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BAHA'ISM

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Cults By Rev. Paul Seiler

BAHA'ISM

INTRODUCTION

Baha'ism is another Eastern cult that is becoming increasingly popular in the Western world. Baha'ism is different from most of the other eastern cults, in that its historical roots are found in Islam rather than in Hinduism. However, it has very little similarity to the Islamic religion from which it originated.

14.1 THE HISTORY OF BAHA'ISM.

The Bahai cult commenced in 1844, when a Persian by the name of Mulla Husayn started looking for the Messiah. He belonged to a Muslim sect known as the Shaykibis. This Muslim sect believed in the imminent appearance of a divine messenger. A few hours before sunset one day in 1844 Mulla Husayn was walking toward the city of Shiraz in Persia (Iran). As he approached the city he met a young man, named Mirza Mohammed Ali ibn-Radhik, who invited him to stay at his house that night. Mulla explained to Mirza Mohammed Ali that he was looking for the Messiah. During the course of that evening Mulla came to the conclusion that Mirza Mohammed Ali was the Messiah that he had been looking for. On May 23rd 1844, Mirza Mohammed Ali declared himself to be the 'the Bab', which means, the gate. The Bab regarded himself as being the founder of a new religion, in the same class as Moses, Zoroaster, and Mohammed.237 However, he taught that he was merely the herald of someone even greater than himself, who would follow him. His principle message was of the impending arrival of a great Prophet, who would bring in a new era. He said:

"I am a dewdrop, from the limitless ocean, and when He (the great Manifestation of the Sun Truth) shall appear, my true nature, my mysteries, riddles and intimations will become evident, and the embryo of this religion shall develop through the grades of its being and ascent, attain to the station of 'the most comely forms' and become adorned with the robe of 'Blessed Be God and the Best of Creators'."238

Followers were not hard to get and he gained an initial following in Persia. However, it was not long before he stirred up much opposition there, due to the fact that he was teaching things contrary to the teachings of Islam. He made himself quite odious to many Muslims because of his claim to be equal with the prophet Mohammed. Through his teaching he gained the enmity of the Persian religious leaders and government officials. So they outlawed his religion and persecutions arose against him and his cult. Many of his followers suffered martyrdom for their faith. Great numbers were hanged, blown from the mouths of cannons, burned and chopped to pieces.239 The Bab himself was arrested in 1850 and put in prison by the orthodox religious leaders. On July 8, 1850 the Bab was put before the firing squad at Tabriz. According to Bahai history none of the bullets fired at him actually hit him. He disappeared and was later found in his cell teaching his disciples. After he had finished speaking to them, he is reported to have said, "I have finished my conversation. Now, you may fulfil your intention." He was then led out to the firing squad again and this time they did not miss. So the Bab died a martyrs death.240 According to Bahai history after the Bab's execution a fierce black whirlwind swept the city of Tabriz, which his followers regarded as a sign of his significance. Though his followers were despondent over the death of their leader, they continued to cling to hope that the 'Prophet', whose immanent coming the Bab had predicted, would come. 241

Their hopes were not to be disappointed, for he did come in the person of Mirza Husayn Ali, a wealthy nobleman from Tehran. Mirza Husayn Ali realised that he was the "promised one" while he was chained to the wall in prison, in an underground dungeon in Tehran.242He realised he was the one whom the Babis (Followers of the Bab) were waiting for, and he was the one who would free humanity from the limitations of old customs and prejudices and usher in a "new era." He took the name of Baha'u'llah, which means "the glory of God".243 When he was released from prison in Tehran, through the intervention of the Russian embassy, he was exiled to Baghdad. For several years he devoted himself to writing the Bahai Scriptures and to instructing his followers, although he kept his identity secret. In 1863 news came that the Turkish government were exiling Baha'u'llah to Constantinople.244 The Babis were shocked by the news. It was at this time that Baha'u'llah announced publicly that he was the Promised one. Most of the Babis liked the idea, with the exception of his own brother, who started a religious war to oust Baha'u'llah. Consequently the Turkish government decided to exile Baha'u'llah not to Constantinople, but to the penal colony in Acre, which was just north of Haifa in Palestine. So Baha'u'llah and his family were exiled there and he remained there until his death. Though sent to a penal colony in Acre, Baha'u'llah was given considerable freedom to wander the area at will. He was allowed to roam Acre, Haifa, Mount Carmel at will. He actually lived in a rather luxurious mansion, which is to this day a Bahai shrine.245 In his last will and testament, Baha'u'llah left instructions that all Bahais should turn to Abdul-Baha, his son, and obey him. Any difficulties with writings were to be referred to him and his authority and words were the same as Baha'u'llah's. So upon his death in 1892, his son Abdul-Baha assumed control of the Bahai movement.246 He was resented by some of his relatives, who delighted in making trouble for him. In 1901 he was put in prison and was released in 1908. Abdul emigrated to the United States of America in 1912, where he spent a short time and did much to promote the spread of this religion.247 During his life he did much travelling around the world and among the places he went were: London, Paris, and Egypt. Abdul-Baha died in 1921 in Palestine at the age of 77, leaving behind him two hundred books and tablets. At the time of Abdul-Baha's death the Bahai faith had a footing in thirty five countries, with administrative institutions being established throughout the world. After the death of Abdul-Baha, his grandson, Shoghi Effendi, took the reigns of the movement. He became the only authorised "interpreter" of Bah'u'llah's sacred writings. By the time of his death in 1957 the Bahai cult had grown considerably in the United States of America, and had established Bahai centres and communities in about 250 countries. Today the world wide Bahai religion is ruled by nine men in Haifa called, "The hands of the cause of God," and a representative body called, "The Universal House of Justice." In the U.S.A the legal name of the sect is "The National Spiritual Assembly" and it has its headquarters in Wilmette, near Chicago. The Australian headquarters of the cult is in Sydney, on Mona Vale Road, Ingleside.

14.2 THE BAHA'IS SOURCE OF AUTHORITY.

What is the source of the Baha'is authority? Walter Martin asked a Bahai leader the following question: Do you accept all of the sacred books of the world religions, that is, do you consider them all to be of equal authority with the writings of Bahai Ali? He received the following answer:

"The writings of Baha'u'llah, since they are the last manifestation, are to be considered the final authority in matters of religion, so far as the Bahai faith is concerned."248

It is perfectly clear from this answer that Bahais regard the teachings of Baha'u'llah as the source of authority. They pick and choose from the Bible only what best suits the advancement of their own theology. To them the Bible, the Koran and other sacred writings are secondary to the writings of Baha'u'llah.

14.3 THE PRINCIPAL TEACHINGS OF BAHA'ISM.

The oneness of God and oneness of religion

The oneness of mankind

Independent search of truth

All prejudices must be abandoned

International peace

Education for all - compulsory

Equality for the sexes

Abolition of Industrial slavery

Personal holiness

Oneness between the entire human race

According to the teachings of Baha'ism all the major religions of the world really believe in the one and the same god. They say that Christianity is just one of the many religions and no truer than Islam or Hinduism. They argue that while the religions of the world all look different on the surface, underneath they are in complete agreement. Baha'ism claims that unity and brotherhood are the only important things. 'Love' is the ever-recurring word their literature. The supreme obligation of the Bahai is to recognise Baha'u'llah as the great manifestation of God. While they reverence Jesus Christ and Mohammed and other religious figures, they believe that Baha'u'llah is the bearer of good news for the age in which we live. So in effect Jesus Christ is inferior to Baha'u'llah.

14.4 THE BAHAIS' VIEW OF JESUS CHRIST.

Baha'ism teaches that Jesus Christ was a manifestation of God along with other manifestations of God. He is not, in their view, the unique Son of God, but just one human manifestation of God along with others. Bahais regard Baha'u'llah as superior to Christ. Shogi Effendi ascribed the Messianic titles, which Isaiah spoke of the Messiah, to Baha'u'llah, describing him as, "the glory of the Lord", "the everlasting Father", "the Prince of Peace", "Wonderful", and as "Counsellor". The Bahai's booklet: One God, One Religion, One Mankind says the following about Baha'u'llah,

"In order to attain the Baha'i life in all its fullness, conscious and direct relations with Baha'u'llah are as necessary as is the sunshine for the unfolding of the lily or rose. The Baha'i worships not the human personality of Baha'u'llah, but the glory of God manifest through that personality. He reverences Christ and Mohammed and all of God's former Messengers to mankind, but he recognises Baha'u'llah as the bearer of God's message for the new age in which we live, as the Great World Teacher who has come to carry on and consummate the work of his predecessors."249

Such a statement makes it manifestly clear that the Bahais do not believe in the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Since Jesus Christ said of Himself, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by Me." (John 14:6 ). The Bahais cannot have Jesus Christ and Mohammed and all the other religious leaders. Jesus Christ alone is the Truth, and He alone is the Saviour. Christianity is not inclusive, but it is exclusive, in that it claims that it alone is the truth, all other religions are false.

14.5 THE BAHAIS AND CHRIST'S RESURRECTION.

How do the Bahais understand Christ's resurrection? Walter Martin visited the Baha'i temple in Illinios U.S.A and interviewed a Baha'i teacher. In the course of that interview he asked the Baha'i teacher the following question: Does Baha'ism accept the bodily resurrection and ascension into heaven of Jesus Christ? He received the following answer:

"The alleged Resurrection of Jesus and His Ascension into heaven may or may not be true depending upon your point of view. As I said before, we are concerned with Baha'u'llah and the new era or age, and while we reverence Jesus as we do the great prophets of other religions, we do not believe that it is necessarily important that the Baha'i faith recognises every tenet of a specific religion. We believe that Jesus conquered death, that he triumphed over the grave, but these are things which are in the realm of the spirit and must receive spiritual interpretations."250

From the above it is perfectly evident that the Bahais spiritualise the resurrection of Christ. For them Jesus Christ did not really rise from the dead at all. Rather, they believe that His resurrection was a thing which occurred in the spiritual realm and must be understood in a spiritual or non literal way. The Bahais do not regard it necessary to accept every tenet of the Christian faith. Rather they have a smorgasbord approach, taking only such things as suit them. The bodily resurrection of Christ is not something that they are happy to receive from Christianity.

14.6 BAHAIS DENY THE EXISTENCE OF SIN

For the Bahai there is no such thing as sin and there is no need for a Saviour. In Bahai teaching mankind is inherently good, and is able through his own efforts to save himself. Walter Martin, in the same interview referred to earlier asked the Bahai teacher the following question: Jesus Christ taught that salvation from sin could be effected only by acceptance of Him as the sin bearer mentioned so prominently in the 53rd chapter of the Prophet Isaiah. Just how in Baha'ism do you deal with the problem of your own personal sin? He received the following answer:

"We accept the fact that no one is perfect, by the practice of principles laid down by Baha'ullah and by making every effort through prayer and personal sacrifice to live in accord with the character of the divine being revealed in him, we can arrive at eventual salvation as you like to term it."251

It is plainly evident from such a remark that Bahais do not regard man as fallen in sin and allienated from God and in need of the atoning work of a Saviour. They see mankind as able through his own efforts to arrive at salvation.

14.7 BAHA'I TEMPLES

Bahai temples hold special significance for Bahais. The design of the temple is symbolic, for the nine entrances to the building represent the nine great religions of the world. The central thrust of Bahai teaching is to be seen in their temples, for they believe in the unity of all religions and of mankind. They have no ministers or ecclesiastical organisations, they only employ teachers whose task it is to conduct discussion groups in homes. The services held in their temples are open to any race, colour or creed.

14.8 A CHRISTIAN ASSESSMENT OF BAHA'ISM

The followers of Bahai hold that at bottom all religions are one. This Bahai belief is totally inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible. The Bible teaches that the Christian faith is uniquely true, it presents Jesus Christ as the way, the truth and the life, such that no one can come unto the father but by Christ (John 14:6 ) Christianity claims to be the Truth and all other religions are a lie. Christianity does not accommodate the doctrines set forth by Hinduism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism, or any other religion. Christianity is the only true religion. Not only is this belief inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible, it is totally irrational, since the beliefs of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are so completely and utterly different. Christianity and Islam are monotheistic, whereas Hinduism is polytheistic. The Bahais' doctrine that all religions are one, and that all the major religions believe in the same God, is utterly and completely false.

As Christians we must also reject the Bahais' doctrine of Jesus Christ for it is in conflict with the teaching of the Bible. Bahais teach that Jesus is less important than Baha'u'llah. For them Jesus Christ is just one among many religious leaders. This cuts across that which is at the centre of Christian teaching, that the name of Jesus Christ is higher than any other. He is Lord of lords and King of kings. All the cardinal doctrines of Christianity are rejected by the Bahais, such as the trinity, the deity of Christ, His bodily resurrection, His atonement and the need to put your faith in Him. Therefore we conclude that the Bahai religion is a false religion, a religion of the devil.

14.9 WHY IS THIS CULT ATTRACTIVE TO SO MANY?

Baha'ism has many thousands of members all over the world. It is not among the larger cults in the world, but it does appear to have an attraction for many people. Why is this so? The answer is not hard to find. It is a religion that appeals to the unregenerate heart because it is shallow and broad. It teaches what many people today are saying - that all religions are true. There is a very strong view held in the world today that it is wrong to claim that your religion alone is the right one. Such a view is frowned upon as being narrow minded and bigoted. So it is asserted that all religions represent an aspect of the truth. This sort of thinking has prompted Inter-faith services, in which Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews meet in a joint worship service. Now, the problem with this is that Christianity claims to be uniquely the truth. Christ said "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Me". This is very exclusive claim. This claim leaves no room for Buddhism, no room for Hinduism, no room for anything other than Christianity. In today's climate a religion like Baha'ism is considered to be very attractive since it acknowledges all religions to be true.

237 William Petersen op cit pp.183,4

238ibid p.184

239ibid p.184

240Walter Martin The Kingdom of the Cults op cit p.253

241ibid p.253

242William Petersen op cit p.185

243ibid p.185

244ibid p.185

245ibid p.186

246ibid p.186

247Walter Martin op cit p.253

248ibid p.256

249Edmund Gruss Cults and The Occult in the Age of Aquarius, op cit p.87

250Walter Martin The Kingdom of the Cults op cit p.255

251ibid p.256

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 11:17  

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