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JoAnn Borovicka

JoAnn's Blog

Welcome to my blog! Here you will find short reflections, connections I've noticed that I'd like to pursue in future research, and various items that have caught my attention related to Bahá'i studies and Christian scholarship.

 

You are welcome to send me your comments at JoAnnBorovicka@gmail.com.

By JoAnn Borovicka, Apr 1 2017 08:44PM

I am struck with how effectively the Gospel of John drives home the foundational religious truth of unity in diversity in its very first line: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word is at once God and with God, this is mystical relationship. It states that the essence of creation, from the beginning, is all about relationship. If I look for it, this unity in diversity I can find it throughout the gospels. Some scholars (such as Richard Rohr) call it “moral equivalency.”


• There is a mystical unity between the Manifestation of God and God: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

• There is a mystical unity between the Manifestation of God and “others.” Jesus says, “Whatever you do to others, you do to me” (Matthew 25:40).

• There is a mystical unity between any person and every other person: “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

• And there is a mystical unity between any person and God: “The Spirit is within you” (John 14:17). Human and divine, matter and spirit, operate in unity.


One thing I take away from this is that, in this mystical unity, in this world of creation based on divine relationship, love is one fabric: how I love others is how I love myself and God; how I love God is how I love others and myself; how I love myself is how I love God and others.


This mystical relationship based on unity in diversity is taught again and again in the Baha’i Writings. ‘Abdu’l-Baha states, “All parts of the creational world are part of one whole”, “one laboratory of might”, “The organization of God is one; the evolution of existence is one; the divine system is one” (Some Answered Questions, pp. 182, 199).


By JoAnn Borovicka, Apr 1 2017 07:31PM

I feel like the following passages from Shoghi Effendi are important to consider while reflecting on the station of Jesus Christ in the Baha’i Faith.


At first we have what may seem like a paradox. Shoghi Effendi states, “The Revelation identified with Bahá’u’lláh abrogates unconditionally all the Dispensations gone before it” (God Passes By, p. 100). Yet in another passage Shoghi Effendi states, “The Revelation, of which Bahá’u’lláh is the source and center, abrogates none of the religions that have preceded it” (World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 57-58). Past Dispensations are abrogated, past religions are not abrogated. What is the difference between “Dispensations” and “religions”?


The dictionary definition of dispensation is “a system of rule or governance,” So Shoghi Effendi’s use of “Dispensation” could refer to those Ecclesiastical systems that evolved in every past religion (not designed by any of the past Manifestations). “Dispensation” could also refer to the social laws of past religions (that were designed by the Manifestations). Baha’u’llah abrogated both the man-made Ecclesiastical systems and the divinely ordained social laws of the past.


A study of Shoghi Effendi’s letters indicates that by “religion” he is referring to “the eternal verities” “enshrined” in Revelations of the past; these “eternal verities,” he states, the Baha’i Faith “upholds uncompromisingly” (God Passes By, p. 100). In another passage he states “The Faith standing identified with the name of Bahá’u’lláh disclaims any intention . . . to abrogate the fundamentals of their doctrines, to discard any of their revealed Books, or to suppress the legitimate aspirations of their adherents” (The Promised Day is Come p. 108). So it is the eternal verities, the fundamental spiritual doctrines, as he says, “the religions” that are not abrogated. Nor are the “revealed Books” discarded.


The “Oneness of religion” as a fundamental principle of the Faith is easy to state, but I think that it is an infinitely complicated and advanced concept that we are just barely beginning to grasp, and that this teaching: “The Revelation, of which Bahá’u’lláh is the source and center, abrogates none of the religions that have preceded it” (World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 57-58) needs more study and celebration. In a Bahá’í reflection on the station of Jesus Christ, I think it would be important to keep in mind that the “religion” of Jesus Christ—as distinct from the various systems of rule that arose around it—has never been abrogated.


Valley of the Doves - Northern Israel
Valley of the Doves - Northern Israel