Authenticity

The existence of authoritative interpretations does not preclude the individual from engaging in the study of the Teachings and thereby arriving at a personal interpretation or understanding. A clear distinction is, however, drawn in the Bahá’í Writings between authoritative interpretation and the understanding that each individual arrives at from a study of its Teachings. Individual interpretations based on a person's understanding of the Teachings constitute the fruit of man's rational power and may well contribute to a greater comprehension of the Faith. Such views, nevertheless, lack authority. In presenting their personal ideas, individuals are cautioned not to discard the authority of the revealed words, not to deny or contend with the authoritative interpretation, and not to engage in controversy; rather they should offer their thoughts as a contribution to knowledge, making it clear that their views are merely their own.

Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 221-222

Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages.

Shoghi Effendi, 25 February 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles

As to the question raised by the Racine Assembly in connection with Bahá’u’lláh's statement in the 'Gleanings' concerning the sacrifice of Ishmael, although this statement does not agree with that made in the Bible, Genesis 22.9, the friends should unhesitatingly, and for reasons that are only too obvious, give precedence to the sayings of Bahá’u’lláh which, it should be pointed out, are fully corroborated by the Qur'án, which book is more authentic than the Bible including both the New and the Old Testaments. The Bible is not Wholly authentic, and in this respect is not to be compared with the Qur'án, and should be wholly subordinated to the authentic writings of Bahá’u’lláh.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 501

Bahá’u’lláh has made it clear enough that only those things that have been revealed in the form of Tablets have a binding power over the Friends. Hearsays may be matters of interest but can in no way claim authority. This basic teaching of Bahá’u’lláh was to preserve the Faith from being corrupted like Islam which attributes binding authority to all the reported sayings of Muhammad.

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 33

He would also urge you to attach no importance to the stories told about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá or to those attributed to Him by the Friends. These should be regarded in the same light as the notes and impressions of visiting pilgrims. They need not be suppressed, but they also should not be given prominence or official recognition.

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 33

I urge them to study profoundly the revealed utterances of Bahá’u’lláh and the discourses of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and not to rely unduly on the representation and interpretation of the Teachings given by Bahá’í speakers and teachers.

Shoghi Effendi, 20 March 1929