Baha'i Apologetics


Mar 30, 2007
George Town Tasmania Australia
Apologetics is a branch of systematic theology, although some experience it’s thrust in religious studies or philosophy of religion courses. Some encounter it on the internet for the first time in a more populist and usually much less academic form. As I see it, apologetics is primarily concerned with the protection of a religious position, the refutation of that position's assailants and, in the larger sense, the exploration of that position in the context of prevailing philosophies and standards in a secular society. Apologetics, to put it slightly differently, is concerned with answering critical inquiries, criticism of a position, in a rational manner. Apologetics is not possible, it seems to me anyway, without a commitment to and a desire to defend a position. For me, the core of my position I could express in one phrase: the Baha'i Revelation. With that said, though, the activity I engage in, namely, apologetics, is a never ending exercise. The issue is religious, social, intellectual, sociological, inter alia.

The apologetics that concerns me is not so much Christian apologetics or one of a variety of what might be called secular apologetics, but Baha'i apologetics. There are many points of comparison and contrast, though, which I won't go into here. Christians will have the opportunity to defend Christianity by the use of apologetics; secular humanists can argue their cases if they so desire here. And I will in turn defend the Baha'i Faith by the use of apologetics. In the process we will both, hopefully, learn something about our respective Faiths, our religions, which we hold to our hearts dearly.

At the outset, then, in this my first posting, my intention is simply to make this start, to state what you might call "my apologetics position." This brief statement indicates, in broad outline, where I am coming from in the weeks and months ahead. -Ron Price with thanks to Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics?" Baha'i Studies Review, Vol. 10, 2001/2002.
I want in this second part of my first posting to finish, as best I can, outlining a basic orientation to Baha’i apologetics. Critical scholarly contributions or criticism raised in public or private discussions, an obvious part of apologetics, should not necessarily be equated with hostility. Often questions are perfectly legitimate aspects of a person's search for an answer to an intellectual conundrum. Paul Tillich once expressed the view that apologetics was an "answering theology."(Systematic Theology, U. of Chicago, 1967, Vol.1, p6.)

I have always been attracted to the founder of the Baha'i Faith's exhortations in discussion to "speak with words as mild as milk," with "the utmost lenience and forbearance." I am also aware that, in cases of rude or hostile attack, rebuttal with a harsher tone may well be justified. It does not help an apologist to belong to those "watchmen" the prophet Isaiah calls "dumb dogs that cannot bark."(Isaiah, 56:10)

In its essence apologetics is a kind of confrontation, an act of revealing one's true colours, of hoisting the flag, of demonstrating essential characteristics of faith. Dialogue, as Hans Kung puts it, "does not mean self-denial."(quoted by Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics," Baha'i Studies Review, Vol.10, 2001/2) Schaefer goes on: "A faith that is opportunistically streamlined, adapting to current trends, thus concealing its real features, features that could provoke rejection in order to be acceptable for dialogue is in danger of losing its identity."

It is almost impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd without getting someone's beard singed. In the weeks that follow, my postings will probably wind up singing the beards of some readers and, perhaps, my own in the process. Such are the perils of dialogue, of apologetics. Much of Baha'i apologetics derives from the experience Baha'is have of a fundamental discrepancy between secular thought and the Baha'i revelation on the other. In some ways, the gulf is unbridgeable but, so too, is this the case between the secular and much thought in the Christian revelation or, for that matter, between variants of Christianity or secular thought itself. That is why, or at least one of the reasons, I have chosen to make postings at this site. In addition, this site invites debate.

Anyway, that's all for now. It's back to the autumn winds of Tasmania, about 3 kms from the Bass Straight on the Tamar River. The geography of place is so much simpler than that of the spiritual geography readers at this site are concerned with, although even physical geography has its complexities. Whom the gods would destroy they first make simple and simpler and simpler. I look forward to a dialogue with someone. Here in far-off Tasmania--the last stop before Antarctica, if one wants to get there through some other route than off the end of South America--your email will be gratefully received. -Ron Price, Tasmania. :cool:
This seems to be very well written, great job!

I am sorry but I am ignorant about your faith, however I must say that all religions seem to be in the same position in my mind--they are all plausible to some extent--except some are more popular than others.

I do however see a declining slope in terms of religious believers in the newer generations. What do you think about this? Do you feel this is a major concern particularly for the lesser known religions?
Thanks For Your Feedback "Eternal"

Yes, I agree with all your sentiments. As you say: "all religions seem to be in the same position in my mind--they are all plausible to some extent--except some are more popular than others." And as you go on to say: "I do however see a declining slope in terms of religious believers in the newer generations. What do you think about this?" No doubt about it.

As far as the Baha'i Faith is concerned, there are many good sites to read about a good one..I shall return and thanks again for your comment.-Ron:cool: