A critique of the Baha'i faith from a Christian perspectiveIntroduction
The Baha'i faith grew out of Islam. It is not a sect of Islam, just as Christianity is not a sect of Judaism. It recognizes Muhammad in the same way as it recognizes Jesus. It is a religion that aims at one world government and one common faith. Baha'is believe that all religions derive from one God. Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha, etc., are prophets who preceded their own prophets Bab and then Baha'u'llah who is the last and greatest of the prophets or manifestations of the one God. The central truth of this sect is the oneness and unity of mankind. All races and all religious truth find their source in the one God.
Symbols of the faith
i] "The Ringstone", a calligraphic form of the word "Baha", (in Arabic the word means "glory"). The three horizontal lines represent the three levels of existence: God, the messenger of God, and mankind. The vertical stroke represents the revelations of God, via the prophet, to mankind. For the Baha'i, the last and the greatest of God's messengers is Baha'u'llah. The Ringstone symbol is often worn on jewelry.
ii] The Arabic symbol "Ya Baha'u'-Abha", which means "O Glory of the All Glorious." This symbol is often displayed in homes and at Baha'i meeting places.
iii] The nine-pointed star is the general symbol of Baha'i. It is the number of completeness representing the nine manifestations of God, ie. the nine messengers/prophets sent by God to mankind.
iv] The nine-pointed sunburst is the symbol often used in Baha'i literature.
Shiites believe that Muhammad's son-in-law, Ali, is the only legitimate successor of Muhammad. Ali's twelve descendents are believed to be the "gates" into the true faith. When the twelfth successor went missing in the ninth century AD, a belief arose that he would reappear as a kind of messiah.
In 1844 a Shiite named Mirza Ali Muhammad, nicknamed the Bab, claimed to be that person. He promoted radical religious and social change, improving the status of women, but also promoting fundamentalist book-burning and opposition to secular instruction in law, philosophy etc. Social unrest, including the attempted assassination of the Shah of Iran, prompted the execution of Bab in 1850, and the persecution of his followers, the Babis. The Bab predicted that a person would follow him who would form a universal religion.
One of his disciples, Mirza Husayn, was imprisoned in Tehran, and on being banished to Constantinople in 1863, announced to his fellow Babis that he was the promised one. He then took the name Baha'u'llah (the glory of God). Another contender for this position was Subhi-I-Azal (morning of eternity), Baha'u'llah's younger brother. Some even claim he was appointed by the Bab to the position. In the strife that followed, he and his family were sent to Cyprus by the Turkish authorities. Most Babis follow Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah was finally banished to the prison city of Akka in Israel, then under Turkish rule. Here he received visitors, directed missionaries and wrote. His main work is the Kitab-i-Agdas (laws), along with countless letters to both heads of state and world religious leaders. He died in 1892, aged 75.
Baha'u'llah's son, Abbas Effendi, later known as 'Abdu'l-Baha, took over the leadership, although he never claimed to be a manifestation from God as was his father. He was released from prison and toured America and Europe establishing Baha'i assemblies. He was knighted by the British in 1920 and died in 1921.
Baha'i leadership passed to Abdu'l-Baha' grandson, Shoghi Effendi. Effendi died in 1957. Disputes arose with a possible successor, Jason Remey, who was excommunicated. He was to form a separate organization called "The Orthodox Baha'i Faith." The rest formed the "Baha'i World Faith" governed by elected local assemblies of a minimum of 9 representatives, and the National Assembly which was made up of representatives from around the world. The National Assembly appoints the main governing body called the Universal House of Justice. The first was established in 1963. Many orthodox Baha'is still follow Remey and his successors.
God is an unknowable essence. His divinity is beyond comprehension. Yet, he has chosen to reveal himself to humanity through his manifestations. These manifestations, or prophets, serve to reveal the truth about God. Although the Baha'i recognize nine legitimate manifestations: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Zoroaster, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Hud, Salih, the Bab, and Baha'u'llah, both the Bab and Baha'u'llah produced conflicting lists, often more than nine. Eternal truth is found by comparing the teachings from these prophets and extracting those truths with which they agree, or those truths that can be reconciled (an impossible oneness!).
When it comes to the person of Jesus Christ, the Baha'i faith contradicts the following four central doctrines:
i] Jesus is God incarnate. The eternal God not only didn't incarnate himself, he couldn't.
ii] Jesus will return. The Bahai believe that Jesus has already returned in the manifestation of Baha'u'llah.
iii] Jesus rose bodily from the grave. Jesus' resurrection is spiritual not physical.
iv] Jesus is the only way. The exclusive work of Christ is denied. Jesus was replaced by Muhammad. Each manifestation has power to save, not just Jesus.
Biblical proofs The Baha'i sect often uses the Bible to prove their religious credentials:
i] Daniel 8:13-17. 2,300 evenings and mornings = years, and this counted from 457BC, the edict of Artaxerxes, arrives at 1844AD, and thus the passage predicts the coming of Abdu'l-Baha'. Yet the days probably refer to the oppression of the Jews in 171BC by Antiochus and the cleansing of the Temple in 165BC by Judas Maccabaeus.
ii] Isaiah 11:1-10. The first part of the prophecy is supposed to refer to Jesus (the root of Jesse) and the second to Baha'u'llah. It surely refers to the messiah's dual mission.
iii] John 16:12-13. Baha'u'llah is supposed to be the Spirit of Truth foretold by Jesus. In the context, the Spirit of Truth is the Counselor, the Holy Spirit.
iv] Isaiah 35:1-2. The prophecy predicts messiah will teach on Mt.Carmel and in the Valley of Sharon. Baha'u'llah, banished to Akka, taught in these places, therefore he is the one sent by God. The trouble is many people have taught there.
v] Isaiah 9:1, 6, 7. It is claimed that Jesus could not have fulfilled this prophecy, eg. He had nothing to do with government, he was never called the Prince of Peace.
vi] Daniel's 1,335 days is supposed to equal 1,335 years from Hijrat (the flight of Muhammad from Mecca) to the beginning of "universal peace" = 1957. In the 1970 edition of Abdu'l-Baha's book his false prophecy is left out, given what we are told to do with false prophets in Deuteronomy, Deut.18:21-22.
The main teachings of the Baha'i
i] The oneness of the world of humanity.
ii] Independent investigation of the truth.
iii] Abolition of all prejudices.
iv] Agreement between science and religion.
v] Equality of the sexes.
vi] A universal auxiliary language.
vii] Education for all, everywhere.
viii] The spiritual solution of economic problems.
ix] A universal faith based on the identity of the foundations of the great religions.
x] A world union governed by the representatives of all peoples.
A person applies to the local Baha'i community for admission to the faith. They are expected to accept the Baha'i belief. "Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner, the Author, and the true Exemplar of the Baha'i Cause, as set forth in Abdu'l-Baha's Testament; unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our beloved's sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of the present day Baha'i administration throughout the world."
There are no paid clergy. Members share their faith with friends and acquaintances and invite them to fellowship meetings. People are attracted to the cult because of its New Age profile. It appeals to people's idealism, and their desire to reduce the social, political, educational and religious barriers which divide the human race. There is little doctrine to be learnt.
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