* Organizational Structure and
* Fundamental Principles
* Jesus Christ
* Return of Christ
* Sin, Evil, Satan
CRITIQUE OF BAHA'I TEACHINGS:
* Fundamental Principles
* Doctrinal Beliefs:
- Jesus Christ
- Return of Christ
- Sin, Evil, Satan
* Contradictions Within Baha'ism
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
AN OVERVIEW OF
THE BAHA'I FAITH
Copyright © April 1996; reprinted 1998, 2005.
Used by Cults.co.nz with permission.
SOUTHERN EVANGELICAL SEMINARY
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
AP4 – WORLD RELIGIONS
For more in-depth research, this article is available
as a PDF file.
Acrobat Reader is required.)
The German word Zeitgeist means the trend of thought and
feeling in a period, the spirit of the age. In the late 20th century
the Zeitgeist seems to be the prevailing desire for there
to be unity in spite of differences and tolerance for almost any
thought, behavior or idea, whether political, social or religious.
It is because of this mindset that the religion of Baha'i has such
great potential to be spiritually destructive (or very successful,
from the Baha'i perspective) on a worldwide scale.
The basic concept of the Baha'i faith is that there is only one
God who created one human family and the worlds major religions
are a progressive revelation of Gods teachings for this family of
mankind. For this reason, people from virtually any religious background
can be accepted and made to feel at home in the Baha'i religion
since they are not required to abandon all of the teachings from
their original faith. Baha'ism is an amalgamation of the most prominent
religions throughout history which, according to the Baha'is, all
represent the one true and universal religion that God wants everyone
to embrace. This has great appeal to the masses who, not having
a clear understanding of biblical theology, are caught up in the
ecumenical current flowing throughout the world today.
In this paper we intend to examine the background of the Baha'i
religion and its basic teachings. We will evaluate the tenets of
this faith in the light of orthodox Christian doctrine. The logical
and philosophical aspects of Baha'i claims will also be analyzed
to see if they are internally consistent.
Back to top.
The movement that has become known as Baha'i originated out of
the Islamic sect of the Shiites in Persia (Iran) in 1844 when Mirza
Ali Muhammad, a descendant of the founder of Islam, declared himself
to be the Bab (meaning gate). He said he was the Madhi (Messiah)
for whom the Muslims were waiting, and referred to himself as a
manifestation of God. He announced that he was the forerunner of
the World Teacher who would appear to unite mankind and bring a
new era of peace.
As the following of the Bab grew and his teachings became more
popular, orthodox Muslims and the government condemned the movement
and persecuted its followers. In an effort to prevent a political
uprising, the Bab was imprisoned. But despite his bondage, the Bab
taught that the Islamic dispensation had passed and that the people
would now follow his teachings. He predicted that he had prepared
the way for another manifestation of God to come who would be greater
than he, whom the Bab referred to as he whom God will manifest.
The Bab was publicly executed in 1850.
In 1863, Mirza Husayn Ali, an imprisoned follower of the Bab, declared
that he was the manifestation of God promised by the Bab. Because
he had been one of the leaders of the Babi movement, most of the
Babis embraced him as he whom God will manifest. Ali took for himself
the name Baha'u'llah, which means the glory of God, and his followers
became known as Baha'is.
Although he spent the rest of his life as a prisoner of the government
in various cities, Baha'u'llah wrote over 100 books and letters
describing the universal faith. These writings are considered sacred
by the Baha'is. At the end of his life he spent several years in
exile in the prison city of Akka, where he was free to roam the
city and own palaces and gardens, purchased with the funds donated
by his followers. He died a natural death in 1892 at the age of
The leadership of the Baha'is was assumed by the oldest son of
Baha'u'llah, 'Abbas Effendi, who took the name 'Abdu'l-Baha', which
means the servant of Baha. Although he never claimed to be a divine
manifestation as did his two predecessors, 'Abdu'l-Baha' proclaimed
that he was the only rightful interpreter of the writings of his
father and that his own writings carried equal weight to those of
Baha'u'llah. After being freed from prison in 1908, 'Abdu'l-Baha'
wrote and traveled extensively, promulgating the Baha'i religion
in Europe and North America. 'Abdu'l-Baha' died in 1921. Because
of a stipulation in his will, he was succeeded by his eldest grandson,
Shoghi Effendi, as the leader of the movement.
The emphasis of Effendi's leadership was on organizing and establishing
local and national spiritual assemblies so that the teachings of
Baha'u'llah could be propagated throughout the world. Since the
death of Effendi in 1957, the Baha'is have been governed by an elected
body of Baha'i representatives called the Universal House of Justice.
Back to top.
Organizational Structure and Outreach
There are three levels in the organizational structure of the Baha'i
religion. First, there is the local spiritual assembly which may
meet in a home or center and must have at least nine members. There
is no clergy or formal house of worship as with most religions.
There is only a teacher who leads group discussions. Second, there
is the national spiritual assembly which is made up of nine members
elected yearly at the national conventions. And third, that is the
Universal House of Justice which is comprised of nine representatives
elected every five years from the national spiritual assemblies
throughout the world.
The Baha'is have their international headquarters in Haifa, Israel.
There are eight Baha'i national temples located around the world,
including the American headquarters in Wilmette, Illinois.
At a November, 1992, gathering in New York City of Baha'is from
around the world to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death
of Baha'u'llah, it was asserted that there are over five million
members of the faith in more than 90,000 localities in 155 countries.
More than 2100 ethnic groups are represented among the followers
of Baha'u'llah, and Baha'i literature has been translated into over
500 languages. Baha'ism has been called one of the worlds fastest
growing religions, and due to its virtually all-encompassing theological
tenets, this is easily understandable. It is very evangelistic.
Back to top.
The Baha'i religion is founded upon three basic
beliefs: the oneness of God, the oneness of religion, and the oneness
of mankind. From this foundation, thirteen core principles have
been enumerated by the leaders of the faith.
1. The oneness of the entire human race is the pivotal principle
and the fundamental doctrine of the faith. This principle is essential
to Baha'i. It is the basis for its teachings and practices.
2. There must be an independent search after truth, unfettered
by superstition or tradition. Anyone who wishes to be a Baha'i must
be willing to search out the truth of God without relying on the
prophets and the traditions of the past. The freedom of man from
superstition and imitation, so that he may discern the Manifestation
of God with the eye of Oneness, and consider all affairs with keen
sight... is one of the basic teachings of Baha'i.
3. There is a basic unity of all religions. Baha'i teaches that
all religions essentially preach the same message. This is not to
say that differences do not exist among the religions of the world,
but Baha'i doctrine states that all minor differences should be
forgotten. In a conversation with a visitor, Baha'u'llah said:
That all nations should become one in faith and
all men as brothers; that the bonds of affections and unity between
the sons of men should cease, and the differences of race be annulled.
. . . These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and
all men be as one kindred and one family.
4. All forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or
national, are condemned. In one of his speeches in Paris 'Abdu'l-Baha'
Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars
and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth; it should give
birth to spirituality, and bring light and life to every soul. If
religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred, and division, it would
be better to be without it... Any religion which is not a cause
of love and unity is no religion.
5. Harmony must exist between religion and science. Baha'i arose
in the nineteenth century, when great battles were fought between
established religions and the newly emerging sciences. These two
forces must be harmonized.
Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, said:
That which is in conformity with science is also
in conformity with religion. Whatever the intelligence of man cannot
understand, religion ought not to accept. Religion and science walk
hand in hand, and any religion contrary to science is not the truth.
6. There is equality of men and women. Baha'i may be the only religion
in the world that has asserted from the beginning that women are
equal to men.
Humanity is like a bird with its two wings – the
one is male, the other female. Unless both wings are strong and
impelled by some common force, the bird cannot fly heavenwards.
According to the spirit of this age, women must advance and fulfill
their mission in all departments of life, becoming equal to men.
7. Compulsory education must prevail. Although neither Baha'u'llah
nor 'Abdu'l-Baha' had the opportunity of formal education, both
preached that universal education was a necessary condition for
world peace and stability.
8. In addition to universal education, Baha'i teaches that there
should be a universal language. Baha'u'llah said:
We commanded the Trustees of the House of Justice,
either to choose one of the existing tongues, or to originate a
new one, and in like manner adopt a common script, teaching these
to the children in all the schools of the world, that the world
may become even as one land and one home.
'Abdu'l-Baha' advocated the adoption of Esperanto as the universal
9. Extremes of wealth and poverty should be abolished. Coming from
a family of high rank and then spending much of his life in prison,
Baha'u'llah was acutely aware of the extremes of wealth and poverty
in the world. Believing that both extremes were unhealthy and abnormal,
he urged their abolition. He did not offer an elaborate plan to
bring about this change. Rather, he suggested to the rich of the
world that they open their hearts and contribute to the poor. He
also advocated that the governments of the world pass laws to prevent
the two extremes.
10. A world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes among nations
should be instituted. Forty years before the establishment of the
League of Nations, Baha'u'llah was urging such an organization from
his prison cell in Acca. However, when the League of Nations was
formed in World War I, 'Abdu'l-Baha' considered it too weak to be
11. Work performed in the spirit of service should be exalted to
the rank of worship. According to Baha'i, a good society is one
in which everyone works at some task. There are no loafers or idlers.
It is made incumbent on every one of you to engage
in some occupation, such as arts, trades, and the like. We have
made this – your occupation – identical with the worship of God,
the True One.
12. Justice should be glorified as the ruling principle in human
society and religion, for the protection of all peoples and nations.
13. Finally, as a capstone to all the teachings of Baha'i, the
establishment of a permanent and universal peace should be the supreme
goal of humankind.
Back to top.
The Baha'is teach that God is the unknowable
essence, and that it is impossible for humans to know anything about
God on their own. Baha'u'llah wrote:
So perfect and comprehensive is His creation that
no mind nor heart, however keen or pure, can ever grasp the nature
of the most insignificant of His creatures; much less fathom the
mystery of Him Who is the Day Star of Truth, Who is the invisible
and unknowable Essence. . . . Every attempt to attain to an understanding
of His inaccessible Reality hath ended in complete bewilderment,
and every effort to approach His exalted Self and envisage His Essence
hath resulted in hopelessness and failure.
Therefore, Baha'is teach that the only information that can be
known about God must be revealed by individuals known as divine
manifestations. Baha'is believe that the founders of major world
religions throughout history were each manifestations of God who
taught essentially the same truths and progressively revealed the
one true religion. According to 'Abdu'l-Baha':
Therefore, all that the human reality knows, discovers
and understands of the names, the attributes and the perfections
of God refer to these Holy Manifestations. There is no access to
anything else: the way is closed, and seeking forbidden.
Each of the manifestations is said to be both infallible in teaching
and sinless in nature. 'Abdu'l-Baha' has said:
Their knowledge is divine knowledge, and not acquired
– that is to say, it is a holy bounty; it is divine revelation.
[A]s the supreme Manifestations certainly possess
essential infallibility, therefore whatever emanates from Them is
identical with the truth, and conformable to reality. . . . Whatever
They say is the word of God, and whatever They perform is an upright
action. No believer has any right to criticize; his condition must
be one of absolute submission, for the Manifestation arises with
perfect wisdom – so that whatever the supreme Manifestation says
and does is absolute wisdom, and is in accordance with reality.
For these Holy Souls are pure from every sin and
sanctified from faults.
The souls of these manifestations are said to have always existed.
Shoghi Effendi said:
The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The soul
of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this
world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate
to picture His state of being.
Although the founders of the great world religions were each said
to be manifestations of God, it is difficult to pin down the exact
number of individuals who are considered manifestations by present-day
Baha'is. According to Francis Beckwith, at one time or another Baha'i
authorities have recognized the following people as legitimate manifestations
of God: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Zoroaster, Jesus, Buddha,
Confucius, Muhammad, Hud, Salih, the Bab, and Baha'u'llah.* Of this
list, the ones that seem to be the most widely discussed are Moses,
Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, and
Baha'u'llah, representing Judaism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism,
Confucianism, Islam, Christianity, and Baha'ism.
The people who lived during each age of the various manifestations
were expected to follow, with unquestioning obedience, the teachings
of their particular prophet, until and unless a new manifestation
came on the scene. The Baha'is assert that each of these religious
leaders taught identical foundational truths about God and religion,
and no manifestation contradicts or is of a greater stature than
any other. 'Abdu'l-Baha' said:
If the religions investigate reality and seek the
essential truth of their own foundations they will agree and no
difference will be found. But inasmuch as religions are submerged
in dogmatic imitations, forsaking the original foundations, and
as the imitations differ widely, therefore the religions are divergent
and antagonistic. These imitations may be likened to clouds which
obscure the sunrise; but the reality is the sun. If clouds disperse,
the Sun of Reality shines upon all and no difference of vision will
exist. The religions will then agree, for fundamentally they are
And Baha'u'llah said:
Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye
be tempted to make any distinction between any of the Manifestations
of His Cause, or to discriminate against the signs that have accompanied
and proclaimed their Revelation. This indeed is the true meaning
of Divine unity. . . . Be ye assured, moreover, that the works and
acts of each and every one of these Manifestations of God . . .
are all ordained by God, and are a reflection of His will and Purpose.
Whoso maketh the slightest possible difference between their persons,
their words, their messages, their acts and manners, hath indeed
disbelieved in God, hath repudiated His signs and betrayed the Cause
of His Messengers.
While these famous figures of religious history are referred to
as divine manifestations and manifestations of God, Baha'is do not
teach that these men were incarnations of God, but messengers
of God, displaying and revealing His divine attributes. According
to Baha'i theology, it is impossible for God to incarnate Himself
because, as 'Abdu'l-Baha' said:
For God to descend into the conditions of existence
would be the greatest of imperfections...
Back to top.
In His essence, God is unknowable, but His attributes
are revealed by His divine manifestations. Baha'u'llah said:
To every discerning and illuminated heart it is
evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immensely
exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence,
ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory
that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that
heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is, and hath ever been,
veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in
His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men.
Back to top.
Jesus was one of a long line of manifestations of
God, in no way superior to those who preceded or came after him.
He was not God incarnate, but the prophet of God for his dispensation.
Was Christ within God, or God within Christ? No,
in the name of God!
Back to top.
The Christian concept of the triune God is false.
God is one, absolutely indivisible. 'Abdu'l-Baha' explains:
That Lordly Reality admits no division; for division
and multiplicity are properties of creatures which are contingent
existences, and not accidents which happen to the self-existent...
... For God to descend into the conditions of existence
would be the greatest of imperfections; ...
... the Essence of Divinity is absolutely unique
and has no equal, no likeness, no equivalent.
Back to top.
Salvation is not obtained by realizing our separation
from God and by receiving Christ as our Savior, but by believing
in the manifestation of God in the age in which we live and by following
his teachings. Baha'i writers Hatcher and Martin explain:
Baha'u'llah repeatedly stressed that only revealed
religion can save us from our imperfections. It is because God has
sent his Manifestations to show us the path to spiritual development
and to touch our hearts with the spirit of Gods love that we are
able to realize our true potential and make the effort to be united
with God. This is the salvation that religion brings. It does
not save us from the stain of some original sin, nor does it protect
us from some external evil force or devil. Rather, it delivers
us from captivity to our own lower nature, a captivity that breeds
private despair and threatens social destruction, and it shows us
the path to a deep and satisfying happiness.
Indeed, the essential reason for such widespread unhappiness and
terrible social conflict and crises in the world today is that mankind
has turned away from the true religion and spiritual principles.
The only salvation in any age, Baha'is believe, is to turn again
towards God, to accept his Manifestation for that day, and to follow
his teachings. (Italics mine.)
Back to top.
Baha'is deny the literal, physical resurrection of
Jesus Christ. They believe the gospel accounts should be taken allegorically.
Therefore, we say that the meaning of Christs resurrection
is as follows: the disciples were troubled and agitated after the
martyrdom of Christ. The Reality of Christ, which signifies His
teachings, His bounties, His perfections and spiritual power, was
hidden and concealed for two or three days after His martyrdom,
and was not resplendent and manifest. No, rather it was lost, for
the believers were few in number and were troubled and agitated.
The Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body; and when after
three days the disciples became assured and steadfast, and began
to serve the Cause of Christ, and resolved to spread the divine
teachings, putting his counsels into practice, and arising to serve
Him, the reality of Christ became resplendent and His bounty appeared;
His religion found life; His teachings and His admonitions became
evident and visible. In other words, the Cause of Christ was
like a lifeless body until the life and the bounty of the Holy spirit
Such is the meaning of the resurrection of Christ,
and this was a true resurrection. (Italics mine.)
Back to top.
Baha'is do not believe that Jesus of Nazareth is
going to return to this Earth someday. They believe, rather, that
Baha'u'llah was the return of Christ in the sense that he, like
Christ, was a manifestation of God, and therefore the return of
another divine prophet in the line of manifestations. Baha'u'llah
O kings of Christendom! Heard ye not the saying
of Jesus, the Spirit of God, I go away, and come again unto you.
Wherefore, then did ye fail, when He did come again unto you in
the clouds of heaven, to draw nigh unto Him, that ye might behold
His face, and be of them that attained to His Presence? In another
passage He saith When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will
guide you into all truth, ye refused to turn your faces towards
Him, and persisted in disporting yourselves with your pastimes and
fancies. Ye welcomed Him not, neither did ye seek His Presence,
that ye might hear the verses of God from His own mouth, and partake
of the manifold wisdom of the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Wise.
Baha'i author John Ferraby adds, Since all the Manifestations of
God are as one, Baha'u'llah is the return of all the Prophets, Jesus
not less than the others. Prophecies of both Old and New Testaments,
and of the Quran too, confirm this.
Back to top.
Baha'is reject the notion of man having a sin nature
and they deny the existence of Satan and evil as a force.
The Baha'i Faith does not therefore accept the concept of original
sin or any related doctrine which considers that people are basically
evil or have intrinsically evil elements in their nature. All the
forces and faculties within us are God-given and thus potentially
beneficial to our spiritual development. In the same way, the Baha'i
teachings deny the existence of Satan, a devil or an evil force.
Evil, it is explained, is the absence of good; darkness is the absence
of light; cold is the absence of heat. Just as the sun is the unique
source of all life in a solar system, so ultimately is there only
one force or power in the universe, the force we call God. . . .
'Abdu'l-Baha' has said that evil is imperfection.
Satan, heaven and hell are also allegorically understood by the
Baha'is, being only symbolic.
Baha'u'llah explained that references to Satan in the Scriptures
of earlier religions are symbolic and should not be taken literally.
Satan is the personification of mans lower nature which can destroy
him if it is not brought into harmony with his spiritual nature...
In the same way, heaven and hell are, Baha'u'llah taught, not literal
places. Rather, they symbolize the psychological and spiritual states
of being close to God of far from him. Heaven is the natural consequence
of spiritual progress while hell represents the results of failure
to progress spiritually.
Back to top.
OF BAHA'I TEACHINGS:
Many of the thirteen core principles stressed
by the Baha'i faith have merit and make this religion appealing
to its members. The abolition of religious, racial, class and national
prejudice, the desire for equal opportunity for men and women and
for education for all people, justice for everyone, and the idea
that all persons should work and contribute to the overall society
are all noble ideals.
Christians agree that all human beings have the same origin and
are of equal value in the eyes of God (Mal. 2:10; Acts 17:26; Gal.
3:28). The concept that there is harmony between science and Gods
revealed truth is compatible with Christianity. So too is the view
that people should search for that objective truth apart from superstition.
However, Christians must strongly disagree with other Baha'i principles.
There cannot be a basic unity of all of the major religions of
the world because they clearly contradict each other in their essential
doctrines (this will be discussed later). Christians are constrained
to reject this plank in the Baha'i platform because the Bible reveals
the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation
and the only one through whom a right relationship with God
can be had (John 10:27-28, 14:6, 17:3; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5).
The simultaneous elimination of wealth and poverty may sound good
in theory, but it is unrealistic. In practicality, in a fallen world,
this is impossible. Jesus said, For you have the poor with you always
(Matt. 26:11). The Baha'i ideal fails to take into account that
most people who are wealthy worked hard to obtain their wealth and
that the poor are often poor (at least in the west) because of their
own habits, either through the absence of a proper work ethic or
through wasting their resources on unhealthy or profligate living.
If everyone were given or allowed to keep the same amount of material
possessions (as impossible as this would be to achieve), it would
destroy human initiative and contradict the biblical directive that
we are to work to provide for ourselves and our families, knowing
that God enables us to work and blesses us for it (Deut. 8:18; Luke
10:7; Gal. 6:5-7; 1 Cor. 9:9; 2 Thess. 3:7-13; 1 Tim. 5:18).
The idea that there should be one universal language and a one-world
government, complete with an international police force, may appeal
to the wisdom of the world, but to the Christian these goals evoke
memories of another time in history when men tried to use these
conditions to pridefully rid themselves of the God that Baha'is
want to serve (Gen. 11:1-9). If these goals were to be realized,
the outcome would probably be similar. This may indeed come about,
and the results will be devastating (Psalm 2).
Back to top.
OF BAHA'I TEACHINGS:
While Christians can agree with Baha'is that
man can only know about God that which He has chosen to reveal (Deut.
29:29), we must strongly disagree with the premise that His truth
has been progressively revealed throughout human history through
the founders of the major religions of the world. Because of the
wide diversity of theology taught by these various men, this claim
is contrary not only to Scripture but to logic as well.
Three assertions made by Baha'i founders about the manifestations
of God need to be addressed: that their teachings are in complete
harmony, that they are infallible, and that they are each sinless.
That there are irreconcilable disagreements among the tenets of
the prominent religions of the world is aptly summed up by atheist
philosopher Bertrand Russell:
I think all the great religions of the world – Buddhism,
Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, and Communism – both untrue and harmful.
It is evident as a matter of logic that, since they disagree, not
more than one of them can be true.
While Christians disagree that all of these faiths are untrue
and harmful, there can be no doubt, because of the law of non-contradiction,
that either all of the religions of the world are false or
one of them is true.
Adherents of each faith think that theirs is true, but when one
considers what the founders of each movement taught (according to
the sacred writings of each religion), the inescapable conclusion
is that these religions hopelessly contradict one another. This
is evident from a comparison of their doctrines on the nature of
God, the most basic tenet of any theistic belief system.
Moses wrote that there is one personal God who created all things.
Krishna taught a mix of polytheism and pantheism and believed that
the universe is eternal. Zoroaster was a duelist, claiming that
there are two equal forces, one good and one evil, eternally battling
each other. Buddha was essentially agnostic; God was not relevant
to his teachings. Confucius was a polytheist, but did not emphasize
worship of gods. Jesus Christ declared that there is only one true
and living God and that He was the incarnation of that God (God
the son) (John 5:17-18, 8:58, 10:30-33, 17:3). Muhammad also maintained
that there is one God, but that He cannot have a son. The Baha'i
doctrine of God is that the one God and the universe, which is an
emanation of God, are co-eternal. Baha'u'llah teaches that the universe
is without beginning in time. It is a perpetual emanation from the
Great First Cause. The Creator always had His creation and always
will have. Worlds and systems may come and go, but the universe
remains. Thus the Baha'i concept of God contradicts all of
the previous teachers.
In order for the Baha'i teachings to be acceptable, either the
infallible manifestations are allowed to contradict each other,
or there are contradictions within the nature of God. If the manifestations
can contradict one another, then there is no way to discern a genuine
manifestation from a counterfeit one, and Baha'u'llah was wrong
when he said their messages were identical (see page 10). If there
are contradictions within the nature of God (e.g. God is both one
and many gods, both personal and impersonal, both triune and not
triune), then the Baha'i perception of God is both illogical and
The pronouncement that all of the manifestations were sinless is
also contradicted by the writings associated with each religion.
Moses murdered an Egyptian (Exod. 2:11-15) and was not allowed by
God to enter into the promised land because of his trespass against
the Lord (Num. 20:7-13; cf. Deut. 32:51). Moses recorded in Genesis
that Adam committed the first sin, causing the cursing of creation
(Gen. 1-3) and that Noah got drunk (Gen. 9). Confucius admitted
defects in his conduct, and Muhammad was exhorted several times
in the Quran to seek forgiveness for his faults. The only person
in the Baha'i list of manifestations to be declared sinless by both
friend and foe alike was Jesus Christ (Matt. 27:4; John 8:46, 18:38;
1 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 1:19, 2:22).
Baha'is attempt to circumvent the fact that their manifestations
(except of Jesus) were neither in harmony, infallible, nor sinless
by simply denying the validity of any scripture or historical record
that disagrees with their preconceived notions. They do not cite
other extant ancient writings that support their position. They
merely declare that any contradiction to the teaching of Baha'u'llah
must be in error, and they attribute any clear statement in the
Bible which is antithetical to Baha'i doctrine as either a corruption
of the original text, an exaggeration, or a legendary account.
Their bias against both the Old Testament and the New Testament
is unfounded. The Bible has been proven to be the reliable, inerrant,
inspired word of God over and over again, by manuscript evidence,
internal evidence, external evidence and archaeological evidence.
Jesus confirmed the Old Testament (Matt. 5:18, 19:4-5, 22:29,43,
24:15; Luke 16:16, 17:27; John 10:35) and promised the New Testament
(John 14:25-26, 16:13). Jesus Christ proved that His teachings and
prophecies were trustworthy not only by the miracles He performed
by the power of God (John 3:2; Acts 2:22), but also by fulfillment
of His promise that He would rise from the dead (Matt. 16:21; John
2:19-21, 10:17-18; cf. Luke 24:13-32, 36-43; John 20:27-31).
Back to top.
In response to the Baha'i teaching that God is an
unknowable Essence, the Christian can agree that we, as fallible
and finite human beings, cannot have a complete and comprehensive
knowledge of the infinite God. However, we can know Him by what
He has chosen to reveal to us (Deut. 29:29) through the inspired
teachings of the apostles and prophets (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:21)
and through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:18, 14:7-10). God is unique,
eternal, personal, and desires a relationship with His people (John
3:16). He is the Creator of the universe out of nothing (Gen. 1:1)
and is transcendent above it (Is. 57:15), yet He is omnipresent
in it (Ps. 139:7-12; Jer. 23:23-24). He is omnipotent (Jer. 32:17)
and has the power to incarnate Himself so that He could redeem those
who would receive Him (Luke 1:35-37; John 1:1, 14).
Back to top.
Jesus was not merely a reflection of the attributes
of God as Baha'u'llah claimed all of the so-called manifestations
were. Jesus claimed to be God in human flesh (John 8:24, 58; cf.
Exod. 3:14; John 10:30-38). He forgave sins (Mark 2:1-12; Luke 7:48-49),
accepted worship (Matt. 8:2, 14:33; John 9:38, 20:28), and told
His disciples to ask of Him and He would answer their prayers (John
14:13-14). Each of these would have been blasphemy if Jesus had
not been God incarnate. Neither Baha'u'llah nor any other religious
leader made the claims that Christ made, and because of this He
is forever distinct and separate from everyone else who ever lived.
Back to top.
While Christians can agree with the Baha'is that
Essence of Divinity has no equal or likeness, this fact does not
contradict the concept of the trinity. The Bible reveals that there
is only one God (Deut. 6:4; Is. 43:10, 44:6, 45:5) who is revealed
in three Persons: the Father (Rom. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:2), the Son (Matt.
1:23; Heb. 1:8), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). Therefore each
Person is God and possesses the same undivided essence (Phil. 2:6).
We are exhorted to partake of the grace, love, and fellowship of
each Person of the one God (2 Cor. 13:14). As finite creatures,
we can apprehend this concept, but we cannot fully comprehend it.
It is not inherently contradictory, however, as it maintains that
there are three Persons in the one God, not three Gods in one God
or three Persons in one Person.
Back to top.
Salvation to the Baha'i believer is not the forgiveness
of all sins and escaping the wrath of God and eternal punishment.
It is, rather, a social salvation that benefits society as the believer
follows the teachings of the latest manifestation, in an effort
to be united with God. This definition is foreign to the Bible.
While the Baha'i religion teaches a salvation based on the works
of each person, the word of God reveals that it is only by His grace,
through faith in the atonement of Christ for our sins on the cross,
that we can be saved (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Our works (i.e. keeping
the law of God) can never merit salvation (Acts 13:38-39; Rom. 3:28,
4:4-5; Gal. 2:16, 3:11).
Back to top.
The literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth
is perhaps the most essential of the essential tenets of the Christian
faith. It has been stated that there is no historic event of the
ancient world better or more variously supported than the resurrection
of Christ. Yet the Baha'is dismiss the gospel accounts as mere allegory
because if the resurrection is literally true, then it has been
said that religion is in contradiction to science, and science in
opposition to religion... Since to the Baha'i mind the revivification
of a dead body goes against science, it is rejected and explained
away without refuting, or even examining, the evidence for it.
The Baha'i interpretation of the resurrection does not deal with
the fact that the disciples claimed to have seen, talked to, eaten
with, and touched Jesus several times after His death (Luke 24:36-49;
John 20:19-31; Acts 10:41; 2 Pet. 2:16-18; 1 John 1:1-4). Neither
does it account for the transformation of dejected, cowardly disciples
(Luke 24:13-24; John 20:19) into men of great boldness and courage
(Acts 2-3), to the extent that they were willing to endure suffering,
imprisonment, and even death for their convictions (2 Cor. 11:24-31;
Phil. 1:19-21; 1 Pet. 4:14-16).
Belief in the bodily resurrection of Christ is a condition for
salvation (Rom. 10:9-10), it is at the core of the gospel (1 Cor.
15:1-4), and there is no hope of eternal life for man if it is not
true (1 Cor. 15:12-19). Although Baha'is say that the teachings
of Baha'u'llah are compatible with Christianity, this is clearly
Back to top.
Jesus taught that He Himself would one day return
to this Earth and establish His kingdom (Matt. 24:27-30; John 14:3),
and He specifically warned against those, like Baha'u'llah, who
would arise claiming they are the Christ (Matt. 24:23-26). At the
ascension of Christ, two angels appeared and told the disciples
"This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven,
will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven"
(Acts 1:11). Scripture teaches that when Christ returns every eye
shall see Him (Rev. 1:7), not just a few as with Baha'u'llah.
Baha'is are totally inconsistent in their use of the Bible to prove
their assertions, for they quote John 16:13 and claim that this
is referring to Baha'u'llah, while ignoring the very next sentence
which says the coming Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus, not
God the Father. Also, Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy
Spirit would come within a few days of His ascension (Acts 1:4-5),
not more than 1800 years later. This was fulfilled on the day of
Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).
Back to top.
Sin, Evil, Satan
When Baha'is claim that there is no such thing as
original sin and that all people are born intrinsically good, they
render meaningless the death of Christ on the cross. To define sin
as merely imperfection due to a lack of education, rather than as
a transgression of the holy law of God, is to mock the purpose of
God in sending His Son for us. Jesus was delivered up because of
our offenses, and was raised because of our justification (Rom.
4:25). All human beings are born dead in trespasses and sins (Eph.
2:1-5) and naturally have a deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9) which must
be replaced with a clean heart (Ezek. 36:26-27).
Satan, who by his own pride brought sin and evil into the universe
(1 Tim. 3:6), was considered to be an actual being by Jesus (Matt.
4:10, 16:23; Luke 10:18, 22:31) and by the disciples (Acts 5:3;
2 Cor. 11:14). Christians are looking forward to the day when Satan
is cast forever into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10), after which
believers in Christ will exist apart from all temptation, sin, and
evil (Rev. 21:1-8, 27).
Back to top.
OF BAHA'I TEACHINGS:
Contradictions Within Baha'ism
Baha'u'llah taught that while normal human beings
have two natures (physical reality and rational soul), the manifestations
of God have a third nature (the spirit and attributes of God reflected
in them). The same spirit of God (although not the same as the Holy
Spirit in Christianity) is said to have dwelt within each manifestation,
which is why Baha'u'llah claimed to be the return of Christ.
If this is so, how could two different manifestations of God live
in the same era of history? Not only were Buddha and Confucius contemporaries
(both lived between about 550-480 B.C.), but Baha'u'llah was a disciple
of the Bab. Did each of these men only have half of this spirit,
or are there two different spirits? Baha'is reject both of these
options. The Bab said of He whom God will manifest whose coming
he foretold, Were He to appear this very moment, I would be the
first to adore Him, and the first to bow down before Him. Yet Baha'u'llah
was regularly near the Bab, yet the Bab did not recognize Baha'u'llah
as this manifestation, and there is no suggestion that he ever bowed
down before him.
'Abdu'l-Baha' said that the physical universe has neither beginning
nor end. Baha'u'llah taught this too, but he also declared that
God created all things out of utter nothingness. Obviously both
cannot be true. But if the Baha'is hold that the universe has eternally
existed, this violates their basic principle that religion cannot
contradict science. The second law of thermodynamics says that the
universe is running out of usable energy, hence it could not have
been here forever or it would have already spent itself. It must
have had a beginning in a moment of time, brought into existence
by God. Therefore, the Baha'is are in serious error.
Baha'is also believe in a form of macro evolution, but they do
not believe that man evolved from species of animals. 'Abdu'l-Baha'
said that while man may have existed in the form of animals
which changed and progressed to the present state, he was always
by nature the human species, distinct from animals. In this
attempt to reconcile the pseudo-scientific theory of evolution with
the belief in a Creator, the Baha'is contradict both the Bible and
the widely propagated Darwinian view of evolution. We know that
each species of plant and animal has a unique, unchanging DNA code.
Therefore a dog cannot give birth to a monkey, and a monkey cannot
produce a human being. And the Bible affirms that plants and animals
were created according to their kind, with man being created separate
and distinct from them, in the image of God (Gen. 1-2).
One of the greatest contradictions within the teachings of Baha'u'llah
is the fundamental principle that religious truth is not absolute,
but relative. This means that the truth which a manifestation teaches
may later be contradicted by another manifestation, yet the teachings
of each manifestation were true for his time. Baha'u'llah may have
thought that this was a solution to the insurmountable problem of
vast differences among the doctrines of the religions of the world,
but this concept is self-defeating. The statement religious truth
is relative must be a religious truth, since it was uttered by Baha'u'llah
who, as a manifestation of God, claimed to be infallible. If his
statement religious truth is relative is absolute, then the
statement religious truth is relative cannot be true. If, however,
his statement is relative (i.e. true only some of the time),
then his statement is not universally true in all times and in all
places, meaning that absolute revelation does indeed exist. Either
way, this doctrine of relative revelation is false.
This revelation by Baha'u'llah by itself condemns him as a false
prophet to be avoided by those who seek truth (Deut. 18:22).
Back to top.
While claiming to be the great unifier of all
religions, Baha'is ironically deny all other religions by
attempting to make each one conform to their concept of the universal
religion of God. They have amalgamated bits and pieces of each faith
into one eclectic mass of religious confusion.
Their denial of the essentials of the Christian faith – the trinity,
the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, the sin nature
of man, the resurrection and return of Jesus – forever prevents
Baha'i from being compatible with Christianity. When Baha'i doctrine
collides with orthodox Christianity (as well as with reason and
logic), the result is cacophony, not symphony.
Since the teachings of Baha'u'llah clash with observable science,
the principles of their faith demand that Baha'is reject their own
religion. The internal and external inconsistencies and contradictions
of Baha'ism make it unpalatable, unbelievable, and untrue.
The Baha'i idea that education is the key to salvation, in that
sin is simply imperfection caused by lack of knowledge, is completely
false, both experientially and biblically. Some of the most villainous
figures in history have been brilliant. To educate an unrepentant
thief is to increase his capacity to steal more cleverly. The Bible
reveals, however, that there must be a change in the heart of man
to effectively enable him to avoid doing evil (Ezek. 36:26-27).
Shoghi Effendi provides the most fitting description of the crucial
difference between the message of Baha'u'llah and the message of
The object of life to a Baha'i is to promote the
oneness of mankind. The whole object of our lives is bound up with
the lives of all human beings; not a personal salvation we are
seeking, but a universal one. . . . Our aim is to produce a
world civilization which will in turn react on the character of
the individual. It is, in a way, the inverse of Christianity,
which started with the individual unit and through it reached out
to the conglomerate life of man. (Italics mine.)
If the Baha'is truly seek to reside in a society where peace, harmony
and righteousness prevail, they would do well to heed the exhortations
of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Woe to you . . . For you cleanse the outside of
the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
. . . first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside
of them may be clean also. Woe to you . . . For you are like whitewashed
tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full
of dead mens bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also
outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy
and lawlessness (Matt. 23:25-28).
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).
And this is eternal life, that they may know You,
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn
from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest
for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light
Back to top.
'Abdu'l-Baha'. Some Answered Questions.
Translated by Laura Clifford Bailey. Wilmette, Ill.: Baha'i Publishing
Baha'u'llah, Gleanings From the Writings of Baha'u'llah.
Translated by Shoghi Effendi. Wilmette, Ill.: Baha'i Publishing
Beckwith, Francis. Baha'i. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1985.
Boa, Kenneth. Cults, World Religions, and the Occult. Wheaton,
Ill.: Victor Books, 1990.
Corduan, Winfried. Neighbors In Faith. Forthcoming in 1996.
Esslemont, J. E. Baha'u'llah and the New Era. Wilmette,
Ill.: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980.
Ferraby, John. All Things Made New. London: Baha'i Publishing
Geisler, Norman L., and Ronald M. Brooks. When Skeptics Ask.
Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1990.
Hatcher, William S., and J. Douglas Martin. The Baha'i Faith.
San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.
Hopfe, Lewis M. Religions of the World. New York: MacMillan
Publishing Co., 1991.
Hornby, Helen Bassett. Lights of Guidance. New Delhi: Baha'i
Publishing Trust, 1994.
Johnson, David L. A Reasoned Look at Asian Religions. Minneapolis:
Bethany House, 1985.
Lewis, James F., and William G. Travis. Religious Traditions
of the World. Grand Rapids, MI.: Zondervan, 1991.
Marshall, Edward A. Christianity and Non-Christian Religions
Compared. Chicago: The Bible Institute Colportage Association,
Russell, Bertrand. Why I Am Not a Christian. New York: Simon
and Schuster, 1957.
Back to top.