Bahai Faith: Bahai-Christian Dialogue

By Francis Beckwith

One religious group to originate in the past two centuries that has not received enough attention from evangelical Christians is the Baha’i World Faith.1 Baha’is believe that all of the world’s major religions are progressive revelations from God, each designed for its particular historical era. The Baha’i religion teaches that Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, and the Bab (the Persian founder of a nineteenth-century religious movement which laid the foundation for Baha’ism) were all prophets or manifestations of God for their time.2 However, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i religion, the successor of the Bab, and the most recent manifestation, is the one who should now be revered and obeyed.

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Baha’u’llah’s greatest teaching was the oneness and unity of mankind. According to Baha’u’llah, every race, both sexes, and the great religious truths all come from one God. While Christians may appreciate some of the humanitarian and peace doctrines of the Baha’is, they take issue with the Baha’i claim to compatibility with their faith; for Baha’ism denies several essential Christian doctrines. Since the publication of my Christian response to the Baha’i World Faith, Baha’i (Bethany House, 1985), I have had several encounters with both Baha’is and non-Baha’is who have questioned my position on a number of key issues regarding the relationship between Baha’ism and Christianity. For example, in a detailed critique of my book, Steve McConnell, a non-Baha’i from Bellevue, Washington, asked me, “Could Christianity’s conception of God withstand the cursory logical tests to which you subject the Baha’i’s God?”3

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Walter Martin – Excerpt from Kingdom of the Cults

The Baha’i Faith is a non-Christian cult of distinctly foreign origin that began in Iran in the nineteenth century with a young religious Iranian businessman known as Mirza’ Ali Muhammad, who came to believe himself to be a divine manifestation projected into the world of time and space as a “Bab” (Gate) leading to a new era for mankind.

As Christianity, almost since its inception, has had heretics and heresies within its fold, so Islam was destined to experience the same fragmenting forces. Mirza’ Ali Muhammad, alias the “Bab,” thus became one of the sorest thorns in the flesh of Islamic orthodoxy; so much so that he was murdered by Islamic fanatics in 1850 at the age of thirty-one. He had derived much of his early encouragement and support from a small Islamic sect in Iran, and he was a prominent teacher among them for six years prior to his death. Though Christians have not been known historically for putting to death those who disagreed with them (notable exceptions are the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the Inquisition, and certain phases of the Crusades), violence may generally be said to follow in the wake of “new” revelations in most other religions, and unfortunately, in the case of Mirza’ the pattern held true.

So then, the history of the Baha’i Faith began with the stupendous claims of a young Iranian to the effect that “the religious leaders of the world had forgotten their common origin. … Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed were equal prophets, mirroring God’s glory, messengers bearing the imprint of the Great Creator.” 1

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A Christian Perspective of Bahai Faith

There is very little indeed that a true Christian can have in common with the faith of Bahai. There is simply no common ground on which to meet … The Bahai faith is at its very core anti-Christian theology.

The Bahai faith originated in Iran (Persia) in 1844 when a Moslem, Mirza ‘Ali Muhammed, announced that he was the forerunner of the World Teacher, who would appear to unite mankind and bring a new era of peace. He assumed the title of “Bab” (the Persian word for “Gate”). He was prosecuted and executed by the Moslems and the Persian Government for forming a new Moslem sect.

One of his disciples, Mirza Husayn ‘Ali, when an exile in Baghdad, proclaimed himself the prophesied World Teacher and took the name Baha’u’llah which means “The Glory of God”. The name Bahai faith is derived from that title. The world headquarters of the Bahai faith is in Haifa, Israel.

If we condense the teachings of this faith, we find that they revolve around three basic principles:

  1. The oneness of God.
  2. The oneness of religion.
  3. The oneness of mankind.

The “Bab” taught that he replaced Muhammed as God’s prophet and that he formed a new religion. This “new religion” subsequently was abrogated by Bahaullah, according to whom, the fundamental are:

  1. The independent search after truth, unhindered by superstition or tradition.
  2. The oneness of the entire human race.
  3. The basic unity of all religions.
  4. The condemnation of all forms of prejudice whether religious, racial, class or national.
  5. Harmony must exist between religion and science.
  6. The equality of men and women.
  7. The introduction of compulsory education.
  8. The adoption of a universal auxiliary language.
  9. The abolition of extremes of wealth and poverty.
  10. The institution of work to the rank of worship.
  11. The glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society and religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations.

This sounds good and few people will object to some of these principles. But the crux of the problem is that in its basic beliefs Bahai collides head-on with Biblical Christianity. It rejects the cardinal doctrines of the Bible such as:

  1. The Trinity of God (which Islam also rejects),
  2. the Deity of Christ as one of the Persons in the Godhead,
  3. the virgin birth of Jesus;
  4. the bodily resurrection of Christ;
  5. the fact that Jesus died as the Lamb of God for the sins of all men and women;
  6. salvation by faith in Jesus alone,
  7. the final authority of the Bible and the Second Coming of Christ.

A Bible-believing Christian cannot believe that Jesus Christ is given a place in Bahai as only one of the prophets. He is the Divine Son of God. Read John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Corinthians 3:11; 1:20; Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 13:8.

Furthermore, Bahai’s teaching of the oneness of religion is not Biblical. Christianity cannot compromise its teachings to accommodate the doctrines of the Hindu religion, Islam, or any other religion. None of them, including Bahai, accepts the teaching of the Bible concerning the lost state of man because of sin, and that the work of Christ in the redemption of lost sinners is directly related to this sinful nature (Isaiah 64:6; John 1:29; 3:14-17; Romans 3:23).

Dr Walter Martin, who studied Bahaism, came to the following conclusion in his book “The Kingdom of the Cults”: “There is very little indeed that a true Christian can have in common with the faith of Bahai. There is simply no common ground on which to meet … The Bahai faith is at its very core anti-Christian theology.”