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harrismanchestercollegeoxford3John Estlin Carpenter was an eminent Unitarian biblical scholar, theologian and Oxford professor. Carpenter presided over a meeting on 31 December 1912 for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Manchester College, Oxford, where Carpenter was Principal.

“From that subtle race (the Persians) issues the most remarkable movement…The new faith declared that there was no finality in revelation, and while recognising the Koran as a product of past revelation, claimed to embody a new manifestaton of the divine Unity. Carried to Chicago in 1893…it succeeded in establishing itself in the United States; and its missionaries are winning new adherents in India. It, too, claims to be a universal teaching; it has already its noble army of martyrs and its holy books; has Persia, in the midst of her miseries, given birth to a religion which will go round the world?”

From Comparative Religion

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church_interior_postcard_-_details_rh_side_-_500w_-_low_resThe Reverend John Tyssul Davis presided over the Theistic Church in London’s New Bond Street and later became a Unitarian Minister in Bristol. He was also the Principal of a Buddhist College in Ceylon for two years.

The Bahá’í religion has made its way . . . because it meets the needs of its day. It fits the larger outlook of our time better than the rigid exclusive older faiths. A characteristic is its unexpected liberality and toleration. It accepts all the great religions as true, and their scriptures as inspired. The Baha’ists bid the followers of these faiths disentangle from the windings of racial, particularist, local prejudices, the vital, immortal thread, the pure gospel of eternal worth, and to apply this essential element of life. Instances are quoted of people being recommended to work within the older faiths, to remain, vitalizing them upon the principles of the new faith. They cannot fear new facts, new truths as the Creed defenders must. They believe in a progressive revelation. They admit the cogency of modern criticism and allow that God is in His nature incomprehensible, but is to be known through His Manifestations. Their ethical ideal is very high and is of the type we Westerners have learnt to designate “Christlike.” “What does he do to his enemies that he makes them his friends?” was asked concerning the late leader. What astonishes the student is not anything in the ethics or philosophy of this movement, but the extraordinary response its ideal has awakened in such numbers of people, the powerful influence this standard actually exerts on conduct. It is due to four things: (I) It makes a call on the Heroic Element in Man. It offers no bribe. It bids men endure, give up, carry the cross. It calls them to sacrifice, to bear torture, to suffer martyrdom, to brave death. (2) It offers liberty of thought. Even upon such a vital question as immortality it will not bind opinion. Its atmosphere is one of trust and hope, not of dogmatic chill. (3) It is a religion of love. “Notwithstanding the interminable catalogue of extreme and almost incredible sufferings and privations which this heroic band of men and women have endured-more terrible than many martyrdoms-there is not a trace of resentment or bitterness to be observed among them. One would suppose that they were the most fortunate of the people among whom they live, as indeed they do certainly consider themselves, in that they have been permitted to live near their beloved Lord, beside which they count their sufferings as nothing” (Whelps). Love for the Master, love for the brethren, love for the neighbors, love for the alien, love for all humanity, love for all life, love for God-the old, well-tried way trod once before in Syria, trodden again. (4) It is a religion in harmony with science. It has here the advantage of being thirteen centuries later than Islam. This new dispensation has been tried in the furnace, and has not been found wanting. It has been proved valid by the lives of those who have endured all things on its behalf. Here is something more appealing than its logic and rational philosophy. “To the Western observer” (writes Prof. Browne), “it is the complete sincerity of the Bábís, their fearless disregard of death and torture undergone for the sake of their religion, their certain conviction as to the truth of their faith, their generally admirable conduct toward mankind, especially toward their fellow-believers, which constitute their strongest claim on his attention.”

“By their fruits shall ye know them! ” We cannot but address to this youthful religion an All Hail! of welcome. We cannot fail to see in its activity another proof of the living witness in our own day of the working of the sleepless spirit of God in the hearts of men, for He cannot rest, by the necessity of His nature, until He heath made in conscious reality, as in power, the whole world His own.

From A League of Religions

1116769022Alfred W.Martin was a Unitarian minister and writer on religion. He was the leader of the Ethical Culture Society and author of many books about comparative religion including Great Religious Teachers of the East, Psychic Tendencies of Today, Comparative Religion and Religion of the Future, and Objective Evidence for Life after Death.

“Inasmuch as a fellowship of faiths is at once the dearest hope and ultimate goal of the Bahá’í movement, it behooves us to take cognizance of it and its mission…. Today this religious movement has a million and more adherents, including people from all parts of the globe and representing a remarkable variety of race, color, class and creed. It has been given literary expression in a veritable library of Asiatic, European, and American works to which additions are annually made as the movement grows and grapples with the great problems that grow out of its cardinal teachings. It has a long roll of martyrs for the cause for which it stands, twenty thousand in Persia alone, proving it to be a movement worth dying for as well as worth living by.

From its inception it has been identified with Bahá’u’lláh, who paid the price of prolonged exile, imprisonment, bodily suffering, and mental anguish for the faith he cherished-a man of imposing personality as revealed in his writings, characterized by intense moral earnestness and profound spirituality, gifted with the self same power so conspicuous in the character of Jesus, the power to appreciate people ideally, that is, to see them at the level of their best and to make even the lowest types think well of themselves because of potentialities within them to which he pointed, but of which they were wholly unaware; a prophet whose greatest contribution was not any specific doctrine he proclaimed, but an informing spiritual power breathed into the world through the example of his life and thereby quickening souls into new spiritual activity. Surely a movement of which all this can be said deserves-nay, compels-our respectful recognition and sincere appreciation.

Taking precedence over all else in its gospel is the message of unity in religion…. It is the crowning glory of the Bahá’í movement that, while deprecating sectarianism in its preaching, it has faithfully practiced what it preached by refraining from becoming itself a sect…. Its representatives do not attempt to impose any beliefs upon others, whether by argument or bribery; rather do they seek to put beliefs that have illumined their own lives within the reach of those who feel they need illumination. No, not a sect, not a part of humanity cut off from all the rest, living for itself and aiming to convert all the rest into material for its own growth; no, not that, but a leaven, causing spiritual fermentation in all religions quickening them with the spirit of catholicity and fraternalism.

Who shall say but that just as the little company of the Mayflower, landing on Plymouth Rock, proved to be the small beginning of a mighty nation, the ideal germ of a democracy which, if true to its principles, shall yet overspread the habitable globe, so the little company of Baha’is exiled from their Persian home may yet prove to be the small beginning of the world-wide movement, the ideal germ of democracy in religion, the Universal Church of Mankind?”