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Highlights from

April 1992 talk by J. Douglas Martin,
member of the Universal House of Justice
(then Director-General of the
Bahá'í World Center Office of Public Information)

“Now, the House of Justice tells us that the moment has come for a dramatic new initiative in the Faith's public presentation of its message. What has so far been achieved creates a setting in which the central truth of the Bahá'í Cause may appear in its proper perspective, a stage upon which the Author of the Cause can Himself address our fellow human beings, their institutions, their information systems, their centers of learning.

“All of us have yearned for this day. It will bring together two aspects of our work on which a perceptive public relations specialist remarked two years ago. In an entirely friendly but objective manner he expressed the view that there seemed in fact to be 'two Bahá'í Faiths: the one that you share with the public and the private one, the one that motivates what you do. The difference between these two Faiths is Bahá’u’lláh'.

“... Fundamentally, the summons of the House of Justice requires that we re-examine everything we do in presenting the message of the Cause to the public. Every media interview, every submission to a United Nations conference, every public event we organize, every audio-visual presentation we create, every piece of music composed, every academic paper, any contribution to the drafting of a national constitution in all these activities, we must pose ourselves the question, 'How can this be reformulated so as to point to its source in Bahá’u’lláh?'

“Our task is to set in motion a broad array of initiatives that can establish Bahá’u’lláh's name as a familiar and authoritative voice in human affairs. The goal in the decades ahead is to reach the point the point where no responsible scholar will undertake work in fields as diverse as social anthropology, systems research, political and economic science, administrative theory, psychological methodology without consulting Bahá’u’lláh's teachings and the models He has constructed:

  • Where the media will routinely ask, ‘What does Bahá’u’lláh have to say about X, Y or Z?’
  • Where public agencies will have begun to include citations from Bahá’u’lláh's works in support of proposals being advanced or analyses made.
  • Where the masses of mankind will have begun to know who Bahá’u’lláh is and the nature of the mission He has undertaken.

“... The shift that is called for, however simple in nature, is a radical one. We are challenged to move beyond our current discussion of ‘Bahá’í principle’ to an exposition of what Bahá’u’lláh said, what Bahá’u’lláh wrote, what Bahá’u’lláh called for, what He explained, foresaw, cautioned against, proposed, envisioned. We need to share with others how Bahá’u’lláh suggested we look at this or that issue, how He advised us to approach this or that problem.

“... In short, questions of faith entirely aside, we are challenged to introduce leaders of thought and the public generally to the Author of a body of writings that propose radically new approaches to the central issues of life.

“... We have already had some experience of the storms of opposition that the proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh's mission will provoke. But a growing majority of those to whom our message is addressed will be people who want to understand, however skeptical, critical or reluctant they may appear.

“The challenge is particularly acute for those Bahá'ís who enjoy the advantages of education, opportunity and association. They are called on to relate Bahá’u’lláh's teachings to the concerns of their colleagues; to communicate His vision to leaders of thought; to focus their skills on building bridges between the insights of their disciplines, on the one hand, and the relevant truths in Bahá’u’lláh's writings, on the other.”

There is much more. None of the historical overview or context appears in the excerpts above, and I found this some of the most illuminating.
The full version of this talk can be found here.

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Web Page originally by Graham Sorenson; used and reworked with permission.