Sunday, April 21, 2013

"How can this be true if Jesus Christ is our lord and savior?" (Part 2)

At the very top of the Baha'i Gardens, looking down into Haifa's bay on the Mediterranean.

This is the continuation of this post about touring the north coast of Israel with my parents, in late March.

After seeing Caesarea and Tel Aviv, my parents came up to Haifa to visit the areas where Caroline and I have been living and working. The main event for the day was seeing the Baha'i Gardens, the 2nd holiest site for this religion (the top holy site for them is just 20 minutes north in the city of Acco, where their prophet and founder is buried).
The Baha'i sure do know how to cultivate a garden. Wow!

We arrived late for the tour, and they are very strict about entry to the gardens. Caroline and I had accidentally gone to the middle entrance instead of the top entrance, where it turns out that the tours begin. We managed to talk the guard into letting us run ahead to join the tour by telling them that my parents were already there and we needed to catch up. Of course, this made us feel a little silly when a few seconds after we entered, my parents arrived - even later than us! Oh well, the guard let them in too and we all caught up with the tour.

The tour was led by a young israeli woman who was not Baha'i. She did a nice job explaining some of the basic tenets to us: the Baha'i believe that all older religions are different aspects of the one true religion (including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but also Buddhism and Hinduism and others). Their religion is focused on equality between genders and between different groups of people, and peace throughout the world. Actually, sounds pretty hard to disagree with!

Well, we did have one person in the group who disagreed. At one stop on the tour after explaining about the Baha'i prophets who founded the religion around 100 years ago, the guide asked "any questions?" but I don't think she was expecting this one.

A middle aged woman raised her hand and asked: "How can the Baha'i believe in this? Do they know that Jesus Christ is the true lord and savior?"

The guide tried to politely deflect the question, and said that she was just a guide, not a Baha'i herself, so she couldn't really answer that.

The questioner didn't take the hint, and didn't notice everyone else glancing around uncomfortably, so she asked again: "But their religion cannot be true, because Christ is the only true path to salvation."

This went on for a few more back-and-forths. Needless to say, it was pretty awkward, especially on a tour about a religion that preaches peace and understanding between all groups of people. Oh well.

Here are some more pictures of the beautiful Baha'i gardens:
Haifa is a VERY hilly city, which means that the gardens have great views throughout.

I think this is some sort of archive building.
They do a great job with use of colored materials. The white stone looks great against the green gardens, and they have red gravel paths that add another accent (can't see them here).
The gardens are symmetrical along the center line. You can see the red gravel paths here.

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