Notes from a talk by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on differing approaches to delivering the Message.
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Limited and unlimited teaching
About teaching. You may teach in two ways. One way is limited teaching; another way is the unlimited teaching.
Teaching in a limited way consists of the following, namely: explaining the proofs and evidences in regard to the principles of Baha’u’llah, quoting prophecies from the Old and New Testaments, stating that that Day has come. Moreover the intellectual proofs and evidences are this and this, etc. The principles of Baha’u’llah have been set forth with such potency and penetration that no one can deny them. While He was in prison, He was in chains, and He wrote important Epistles to the Kings and Rulers of the world. All that which He wrote in these letters came to pass later on. The Tablets of Baha’u’llah do exist quoting therein wonderful signs which appeared to Baha’u’llah during the various periods of His life.
While in prison He withstood two despotic kings, and He gained victory over both. In prison He raised His Banner, He spread His Teachings and spiritually defeated two despotic kings. They could not prevent the spread of His Teachings. In brief, while in prison, He raised the Ensign of His Principles. This is impaneled in the history of the world. Such dominion appeared from Him, and such potency manifested from His personality. There are many instances of such, and when a person explains these things, He is guiding. He is teaching, He is crying out. This is teaching in a limited sense [!].
Teaching in an unlimited sense consists of the following and is very good, very great: the teacher himself (or herself) becomes the standing proof of Baha’u’llah — that he (or she) may become a miracle of Baha’u’llah with such power and such knowledge and desire such actions and such words and character, and such heavenly powers, that you may live amongst the people, that you may be a proof, undeniable proof, of Baha’u’llah.
If someone ask: “What is the proof of Baha’u’llah?” one may say such a person — there is the proof; look at her. Baha’u’llah has educated this person. He has awakened this soul. He has quickened this life. He has made this person a speaker; He has given her knowledge, made her holy, made her sanctified — a shining light — He has made her a sun.
This is the unlimited teaching.
(Brown, Memories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 66-67)