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Original Sin (12:0)

In the Bible it is written that God put Adam in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and take care of it, and said to Him: "Eat of every tree of the garden except the tree of good and evil, for if You eat of that, You will die."' Then it is said that God caused Adam to sleep, and He took one of His ribs and created woman in order that she might be His companion. After that it is said the serpent induced the woman to eat of the tree, saying: "God has forbidden you to eat of the tree in order that your eyes may not be opened, and that you may not know good from evil." Then Eve ate from the tree and gave unto Adam, Who also ate; their eyes were opened, they found themselves naked, and they hid their bodies with leaves. In consequence of this act they received the reproaches of God. God said to Adam: "Hast Thou eaten of the forbidden tree?" Adam answered: "Eve tempted Me, and I did eat." God then reproved Eve; Eve said: "The serpent tempted me, and I did eat." For this the serpent was cursed, and enmity was put between the serpent and Eve, and between their descendants. And God said: "The man is become like unto Us, knowing good and evil, and perhaps He will eat of the tree of life and live forever." So God guarded the tree of life (saq 122:2) (12:1) see

If we take this story in its apparent meaning, according to the interpretation of the masses, it is indeed extraordinary. The intelligence cannot accept it, affirm it, or imagine it; for such arrangements, such details, such speeches and reproaches are far from being those of an intelligent man, how much less of the Divinity-- that Divinity Who has organized this infinite universe in the most perfect form, and its innumerable inhabitants with absolute system, strength and perfection (saq 123:1) (12:2) see

A Christian Fable (12:3)

The legend of the "Downfall of man" (see note '17'), depicted as a sinful condition imposed upon him from birth through no fault of his own, from which he can only be redeemed by 'faith' in the historical Jesus, is based largely on the verses in Romans chapter 5 - which on the surface may suggest a linear progression from the fall of Adam to the naive attempt by Abraham and Moses to redeem humanity through the Law, to the final redemption via the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross - but this view contains some obvious logical problems, not the least of which are found within the Bible itself, some of which are independently reported by Christian sources (see note '03'). [-ed] (12:4) 17 03

In spite of the widespread acceptance of this belief, many Christians and non-Christians alike find it reprehensible, even blasphemous, to attribute such a thing to a loving and caring God - insisting that no caring person, even, would consign a baby to eternal punishment in hell fire should it die before being baptized - as would be everyone living before the time of Jesus and all who died having never heard of him. [-ed] (12:5)

According to Paul, "spiritual things" of the Bible cannot be understood without "spiritual discernment" (1co 2:13-14). This has historically made interpretation very difficult, not only because there are a multitude of Bible passages which are difficult to explain spiritually, but because they are also clearly contradictory when viewed physically. Additionally, all the books were "sealed" to proper understanding until Christ returned to "unseal" them (note '47'), and attempts undertaken to interpret these and other passages have contributed to the establishment of literally thousands of Christian denominations. Now, however, in our age, the books have been "unsealed" (rev 5:5), and it is relatively easy to understand the Bible passages. It can be seen that the spiritual / symbolic passages of the Bible have historically been interpreted incorrectly as physical. In the case of Original Sin, the troublesome verses were combined with the separate story of Adam & Eve to create a legend of profound implications for the followers of Christianity. [-ed] (12:6) 47 see

They say that Adam disobeyed the command of God and partook of the fruit of the forbidden tree, thereby committing a sin which was transmitted as a heritage to His posterity. They teach that because of Adam's sin all His descendants have, likewise, committed transgression and have become responsible through inheritance; that, consequently, all mankind deserves punishment and must make retribution; and that God sent forth His Son as a sacrifice in order that man might be forgiven and the human race delivered from the consequences of Adam's transgression. (pup 449:2) (12:7) see

We wish to consider these statements from the standpoint of reason. Could we conceive of the Divinity, Who is Justice itself, inflicting punishment upon the posterity of Adam for Adam's own sin and disobedience? Even if we should see a governor, an earthly ruler punishing a son for the wrongdoing of his father, we would look upon that ruler as an unjust man. Granted the father committed a wrong, what was the wrong committed by the son? There is no connection between the two. Adam's sin was not the sin of His posterity, especially as Adam is a thousand generations back of the man today. If the father of a thousand generations committed a sin, is it just to demand that the present generation should suffer the consequences thereof? (pup 449:3). (12:8) see

There are other questions and evidences to be considered. Abraham was a Manifestation of God and a descendant of Adam; likewise, Ishmael, Isaac, Jeremiah and the whole line of prophets including David, Solomon and Aaron were among His posterity. Were all these holy men condemned to a realm of punishment because of a deed committed by the first father, because of a mistake said to have been made by their mutual and remotest ancestor Adam? The explanation is made that when Christ came and sacrificed Himself, all the line of holy Prophets who preceded Him became free from sin and punishment. Even a child could not justly make such an assertion. These interpretations and statements are due to a misunderstanding of the meanings of the Bible." ('Abdu'l-Baha) (pup 449:4). (12:9) see

Alternatives - to Original Sin: (12:10)

From 'Abdul-Baha: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1co 15:22) "Adam is the cause of man's physical life; but the reality of Christ - that is to say, the Word of God - is the cause of spiritual life.. But the mass of the Christians believe that, as Adam ate of the forbidden tree, He sinned in that He disobeyed, and that the disastrous consequences of this disobedience have been transmitted as a heritage and have remained among His descendants. Hence Adam became the cause of the death of humanity. This explanation is unreasonable and evidently wrong, for it means that all men, even the Prophets and the Messengers of God.. have become without reason guilty sinners." (saq 120) (12:11) see

From Bahá'u'lláh: O Son of Spirit! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created." (hwd 9:2) (12:12) see

Humans are inherently noble: "A mine rich in gems of inestimable value" (tbh 161:3) We can choose to polish these gems and express our true nature, or we can ignore our true selves and fall into degradation. Bahá'ís consider the Bible divine, and believe that there is a deeper meaning to the verses which support the Christian idea of original sin.. (12:13) see

From Harper's Bible Dictionary: "There is no passage in the Bible that directly teaches such a doctrine. Paul (rom 5:12) related the sinful condition of the human race to the original transgression of Adam, insisting at the same time, however, that the result of sin (death) "spread to all people" not simply because of Adam's sin but "because all people sinned. (Harper's p. 955)[-ed] (12:14) see

From the Bible: "a son who sees all the sins which his father has done.. and does not do likewise.. he shall not die for his father's iniquity.." (eze 18:14-17) (12:15) see

"The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father.. the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." (eze 18:19-20) (12:16) see

"The righteous judgment of God.. will render to every man according to his deeds." (rom 2:5-6) (12:17) see

The Bahá'í interpretation of Paul's story affirms what Paul said, that we were re-created in the likeness of Christ through a mercy which required the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and this was the meaning of Jesus when he claimed to fulfill the Law in its entirety. (12:18)

"It is often difficult to have a discussion with Christians: not only because they are split up into many schools of thought and belief, and because everything to do with Christianity is a matter for multiple dispute within the Churches; but above all because their eye for the parallels in religious history is blurred by their sense of uniqueness and exclusiveness and their belief that the Christians are a "chosen people." This prevents any real insight into the facts. (ls 60:2) (12:19) see

The originality of a religion.. lies less in the proclamation of new ideas never thought of before than in the impulses transforming men and women, in the creative, formative power of the word of God and in the judgment on the superseded religions.. Early Christianity and Islam in particular are testimonies to these impulses, which are behind religious concepts and imperatives both new and old. The ideas alone could not have produced the victorious campaign through which these religions conquered the world." (ls 61:1) (12:20) see

What about the resulting attitude of modern Christians toward their fellow religions: "Can sympathy and deep understanding be expected from a church.. for a phenomenon which claims to be a revelation of God to mankind and therefore seems to rival the Christianity represented by the Church? Merely to ask the question is to answer in the negative. Someone who is accustomed to think only in the hidebound categories of a dogmatic system that demands exclusiveness, someone who throughout his life has inveighed even against other Christian denominations, directly they deviate from his credal dogmas, can certainly be expected to give a rigid "no" when challenged from outside. Churchmen just cannot see the rival great religions as other than "lies" or at best as attempts at self-redemption which are human and therefore doomed to failure, as tissues of truth, half-truth, error, superstition, illusion and charlatanry, as.. a mass of "general religious concepts and general human hopes and expectations"-- in short as an amalgam of disparate elements. This blindness is a fact which has to be accepted.." (ls 56:1) (12:21) see

".. Bahá'u'lláh teaches (that) all the revealed religions are of divine origin and there is therefore an essential unity between the religions, if the revelation of God is a cyclically recurring, progressive process, if the purpose of revelation has always been the same, the education of the human race, then there can be no essential contradictions between the religions on questions about the purpose of their revelations. For God does not contradict Himself." (ls 86:1) (12:22) see

"If religions contradict each other on questions independent of the turn of events on earth and the development of man and society, the contradictions go back to the individual centrifugal developments which all religions have been through, to the erosions of history. The criterion of judgment will always be the most recent revelation of God. For the purification of the religions is one reason, among others, why whenever it has pleased God, "the gates of mercy have been opened" "till the end which has no end. " God Himself reforms, by speaking again to mankind at the end of a cycle of revelation. That is why the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh is at the same time a judgment on the old religions. It is, as he testifies, "the right path" whereby "truth shall be distinguished from error and the wisdom of every command shall be tested. " It separates the thorns and thistles from the grain, the true and authentic from the untrue and false, the pure divine teaching from the human additions and misunderstandings: "Verily, the day of ingathering is come, and all things have been separated from each other. He hath stored away that which He chose in the vessels of justice, and cast into fire that which befitteth it. " (Bahá'u'lláh- Tablet to Pope Pius Ix) (ls 86:2) (12:23) see

And that "Through his sacrifice we were saved, not through our own merits, but through the grace of God. We were freed from the law which kept us under the weight of sin, and death." (see mat 5:17-18 and rom 7:4-6) (12:24) see

As stated above, on the surface these teachings suggest a linear progression from the fall of Adam, to the final redemption via the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. However, there are alternate conclusions to be made. Consider the following story told by Jesus: (12:25)

"Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame. ' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us. ' And he said, 'Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father's house- for I have five brothers- that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment. ' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. ' But he said, 'No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' But he said to him, 'if they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead." (luk 16:22-31) (12:26) see

It is clear from this passage that before the time of Jesus, there was already a distinction between Hades (Hell), the place where the rich man was consigned, and a heavenly place where Lazarus was consigned. (12:27)

So how are these contradictory ideas of salvation, 'being reliant on a specific event in history', as opposed to the above account of 'salvation which happened well before the time of Jesus'? Most Christians place an enormous emphasis on the historical Jesus, even though Jesus stated that the "Christ" has been around for eternity. (12:28)

"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad". The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am". (joh 8:56-58) (12:29) see

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. " (joh 1:1-5) (12:30) see

This passage clearly establishes Christ as an eternal spiritual presence. One that was around long before Jesus' body was ever born into the world. His life, which was evident in the original Word, was also the light of men from the very beginning. (12:31)

God is "Spirit" and "Love". (12:32)

"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. " (joh 4:24) (12:33) see

"The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. " (1jo 4:8) (12:34) see

It makes sense to view the "Christ" in much the same manner. (12:35)

Here is one logical way to understand the historical nature and redeeming act of Jesus in the context of the eternal nature of "Christ" and "Spirit". Consider the following explanation given by Bahá'u'lláh on the nature of the prophets and manifestations of God. (12:36)

"It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in divers attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold Them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith. Such is the unity of those Essences of Being, those Luminaries of infinite and immeasurable splendor! Wherefore, should one of these Manifestations of Holiness proclaim saying: "I am the return of all the Prophets," He, verily, speaketh the truth. In like manner, in every subsequent Revelation, the return of the former Revelation is a fact, the truth of which is firmly established'. (gwb 153:1). (12:37) see

The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation, and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfills a definite mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation. Even as He saith: "Some of the Apostles We have caused to excel the others. To some God hath spoken, some He hath raised and exalted. And to Jesus, Son of Mary, We gave manifest signs, and We strengthened Him with the Holy Spirit."(gwb 52:2). (12:38) see

It is because of this difference in their station and mission that the words and utterances flowing from these Well Springs of Divine knowledge appear to diverge and differ. Otherwise, in the eyes of them that are initiated into the mysteries of Divine wisdom, all their utterances are, in reality, but the expressions of one Truth. As most of the people have failed to appreciate those stations to which We have referred, they, therefore, feel perplexed and dismayed at the varying utterances pronounced by Manifestations that are essentially one and the same." (gwb 53:1) [please read note '43'] (12:39) 43 see

Progressive Revelation:. (12:40)

Bahá'ís believe that, in reality, there is only one religion which has been renewed and expanded throughout history. In this "Progressive Revelation", core spiritual messages have remained the same, but conceptual frameworks and social laws have been changed to meet the social needs of each era. (12:41)

Jesus himself spoke of progressive revelation using the parable of the wineskins: "No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. " (luk 5:36-38) (12:42) see

Understanding progressive revelation from a biblical point of view requires a deeper understanding of the concept of original sin. We should first consider the meaning of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, as it is presented in the Gospels. Paul gives us a useful place to start. (12:43)

"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. " (rom 6:4-9) (12:44) see

What does it mean to 'die with Christ' in order to live with him? Paul is constructive in this train of thought. He clearly distinguishes between the 'heavenly' body and the 'earthly' body."But someone will say, how are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come? You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own... There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. " (1co 15:35-40) (12:45) see

The earthly body must be "united with Him in the likeness of His death", so that the spiritual body can be raised "in the likeness of His resurrection". (12:46)

"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body, if there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. " (1co 15:42-44) (12:47) 36 see

It was clearly not the physical body of Jesus that was raised (as the Gospels seem to suggest and as many Christians believe), but His spiritual body - which was then manifested in the early Christian community. (12:48)

So who was Adam in this story? According to Paul, Adam represents man's physical nature, the part that must be sown. Jesus the Christ represents the spiritual nature, the part that must be resurrected. (12:49)

"The first Man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam (Jesus) became a life-giving spirit. However the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven, heavenly. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. And just as we have born the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. " (1co 15:45-50) (12:50) see

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