On August 19, 2020, I began an online course held every Wednesday evening from 8:00 pm Eastern Time utilizing the Zoom platform. Sessions are recorded so that they can be played here by clicking on the picture included below the class number, title, and description. These classes are not intended to be a substitute for the Ruhi Institute courses, but will hopefully augment some of the same crucial subjects raised in that sequence. Each session will begin with a presentation, followed by a Q & A with participants. Due consideration is given for those who are not Bahá’ís, both in the sequence of presentations and in the discussions that follow. Some of the material discussed will be taken from the sequence of books I have written that are listed and described on this website —links for purchasing books are included below. PDF files containing the PowerPoint slides are available on the description of each video once the class is accessed below.
Professor Hatcher’s YouTube Channel for the Course
Professor Hatcher’s Amazon Site:
Bahá’í Bookstore Site
Class 1: Religion and Human History
This first class discusses what the Bahá’í writings indicate is an inextricable relationship between the advent of the Manifestations or Prophets of God and the advancement of human civilization. It further broaches the idea that creation itself emanates from the desire of God to be known that human beings can thereby become enlightened and evolve spiritually and materially, both in this life and the afterlife.
Class 2: The Face of God Among Us – part one
This is Class #2 in the ongoing series of classes/firesides. It is part one in a series of classes that will discuss the nature, purpose, powers, and suffering of the Manifestation, largely as derived from my book “The Face of God Among Us.”
Class #3 Establishing a Personal Relationship with God through His Manifestation
While it is certainly valuable and intellectually rewarding to study the logic underlying the Bahá’í theory of progressive revelation, one can only derive an authentic personal belief in God or His Messenger from an ongoing relationship with the Manifestation. Otherwise, our belief is limited to theory rather than to any substantive change in our lives.
Class/Fireside #4 The Poetic Language of the Prophets
For what reason do the Prophets or Manifestations of God employ various types of figurative imagery in the verses They reveal. If Their purpose is to teach us, then what is gained by veiling their language in poetic devices that, for most people, make the meaning of these teachings more difficult to understand. Christ, among other Prophets, explains the rationale for this indirection, and Baha’u’llah actually demonstrates how to interpret symbolic language in “The Book of Certitude.”
Class/Fireside #5 – Figurative Language—from Beowulf to Bahá’u’lláh
Examining samples of poetic language—principally from the Abrahamic religions—Professor Hatcher’s weekly Zoom class welcomes new participants, so invite friends and family to join our weekly discussion related to the Bahá’í teachings. This Wednesday we will examine samples from Biblical and Bahá’í scripture to appreciate the value of the poetic style of scripture that is so often challenging for us to understand.
Class/Fireside #6 – A Strategic Approach to Progressive Revelation
While mixed in with all our discussions are various insights into Bahá’í teachings, we will for the next few classes focus primarily on Progressive Revelation, not so much as a theory, but analyzed systematically by reviewing the sequence of Abrahamic religions. This class will examine the overlay or schema with which we will undertake this review.
Class/Fireside #7 – The Structure of the Old Testament and the Highlights of the Judaic Dispensation
In addition to examining the overall stories and characters that populate the four thousand years of history represented in the Old Testament, this class attempts to summaries the major concepts that underlie the origin and evolution of Judaism and the Judaic people. Besides the oral formulaic and symbolic/mythological nature of the the narratives, we discuss the meandering journey of these people from the time of Abraham to the establishment of the Land of Israel as Moses’ successor Joshua leads the Israelites into Canaan where, ultimately, the effulgence of Israel emerges as a mighty kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon.
Class/Fireside #8 – Fulfillment of Messianic Prophecies
This class/fireside is the first in a series of classes dedicated to a study of Christianity from the Baha’i perspective of the gradual unfolding of the Abrahamic religions, all of which lead up to their fulfillment with the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, even though the education of humankind and the succession of future Manifestations will continue.
Class/Fireside #9 – A Baha’i View of Some of the Highlights of Christ’s Ministry and Revelation
This class focuses on those particular statements of Christ regarding the law and His station in relation to God. We will likewise take note of those events that have particular relevance to how the Christian religion takes shape after Christ’s crucifixion, especially during the Apostolic period.
Class #10 – A Baha’i Look at Christian beliefs about Christ, Salvation, Primal Sin, & Anti-feminism.
This class/fireside discusses the seeds of conflict among the apostles after the crucifixion of Christ, especially regarding what laws were incumbent on new believers, as well as ideas introduced by Paul regarding women, primal sin, and the concept of salvation. These, in addition to the crucial question of the station of Christ (Christology) become the source of schism in Christianity relatively soon in the history of the church.
Class #11 – The Rise and Fall of Christian Doctrine – Three Forces Shape Religion During the “Dark Ages”
Not that long after the persecution of Christians by the Romans ceased, there arose among Christian ecclesiastics disputes about the ontology of Christ, the station of Mary, and a number of other doctrinal issues that a sequence of ecumenical councils attempted to resolve. Most famously at the first Council of Nicaea in 325, the doctrine was established that Christ and God were the same essence. Soon after, Christianity was accepted as the state religion of the Roman Empire. This discourse traces the historical events that set the stage for the advent of Muhammad,Who, among other things, deals directly with this matter and establishes a theology which provides a coherent overview of the succession of Abrahamic religions, as opposed to the Christian doctrine that the advent of Christ was a singular event in the human history.
Class #12 – Transition from Christianity to Islam – The Schisms in Christianity and the Emergence of Islam
After the various ecumenical councils failed to provide a unified creed, especially regarding Christology, the Great Schism between the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Catholic division of Christianity occurred in 1054, followed by the Crusades where Christianity attempted to re-take the Holy Land from the Moslems, and then the Reformation in 1517, marking the schism between Western Catholicism and the Protestant movement, which itself generated a plethora of denominations and sects. Meanwhile, Muhammad had appeared in Arabia in the 7th century, founding Islam, which, after unifying the tribes of Arabia, proceeded to spread the religion and conquer major portions of North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, and establishing influential centers of learning in Spain, the source–according to the Baha’i Writings–of the impetus that brought about the Renaissance. This brief discussion alludes to this transition by way of introducing our study of Islam.
Class #13 – A Study of Islam from a Baha’i Perspective: The Life of Muhammad – part one
This class discusses some of the historical and cultural background in Arabia during the time when Muhammad lived. Focusing on the functions of the cities of Mecca and Medina, this discussion begins with the theory of how the Manifestations choose where They will appear, what persona They will assume, and how They receive the first intimation of Their Revelation.
Class #14 – A Study of Islam from a Baha’i Perspective: The Life of Muhammad – part two
This class will discuss the events after Muhammad receives the first intimations of His revelation: His reveled teachings, the persecution of His followers by His own clan, the emigration to Medina (the date marking the first year of the Islamic Calendar), and His creative endeavors to provide political unity for the diverse peoples of Medina. (Plus, what is meant by the cleaving of the moon!!)
Class #15 – A Study of Islam from a Baha’i Perspective: The Life of Muhammad – part three
After escaping the attempt on His life in Mecca by emigrating with His believers to Medina, Muhammad and His followers face a series of attempts by the Quraysh and their allies to kill Muhammad and stop the spread of Islam. This discussion focuses on the three major battles, followed by Muhammad’s victorious entrance into Mecca, where He cleanses the Kaaba and continues His mission to spread Islam and bring unity and religious norms to Arabia.
This class will discuss the events leading up to the death of Muhammad and how Umar contrives to assume control of Islam, in spite of what the Prophet had clearly intended, thereby diverting the course of this great religion from many of its intended objectives and ultimately perverting some of its central teachings, including the continuity of the Cause of God beyond the Day of Days.
Class-Fireside #17 – Critical Thinking and our attitude towards Muhammad and Islam
This class will discuss the value of employing the tools of critical thinking as we assess our knowledge of and attitudes towards Muḥammad and Islam. This discussion will focus particularly on how we can avoid letting the current actions of certain Islamic factions undermine what we know from authoritative sources to be the truth about Muḥammad and His revelation. For while the religion was fractured early on, its deviation from the intended course was no more grievous than was the course of Christianity.
Class-Fireside #18 – Islam – Part 6: Jihad and the Relativity of Justice
This class discusses the complexity of the concept of Jihad as it applies to the attempt by the Manifestations to implement social justice based on spiritual principles. In particular, we will allude to the distinctions among the Abrahamic religions as each Manifestation must adapt laws of His Revelation to the exigencies of the historical context in which He appears. We will also discuss the distinction between justice at the level of the individual and at the level of the community.
Class-Fireside #19 – Islam – Part 7: Some Major Themes of the Qur’an
This class discusses five of the major themes of the Qur’án: (1) Monotheism & the powers and attributes of God; (2) Interpretation of the abstruse versus the “perspicuous” verses; (3) The Qur’án and Christology (4) The Qur’án and Progressive Revelation (5) The Qur’án and Eschatology.
Class-Fireside #20 – Islam – Feminism and the Sharia
Class-Fireside #21 – The Baha’i Theory of Governance
This class discusses the Baha’i theory of governance as outlined in the Guardian’s in one portion of his World Order letters.