The Inner Light Rising
Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
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Jesus of Nazareth was the only begotten Son of God and the divinely chosen Representative of the Inner Light. He showed us the Way to become sons and daughters of God. Now, in our own time, the Inner Light has appeared as Bahá'u'lláh.

These Beings, and others such as the Buddha and Muhammad, embody and reveal the Inner Light. The rest of us are, contingent on the bounties of the Holy Spirit, either directly or indirectly inspired by it.

The attainment of the salvific or sanctifying actions of the Inner Light is a life-long process. Faith is gnosis (inner knowledge) followed by ergon (works) and charis (grace). One is saved from the Adamic nature through a continuing dialectic of repentance, or transformative praxis, and baptism in the Holy Spirit.

To the extent that we recognize and conform ourselves, inwardly and outwardly, to the Light of God, we are saved and live in a heavenly condition. Conversely, to the degree we fail to cultivate it, we, in effect, damn ourselves to a hellish existence of separation from that Light.

The Resurrections of the Prophets, including Jesus and Bahá'u'lláh, are metaphors for an Inner Light which rises in each of us as we enter into the Lebenswelten (lifeworlds) of repentance and grace. Moreover, this Inner Light, the Way, while manifested in Jesus and Bahá'u'lláh, is not restricted to Them or to Their followers. It can be seeded, if God wills, in anyone.

Our knowledge is merely in part (I Corinthians 13:9 and 12), and we must profess, in recognition of God's sovereign Will, a degree of agnosticism on the question of apokatastasis (universal salvation). Only so much of the Light has been afforded to us.

Nonetheless, our confession, as adherents of a primarily inclusivist soteriology, is to the possibility of a saving presence of the Light apart from a conscious recognition of God's Emissary. Under such conditions, God may, in this world or in the next and without circumventing the human will, elect to offer certain levels of salvation to most or all souls.

Other soteriologies are generally more problematic than decisive. Universalism or pluralism is the often categorical faith in universal salvation or belief that all paths are spiritually valid. While having some merit, this approach, when taken to an extreme, limits both the divine Will and human volition and denies the particularity of human religious experience. Exclusivism, the view that salvation is restricted to followers of a select individual or to members of a certain religion or branch of a religion, calls into question God's sovereign and free agency.

What then might be one's attitude when relating to other souls and examining diverse religious systems? One could inquire as to whether and how God's Light or Will is reflected in those persons and social constructions.

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