A Critical Look at the Baha'i Faith (2)

  John Ankerberg*

In this two-part article we will briefly examine:

(1) The Baha’i approach to other religions

(2) The absence of personal requirements (Baha’i demands) for the Manifestations

(3) Anachronistic Baha’i scriptures

(4) The Miller analysis of the Baha’i Faith

(5) Moral concerns

(6) Some Baha’i errors

(7) Failed prophecy and Bahai misuse of Christian prophecy

 

  Morality

           Parts of Bahaullah’s mystical philosophy and experience are troubling because they tend to blur moral categories. In part, they may explain his own purported moral evils, as discussed by Miller. [1]

          Remember, according to the Baha’is, Bahaullah is the greatest Manifestation of God to date. If so, what are we to make of teachings like the following? If, as Sabet declares, Bahaism teaches that “good and evil are not fixed in their values once for all, but are themselves subject to development,” why cannot the evil of today be the good of tomorrow?[2] If a prophet speaking the Word of God nullifies or contradicts the moral teachings of another, do we still live in a moral universe? If even “love becomes an obstruction and a barrier,” where are we headed?[3]

          When Bahaullah declared that “the works and acts of each and every one” of the prophets “are all ordained by God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose [4] it would seem that the Baha’i Faith must thereby endorse as the divine will much or all of the personal evils and immoral teachings of Krishna, the sin of Moses, the practical atheism of Buddha, not to mention the sins of the Bab and Baha’u’llah himself! Is this in harmony with a progressive and enlightened outlook on religion?

 

  Some Additional Baha’i Errors

1. Neglecting the historical evidence, Baha’is teach that the Apostle Paul was unconcerned with the historic Jesus, perverted His teachings and was a superstitious ascetic. In order to make such statements, one would have to assume Baha’is have not even read the Apostle Paul, since such charges are demonstrably false. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 we see that what the Apostle Paul considered as having “first importance” was precisely the historic Jesus. Far from perverting Jesus’ teaching, Paul held to it strictly, as J. Gresham Machen’s The Origin of Paul’s Religion proves in detail. Consider a few examples from our own reading of Jesus and Paul. We present a number of basic Christian doctrines showing the theological harmony of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul. Baha’is and other liberal critics allege these were never Jesus’ original teachings but “invented” by the Apostle Paul. Since the following are agreed to by almost everyone to be Paul’s teachings, we only need to document that they are also Jesus’ teachings:

          Jesus Christ as the only Son of God and the Savior. Luke 10:16; John 3:16, 18; 5:34-40; 6:27-40; 8:12; 11:25-27; 12:47.

The Trinity. Matthew 28:19; John 5:18; 10:33-38; 14:9, 16-18; 16:13-15.

Salvation by grace. Luke 18:9-14; John 5:24; 6:29, 47.

Jesus Christ is the only way. John 3:14-18; 8:24; 10:1, 7-9, 28; 14:6; 17:3.

Heaven and Hell. Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:19-31; John 14:2-3; 17:24.

Death of Jesus Christ for the world’s sins (the atonement). Matthew 20:28; 26:28; John 10:11, 17.

The Church as the institution of believers. Matthew 16:15-19.

Creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall. Matthew 19:4; Luke 10:18; John 8:44.

Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Matthew 16:21; 26:32; John 2:19.

Satan and demons are real. Mark 9:25-29; Luke 4:1-13, 33-35.

Sin is real. John 3:19-20; 5:14; 8:7-11, 34.

Importance of salvation by faith. Luke 7:9; 18:42; John 5:24; 6:47.

Death is an enemy. John 11:32-44.

Jesus is the Christ, the Jewish Messiah. Matthew 16:15-17; Mark 14:61-64; Luke 18:31; 20:41-44;22:67-71; John 4:25-26; 5:38-47; 7:26-29; 8:42-47; 10:24-26.

The kingdom of God. Matthew 13:44-53; 18:1-4; Luke 9:62; 19:11; John 18:36.

The resurrection of people. Luke 20:35-38.

Jesus Christ’s second coming. Matthew 24:27-31; 25:31.

Necessity of repentance. Matthew 18:3-4; Mark 6:7; 12; Luke 17:1-4.

Literal interpretation of the Bible. John 8:30-32; 18:19-21.

Immorality condemned. Matthew 19:5-9.

Importance of prayer. Matthew 21:13, 22; Luke 5:16; 6:12.

The Old Testament as the Word of God. Matthew 4:4; Mark 7:6-10,13; John 17:17.

The fear of God. Luke 12:4-5.

Inspiration of the New Testament. John 14:16-17; 14:26; 16:13-15.

Communion and baptism. Matthew 3:16; 21:25; 28:19; Luke 22:15-20; John 6:53-56.

Jesus’ acceptance of worship. Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; John 9:38.

          How could the Apostle Peter, who knew Jesus so well, accept Paul if he were a falsifier of Jesus’ teachings (Acts 26:22; 2 Pet. 3:15-16)? The testimony of both Paul and Jesus is that he, Jesus Christ, is wholly unique. Jesus has universal and eternal relevance; that is, not merely relevance for his own place and time (Matt. 24:30, 35; 28:18; John 5:20-29; Phil. 2:9-11). As far as being a “superstitious ascetic,” Paul’s own life and teachings deny this repeatedly (Col. 2:8, 23).

          Regardless, Baha’is fail to mention that Jesus’ own disciple, Peter, declared Paul’s writings the Word of God (2 Pet. 3:15-16). If Baha’u’llah himself confirmed Peter’s station and said God caused “wisdom… to flow out of his mouth,” and if Shoghi Effendi further declared that “the primacy of Peter, the prince of the apostles, is upheld and defended,” how do they proceed to deny the authority of Paul whom Peter upheld? [5]

2. The “infallible” Baha’u’llah quite erroneously declared of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) that he claimed to be Jesus!

          No orthodox Muslim believes this, nor is it taught in the Qur’an. Baha’u’llah says, again falsely, “Neither the person of Jesus nor His writings had differed from that of Muhammed (PBUH&HP) and of His holy Book.”[6] In “The Facts on Islam”, we have shown how wrong such a declaration is.

3. Baha’is have written various books to convert Christians to the Baha’i Faith.

The errors in these books are extremely numerous and often unconscionable.[7] As one example, observe Townshend’s interpretation of Deuteronomy 33:2, where Moses is blessing the Sons of Israel just before he dies. The parentheses are Townshend’s:

           “The Lord came from Sinai (meaning himself [Moses]), and rose up from Seir (meaning Jesus Christ); he shined forth from Mount Paran (meaning Muhammad) and he came with ten thousands of saints (meaning Baha’u’llah)!!” These are supposedly “the undoubted facts of history.”[8] Interpretations as this are not only preposterous but also extremely embarrassing to Baha’i claims to represent enlightened religion.

4. “In the synoptic Gospels, there is nowhere to be found any allusion to a miraculous birth.”[9]

But the virgin birth of Jesus is mentioned in two synoptic Gospels (Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:27; cf. Isa. 7:14).

5. Jesus never spoke of Himself as the only Son of God.

  But in John 3:16 and 18, Jesus very clearly speaks of Himself as the only (monogenes) Son of God. [10]

            Christianity was influenced by the mystery religions.[11] This historical error was never tenable and we refuted it in chapter 7 of our Ready with an Answer. (Ronald Nash’s Christianity and the Hellenistic World also provides a detailed analysis.)

6. The Trinity “cannot be found in Paul’s writings,” and Paul never thought of Jesus as “in any sense identical or equal to God.”[12]

           In fact, Paul’s writings contain some of the most definitive statements for belief in the Trinity and he not infrequently declared the full deity of Jesus Christ (for example, Titus 2:13)

 

  Failed Prophecy and Misinterpretation of Christian Prophecy

          The Baha’is’ religious presuppositions force them to misinterpret the Bible virtually wherever they discuss it. This is particularly true with Baha’i prophetic scriptures.

           In his text Baha’i (chapter 4, 1975) Dr. Francis Beckwith critically analyzes Baha’i misinterpretations of Daniel 8:13-17; Isaiah 11:1-10; Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 1:1, 6, 7 and other passages. He also documents a particularly damaging false prophecy - and its cover-up - that universal peace would be established in 1957. This was a prophecy of Abdu’l-Baha cited by J. E. Esslemont in 1923 edition of Baha’u’llah and the New Era, but removed (after his death) in the 1970 edition of Esslemont’s text. Beckwith then concludes:

          The chief representatives of Baha’i scholarship show an absolute ignorance of properly interpreting any given Biblical text. They ignore context, language, intent, and historical setting. They seek only to twist biblical passages so as to fit their presupposed doctrines which, in their opinion, justify these presupposed doctrines. This seems to be the continuing fallacy lurking behind almost every Baha’i apologetic use of the Bible: Baha’i apologists (defenders) reason in a circle.

          Concerning ethical character, upon which the Baha’is put a premium, the censorship of J. E. Esslemont’s book, after his death, is indeed a black mark upon all Baha’ism. Changing an eyewitness testimony (of Abdu’l-Baha’s false prophecy) after the death of the eyewitness is blatantly unethical. [13]

          Nevertheless, the Baha’i syncretism demands that any prophetic scripture be misinterpreted, and dozens of additional cases can be referenced.[14] Such misinterpretation is found throughout their literature. We shall, however, discuss only one example of their misuse of prophetic scripture in Daniel chapters 8-9.

          Dr. John Walvoord offers a clear and detailed analysis of the book of Daniel in The Prophecy of Daniel. This may be compared to the Baha’i booklet “Prophecy Fulfilled” by E. H. Cheney, who expounds Abdu’l-Baha’s views on Daniel.

          Abdu’l-Baha attempts to find Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled in the Baha’i religion, using Daniel chapters 8 and 9. In Daniel 8:14, the 2300 “evenings and mornings” are wrongly interpreted by Baha’is as 2300 years. The Hebrew term referred to “evening and morning” sacrifices (see 9:21; Ex. 29:38-42), which would be 1150 days or about three years, not 2300 years. The prophecy in Daniel 8 deals directly with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the eighth ruler of the Syrian dynasty during the time of the Maccabees. The “2300 evenings and mornings” were fulfilled within a few years, some 2000 years before Baha’is even existed. As the NIV text note (Zondervan Study Bible) for Daniel 8:14 reads,

          The 2300 evenings and mornings probably refer to the number of sacrifices consecutively offered on 1150 days, the interval between the desecration of the Lord’s altar and its reconsecration by Judas Maccabeus on Kislev 25, 165 B.C. The pagan altar set up by Antiochus on Kislev 25, 168, was apparently installed almost 2 months after the Lord’s altar was removed, accounting for the difference between 1095 days (an exact three years) and the 1150 specified here.

          Abdu’l-Baha uses Daniel 9:24-26 and applies it contextually to Daniel chapter 8, ignoring the fact that it deals with the first coming of the Messiah, which occurred 2000 years ago. (Only in verse 27 is the second coming referred to.) In other words, Abdu’l-Baha ties together entirely unrelated prophecies, each fulfilled some two millennia ago, as relating to the nineteenth century A.D. Baha’i origins! In that way he can use the decree of Artaxerxes (Dan. 9:25; Ezra 7; 457 B.C.), add 2300 years (Dan. 8) and come up with the year 1844, the time of the Bab’s Pronouncement that he was God’s Messenger. He can also claim that Baha’u’llah is the “prince” foretold by Daniel.

          The difficulty is that there are two princes foretold at Daniel 9:24-27, and neither refer to Baha’u’llah. One is the Messiah, who is “cut off” (Jesus, who died on the Cross), and the other prince who destroys the sanctuary, the Antichrist. Contextually, Jesus Christ is the only person who could fit the prophecy here. (Cf. Dr. A. J. McClain, Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 Weeks and Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince.)

          It is, of course, easy to misinterpret prophecy without careful study. The Seventh-day Adventists made the same error as the Baha’is (interpreting the 2300 mornings and evenings for years), and thus they expected Christ’s return in 1844. Incidentally, the same Baha’i booklet interprets Nahum 2:3-4 as a prophecy about automobiles of our own era, even though the book of Nahum is a prophecy against Assyria, to whom Jonah had earlier preached. The language in 2:3-4 is a mildly poetic description of chariots of the time.

 

  John Ankerberg*

(born December 10, 1945) is an American Christian television host, author, and speaker. He is an ordained Baptist minister and has authored or coauthored more than 150 books and study guides. Ankerberg earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an M.A. in Church History and Philosophy of Christian Thought, and a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He earned a Doctor of Ministry from Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, Georgia. He was ordained Baptist minister. (Wikipedia)

 

NOTES

1-Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1971), pp. 52, 57.

2-Hushmand Sabet, the Heavens Are Cleft Asunder (Oxford, England: George Ronald Publishing, 1975), p. 116.

3-The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, p. 57.

4- Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 27.

5-World Order, Summer 1979, p. 7; Summer 1978, p. 3; Udo Schaefer, The Light Shine in Darkness (Oxford, England: George Ronald, 1973), pp. 80-87.

6-Shoghi Effendi, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah (Wilmette, IL: Bahia Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 21-22.

7-Sabet, chapter 8 and Schaefer, pp. 55-113 are the more “scholarly”; Townshend is replete with error. George Townshend, Christ and Baha’u’llah (Oxford, England: George Ronald, 1977), pp. 11-100 (see pp. 32, 69); George Townshend, The Heart of the Gospel (London, England: George Ronald, 1960), pp. 11-153.

8- Christ and Baha’u’llah, pp. 13, 32.

9- World Order, fall 1978, p. 14.

10- Christ and Baha’u’llah, p. 25

11- World Order, p. 10; 1978, p. 38.

12- World Order, winter 1978-1979, pp. 7-8.

13- Francis Beckwith, Baha’i (Bethany, 1985), p. 39.

14-Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-I-Iqan: The Book of Certitude (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1974), pp. 66, 119; cf. pp. 82, 84-87, 199; Schaefer, pp. 72-90; Townshend, Christ and Baha’u’llah, pp. 16, 24, 27-29, 31-32, 58, 69, 110; World Order, Winter 1966, pp. 30-31, Sabet, chapters 13-14, pp. 106, 108, 134. That Sabet would quote Sears in support is indicative of the book’s quality; Mable Hyde Pain, The Divine Art of Living (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 49; ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Christ’s Promise Fulfilled (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1978), pp. 13, 30, 58, 61; Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 38.

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