we were interrupted by another person wanting to talk to him. I got “S’s email, and we will continue this conversation. He also asked me to review a movie called The Gate, which was produced by the Bahá'ís. I am looking forward to dialoging more with him.
Another great conversation that I didn’t expect to have was with a Christian Scientist named “B”. I know very little about this faith, but I had the Holy Spirit there to guide me. We discussed the forgiveness of sins. I asked him if he was forgiven of all his sins and he told me that he is only forgiven of the sins that he has stopped. I looked at the booth to make sure that I was not at the Latter Day Saints (LDS) booth because these are very typical conversations word for word from LDS scripture. It saddens me to see that other religions teach there is not a complete forgiveness of all sins. I asked him to consider Hebrews 8:12 which says, “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins” (NLT). Brian told me that he would have to think about it, and he gave me his email so we can continue our conversation.
Community of Christ
Another great conversation that I had was with “J” who is a part of the Community of Christ, which is a Mormon denomination. He is a former LDS, and he became a part of the Community of Christ in 2010. He believes that Joseph Smith did not have gold plates that later became The Book of Mormon. He believes that Smith wrote the Book of Mormon in the 1800’s and that it is not ancient scripture or historical.
“J” makes a distinction between the historical Jesus and the theological Jesus. The historical Jesus was a great moral teacher while the Jesus of the Bible is more theological. “J” believes that the gospels are anonymous, and not really penned by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He believes it was created awhile after the historical Jesus. The good thing about “J” is that he believes that the Bible is accurate and intact today even though it may not be historical. That is a great place to start with showing everybody that the Bible is indeed, the infallible word of God.
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