The Dawn of a New Creation:
The Difference in Understanding Creation in Western Philosophy, Christianity and the Bahá'í­ Faith

By Wolfgang Klebel

Presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #137
Bosch Baha'i School: Santa Cruz, CA
May 26–30, 2016
(see list of papers from #137)


    On Monday, October 23rd 1911, 'Abdu'l-Bahá talking in Paris, France, about the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh reaching the West stated this.

    Then shall humanity put on a new garment in the radiance of the love of God, and it shall be the dawn of a new creation! (PT 34)
    The question is what is this new creation that is dawning? What is the new understanding of the creation as revealed by Bahá'u'lláh? What is this new garment of humanity, of which 'Abdu'l-Bahá speaks? And even more importantly, what is the difference of this new creation compared to the understanding of creation in Christianity and in the western world?

    What is this new garment of humanity, of which 'Abdu'l-Bahá speaks? And even more importantly, what is the difference of this new creation compared to the understanding of creation in Christianity and in the western world? As seen from my perspective, the difference is in the relation between spirit and matter. In the Bahá'í Writings the relationship of spirit ad matter is most often expressed in these terms: Inside and Outside, Seen and Unseen, Hidden and Manifest, always a pair of oppositional concepts that are together in some unity. This is in contrast to the Christian world view, where spirit and matter are seen more in terms nature and super-nature, lower and higher, and of different nature. This is an inheritance from Saint Augustin's theology, influenced by Neoplatonism. For Plato reality was in the ideas, the physical reality was only the shadow world. The creation is an emanation starting with the spiritual and going down to ever lower levels of the physical.

    In this paper we will look into what Bahá'u'lláh said about creation and what the new understanding is, the New Heaven and New Earth, which were promised in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. The difference between spirit and matter is not in its intrinsic value but in how it should be approached by man, developing from the material towards the spiritual. Therefore, prayer is as valuable as service to mankind. Civilization needs to be advancing, and the unity of humankind is the goal of this development. The way we use these different aspects of our life, the way we go in this path to God makes the difference. In Christianity it was better to enter a monastery and dedicate oneself to the contemplative life. So-called laypeople, who married, were regarded as second class citizen in the church. Contrary, Bahá'u'lláh recommends the monks to leave the monastery, marry and make the world a better place.

    The conclusion is that both spirit and matter are created equally by God and express His Glory.


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