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4, 2011

Question: Do you believe we’re in the ‘last days’?

 I believe — and with this belief goes the ardent hope — that we are living in the last days: the last days of global internecine warfare, menacing nationalism, haughty racism, devouring fanaticism, divisive tribalism, sickening materialism, deplorable atheism, grinding poverty, sexual inequality, chronic hunger, economic chaos and widespread meaninglessness. But the question refers to a particular religious belief.

It is important to note the belief in “the last days” is not just held by the biblical literalists. It is taught scripturally in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism. This last named religion was the first to teach the doctrine of a “final judgment” already by 500 BCE. Zoroastrian eschatology parallels closely Jewish (Day of the Lord/End of Days), Christian (Second Coming) and Islamic (Judgment Day/Day of Resurrection) eschatological beliefs. In both Hinduism and Buddhism, long cycles of destruction are followed by a Golden Age, when their messianic figures will appear (Buddha Maitreya and Kalki, 10th incarnation of Krishna).

In all these traditions, the last days are a severe testing-time, with woe and tribulation such as the world has never seen. Does this sound like our time? But this purgation is followed by a glorious age, the Kingdom of God on earth.

The Bahá’í Faith makes a startling claim in this regard. Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the Prophet-Founder of this world religion, claimed to be the universal Promised One of the world religions who was to usher in this coming era of world unity. While the claim will be shocking to some, and rejected by others as not conforming to their understanding of scripture, nonetheless, such a weighty claim deserves investigation.

He wrote, for example: “Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behoveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p. 10).
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen December 4, 2011
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