Alan Halm and Joel Smith have both thought deeply for many years about the evolution of religions--how they are born, grow and eventually decline. This was a very interesting discussion of the evolutionary process.
At one point Alan mentioned that Baha'u'llah wrote that if it were God's will He could have forced all mankind to recognize each Messenger, but that God's will was that mankind should be tested. Note the word "Say" at the beginning. God is dictating the passage through Baha'u'llah including the instruction to "Say." Baha'is often say that Baha'u'llah said this or that, but in almost every case it is God dictating to His Messenger rather than the Messenger speaking on His own. Here is the relevant quote from Baha'u'llah:
"Say: If it be Our pleasure We shall render the Cause victorious through the power of a single word from Our presence. He is in truth the Omnipotent, the All-Compelling. Should it be God's intention, there would appear out of the forests of celestial might the lion of indomitable strength whose roaring is like unto the peals of thunder reverberating in the mountains. However, since Our loving providence surpasseth all things, We have ordained that complete victory should be achieved through speech and utterance, that Our servants throughout the earth may thereby become the recipients of divine good." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 197)
At another point Alan mentioned that there is always confusion because the new Messenger doesn't seem to match the expectations of the members of the previous religion. He mentioned the quote below that refers to the problem of the Christians failing to recognize Baha'u'llah because of the New Name--even though the Book of Revelation mentions the New Name:
"Say, O followers of the Son![Jesus] Have ye shut out yourselves from Me by reason of My Name? Wherefore ponder ye not in your hearts? Day and night ye have been calling upon your Lord, the Omnipotent, but when He came from the heaven of eternity in His great glory, ye turned aside from Him and remained sunk in heedlessness.
"Consider those who rejected the Spirit [Jesus] when He came unto them with manifest dominion. How numerous the Pharisees who had secluded themselves in synagogues in His name, lamenting over their separation from Him, and yet when the portals of reunion were flung open and the divine Luminary shone resplendent from the Dayspring of Beauty, they disbelieved in God, the Exalted, the Mighty. They failed to attain His presence, notwithstanding that His advent had been promised them in the Book of Isaiah as well as in the Books of the Prophets and the Messengers." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 7)
Geothe Faust was mentioned as we discussed the struggle of mankind as it reaches for the divine while fighting against change.
Joel's website that discusses the prophecies of various religions is www.bci.org/prophecy-fulfilled/
I really good discussion and summary of the references to Jesus Christ in the Baha'i Writings is available. Just click the link in the sentence above.
I'm working on three more podcasts--but it's summer--it's hard to get people lined up. Hopefully it won't be long before the next one is ready.
Thanks for listening,