A new version of the Bahá’í Reference Library is now available. This ‘old version’ of the Bahá’í Reference Library will be replaced at a later date.

The new version of the Bahá’i Reference Library can be accessed here »

One Common Faith

  • Author:
  • Bahá’í World Centre

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í World Centre, 2005 edition
  • Pages:
  • 56
Go to printed page GO
Pages 53-56

“One of the distinguishing features of modernity has been the universal…”

One of the distinguishing features of modernity has been the universal awakening of historical consciousness. An outcome of this revolutionary change in perspective that greatly enhances the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh’s message is the ability of people, given the chance, to recognize that the whole body of humanity’s sacred texts places the drama of salvation itself squarely in the context of history. Beneath the surface language of symbol and metaphor, religion, as the scriptures reveal it, operates not through the arbitrary dictates of magic but as a process of fulfilment unfolding in a physical world created by God for that purpose.
In this respect, the texts speak with one voice: religion’s goal is humanity’s attainment of the age of “in-gathering”, 1 of “one fold, and one shepherd”; 2 the great age to come when “the Earth will shine with the glory of its Lord” 3 and the will of God is carried out “in earth, as it is in heaven”; 4 “the promised Day” 5 when the “holy city” 6 will descend “out of heaven, from … God”, 7 when 54 “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it”, 8 when God will demand to know “what mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor”; 9 the Day when scriptures that have been “sealed till the time of the end” 10 would be opened and union with God will find expression in “a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name”; 11 an age utterly beyond anything humanity will have experienced, the mind conceived or language as yet encompassed: “even as We produced the first Creation, so shall We produce a new one: a promise We have undertaken: truly shall We fulfil it.” 12
The declared purpose of history’s series of prophetic revelations, therefore, has been not only to guide the individual seeker on the path of personal salvation, but to prepare the whole of the human family for the great eschatological Event lying ahead, through which the life of the world will itself be entirely transformed. The revelation of Bahá’u’lláh is neither preparatory nor prophetic. It is that Event. Through its influence, the stupendous enterprise of laying the foundations of the Kingdom of God has been set in motion, and the population of the earth has been endowed with the powers and capacities equal to the task. That Kingdom is a universal civilization shaped by principles of social justice and enriched by achievements of the human mind and spirit beyond anything the present age can conceive. “This is the Day”, Bahá’u’lláh declares, “in which God’s most excellent favours have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace 55 hath been infused into all created things…. Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead.” 13
Service to the goal calls for an understanding of the fundamental difference distinguishing the mission of Bahá’u’lláh from political and ideological projects of human design. The moral vacuum that produced the horrors of the twentieth century exposed the outermost limits of the mind’s unaided capacity to devise and construct an ideal society, however great the material resources harnessed to the effort. The suffering entailed has engraved the lesson indelibly on the consciousness of the earth’s peoples. Religion’s perspective on humanity’s future, therefore, has nothing in common with systems of the past—and only relatively little relationship with those of today. Its appeal is to a reality in the genetic code, if it can be so described, of the rational soul. The Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus taught two thousand years ago, is “within”. 14 His organic analogies of a “vineyard”, 15 of “seed [sown] into the good ground”, 16 of the “good tree [that] bringeth forth good fruit” 17 speak of a potentiality of the human species that has been nurtured and trained by God since the dawn of time as the purpose and leading edge of the creative process. The ongoing work of patient cultivation is the task that Bahá’u’lláh has entrusted to the company of those who recognize Him and embrace His Cause. Little wonder, then, at the exalted language in which He speaks of a privilege so great: “Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the 56 soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men….” 18
The process bears within itself the assurance of its fulfilment. For those with eyes to see, the new creation is today everywhere emerging, in the same way that a seedling becomes in time a fruit-bearing tree or a child reaches adulthood. Successive dispensations of a loving and purposeful Creator have brought the earth’s inhabitants to the threshold of their collective coming-of-age as a single people. Bahá’u’lláh is now summoning humanity to enter on its inheritance: “That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith.” 19
1. The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, paragraph 126.   [ Back To Reference]
2. St. John 10.16.   [ Back To Reference]
3. Qur’án, surih 39, verse 69.   [ Back To Reference]
4. St. Matthew 6.10.   [ Back To Reference]
5. Qur’án, surih 85, verse 2.   [ Back To Reference]
6. Revelation 21.2.   [ Back To Reference]
7. ibid., 3.12.   [ Back To Reference]
8. Isaiah 2.2.   [ Back To Reference]
9. ibid., 3.15.   [ Back To Reference]
10. Daniel 12.9.   [ Back To Reference]
11. Isaiah 62.2.   [ Back To Reference]
12. Qur’án, surih 21, verse 104.   [ Back To Reference]
13. Gleanings, section IV.   [ Back To Reference]
14. St. Luke 17.21.   [ Back To Reference]
15. St. Matthew 21.33.   [ Back To Reference]
16. ibid., 13.23.   [ Back To Reference]
17. ibid., 7.17.   [ Back To Reference]
18. Gleanings, section XCVI.   [ Back To Reference]
19. ibid., section CXX.   [ Back To Reference]