[1] its Relationship to Islam, Christanity, and Juaism: A

1 Nanni, Sandy Di,
2004. A Question of Failth: What is most Misunderstood about your Beliefs? Star Tribune, Mar 13.

2 Charles H. Lippy,
Peter w. Williams, “Encyclopedia of Religion in America” (Washinton, Dc,
CQpress, 2010) 221

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3 Charles H. Lippy,
Peter w. Williams, “Encyclopedia of Religion in America” (Washinton, Dc,
CQpress, 2010) 221-222

4 Charles H. Lippy,
Peter w. Williams, “Encyclopedia of Religion in America” (Washinton, Dc,
CQpress, 2010) 222

5 Charles H. Lippy,
Peter w. Williams, “Encyclopedia of Religion in America” (Washinton, Dc,
CQpress, 2010) 221-224

6 J. Gordon Melton
and Martin Bamann, “Religions of the World” (Santa Barbra, Ca, 2010)
274-275

7 Stockman, Robert.
“Progressive Revelation.” Progressive Revelation. 1995. Accessed November
29, 2017.
https://bahai-library.com/stockman_encyclopedia_progressive_revelation

8 Stockman, Robert.
“Progressive Revelation.” Progressive Revelation. 1995. Accessed November
29, 2017.
https://bahai-library.com/stockman_encyclopedia_progressive_revelation

9 Berry, Adam. “The
Baha’i Faith and its Relationship to Islam, Christanity, and Juaism: A Breif
History.” International Social Science
Review 79, no. ¾ (2004): 137-151. http://jstor.org/stable/41887188.

10 “Catechism of the Catholic
Church.” Catechism of the Catholic Church – Credo Chart. Accessed November
29, 2017.

11 J. Gordon Melton
and Martin Bamann, “Religions of the World” (Santa Barbra, Ca, 2010)
274-275

            The Baha’i religion is one that
seeks to unite the world. They want to unite the world under one religion,
language, and government.11
This religion is fundamentally different because of the belief in progressive
revelation. The Catholic faith I grew up in was a strict and controlling one.
Growing up I did not like religion and thought of it to control a group of
people. After attending the Baha’i church of Louisville, my eyes opened to a
different religion again. I enjoyed the way they practiced their faith and
thought they had an interesting new take on religion. I think this faith will
continue to grow in the upcoming years and appeal to more people.

Conclusion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

            The Baha’i faith and Catholic faith
are different in many ways. The main way being the idea of progressive
revelation the Baha’i faith believes in. This idea is troubling to most Catholics
just as the idea of a Holy Trinity is troubling to other religions. While these
religions have some marked differences, they do have some similarities. They both
believe in one God. This god is above all and can manifest himself in different
ways. For the Baha’i faith, this is in the form of different prophets such as
Buddha, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. For the Catholics, this form is through the
Holy Trinity.

            With a strict belief in one God, it
is hard to imagine that the Baha’i faith believes in progressive revelation. They
can believe in this because they describe these prophets as a different form
God takes. He takes these forms when the world needs a new or “updated”
prophet. This idea is troubling to many Catholics because they are of the belief
that the prophet sent from God was Jesus. He was born of the Virgin Mary and
came to tell people of Gods will. The Catholics believe he is the only prophet.
Other religions believe in other prophets such as the Jewish who believe that
Jesus was not the prophet. The Baha’i faith believes in all the prophets from
Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. They believe the most recent prophet is the
Bab or Baha’u’llah. He came down from God just as the others were to carry out
Gods new will and bring the religions into the new world.

            The similarity I found between the
Baha’i faith and the Catholic faith is the idea of one God. Both these
religions believe in one God. This God is all powerful and will come again
eventually to judge the living and the dead. When he comes they, both believe
this will mark the end of the world. While I was at the Baha’i place of worship,
they talked about the end of the world and when God comes back there will be
mass plagues and destruction. This is like the Catholic faith with the Bible
where Exodus explains the plague of darkness. At the end, there will be chaos
but if one believes in God they will be forgiven and brought up to heaven. While
both churches believe in an end where God comes again, there is a slight
difference in what they believe will happen. The Baha’i faith also believes
that there will be a world leader and peace brought to the world before God is
to come again.

            The Catholic faith is strict and
believes in one God. Even though they believe in the Holy Trinity, they only believe
this is one god. This trinity is three representations of one God and one
prophet, most people know this Holy Trinity as the Father, Son, and the Holy
Spirit. Similar to the Baha’i faith, they believe in one God. While they
believe in one God, they also believe there are multiple prophets and any time they
need a new religion based on a world crisis, there will be a new prophet that
comes about to solve these new issues. The Baha’i faith believes in all the
prophets before Baha’u’llah and believes that if Baha’u’llah is not the last
prophet to bring us to the end of the world, that there will be another prophet
and a new religion they will follow. With a prominent difference between these
two religions being the idea of progressive revelation, there is a similarity.

            The Baha’i faith is a progressive
faith. Since this faith is progressive and believes in all other faiths, there
are some similarities with the way the Baha’i faith meets, and is constructed. While
the Baha’i faith does have similarities it also has some differences. These
differences would include the idea of progressive revelation. In the Catholic
church, the idea of progressive revelation would be crippling to many.
Catholics believe in “one God, Father of the Almighty, maker of heaven and
earth, of all seen and unseen”10.  This means that Catholics only believe in one
God and there are no other prophets or holy people outside God and his trinity.
This idea of progressive revelation is the opposite of what Catholic people
believe. While Catholics do not believe in the idea of progressive revelation,
they do still believe God manifests himself in other ways. They do not believe in
the form of different prophets and the belief in the Holy Trinity.

Part IV: Comparative Theology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            If this idea of progressive
revelation is what the Baha’i faith has set out to prove, the world has not yet
accepted it. Many areas of the world, including the US and Canada, have a large
following of the Baha’i people. Other places in the world are not as including.
Many parts of the middle eat still do not like the teaching of the Baha’i
faith. Progressive revelation is an idea that has set out to include all
religions and people. This idea is to encompass all religions by educating all,
and by bringing the world together under one religion, government and language.
The Baha’i faith wanted to “normalize a faith and combine factors to explain
the development of all faiths”9.
Progressive revelation is one way a religion wants to encompass everyone and be
inclusive towards all people.

            The idea of progressive revelation is
complicated because many will say the Baha’i faith wants to get rid of other
religions. It is, in fact, the opposite. The Baha’i faith is all encompassing
of all other religions. Since they believe that their faith came from other
faiths, they tend to mix different parts of religions. The Baha’i library says
that “all religions ultimately can be traced back to God asserts a fundamental
unity and continuity of the religions”. With the progressive revelation, the
Baha’i faith will take teachings from many other religions. From Christianity,
they take the marriage and divorce laws of Moses. The Baha’i faith tends to use
progressive revelation as a framework for their religion. They believe that all
parts of religion are relevant in explaining the world and the Baha’i faith is
the current religion. During my meeting with the Baha’i faith of Louisville,
they even stated that if this is not the last and end religion, eventually
there will be a new prophet sent from God to help with the new problems of the
world.

            The Baha’i faith believes in
something called progressive revelation. This was previously discussed in other
sections of the paper. Progressive revelation is one of an ever-changing and
progressing world. The Baha’i library says revelation is part of the world, so
it must develop and change. All religions can merge into one another. The
example is given starts with Abraham who focused his mission on the teaching of
God. Then Moses who could show existence of one God and show laws between God
and society. Thirdly, Muhammad who could integrate the holistic system and
social system to the divine. Finally, there is the Baha’u’llah teaching which
updated the personal and social aspects of religion for a modern age.8
This is the exact reason the Baha’i people believe in progressive revelation.
As time progresses, things become outdated. One of those is religion. When I went
to the Baha’i worship place in Louisville, they explained it by saying, “we
wouldn’t use an iPhone one and expect it to be able to do all the things the
iPhone X does would we?” They say that with the world becoming more modern and
updating, we need a way to update our religion. We update religion with
progressive revelation. When one religion becomes “outdated”, God sends yet
another prophet to fulfill his wishes. This will enable the world to solve the
current problems we face.

            The main way the Baha’i religion is
pursued is through practices of “prayer, meditation, fasting and sacrificial
services”5.
This religion is expressed in many ways since it believes all religions are
essentially the same. They have a daily prayer conducted in solitude, a month
of fasting to cultivate self-restraint and thankfulness during the month of March
2nd through the 20th, they abstain from alcohol, and have
holy days that they worship throughout the year. The Baha’i faith has different
parts of their religion that set it apart from others. First, they want to have
all “children educated with the spiritual importance of work, and consorting
with people in friendliness and fellowship. Second, they want to have a world
governing system and a selection of an international auxiliary language”6. The
Baha’i faith wants the world united under one religion but would like the world
to realize the Baha’i religion is the newest of God prophets and the other
religions are all part of the newest one7.

               After attending the Baha’i place of worship in
Louisville, I found some similarities and differences. The main part of this
church that interested me to research more was this idea of progressive
revelation. According to Nanni, “the Baha’i faith teaches there is only one God
who is the source of all creation and that God leaves not his children
comfortless, but when the darkness of winter overshadows them, then again, he
sends his messengers, and the prophets, with renewal of the blessed spring” 1.
This means they believe all religions came from the one God and when the world
needs a new religion, God will send down another prophet. The Baha’i faith is
one of a new belief. They came about during the last 200 years and believe
Baha’u’llah is the new prophet of God. They do not deny any other religions but
think they may be outdated in a way. The Baha’i faith believes that a new
religion will come about when there is a problem in the world that the current
religions cannot solve. This will cause a new prophet with a new religious
belief. Baha’u’llah said, “there are two different aspects of religion, a
spiritual one and a social one”2.
Later this article states the spiritual aspect of religion is where God reveals
himself to human beings and gives them ways of worshiping him3. The social aspect is
slightly different because it encompasses the “urgent
communal and ethical problems that are different in each age and culture”4.
This is where God would send different messengers to the world to show how to
solve the problems presented to the world at the time. This explains why the
Baha’i belief is all about progressive revelation. When the world has a new
problem that cannot be explained or solved with current religion, God will have
another manifestation to explain the future.

Part III: Research

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            After attending this service, I was pleasantly surprised.
The people there were very kind and inviting. They did not want to persuade me
to believe what they do, and they wanted to know more about what I believed.
This was a very open and relaxed experience. The people at this center were
open and inviting and I think I would go back to visit sometime with them. I
think it would also be beneficial to go to the 200th-anniversary
party they are having to see how they all worship Baha’u’llah differently. The concept
of progressive revelation is not something I had ever heard of before and think
it would be interesting to learn more about.

            The service lasted about an hour after which they have a
small discussion part. This was a time to ask questions about the service or
share about how you interpreted the service. I chose not to ask questions or
how I felt because I wanted to see how the regulars at this place of worship
performed this. Finally, after the discussion time is over, the children came
down from upstairs, and they all get together and share food and drink. During
the food and drink period, the director set me up with a young woman who has
been a part of the service for some time. She could explain more to me about Baha’i,
how it started, and what this 200th anniversary is. During her
explanation, she gave me some ideas on what to write about. She was very nice
and interested in why I was there. She said the best thing to write about would
either be their founder Baha’u’llah or the topic of progressive
revelation.  After we finished talking,
she gave me her number and email so I can show her my final paper.

            During the service, they had a guest speaker who came and
did the service. He began his service explaining what exactly Baha’i religion
is. He later explained how this religion, while monotheistic, believes that all
religion is part of one greater religion and all of them have been given to us
at different times of needs. When a new religion appears, it is because the one
greater God is manifesting himself into a new person. They call this
progressive revelation. They believe that all religions have a purpose at one time.
That purpose is to help the people who are in need. The Baha’i religion
believes that all people are equal, men and women of all races and religions
are equal. This is where a big part of the following came from. Unfortunately, they
think this religion came about because of a time of need, so other religions
are not needed anymore. This can cause some anger with people who practice
other religions. They do not think other religions are not real or not
necessary, but they believe that Baha’i came because God is speaking to a
different person now. They later explained that even this religion will stop
and a new one forms when God chooses a new person to speak through in a time of
need. During our discussion at the library, I asked various questions about
this progressive revelation and eventually, they asked one of the members to
explain it more to me. Once it was 11 o’clock, the service started.

The
religion I chose to explore is the Baha’i faith. It is in Louisville and this
worship center was very small. When I arrived at the place of worship, the
people there were overwhelming with the welcoming they do. As I walked in the
door they offered coffee or water and the people there kept telling me to make
myself at home. They were extremely welcoming and friendly. Once settled in,
the director of this place of worship sat down and talked to me in the library.
We discussed the origin of this place and how they came about with their
religion. I came at a special time because in a few weeks on October 21st,
the 200th anniversary of the Baha’i faith and their leader
Baha’u’llah was celebrated. On the 21st of October, they will have a
special celebration at The University of Louisville. They gave me an invitation
and explained that it was open to all people. At this ceremony, there will be a
small service with dancing, food, and drinks. They explained to me that this is
one big birthday party for Baha’u’llah. At this specific place of worship, they
offer all kinds of small faith groups, children groups, youth groups, and even
a worship cooking class. During the service, the children go upstairs and they
go through a children’s version of the service. They explained to me about the
cooking worship class later in the service. They said it is basically a class
where people go to cook with friends and talk about their various worships.

Part II: Narrative of Experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing up with one specific religion can make people
biased towards that religion. For me, it did the opposite. I am always
interested in learning new things and gaining a new knowledge. When I meet
someone of a different religion, I tend to ask questions. I want to know their
stories and how they came to believe in what they do. Learning new religions
and understanding people instead of judging them is a way to make new friends
and gain a better view of the world and the people in it. I am excited for the opportunity
to go to another type of religion and see who and what they worship. This might
help me to learn how I understand God and gain the knowledge of how others view
and understand God.

Growing up in a strict Catholic family kept me
sheltered from other religions. I grew up in a white suburban community where
almost all my friends were Catholic or a Catholic denomination. This kept me in
a small worldview of religions. I have always been interested in other religions
and how they view the world. Since I do not know many other religions or what
they practice, I have always been interested in learning about them. I think
usually having a small worldview of religions is usually thought of as poor or
in some way bad, but I think for me it is good. It gives me a chance to explore
other religions and learn about why people follow them and what exactly they
believe. Going to another religious ceremony to me is exciting because I have
always wondered what other religions think and how they came to those thoughts.

I think the strong forceful church-going as a child
pushed me more away from the church then brought me closer to it. I still
identify as Catholic, but I do not practice or go to church. Currently, I
follow most of the Catholic holidays. When I go home for winter break we still
celebrate Christmas and we celebrate Easter, but I do not follow all the
Catholic rules that go along with those religions. For Easter, I do not abide
by any of the rules for lent including not eating meat on Friday and giving
something up. I never really did it when I was little either because I do not
eat fish, so when we would go to fish fries I would not eat. As of today, I do
still do not give anything up or stop eating meat on Fridays during lent. I do
go to church with my mother on Easter day and Christmas day to make her happy.

As I neared the age of confirmation, I finally got a
choice of if I wanted to do it or not. Even though it seemed like a decision I
could make, my mother and father were pushing me to get confirmed. The more
they pushed the less I wanted to do it. I had seen one ceremony before and I
did not think it was for me, so I chose not to get confirmed. After that choice,
I strayed away from the church more. I stopped going with my family because I
did not see the point. In high school, my mom decided we had to go to church at
least twice a year, Christmas and Easter. Still to this day I do not attend
church regularly. I prefer to go twice a year with my mother.

Currently, religion has been a hard topic for me to
wrap my mind around. Growing up I would have considered myself Catholic. My
father was Catholic and my mother was Protestant but converted to Catholicism
for my father. Both my parents were very religious and went to church every
Sunday. For as long as I can remember, my sister and I would be taken to church
every Sunday and of course on religious holidays. At first, we both, my sister
and I, thought the church was a fun experience. We got together with friends
and would color while the priest talked about the Bible and how we should live.
Being a child at church was not a big deal for us, but as we got older we
started to not enjoy church as much. As I grew out of my coloring phase, my dad
made us memorize what to say and when to say it. I did a better job of this
than my sister did because I wanted to please my father. Next, we were forced
into CCD classes. My father would teach most of them and we could not get out
of them. Going once a week was a form of punishment for us. My sister and I did
not find an interest in it but we needed to complete our first communion. Then
we realized we had to go in front of the church and remember what to do and
say, but we both got through it and we thought the worst was over. Every Sunday
became a fight if we were going to church or not. I was not interested in
church like my mother and father were and did not understand why we had to go.
In my mind, Jesus would not mind if we went to church or not. He was all-knowing
so why do I have to go to church to prove to him I believed?

Part I: Religious Autobiography

A CHANGE IN RELIGION: THE IDEA OF PROGRESSIVE
REVELATION