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Bahai Soteriology

Bahai Soteriology

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Published by BVILLAR
Dimensions of Bahā’ī Soteriology: Some Notes on the Bahā’ī theology of the Salvific and Redemptive role of Bahā'-Allāh
Dimensions of Bahā’ī Soteriology: Some Notes on the Bahā’ī theology of the Salvific and Redemptive role of Bahā'-Allāh

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Published by: BVILLAR on Oct 08, 2009
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07/02/2010

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Dimensions of Bahā’ī Soteriology: Some Notes on theBahā’ī theology of the Salvific and Redemptive role of Bahā'-Allāh._____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Stephen Lambden.
 Turn to me and you are saved, all ends of theearth!As I am God and God alone, I swear by myself.. . that every kneeshall bow to me, and every tongue swearloyalty (Isa. 45:22-23.). . . the rules of my religion I send forth tolight up every nation (Isa. 2:4.)I now appoint you to bring light to thenations, that my salvation may reach theworld's end” (Isa. 49:6.) The word soteriology (Gk. sozein = "to save"; soter ="saviour", "deliverer"; soteria, "salvation") indicates thetheology of the redemption and salvation of human beings. InChristian terms it is that part of systematic theology which"seeks to interpret the saving work of Jesus Christ" (Hopper,1992:452). While Christology indicates the doctrinerespecting that Galilean messianic claimant viewed bymillions as Jesus the Christ (fl. 1
st
cent CE) and variouslyestimated as being human yet "God"-divine, soteriology hasto do with the saving work, status and influence of JesusChrist. Soteriology encompasses such doctrines as atonement(loosely), the salvific consequences Christ's death on thecross and its effect on the past and future status of "sinful"individuals. This is related to the doctrine of justification
 
which has to do with God's act of declaring or makingsomebody "righteous" through the "righteousness" of Christ"and to that of sanctification (Lat. sanctificare) the making of someone pure or holy. Closely related are questions includethose of “repentance”, "sin" and the "forgiveness of sin", themeans of grace and man's final individual destiny whichconstitutes personal eschatology.These above and related concerns and teachings arecentral to the faith and attendant theology of manyChristians. Bahā'īs, in communicating their own religion, theirown "theology" of the (Per.)
maẓhar-i ilāhī 
(“DivineManifestation” / “Divine Theophany”), have done little toarticulate Bahā’ī soteriological teachings. In Bahā’ī dialoguethe relationship of the seeking individual to God is oftencompletely bypassed in favour of a listing of socio-economicperspectives and global solutions to world problems which(important though they are) bypass the very richsoteriological and related Bahā’ī doctrines. The latterdoctrines pertain to and highlight the importance of theabiding search for individual spirituality and intellectualintegrity within and without the universe of -Bahā'īdiscourse.In presenting their religion to the general public,contemporary Bahā’īs have generally neglected soteriologicalscriptural texts. The personal relationship of the individual
 
with God through Bahā’-Allāh and the interior dimensions of the Way to God, are not often in the forefront of Ba’īreligious proclamation. What Baha’-Allāh has accomplishedfor collective or individual salvation, for the redemption of humankind is not frequently articulated even though Baha’-Allāh himself frequently voiced these teachings ininnumerable scriptural alwāḥ (“Tablets”) addressed to a widevariety of individuals, groups and nations. For severaldecades, presentations of Bahā’ī doctrine have frequentlybeen impersonal and socio-economically oriented; somewhatsoulless and lacking in the mystical. Varieties of the `twelveprinciples(important thought they undoubtedly are) areoften selectively set forth in a depersonalized manner.
[1] 
This is unfortunate. Bahā’ī theological issues need much morescholarly attention.Ba’ī dialogue sometimes appears too cerebral orimpersonal. The desire not to appear "evangelical" or to actlike "born-again" Christian preachers has consciously orunconsciously left many western Bahā’ī communities unableto highlight the theology of the inner path of the individual.There is, a good deal in Bahā’ī sacred scripture that bearsupon the question of individual and collective salvation. Thepurpose of these notes will be to highlight and in a tentativemanner explore some neglected soteriological-theologicalareas of Bahā’ī scholarship.

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