Revelation – the Passé Term for Many Scholars and Religious Adherents

clouds-heaven“I was gazing at my Twin-Spirit with my eyes of light, beholding my glorious Father, him who waits for me ever, opening before me the gate unto the height. I spread out my hands, praying unto him; I bent my knees, worshipping him also, that I might divest myself of the image of the flesh and put off the vesture of manhood.” (Mar Mani’s account of his encounter with the “Twin-Spirit”; from L.J.R. Ort’s Mani: A Religio-historical Description of His Personality, Brill Archive, 1967)

In all of my scholarly studies on the Manichaean Religion, and several other faiths that originated in the Middle or Near East, little if any was ever referred to about the topic of revelation, specifically divine or continuing revelation from a Higher Source or from its founders or prophets. Scholars write tome after tome about an ancient religious group, but their studies are always devoid of the possibility that divine revelation could even exist, either during the foundational years of the particular religious movement or in later years.

Even some followers of modern day revisions of some ancient religions or even those that have existed since ancient times without any period of decline, tend to relegate the subject of continuing revelation to a footnote or a brief note in passing tucked away in the corner of an appendix. In mainstream Christianity, for example, the belief exists that revelation was in fact part of the “early church,” but that such revelation came to a conclusion early in the first or possibly second century A.D. with the death of the last apostle.

In the Manichaean Religion, there was the revelation given to young Mani by what is referred to as his “twin companion.” This heavenly being instructed Mani to leave the Mandaeans in which he was associated and in later years received further revelation. In modern day Manichaeism, in fact in the Manichaean Renaissance, there is still the ever present fact of divine revelation or continuing revelation. The few modern day Manichaeans I have spoken with believe wholeheartedly in continuing revelation. I had the privilege of interviewing one of the highest ranking leaders of the Holy and Ancient Manichaean Church, Mar Innai Kharba. He shared with me the Manichaean creed which states with no uncertainty that “all True Religion comes through Divine Revelation.” Manichaeans not only believe revelation was part of the early development of the Manichaean Church during the Prophet’s time but that such revelation continues in modern times in an unbroken chain. Mar Innai Kharba said: “The secularist view is the antithesis of the Manichaean view; they believe revelation has no place in the presentation of religion in the world, where Manichaeans believe that revelation is central to any greater understanding of spiritual truth.”

In one of the Chinese Manichaean (called Monijiao) daily practices which focuses on its principles of faith we read: “I profess that Buddha Mani was and is a Light and Teacher of Truth who was given a Divine Revelation for all clans and nations.”

It’s not far fetched to believe in continuing divine revelation. It’s shameful that scholars and even some religious believers feel the term is passé or that it should be used as a designation for the superstitious.