Proving infallibility

Someone asked of Bahá’u’lláh: But as I have gone over and over the issue of His infallibility in my mind, I cannot see any way to derive a belief in it that is not circular.

If you examine only His statement of infallibility, it is circular. It’s no more proof than if I said so.

He states “His own person” as the reason for true belief. During the latter 1800s, this meant visiting Bahá’u’lláh Himself, and hearing His voice. This was the basis of belief for many early Bahá’ís, who could neither read nor write. In “Gleanings” Bahá’u’lláh writes:

… His (God’s) Manifestation can adduce no greater proof of the truth of His Mission than the proof of His own Person.1

After His passing, there remain two elements of “His own person”: the record of His deeds, and His writings. I myself am sceptical of historical record, so I turn to the depth of His writings for ample testimony that He is no plain author. There is too much consistency over a long period, no backtracking, no revising of theories that became outmoded as the years passed. But these are just what impressed me.

Question: Do you believe Bahá’u’lláh was literally omniscient?

He describes Himself in these terms:

… this Servant regardeth Himself as utterly lost and as nothing, even beside one of the beloved of God, how much less in the presence of His holy ones.

That is what He thought of Himself, as Mirzá Husayn-`Alí. But even as a book speaks the mind of its author – more than just ink and paper – so the Will of God was revealed by Bahá’u’lláh. In Him, and His words and actions, divine purpose was made incarnate. To emphasize this station, He wrote the following:

The essence of belief in Divine unity consisteth in regarding Him Who is the Manifestation of God and Him Who is the invisible, the inaccessible, the unknowable Essence as one and the same. By this is meant that whatever pertaineth to the former, all His acts and doings, whatever He ordaineth or forbiddeth, should be considered, in all their aspects, and under all circumstances, and without any reservation, as identical with the Will of God Himself. This is the loftiest station to which a true believer in the unity of God can ever hope to attain. Blessed is the man that reacheth this station, and is of them that are steadfast in their belief.2

You might say it is a question of being. To say Bahá’u’lláh is equal with God can mean several things, some of them true, some of them false. Consider when I pick up the telephone. It’s my brother calling. Now a young child asks, “Is that your brother?” I say, “Yes”. But what if he were asking about the plastic and machinery itself?

Bahá’u’lláh disregarded His own flesh, and proclaimed it dust. He said the same is true of all men. What is real about us is our spirit, the virtues we embody, and our faith. Well, when they bury me, it’s not me they’re putting in the box. So which am I? The man, or what animates the man? Bahá’u’lláh was a man just like you and I. But what animated Him was of a different order altogether.

  1. Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p. 49

  2. ibid, p. 167