Critique of ITC Study on Guardianship and UHJ – Part Five

Posted on April 7, 2009. Filed under: book analysis | Tags: |

This is part Five of a Critique by Hand of Cause of God David Maxwell of A Study for Auxiliary Board Members of the Guardianship & The Universal House of Justice Prepared by the International Teaching Centre (of the heterodox Bahá’ís).  Click here to read: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6

IS THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE AUTHORIZED OR NOT?

ITC Position:

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
What is the source of authority for the institution of the Universal House of Justice? It was Bahá’u’lláh Himself who ordained the Universal House of Justice to ensure that the Cause of God will continue to be divinely guided and that those things which have not been revealed in the Writings can be provided for. He entrusted the affairs of mankind into the hands of the members of the Universal House of Justice and made them the Trustees of God and the symbols of His authority:

It is incumbent upon the Trustees of the House of Justice to take counsel together and to enforce that which is agreeable to them. (26)

The men of God’s House of Justice have been charged with the affairs of the people. They, in truth, are the Trustees of God among His servants and the daysprings of authority in His countries. (27)

In another instance Bahá’u’lláh explains that as the world develops, its requirements will also change and therefore the needs of the day will be provided for by the House of Justice: Inasmuch as for each day there is a new problem and for every problem an expedient solution, such affairs should be referred to the House of Justice that the members thereof may act according to the needs and requirements of the time. (28)

Likewise, in several places in His Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá clearly affirmed the authority of the Universal House of Justice, and set out its functions and responsibilities: And now, concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error . . . Unto this body all things must be referred. It enacteth all ordinances and regulations that are not to be found in the explicit Holy Text. By this body all the difficult problems are to be resolved and the guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body. (29)

Critique:

The very audacity of the ITC is emphasized here in that they quote that the guardian of the Cause of God is its sacred head and the distinguished member for life of that body! “…is its sacred head…” How may any entity prevail without its head, let alone its sacred head? The idea that guidance is symbolically spiritual, and may be continued from the next world, is equally audacious. In His infinite wisdom, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá prevented that likelihood by defining certain requirements that the guardian would administer in his conduct of the activities of the UHJ by (1) requiring that he appoint another to represent him in his absence, and (2) that he may call for a reconsideration of them if he felt that they had not followed the scope and intent of the Holy Writings.

Those requirements, among many others, preclude any thought of there being other than a living guardian as head of the UHJ. For a period of years the sans-guardian believers promoted the belief that Shoghi Effendi continued his role of guardian from the next world. As audacious as that seems, it worked. We now find in more recent edicts from the bogus Universal House of Justice that the emphasis on Shoghi Effendi being the guardian has diminished, along with a diminished role for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Writings.

ITC Position:

Whatsoever they [members of the Universal House of Justice] decide has the same effect as the Text itself. (30)

. . . this House of Justice hath power to enact laws that are not expressly recorded in the Book and bear upon daily transactions, so also it hath power to repeal the same. (31)

Later on in His Will and Testament ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called on the believers in strong language to obey His twin Successors: All must seek guidance and turn unto the Centre of the Cause [the Guardian] and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error. (32)

Critique:

There. They said it. But do they really believe it? The guardian is the Center of the Cause. Are they relying on Shoghi Effendi from the next world to satisfy this primarily-ofthis-world-station? They relate that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called upon the believers in strong language to obey His twin Successors. If ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in their estimation, used strong language in admonishing them to obey the Institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice, have they not set up an impossible task for their followers?

The bogus UHJ expects the believers to follow their guidance, guidance they percolate from their *interpretations* of policy established by a person who expected that another would fulfill his earthly station upon his becoming deceased. Imagine his surprise when they countermanded his own instructions and was re-instated as their guardian. Could it be any more confusing? Have they not forgotten that the deceased stressed to them that his station was whence he spoke, and not he himself as a human. It’s the station of the Institution of the Guardianship that we need to be concerned with, not the deceased person Shoghi Effendi. I would remind you that Bahá’u’lláh is the primary force behind the Institutions. Hmm. What’s Bahá’u’lláh’s take on this unexpected development?

Can a newly-defined and vital force in the lives of humans for countless years to come operate under the banner of a deceased person from the next world?

That is not to say that Shoghi Effendi the man should not be regarded as an exalted human being, for it was he who was the First Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, a Faith that will endure far beyond any comprehension we can now imagine. One of the reasons it will so endure is that Shoghi Effendi labored diligently for 36 years as the First Guardian. His energies were channeled in a manner befitting his role as the conduit providing an education for humans to lead them from the expectations they had come to understand during the various Holy Manifestations of the Adamic Cycle. The Adamic Cycle is history. It is gone. Shoghi Effendi was the first human called upon to be the leader educator of humans in their grasping for the ABC’s of the newly-minted Bahá’í Cycle, a Cycle destined to last for some 5,000 centuries; 500,000 years.

While its true that the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh provided the Manifested Crescendo of the Blast announcing the path to the Kingdom, and it was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His special role as The Master who showed us how we could align ourselves within the bounds of that glorious path, it was Shoghi Effendi who was the first (non-Central Figure) mortal charged with the responsibility of guiding the day-to-day activities of his contemporaries within this unique and wondrous system, the like of which mortal eyes had never witnessed. And he performed splendidly. He elucidated the Institutions and named his successor. That was all that was expected of him, and that’s what he did. Splendidly.

The thing he did not do was take the mantle of guardianship to the next world with him. The believers who have that expectation should be ashamed of themselves. He should be left in peace in the next world, as is his due, and be allowed to continue onward in the worlds of God. There is no doubt a continued opportunity of service and lofty expectations available for those who have manned the Institution of the Guardianship while here. Any human who loves and admires the work performed by the First Guardian should pray for his progress in the next world, and allow, with thanksgiving in their hearts, that he accomplish the lofty goals available there.

Lets get back to that 500,000 year thing for a moment. Can we even begin to fathom that? I can’t; it’s too vast to grasp. But that’s how big this is. That is precisely why the issue of the Institutions is so vital. The battle began by others in 1957, ongoing some 52 years later, is about the survival of the Institutions of the Faith, and the Faith itself. The Holy Institutions must endure precisely as they were formulated by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Should humans deviate one iota from the commands of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s strong language, the Plan will continue in abeyance, and humans will suffer more and more until their pain is so intense that this very world will shudder and groan as it reels in search of a new path in the heavens while it adjusts its earthly physical composure.

ITC Position:

Shoghi Effendi described the Universal House of Justice as “the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances.” (33) Thus the House of Justice is empowered not only to enact laws where the Text is silent-that is, to “supplement” -but it is also empowered to “apply” the laws already expressly revealed by Bahá’u’lláh. The scope of authority of the Universal House of Justice is therefore comprehensive.

Critique:

Shoghi Effendi described the UHJ as “the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances” Lets go to the book they cite, “The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh” to read the actual quote: “It should be noted in this connection that this Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Bahá’u’lláh has Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances.”
— Shoghi Effendi, “The World Order of Baha’u’llah” page 145

This sentence doesn’t actually say “Universal House of Justice” but implies and is actually discussing a legitimate UHJ. The manner in which the bogus UHJ paragraph is written implies that Shoghi Effendi is speaking of himself when he says that the body will supplement and apply His legislative ordinances, when it actually says something quite different. Shoghi Effendi is referring to both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and not himself. You will note that the word *His* is capitalized and therefore does not infer Shoghi Effendi the man at all.

It should be remembered that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament announced the Institution of the Guardianship, and that each time Shoghi Effendi refers to his authority he is referring to his station as the embodiment of the Institution of the Guardianship, and not as his role as Shoghi Effendi the man. The Institution of the Guardianship is destined to continue for at least this 1,000 year Dispensation. It will be embodied by many humans during that time. Each will bring the Spirit of God to the UHJ in its deliberations and actions, thusly providing it the capability to follow God’s Will.

Lacking the living guardian as its head, the UHJ is a hollow and corrupted institution. It must be emphasized again that the guardian is the Center of the Cause, and provides the only avenue in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will and Testament to have any direct connection with the Manifestation Bahá’u’lláh, and thus with God Himself. The Will leads to a Universal House of Justice composed of eight elected and one appointed member, its president. Thus, only the Guardian has direct Holy-linkage with God, and is, as it president, the Center of the Cause, the only member of any UHJ to have infallible composure.

Since the bogus Universal House of Justice is composed of nine elected members, is that not yet another anomaly with reality? Particularly so when considering that Shoghi Effendi from the next world provides guidance for them. Is that not ten rather than nine?

ITC Position:

What are the promises of divine guidance given to the Universal House of Justice?

There are many examples in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which promise divine inspiration, guidance, and protection to the Universal House of Justice. Below are some of these passages:

God will verily inspire them [the Trustees of the House of Justice] with whatsoever He willeth, and He, verily, is the Provider, the Omniscient. (34)

The sacred and youthful branch, the guardian of the Cause of God as well as the Universal House of Justice, to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abhá Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. (35)

Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the Truth and the Purpose of God Himself. Whoso doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord, hath shown forth malice and turned away from the Lord of the Covenant. By this House is meant that Universal House of Justice . . . . (36)

Let it not be imagined that the House of Justice will take any decision according to its own concepts and opinions. God forbid! The Supreme House of Justice will take decisions and establish laws through the inspiration and confirmation of the Holy Spirit, because it is in the safekeeping and under the shelter and protection of the Ancient Beauty, and obedience to its decisions is a bounden and essential duty and an absolute obligation, and there is no escape for anyone. Say, O People: Verily the Supreme House of Justice is under the wings of your Lord, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful, that is, under His protection, His care, and His shelter; for He has commanded the firm believers to obey that blessed, sanctified and all-subduing body, whose sovereignty is divinely ordained and of the Kingdom of Heaven and whose laws are inspired and spiritual. (37)

Whatever will be its decision, by majority vote, shall be the real truth, inasmuch as that House is under the protection, unerring guidance, and care of the one true Lord. He shall guard it from error and will protect it under the wing of His sanctity and infallibility. He who opposes it is cast out and will eventually be of the defeated. (38)

What are some of the main powers of the Universal House of Justice?

In the Declaration of Trust of its Constitution, which summarizes the responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice, it states:

Bahá’u’lláh, the Revealer of God’s Word in this Day, the Source of Authority, the Fountainhead of Justice, the Creator of a new World Order, the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization, the Judge, the Lawgiver, the Unifier and Redeemer of all mankind, has proclaimed the advent of God’s Kingdom on earth, has formulated its laws and ordinances, enunciated its principles, and ordained its institutions. To direct and canalize the forces released by His Revelation He instituted His Covenant, whose power has preserved the integrity of His Faith, maintained its unity and stimulated its world-wide expansion throughout the successive ministries of ‘Abdu’l- Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. It continues to fulfill its life-giving purpose through the agency of the Universal House of Justice whose fundamental object, as one of the twin successors of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, is to ensure the continuity of that divinely appointed authority which flows from the Source of the Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers, and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its teachings. (39)

Critique:

Lets wait a minute here. The above is crafted to indicate that there are twin successors to Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and that one of them is the Universal House of Justice. By naming both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá immediately after the phrase twin successors, one may quickly read this sentence and be inclined to see two names following *twin successors* and forget that the other of the successors named in the Will is the Institution of the (living) Guardianship. Yes, there’s that pesky guardian again.

ITC Position:

Among the powers and duties of the Universal House of Justice as the Head of the Faith are the following:

1. Creating new laws

. . . this House of Justice hath power to enact laws that are not expressly recorded in the Book . . .(40)

Those matters of major importance which constitute the foundation of the Law of God are explicitly recorded in the Text, but subsidiary laws are left to the House of Justice. The wisdom of this is that the times never remain the same, for change is a necessary quality and an essential attribute of this world, and of time and place. Therefore the House of Justice will take action accordingly. (41)

2. Making deductions from the Writings

Today this process of deduction is the right of the body of the House of Justice, and the deductions and conclusions of individual learned men have no authority, unless they are endorsed by the House of Justice. The difference is precisely this, that from the conclusions and endorsements of the body of the House of Justice whose members are elected by and known to the worldwide Bahá’í community, no differences will arise; whereas the conclusions of individual divines and scholars would definitely lead to differences, and result in schism, division, and dispersion. The oneness of the Word would be destroyed, the unity of the Faith would disappear, and the edifice of the Faith of God would be shaken. (42)

3. Resolving problems and questions that are obscure

It is incumbent upon these members (of the Universal House of Justice) to gather in a certain place and deliberate upon all problems which have caused difference, questions that are obscure and matters that are not expressly recorded in the Book. Whatsoever they decide has the same effect as the Text itself. 43

4. Preventing differences and resolving problems

Praise be to God, all such doors are closed in the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh for a special authoritative Centre hath been appointed-a Centre that solveth all difficulties and wardeth off all differences. The Universal House of Justice, likewise, wardeth off all differences and whatever it prescribeth must be accepted and he who transgresseth is rejected. But this Universal House of Justice which is the Legislature hath not yet been instituted. (44)

Critique:

Look closely at the above statement. The ITC, quoting from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, states that there is an authoritative Center that solves problems, and then relates that the UHJ, likewise, is capable of doing the same things. They use a pocket-sized (1996, page 225) edition of the book “Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá” for reference. Why is not the original book, page 215, more appropriate for a reference?

It is well-known that many of the original Bahá’í books have been modified to some degree by the UHJ. In this case, the quote they use appears to be exactly the same in both editions, yet the newer edition quote appears on page 226, whereas the original appeared on page 215. It makes one wonder why there are an additional ten pages in this edition? Yet, there remains a broader question: Why has it become necessary to modify *any* of the Bahá’í books containing Shoghi Effendi’s interpretations from the original text? Should not a guardian’s edition be of more efficacy than a modification by another entity that is not a guardian? And what did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá say about the Center of the Cause from His perspective as the Center of the Covenant? The closing words of the Will and Testament shed some light on that:

For he is, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Guardian of the Cause of God, the Afnán, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause and the beloved of the Lord must obey him and turn unto him. He that obeyeth him not, hath not obeyed God; he that turneth away from him, hath turned away from God and he that denieth him, hath denied the True One. Beware lest anyone falsely interpret these words, and like unto them that have broken the Covenant after the Day of Ascension (of Bahá’u’lláh) advance a pretext, raise the standard of revolt, wax stubborn and open wide the door of false interpretation. To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error. The Glory of Glories rest upon you!
— Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá pages 25-26

The Institution of the Guardianship is the successor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and thus, the intention is that there will always be on earth a living Center of the Cause in order that “…this is the Day that will not be followed by night…” The above also reiterates that the Universal House of Justice and the Center of the Cause are two separate entities.

Without a living guardian, there is no Bahá’í Faith!

This concludes Part Five of the Critique.

This is part Five of a Critique by Hand of Cause of God David Maxwell of A Study for Auxiliary Board Members of the Guardianship & The Universal House of Justice Prepared by the International Teaching Centre (of the heterodox Bahá’ís).  Click here to read: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6

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