November 2009-January 2010 Online Courses


Chinese Religions for Deepening and Dialogue
Lead Faculty: Phyllis Chew
Faculty: Theo Cope and Anne Pearson

Duration of course: Three months (Nov. 1, 2009- Jan. 31, 2010)

In this course we will cover the rise and development of the Taoist and Confucian traditions; explore their ideas, values, and practices; consider the ways they are being modified and applied in the modern world; and examine their similarities to and differences from the Baha’i teachings. By studying Chinese thought and values, learners should obtain a greater appreciation of the Baha’i Faith and acquire experience in relating the Faith to Chinese people in an informed and respectful manner.



How to Study the Baha'i Writings
Lead Faculty: Sandra Hutchison
Faculty: Richard Hollinger

Duration of course: Three months (Dec. 15, 2009 - Mar. 15, 2010)

How to Study the Baha’i Writings is one of four basic courses offered by the Wilmette Institute. It is designed to introduce students to a method of studying the Baha’i scriptures systematically by using a number of literary and exegetical tools. In the course we will study selected passages from Baha’i scripture through nine “windows” into divine wisdom: Language; Theme; Structure; the Work as a whole; and the Work in four contexts: the Oeuvre (the body of other writings by the author), the Biography of the author; the Times in which He lived, the Persian-Arabic Literary Tradition, and the worldwide Scriptural Tradition. Through learning to read carefully, with attention to figurative language, theme, and the place of the work in the author's writings and in His life and times, as well as in the larger world of scriptural and literary traditions, we will develop tools for analyzing any Baha’i text systematically.



The Tabernacle of Unity
Lead Faculty: Susan Maneck
Faculty: Farhad Rassekh

Duration of course: Three months (Jan. 15 - Apr. 15, 2010)

The Tabernacle of Unity proclaims some of the central tenets of Baha’u’llah’s Faith and the universality of His prophetic claims. The book includes two tablets Baha’u’llah wrote for a Zoroastrian who admired Him and who asked questions about Zoroastrianism and Hinduism as well as three tablets addressed to Baha’is of Zoroastrian background. The first tablet to the Zoroastrian admirer discusses a variety of questions about the tenets of Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions, emphasizing what is right and true in the various doctrines. When the admirer indicated that he had hoped for more detailed answers, Baha'u'llah revealed a longer tablet (the second one in the book) elaborating on each of the questions. As a group, the tablets show Baha’u’llah’s love for the followers of a religion that arose in Iran, where His own revelation was born. In the course we will undertake a careful reading of the five tablets, exploring the Baha'i concepts of progressive revelation and the role of religion in advancing human civilization; the relevance of the book to interfaith dialogue; and what the tablets teach us about the process of revelation.





$150 Individual
$300 Study Group (312 members)
$120 Senior (65+)
$120 Full-Time University Student
$120 International Pioneer

For more information, see



Student News

The Impact of the Wilmette Institute:
Course Materials on the Story of Joseph Enrich a Talk on the Faith

Patricia Haynie of Jupiter, Florida, reported on a fireside she recently gave:

I gave a fireside Saturday by invitation about an hour south of here [Jupiter]. It's a very large event; about 100+ folks, with a full meal served as well. It was on the story of Joseph. So many seasoned Baha'is came up afterwards that were amazed they didn't know the importance of the story. One even said he always wondered why that was the topic of the Bab's first meeting with Mulla Husayn! The whole thing would have never happened without Wilmette Institute.

The Impact of the Wilmette Institute:
Course Teaches New Skills and Appreciation of Christianity

Peter van Driel of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, reports a new understanding of Christianity and its relationship to the Baha’i Faith

The course Christianity for Dialogue and Deepening explored biblical passages, rites, and the evolution of Christian-inspired thought. Invaluable insights were presented to describe how Christianity shaped the history of the world, in particular the “Western” world. Furthermore, comparisons were made to show relationships between Christian and Baha’i teachings and outlooks, through coursework, but more so through postings made by fellow students.

The course helped me better understand the teachings of both Faiths. Several key issues discussed included how Christian beliefs are reaffirmed, re-worked, or set aside through Baha’i teachings as part of Baha'u'llah's revelation. I was particularly intrigued with the discussion relating to the Holy Spirit and the Trinity, explained from both a Christian and Baha'i perspective.

Skills I acquired through this course include the following:

  • Reviewing passages in the Bible
  • Looking up Baha'i teachings and verses through the Ocean library
  • Conducting a literature search related to a particular topic of Bible passages and Baha'i scriptures.
  • Learning to look at a particular topic from a variety of angles and come up with workable solutions, answers, or common consensus about an issue.

I came to understand how much can be interpreted out of something that seems simple to read like a short Bible verse, when provided additional background information. This can lead to a very open-ended interpretation of a passage; however, it is important to think of a passage in the context of the intended meaning.

I also learned how the Baha'i teachings expand from Christian teachings, which has proven invaluable in talking to Christians about the Baha'i Faith, as well as better understanding both the Christian and Baha'i faiths on a personal level.

Throughout the course, as well as other activities over the summer related to the course, I have developed a new appreciation for both Christian and Baha'i teachings. In particular this course has helped me understand how Christianity has inspired many great individuals and has led to ideas and social progress since its inception. The course has helped me understand how to talk to Christians about how Christian teachings relate to Baha'i teachings. The materials presented have also proven helpful in answering such questions as how the Baha'i Faith acknowledges and respects the divine inspiration of Christianity.



The Impact of the Wilmette Institute:
Course Teaches Appreciation of the Beauty of Qur’an

Greg Samsa of Hillsborough, North Carolina, was surprised by what he gained from the Wilmette Institute course on the Qur’an:

I found that the specific facts that I learned about the Qur’an were less important than developing an appreciation for its artistic elements, which were hidden in the previous translations I had attempted to work my way through. The concept of organizing a society around something that, apart from being divine inspiration, is also a profound work of art was new to me and helped me develop a better appreciation of Islamic culture. Perhaps this anticipates the role of the arts in a future Baha'i civilization.

To date, the Qur’an was the only religious work that I had encountered that seemed to be more superstition than inspiration. Fortunately, this course provided material to reassess this belief, which provided me with considerable reassurance. I am much more reassured about the divine inspiration behind the Qur’an, and would like to follow up with a study of Islamic history to understand why it message seems to have been so badly misinterpreted.

The Wilmette Institute was established in January 1995 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. The Institute offers quality online courses on the Baha'i Faith. It is committed to engaging a broad and diverse international community of learners in deep study of the Faith and to fostering love for study of the Faith.

All online courses include Web-based forums for students and faculty, systematic study plans, and a wide variety of aids to help students apply their learning in their local communities.

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Upcoming Courses

November 1, 2009 - January 31, 2010:
Chinese Religions for Deepening and Dialogue

December 15, 2009 - March 15, 2010:
How to Study the Baha'i Writings

January 15, 2010 - April 15, 2010:
The Tabernacle of Unity

February 1, 2010 - Apr. 30, 2010:
Islam for Deepening and Dialogue

February 15, 2010 - May 15, 2010:
Charters of the Faith: The Tablet of Carmel, the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha,
and the Tablets of the Divine Plan

March 15, 2010 - June 15, 2010:
Building the Fortress:
Marriage and Family Life

April 1, 2010 – June 30, 2010

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

April 15, 2010 – July 15, 2010

Science and Religion

May 1, 2010 – July 31, 2010

Buddhism for Deepening and Dialogue

May 15, 2010 – August 15, 2010

Baha'u'llah's Revelation: A Systematic Survey

June 7, 2010 – September 7, 2010
The Secret of Divine Civilization


July 15, 2010 – November 15, 2010
Zoroastrianism for Deepening and Dialogue


August 15, 2010 – November 15, 2010
The World Order of Baha’u’llah: Selected Letters



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Phone 1.877.WILMETTE (1.877.945.6388) - Fax: 1.847.733.3563
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