Bahai and Unitarian Universalists

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Greg_Nagel

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I am very curious about the Bahai and Unitarian groups. Through my work, I have found myself in the company of both, and I have some Unitarians as clients currently.

It appears that both seem to have the same basic structure, that is looking for the one true God by honoring and including all religions which profess one omnipowerful deity. The Bahai seem to refer to Christ as but one mainfestation of God, with Buddha, Muhammad and others also being manifestations. The Unitarians water down Scriptures and refer to Jesus as a “God-filled human being”, but not God himself. Both groups seem to, in their efforts to be inclusive, latch onto eastern religion thought.

What distinguishes the two? Why do they seem so preoccupied with eastern tradition? How did they get so far off track? The clients I work with are wonderful people, but I would like to find ways, if the opportunity arises, to discuss our faith differences.

In looking at the Unitarian web site, I thought it was funny that they denounce organized religion and the rites and traditions of it, particularly those of the Catholic Church, yet the founder came to realize the need for “symbolic ritual”, and he started a “flower communion” ceremony. It is sad that they, in their spite of the Church, are turning their back on the true Communion in favor of a flower exchange program.

Any information, thoughts, or advice? Thank you all, and God bless you, my fellow brother and sisters. I have already learned much from you just by reading your posts. Isn’t this forum a wonderful thing? 👍
 
I don’t know much about the two mentioned groups but I find it ironic that people who profess to be “open” and “respectful” to all beliefs are hostile towards Catholicism (especially in areas of moral teachings).

In reality; a person who professes such a belief can’t really be open to all religions especially a religion like Catholicism, which claims to be the possessor of the revealed truth of God here on Earth. To them, that would be too rigid, too inclusive and “unloving” and therefore, contradicts the basic tenants of their beliefs (never mind about the other contradictory religions which they claim to be “other manifestations of the same god”) and deserves to be shunned.

If you’re going to deal with such people, converse with them about the nature of truth and how religions of different types contain contradictory beliefs. Therefore they can’t all be right. One has to be true while the others are not. So if you do talk to them, you might want to use that line of reasoning. But be warned; such so-called “open-minded” people are in reality close-minded to any claims of absolute truth (like Catholicism). So use a little stealth and charity in your conversations with them. 😉

Miguel.
 
Greg Nagel:
The Unitarians water down Scriptures and refer to Jesus as a “God-filled human being”, but not God himself. Both groups seem to, in their efforts to be inclusive, latch onto eastern religion thought.
When I was in my searching phase, I attended a Unitarian Universalit fellowship here in Boise. Unitarianism in the US grew out of the congregationalist movement and was particularly active during what students of literature call the Transcendentalist phase. If you’ve read Thoreau and Emerson, you’ve seen some of the thought behind the movement.

I’ve read some Unitarian texts that trace the origins back to the Arian heresy. However, for at least the US branch, I suspect this is historical revision in attempt to gain some legitimacy. There are Unitarian churches in Eastern Europe (particularly Romania), but their beliefs are more in line with Christian theology (although still heretical). US Unitarians seem to be anyting from atheists to neopagans. Members at the fellowship here seemed to mix and match as they saw fit.

Billicus
 
Thanks for the information and personal experiences.

The Unitarian website claims “We believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion, and that in the end religious authority lies not in a book or person or institution, but in ourselves. We are a “non-creedal” religion: we do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed.” And as Billicus mentioned, the statements on their web site do trace their history back to the Arian heresy, claiming that the Council of Nicea promulgated the doctrine of the trinity and denounced all who did not agree as heretics. So I wonder how they claim that they have devout Christians in their ranks, yet they do not believe that Jesus is truly God, along with the Father and Holy Spirit? As Domini Canis mentioned, the statement of absolute inclusiveness is illusory. You cannot have multiple views on God which differ so greatly. At some point something has to give. Their recognition of self as supreme religious authority has led to their affirming homosexual relationships as acceptable, and even promoting homosexual “marriage” (an oxymoron).

Regarding the Bahai, I would like to know more about what the apologists have to say about this movement. Their claim is that Bahá’u’lláh is the final messenger from God, and that his message was one of unification and an endorsement of a global society. I would like something to read to help me to talk to these people. Any resources? Thanks! 🙂
 
Greetings,

I’ve been a member of the Baha’i Faith for two years. Perhaps I can clarify a few things. First, the Unitarian movement and the Baha’i Faith have little in common. Unitarianism doesn’t teach the absolute existence of a Creator. Albeit, Unitarians do allow people from all religious and philosophical viewpoints to join their movement, including Theists. However, the movement doesn’t have an official belief in the One, Holy, All-Powerful God. Therefore, Atheism, Agnosticism, and Humanism, to use as examples, help form Unitarianism. The Baha’i Faith, on the other hand, makes a binding and absolute claim for the existence of a Creator. Any belief that contradicts Theism is going against the basic doctrine of the Faith. Similarly, the Baha’i teachings reject reincarnation, polytheism, pantheism and one cannot be a Baha’i and hold these beliefs without contradicting the official teaching of the Baha’i Faith. You’ll never find a Baha’i Atheist, for example, because that’s a contradiction, though you do find Unitarian Atheists.
“The Bahai seem to refer to Christ as but one manifestation of God, with Buddha, Muhammad and others also being manifestations.”
This is correct but much can be added. Here is an excerpt from Understanding Christian Beliefs by Bahá’í scholar and author Michael Sours, which might shed light on the Bahá’í conception of Jesus Christ. Michael writes:

Most Christians affirm that Christ was both human and divine, believing He possessed a perfect and sinless human nature and that He was God. In some important respects Bahá’ís affirm both points. Bahá’ís agree that, because Jesus was born of a woman, the Virgin Mary (Certitude 56), He possessed a human body and submitted to the conditions of that body (ibid. 72) such as growth (Luke 2:40), hunger (Matt. 4:2), thirst (John 19:28), weariness (John 4:6) and sleep (Matt. 8:24), as well as human expressions of emotion, such as weeping (John 11:35).

Bahá’ís also accept Jesus’ divine nature. Expressing the Bahá’í position concerning Christianity, the Guardian writes ‘the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted’ (Promised Day 109). Baha’is also recognize that inasmuch as Christ reflects the attributes of God, He can legitimately claim to be God (Certitude 178).

The recognition of Jesus’ Sonship and Divinity is apparent in many passages throughout the Bahá’í writings, but some Christians believe this recognition falls short, according to Christian doctrine, Jesus is more than divine: He is God. In other words, there is a distinction that concerns the difference between possessing the attributes of God’s divinity and actually being God in essence. Bahá’ís believe that through the physical and historical Person, Jesus Christ, the divine attributes of God were made manifest to the world, but that God’s essence is too transcendent to be fully embodied in flesh. From the Bahá’í point of view, this is the meaning of the Word becoming flesh, - the incarnation - as described in the first chapter of the Gospel according to John." - Michael Sours, Understanding Christian beliefs p, 74-75.

( Note: “Certitude” in Michael’s citations refer to Bahá’u’lláh’s Doctrinal work KITÁB-I ÍQÁN (The Book of Certitude). You can read the entire text at bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah/iqan/.
Regarding the Bahai, I would like to know more about what the apologists have to say about this movement. Their claim is that Bahá’u’lláh is the final messenger from God, and that his message was one of unification and an endorsement of a global society. I would like something to read to help me to talk to these people. Any resources? Thanks!
Bahá’ís believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the latest messenger sent by God, not the final. He taught that God will send Messengers in the future after the Baha’i dispensation, which will last at least 1000 years. That’s an important distinction.

In regards to the apologetic writings on the Baha’i Faith from a Christian perspective, I’m afraid not much has been written. Though, Francis J. Beckwith, a popular Protestant apologist, whom I believe, has also written against Catholicism, wrote an article a few years ago for CRI (Christian Research Journal) that is titled: Baha’i-Christian Dialogue: Some Key Issues Considered. You can read it at bahai-library.com/articles/bahai.christian.html as well as Peter Terry’s rebuttal bahai-library.com/unpubl.articles/truth.triumphs.html.

If you’re investigating the Bahá’í Faith I suggest you visit the premier Bahá’í Web forum on the Internet, go to www.planetbahai.org then click forum. There are well deepened Bahá’ís there who know a heck of a lot more than me.

BTW I really enjoy Catholic Answers; I listen to the Web Cast at least 3 times a week!
 
I don’t know much about the two mentioned groups but I find it ironic that people who profess to be “open” and “respectful” to all beliefs are hostile towards Catholicism (especially in areas of moral teachings).
The moral teachings of Baha’i Faith, by and large, is in accordance with the moral teachings of the Catholic Faith.

**Marriage outside the union of a man and a woman is condemned in the Baha’i Faith. **

And,

**1). Homosexuality is strongly condemned by Baha’u’llah. 2). The Baha’i Writings do not point to the causes of homosexuality although they do state that Homosexuality is an “aberration”, and is “against nature”. 3). Homosexuality can be overcome and 4). The individual is expected to make an effort to overcome the affliction **

These are just a few examples of similar moral teachings, which unite Catholics and Baha’is.
 
Incidentally, a few days ago Jimmy Akin wrote about Unitarianism on his blog. He talked about how the Office of the Texas Comptroller had recently denied it tax exempt status on that basis that Unitarianism isn’t a religion.

Here is a passage from Jimmy’s blog:

Over time, however, the Unitarian creed crumbled, and now as a group they don’t profess any specific beliefs about God, the gods, or higher powers. You can believe in any or all of these–or none–and be a Unitarian. Indeed, many atheists are Unitarians. As things stand today, Unitarianism is basically a religious discussion club, and by the Texas comptroller’s interpretation of state law, that means they are not a religion–at least not anymore. jimmyakin.org/other_religions/index.html
 
Hi ERS83! Thanks for the reply and the info. It was very informative.

The people I know who are Bahai are very nice people. It is because of this that I sought to know more about what Bahai is. After reading a bit about it (I did not get a chance to check out the discussion links you graciously provided), I have questions about it with regard to our Catholic beliefs about scripture.

I am a cradle Catholic who, just in recent years, has rediscovered my faith. Catholic radio has been a wonderful source of inspiration and information- I truly believe the Spirit is moving through it. My understanding is that Public revelation of the Lord’s Word ended when the last apostle died. While there have been private revelations since then, my understanding is that there has been no more Public revelation.

GIven this, where does Bahá’u’lláh fit into the picture, and what does the Church teach about him? :confused: This dovetails with my curiosity about how the Church discerns whether a revelation is true or not. How do we as Christians know when the Lord is truly present and speaking to us, and when it is perhaps Satan trying to trick us? I often wonder this about the Marian apparitions, some of which are endorsed by the Church, and some of which are not.

I appreciate your information and willingness to share in this discussion with me, ERS83. I would appreciate any wisdom you or anyone else could share on this topic to please share it with me. God bless! :eek:
 
Domini Canis:
I don’t know much about the two mentioned groups but I find it ironic that people who profess to be “open” and “respectful” to all beliefs are hostile towards Catholicism (especially in areas of moral teachings).

In reality; a person who professes such a belief can’t really be open to all religions especially a religion like Catholicism, which claims to be the possessor of the revealed truth of God here on Earth. To them, that would be too rigid, too inclusive and “unloving” and therefore, contradicts the basic tenants of their beliefs (never mind about the other contradictory religions which they claim to be “other manifestations of the same god”) and deserves to be shunned.

If you’re going to deal with such people, converse with them about the nature of truth and how religions of different types contain contradictory beliefs. Therefore they can’t all be right. One has to be true while the others are not. So if you do talk to them, you might want to use that line of reasoning. But be warned; such so-called “open-minded” people are in reality close-minded to any claims of absolute truth (like Catholicism). So use a little stealth and charity in your conversations with them. 😉
Miguel,

Everyone (including Catholics), not just those you class as “open-minded”, is generally close-minded to claims of absolute truth, unless it is the truth as espoused by the church to which they presently belong or unless they are searching for a possibly different belief than what they have, until then, acknowledged as truth. As a potential source for conversions, those who see themselves as “open” to all (or most) theological precepts may admittedly represent a less fertile field. They can easily see themselves as already receptive to the prosyletizer’s precepts without having to join a body that may not allow them to simultaneously continue in accepting the fullness of other precepts toward which they have, until then, been receptive. Not agreeing - even with a “moral teaching” - unless it is something so inherently rooted in universal concepts of morality as thou “shalt not kill” or “shalt not steal” - doesn’t equate to “hostility”.

Beyond that, I think to describe Baha’i as “hostile” to the Catholic faith is an absolutely untenable stance. Having known many Baha’i over the years, I have found them to be firmly rooted in a charitable and loving attitude toward those of other religions. Equating expressed differences in beliefs or inclusive belief with hostility is a non sequiter in my opinion.

I see Unitarianism as being much more a philosophy than a religion - and, even then, it is far from being a cohesive body of belief. My experience with Unitarians is that they are a collection of folks who believe that one should attend/be a member of a church congregation and that Unitarianism satisfies that need without requiring them to adhere to any structured belief system. I once heard a friend, who has been a Unitarian since before the merger of the Unitarians and Universalists, express it this way - “Believe anything, believe everything, believe nothing, be Unitarian”. Again, though, to their defense, I have never heard overt Catholic hostility expressed by Unitarians.

Many years,

Neil
 
Irish Melkite:
Again, though, to their defense, I have never heard overt Catholic hostility expressed by Unitarians.

Many years,

Neil
Neil,

lately I have, mostly in relation to Catholicism adamant rejection of homosexual marriage.

I belive the quote was “Homophobic to it’s core”

(BTW, if you’re the same ‘Irish Melkite’ from the ByzCath board, I’m SCOTUS there 🙂 )

Dia is Muire duit,

Brendan
 
Irish Melkite:
to their defense, I have never heard overt Catholic hostility expressed by Unitarians
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Brendan:
lately I have, mostly in relation to Catholicism adamant rejection of homosexual marriage.
Brendan,

Yes, I can see the likelihood of that reaction, since there have been some significant number of gays attracted to the Universalists by their very open acceptance of gays in their ministry, etc.

Of course I’m the same Irish Melkite 🙂 - As pervasive as we (Irish Melkites) are, there aren’t that many of us named Neil 😃 .
Good to see you.

Many years,

Neil
 
Greetings! 🙂
Greg Nagel:
How did they [Baha’is] get so far off track? 👍
You will forgive me, I trust, if I point out that this sounds suspiciously like the famous logical fallacy of “Contempt Before Invstigation!”

Given that you apparently don’t know much about the Baha’i Faith yet, I humbly suggest to you that you INVESTIGATE it a bit (yes, such as by asking questions) before rushing to condemn it (or us)!

For starters, I will simply point out that ALL the great religions are far more similar then most people realize!

As to “obsession with things Eastern,” the Baha’i Faith is not so much “eastern” as it is universal–the more so given that it’s in literally every country on earth, and has adherents from over 2,100 different ethnic and cultural groups! Indeed, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Baha’i Faith is the second most widespread religion in the world, exceeded only by Christianity!

Further, in its early years, Christianity itself was viewed as “eastern” by the Greeks and Romans! So I humbly suggest that where a religion starts isn’t important, especially compared to its message!

And given that EVERY Baha’i world wide accepts and believes in both Christ and the Bible, I think a bit more familiarity with us might well allay most (if not all) of your concerns about us!

(Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church itself has published a very good pamphlet about us! 🙂 If you can’t find it, please let us know, and we’ll be happy to post it here.)

Peace,

Bruce
 
Hi Bruce 👍

I was looking for that Catholic pamphlet on the Baha’i Faith, but couldn’t find it. Please post it.
 
Hi, Greg! :🙂

Please let me post one clarification to something someone else said, and then I’ll get to your questions.

There was some discussion of homosexuality.

In brief, the Baha’i teachings are these:
  • Marriage is defined as a heterosexual institution, and the Baha’i scriptures reserve sex to marriage only.
  • Like any other unmarried person (and married ones, too, for that matter!), homosexuals are told to practice chastity, which in this case means abstinence from sex.
  • But in all other respects, homosexuals have the same rights and priveleges as anyone else, and may not be discriminated against.
  • Indeed, homosexuality is NOT per se evil or blameworthy!
  • (And indeed, there are homosexual Baha’is.)
And as I understand it, the Roman Catholic Church teaches pretty much this same thing. . . .

So I hope this clarifies that topic. . . .
Greg Nagel:
Hi ERS83! Where does Bahá’u’lláh fit into the picture, and what does the Church teach about him? . How do we as Christians know when the Lord is truly present and speaking to us, and when it is perhaps Satan trying to trick us?
If you recall, Jesus (as recorded in the Gospels) said He had much more to tell us, but that we weren’t then ready for it! So He promised to send the Spirit of Truth (and the Comforter) to lead us to All Truth!

And Baha’is see out Founder, Baha’u’llah, as this Christ-promised Spirit of Truth–literally the Return of the Christ Spirit–with the new name that the Bible prophesied! And there are many prophecies in the Bible (and elsewhere) to support this.

As to how we–or you–or anyone, for that matter!–can be sure of this, that’s very simple! 🙂
  1. The Bible itself commands us to “Test the spirits!”
  2. Christ Himself also specifically promised, “Seek and ye shall find!” So the sincere seeker need neither despair nor worry that God won’t assist him or her!
  3. As to specifics, the Bible also states quite clearly that a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit, and vice versa! So we can take Jesus’ famous “fruits test” as our primary test of the goodness (or not) of any prophet or religion!
  4. Next, we can couple this truits test with the list of specific Fruits of the Spirit given in Galatians.
  5. And finally, as a key Biblical test of Baha’u’llah HImself, we can use the critical test in First John 4:2, a test which Baha’u’llah clearly PASSES!
So given that a bad tree can’t bring forth good fruit, we Baha’is find the Biblical answer pretty clear! . . .

(BTW, in the Baha’i view, God is Supreme and has no rival or equal! So there’s no “devil” in competition with Him! And in fact, “satan” refers to our own lower nature, when we give it control instead of our higher nature. The Baha’i scriptures explain about good and evil in some detail, in “Some Answered Questions.” We can post this here if you’re interested, or you ucan find it at
www.bahai-library.org
by clicking "Baha’i Writings / 'Abdu’l-Baha / Some Answered Questions.)

Best! 🙂

Bruce
 
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ERS83:
Hi Bruce 👍

I was looking for that Catholic pamphlet on the Baha’i Faith, but couldn’t find it. Please post it.
Happy to; here it is (in the attachment to this message)!

Enjoy! 🙂

Bruce
 
Hello lads,

Let me jump in here,

BruceDLimber said -
“If you recall, Jesus (as recorded in the Gospels) said He had much more to tell us, but that we weren’t then ready for it! So He promised to send the Spirit of Truth (and the Comforter) to lead us to All Truth!”
You see Baha’u’llah as the Spirit of Truth, but you must reconcile this with NT scripture. How do you explain the below quotes?

John 14:26
“But the Helper (Comforter), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you”
In all English NT translations, the helper (Comforter) is the Holy Spirit. This helper (Comforter) is to bear witness to the truth.

Now, here comes the problem text, one might very well miss it, but avoiding it just won’t do.

John 14:16+17
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter), that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you”
How then can Baha’u’llah be the Spirit Of Truth (The Comforter)?

(1) - Baha’u’llah was born about 1700 years after the events reported in the NT took place.

(2) - How would the Apostles know Baha’u’llah (Who you believe to be the Comforter) if he was not yet born?

As you can see, I have highlighted a number of problems, please, if you are willing, reconcile your belief with NT text.

NASB Translation used.
 
Hello Bruce and ERS,

I enjoyed your cogent posts.

I have been a serious student of Christianity for 25 years now (which led to my conversion to the RCC in 2002), but also took up a serious study of Islam and the Bahai faith in 1993. Through these studies, I must say in all honesty that if I were not a Catholic Christian, I would probably be a Bahai.

For those truly interested in studying the Bahai faith, I also endorse the following recommended site:

http://bahai-library.org/

Another excellent resource is at:

http://www.bahai-education.org/

This site has a down-loadable database (free) that includes all of the authoritative Bahai writings (and many other religions) that is fully searchable.

Aug
 
Hi, Enigma; goot to meet you! 🙂

Two preliminary questins, if I may:
  1. Most discussion areas I’ve seen allow the poster of a message to edit it later on, to make correctins or needed additions, but I find no such feature here. Does it in fact exist?
  2. And is there some sort of automatic editing/spell checking, and if so can it be disabled? In my original post, I spoke of “the Spirit of Truth (aka the Comforter)” but this showed up in the final posting as “and the Comforter,” which I’m SURE I didn’t say! (Indeed, even in this question it may be about to be changed again! If the above says “AND the Comforter” it should have been A - K - A the Comforter!) I don’t want or need to be second-guessed by the software.
Anyway, . . .
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Enigma:
Let me jump in here,

You see Baha’u’llah as the Spirit of Truth, but you must reconcile this with NT scripture. How do you explain the below quotes?

John 14:26

In all English NT translations, the helper (Comforter) is the Holy Spirit. This helper (Comforter) is to bear witness to the truth…
I’m well aware of that, yes.

But in the Baha’i view, the assignment of the Spirit of Truth and the Comforter to the Holy Spirit is a human interpretation not in the original text! And whlie it does indeed appear to fit, IME the Baha’i view of these two titles as applying to Baha’u’llah fits fully
as well!

We tend to draw a major dictinction between what an original Divine Revelation teaches, and what changes or additions later humans insert. Only the former is truly reliable–or even necessarily right!

And when this passage is coupled with all the other Biblical prophecies that we understand point to the Baha’i Era, we find what we have concluded is a most consistent and compelling case!

Enigma said:
John 14:16+17

How then can Baha’u’llah be the Spirit Of Truth (The Comforter)?


(1) - Baha’u’llah was born about 1700 years after the events reported in the NT took place.

(2) - How would the Apostles know Baha’u’llah (Who you believe to be the Comforter) if he was not yet born?

(If you remember, this said that the world could not yet receive the Comforter. This is fully compaible with Jesus’ statement that we weren’t ready then! So for this reason there was no way the Apostles could “receive” Him at that time!)

But all this fits well because of certain other things Baha’is stipulate about Divine Messengers like Jesus and Baha’u’llah.

Unlike ordinary humans, all Divine Messengers are preexistent.
While each is a distinct person who is born, lives, and dies like any other human, each is also directly invested by the Holy Spirit and exists spiritually throughout time, and are thus far more than just humans!! For this reason it was possible to speak of Baha’u’llah in Christ’s time even though He hadn’t yet been manifested. And it is the Holy Spirit in each of Them that makes Them all spiritually One (even though distinct individuals). And as the Baha’i scriptures explain, Each is thus the First and the Last, the Initiator and the Seal.

So we have no problem with any of these passages because they fit very nicely with our own scriptures and teachings!

Best,

Bruce
 
Hi!

I’ll add one more resource to what Augustine posted if I may.

For general information about the Baha’i Faith, please feel free to visit:
Code:
 [www.bahai.org](http://www.bahai.org)
Regards,

Bruce
 
Hello,

BruceDLimber said…
(If you remember, this said that the world could not yet receive the Comforter. This is fully compaible with Jesus’ statement that we weren’t ready then! So for this reason there was no way the Apostles could “receive” Him at that time!)
If you lack faith, you cannot receive because your mind is closed. The “see” and “know” is in regard to the invisible nature of the spirit (Comforter), to not " receive", “see” and “know” is the result of a lack of faith.
the world cannot receive , because it does not see Him or know Him
As you can see above, it is an issue vis-a-vis the flesh, the material world, remember what John said in his first epistle, the friend of the world is the enemy of God.

The world, not every individual case, in the first century did not abound with love and love obviously is key to faith. This is why Jesus said “the world” because the Apostles at that time were in the minority.

If you do not have faith, you cannot receive but you must place your faith in God through Jesus Christ, for what good is faith if it is misplaced?. So faith comes first in this case, though love which is not mentioned in the quote comes before faith, the Apostles, those of whom were left had love and faith, placed in God through Jesus Christ. This is why the Apostles received the comforter, as quoted below.

John 20:21…
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit

Your thoughts please…
 
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