Infallible Institutions?

Infallibility is a complex term in Baha'i scripture that has not been much discussed in Bahá'í secondary literature. The concept, which has analogies in Catholicism and Islam, is historically burdened and has become obsolete in secular thought. The paper analyses two categories of “infallibility”: essential infallibility which is inherent in the messengers of God, and conferred infallibility which is a characteristic of the institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. This paper focuses on the Universal House of Justice. Does its infallibility operate to an unlimited extent? Are every one of its decisions infallible, and if not, what are its boundaries? The immanent limits of this charisma are analysed and a detailed argument provided that supports a defensible restrictive interpretation.