I was raised in a Christian home, attended a church school, and attended churches of several denominations before becoming a Baha’i in 1979. I love expanding my understanding from my Christian heritage through the lens of the teachings of Baha’u’llah (1817-1892) the prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith – the fourth Abrahamic religion, along with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
I love Baha’u’llah’s assurance that God’s assistance to humankind is unending and is provided through the teachings of His Messengers. I love His assurance that all the world’s great religions are based on the same spiritual foundation but differ only in their religious practices and social teachings, which the Messengers of God have adaptively revealed to meet the needs and conditions of a particular Age in the evolution of human civilization on Earth. I love being confident, based on many years studying the extensive revelation of Baha’u’llah and the scriptures of other faiths, that Baha’u’llah’s claim to be the long awaited Return and the Manifestation of God for this Day is valid, and that His Message has been transforming human civilization for nearly 150 years and is ever renewing religion in the modern day.
I love Baha’u’llah’s teachings on the oneness of humankind, the oneness of God, and the oneness of religion. They give me hope that prejudices based on race, sex, religion, class, or national origin will progressively fade into the recesses of history.
I love the optimism of the Baha’is, based on Baha’u’llah’s revelation that the future of humankind is unimaginably glorious, that the present turmoil shall pass away , that universal justice shall prevail, and that the “most great peace shall come”.
I love the equal respect for science and religion in the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah teaches that science and religion provide paths to discovering the realities of the material and spiritual worlds, respectively. I take comfort in the corollary that science and religion ultimately must agree. Certainly there is ample evidence that science without religion leads to greed and materialism, that religion without science leads to ignorance and superstition, and that today’s societies are in varying degrees beset by both afflictions.
As a scientist and a Baha’i, I am inspired by Baha’u’llah’s affirmation of the independent investigation of truth. Today, technology is rapidly giving everyone access to the accumulated knowledge of the ages. It also brings into full view tyranny, injustice, materialism, and other spiritual pathologies of our times. Following the principle of independent investigation – always seeking to learn from the latest science and spiritual guidance from the most recent of God’s Messengers, I am better equipped to filter the chaff from the wheat by cultivating my capacities for both scientific and spiritual investigation.
I love the encouragement of my Faith to consult with people of all faiths, backgrounds and capacities to gain greater insights , while fine-tuning my intellectual and spiritual antennae for detecting narrow thinking and “hidden agendas”.
I love Baha’u’llah’s teaching that work is worship, and responding to His call to use my capacities with humility to better serve humankind.
I love the freedom to pursue my spiritual relationship with God, and to worship God unconstrained by religious dogma, ritual, and denominational hegemony.
I love the flowering of the arts being inspired by Baha’u’llah’s teachings, as exemplified by the beautiful Baha’i temples and gardens around the world.
I love the Baha’i model for administering human affairs based on spiritual principles that Baha’u’llah has revealed. I love our consultative decision making and electoral processes, which provide insights for dispelling the divisive and paralyzing politics of our day.
I love Baha’u’llah’s guidance on spiritual detachment and the nature of true wealth, which provide spiritual principles for transforming the world economy, eliminating the unsustainable disparity between the rich and the poor, mitigating our damage to the earth’s environment and fostering love and wise stewardship of God’s Creation.
Finally, I am humbled to belong to the global Baha’i community which is everywhere working toward the spiritual transformation of humankind. Like everyone, Baha’is face the challenges of living in dysfunctional and materialistic societies. Like everyone, we often stumble and fall. But, Baha’u’llah encourages us to welcome our tests as opportunities for spiritual growth in this earthly “soul school.” In this process. I draw strength every day from our long-suffering Baha’i brothers and sisters in Iran whose sacrifices under horrific religious persecution recalls the sufferings of early Christians, ensnared in the tyranny of Rome, whose steadfast faith and sacrifice heralded the spread of Christ’s healing message. As a Baha’i, I feel I am given a precious opportunity to participate in the renewal of the religion of God and to do my part in the process of building the Kingdom of God on Earth.
[William P. Gregg lives in Harpers Ferry, WV]