Baha'i Understanding of Islam v Christianity

Member Matthew Light suggested I start a thread on the Baha’i approach to reconciling Islam with Christianity. I questioned how Baha’i could claim to love Christians, given that they acknowledge as a prophet one who denies that Jesus was the Son of God.

My preliminary skirmishes with Baha’i web sites suggest that Baha’i is far more orientated towards Islam than Christianity. Like Islam, it does not appear to recognize that God sent any son to earth. This is taken from info.baha’i.org.

Bahá’ís believe that there is only one God, the Creator of the universe. Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, each of Whom has founded a great religion. The Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. This succession of divine Teachers reflects a single historic “plan of God” for educating humanity about the Creator and for cultivating the spiritual, intellectual, and moral capacities of the race. The goal has been to develop the innate noble characteristics of every human being, and to prepare the way for an advancing global civilization. Knowledge of God’s will for humanity in the modern age, Bahá’ís believe, was revealed just over one hundred years ago by Bahá’u’lláh, Who is the latest of these divine Messengers.

The “last prophet” is always going to be the one with the most influence. Since the last prophet recognized by Baha’i is Muhammad then he is predictably going to trump Jesus, whose son-ship he famously denies in the Koran, which was largely written by a non-Christian Jewish scribe with input from the illiterate Muhammad.

As with ‘enlightened’ Islam operating in Western countries, Baha’i also does not recognize the divine order in Christianity and Judaism of men over women (1 Cor 11;3) that is firmly grounded in Old Testament law (Gen 3:16). Men and women are said to be equal in Baha’i and ‘enlightened’ Islam with rights of divorce by the wife - something never granted by Judaism or allowed by Christ. This seems to be born out in peevish posts on some Baha’i www sites.

My take on Islam and Baha’i is this: Baha’i and Islam are completely irreconcilable with Christianity. Neither Islam nor Baha’i are on the Christian wavelength.

Islam, despite calling itself a faith, promulgates justification by law, and the only “faith” involved is blind faith in Muhammad as the prophet of God. However Muhammad does not in the Koran betray the slightest knowledge of the Christian religion besides the fact that it originates in the Old Testament, which Islam does not except for its Jewish connections, despite claiming that it does. As a side note the Ishmael connection is misconceived. Whether Ishmael ever went to Arabia seems to be a matter of sheer conjecture, but more importantly, Islam is derived from contemporary Arabic paganism at the time of Muhammad, which was based on moon worship, as admixed during Muhammad’s life with contemporary Jewish monotheism, with new material from Muhammad.

Baha’i seems to preach justification by works, or blind faith in the value of ones own works.

Whereas Christians at least of the protestant variety preach justification only through the blood of Christ, which was the only future prophet / son of God predicted by the Old Testament besides John the Baptist.

I’ve mostly been just watching rather than posting on this site for the past few months but I feel like responding to this.

I personally don’t see a problem with Baha’is saying that they love Christians in spite of not believing that Jesus was the Son of God. Certainly they disagree with Christians but that doesn’t mean that Baha’is are somehow incapable of loving those they disagree with.

I would agree that the Baha’i faith is much more oriented towards Islam than Christianity, but there are some factual problems with the rest of that statement. Baha’i’s don’t believe that Muhammad was the last prophet. They believe that God will periodically send new prophets, and that the most recent one was Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith.

I don’t think it has been historically understood by Christians that men posses a divine order over women in the sense of superiority, but rather one of complementary qualities.

I would agree that Christianity is incompatible with Baha’i and Islam, but I don’t particularly see that as being very surprising. They are different religions, after all.

  1. The whole reading of the Christian Gospel as being primarily a dichotomy between divinely ordained justification by faith in contrast to a manmade works righteousness model isn’t by any means universal among Christians, but is a distinctively Protestant interpretation which is rejected by Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches, so I wouldn’t be surprised that Islam and the Baha’i faith don’t match up with a Protestant understanding of Justification.

  2. I personally haven’t seen any convincing evidence that indicates that Islam is based on Moon worship. Could you provide some sources I could look over?

Dear friend, the spiritual truths in Christianity are 100% compatible with the Baha’i Faith. Nowhere does the Baha’i Faith deny the Sonship of Jesus Christ. In fact, there is no place to be found in the Baha’i Writings where Jesus is anything but lauded.

This is what Baha’u’llah states about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (which is historically validated in the Baha’i Writings btw):

Know thou that when the Son of Man yielded up His breath to God, the whole creation wept with a great weeping. By sacrificing Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created things. Its evidences, as witnessed in all the peoples of the earth, are now manifest before thee. The deepest wisdom which the sages have uttered, the profoundest learning which any mind hath unfolded, the arts which the ablest hands have produced, the influence exerted by the most potent of rulers, are but manifestations of the quickening power released by His transcendent, His all-pervasive, and resplendent Spirit.

We testify that when He came into the world, He shed the splendor of His glory upon all created things. Through Him the leper recovered from the leprosy of perversity and ignorance. Through Him, the unchaste and wayward were healed. Through His power, born of Almighty God, the eyes of the blind were opened, and the soul of the sinner sanctified.

Leprosy may be interpreted as any veil that interveneth between man and the recognition of the Lord, his God. Whoso alloweth himself to be shut out from Him is indeed a leper, who shall not be remembered in the Kingdom of God, the Mighty, the All-Praised. We bear witness that through the power of the Word of God every leper was cleansed, every sickness was healed, every human infirmity was banished. He it is Who purified the world. Blessed is the man who, with a face beaming with light, hath turned towards Him. *

reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/gwb-36.html

God bless you :slight_smile:

.

I like it when bahai say 100% of Christianity’s spiritual teachings are correct, then the Christian goes on to list those spiritual teachings; resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ is God almighty, we are all born into a state of fallenness, that this world will be redeemed and etc and the Bahai is forced to reinterpret those words (they won’t tell you they’ve reinterpreted them) in order to say "those things are all true. Servant19 is an example of that.

The bahai are set on ignoring the possibility of contradiction. Contradiction and strife are but mere illusions to them, because they are so spiritually superior and are able to distinguish the truth in all statements. They know there are contradictions, but its almost as if they have to believe that the Christians themselves don’t really believe what they are saying. Like when I say their prophet was a false prophet, I don’t think they think I actually mean it. When I say Jesus Christ is God, literally God, part of the trinity, One in essence with the father (they have no comprehension of trinitarian theology), distinct in person, they cannot accept that of the Christian. they will say then all the manifestations are God, but yet they clearly distinguish their manifestations from the One God and if they do not they are embracing a radically multi person version of the trinity. This is why whenever I make a statement I always, always have to clarify to the bahai that i mean what I mean and they know what I mean as a Christian.

The difference between bahai and Christianity is this. Bahais believe God will not save this world from death, but that man has the capacity to create utopia, the brave new world with the help of spiritual teachings of their prophet. Christians believe God has already saved this world from death through his son who rose from the dead as the first fruits of the resurrection. (watch as the bahais say, “we believe in resurrection” while knowing what I mean). The difference between us is that we believe Jesus Christ to be actually God and while they might say Jesus christ is a god, divine, holy and etc, they do not mean he possesses the fullness of divinity, that he is actually the one God. Bahais also seem to be radically apophatic, unlike Christians who can at least define their theology of God.

Daer friend, if man has the capacity to provide the Teachings that are infallible and ensure the passage of man into heaven and into perfect union with God, then I am pretty sure that he also has the capacity to create utopia :slight_smile:

The Holy Spirit is intricately involved in both cases…

:slight_smile:

.

Jesus had a very strict standard for love, which was according to the truth of God.

John 4:24 "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

I would agree that the Baha’i faith is much more oriented towards Islam than Christianity, but there are some factual problems with the rest of that statement. Baha’i’s don’t believe that Muhammad was the last prophet. They believe that God will periodically send new prophets, and that the most recent one was Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Baha’i faith.

I guessed as much that the founder of Baha’i would be considered a prophet. The problem for Bahá’u’lláh is in reconciling the irreconcilable. It seems a step too far, even for a prophet.

I don’t think it has been historically understood by Christians that men posses a divine order over women in the sense of superiority, but rather one of complementary qualities.

Perhaps before the fall of man, men and women were equal, but since the fall and in the process of sinning, women have been shown to be more susceptible to irrationality, and the seductions of evil people,

2 Cor 11:3 “Just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning,”

1Tim 2:14 “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

I would agree that Christianity is incompatible with Baha’i and Islam, but I don’t particularly see that as being very surprising. They are different religions, after all.

Yet followers of Baha’i claim Christianity to be compatible with Baha’i. I find this disturbing.

  1. The whole reading of the Christian Gospel as being primarily a dichotomy between divinely ordained justification by faith in contrast to a manmade works righteousness model isn’t by any means universal among Christians, but is a distinctively Protestant interpretation which is rejected by Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches, so I wouldn’t be surprised that Islam and the Baha’i faith don’t match up with a Protestant understanding of Justification.

Catholics & the orthodox extend the concept of faith to include works produced by grace, whereas for protestants, faith had a primary and essential meaning of belief that naturally produces works if a living faith or belief. The difference may be largely semantic in the end, as only those with a living faith will be saved. Nonetheless, in the present, the distinction is real, for the doctrine of works based justification entails that in practice no Catholic or Orthodox can ever hope to be justified outside of their church, and are probably never sure if they are justified unless someone else is telling them so, which is presumably why they need their priests and their rites.

Archaeologists have dug up numerous statues and hieroglyphic inscriptions in which a crescent moon was seated on top of the head of the deity to symbolize the worship of the moon god. It is well known that the moon god and other deities were extensively worshiped before Muhammad, not just in Arabia but in many other places. Allah was originally the name of the moon god, but I accept that the Koran repudiates moon god worship. However this was the back ground to Muhammad’s new religion. The moon god Allah had three daughters, Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat, played a significant role in the worship at the Kabah in Mecca. The first two daughters of Allah had names which were feminine forms of Allah. All these gods were originally in the Kaaba in Mecca. The al-Ḥajar al-Aswad that is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic is also in the Kaaba, is an ancient pagan icon too. The pagan gods of pre-Islamic Arabia were worshipped in the form of rectangular stones or rocks. Even muslims admit that pre-Islamic culture, customs, and religious ideas are incorporated into the Koran. See also satanic verses. This is a really big subject, so I can’t expound too much more here.

According to Christianity, man does not have the capacity in himself, because of sin. The reconciliation of man to God had to be an act performed and initiated by God himself.

Rom 5:6-8

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

You see, the reason for Christ was because man lacked the capacity to save himself, and to bring himself to God. Christ provided the means to all who believe on him as the son of God.

It seems inevitable. If they really believed in Christianity, they would be Christians, not followers of Baha’i.

The bahai are set on ignoring the possibility of contradiction. Contradiction and strife are but mere illusions to them, because they are so spiritually superior and are able to distinguish the truth in all statements.

Sounds like a form of gnosticism to me.

They know there are contradictions, but its almost as if they have to believe that the Christians themselves don’t really believe what they are saying. Like when I say their prophet was a false prophet, I don’t think they think I actually mean it. When I say Jesus Christ is God, literally God, part of the trinity, One in essence with the father (they have no comprehension of trinitarian theology), distinct in person, they cannot accept that of the Christian. they will say then all the manifestations are God, but yet they clearly distinguish their manifestations from the One God and if they do not they are embracing a radically multi person version of the trinity. This is why whenever I make a statement I always, always have to clarify to the bahai that i mean what I mean and they know what I mean as a Christian.

Many people have problems with the “Trinity of the divine essence” because it isn’t actually in the bible. It’s a later philosophical addition to the bible. You won’t find the term “essence of God” in the bible, but you will find that God is defined as having only one hypostasis (Heb 1;3) which contradicts orthodox trinitarianism.

In some senses Islam was a rebellion against orthodox trinitarianism which the Jews never believed in, for Deut 6;4 is their guiding rule. The Jews were quite capable of believing that God could have a son - just not in the form of the suffering servant like Jesus. This should be a warning to all Christians that dogmatizing on orthodox trinitarianism to Muslims, Jews etc is probably going to be counter-productive. In many ways, orthodox trinitarians have put themselves out of reach of, and incommunicado with, vast areas of the Orient by their doctrine on the Trinity of the divine essence.

So I’m not too concerned with Baha’i inability to understand orthodox trinitarianism, but I am concerned that they don’t really understand than God can produce a son who has a right to be believed over all other “prophets”.

The difference between bahai and Christianity is this. Bahais believe God will not save this world from death, but that man has the capacity to create utopia, the brave new world with the help of spiritual teachings of their prophet. Christians believe God has already saved this world from death through his son who rose from the dead as the first fruits of the resurrection. (watch as the bahais say, “we believe in resurrection” while knowing what I mean). The difference between us is that we believe Jesus Christ to be actually God and while they might say Jesus christ is a god, divine, holy and etc, they do not mean he possesses the fullness of divinity, that he is actually the one God. Bahais also seem to be radically apophatic, unlike Christians who can at least define their theology of God.

So Baha’is seek a political utopia utilizing the teachings of Christ whereas Christians seek am ultimate spiritual utopia based on conformity to Jesus that extends to the next life. What do Baha’is have to say about judgement?

You cannot laud Jesus and Muhammad at the same time. Muhammad denied that Jesus was the son of God, but Jesus said that he was the son of God. They can’t both be right, and you can’t own both Jesus and Muhammad as prophets. One of them is lying, and it isn’t Jesus.

Both of these statements are 100% compatible with Bahai teaching dear friend :slight_smile:

This thread will hopefully build your portfolio of similarities between Christianity and the Bahai Faith :thumbsup:

:slight_smile:

.

Muhammad had a clearly defined purpose for a clearly defined region and population.

A teacher that is teaching autistic kids how to read using techniques which are incompatible and contradictory to modern day teaching methods cannot suddenly be called a false teacher.

Look at what was achieved at the time (admittedly Islam has spiritually fallen today in many parts of the world) and then pray for God to guide you. Reading the Quran “using the eyes of God” will liberate your heart to embrace all, just like Paul did :slight_smile:

Unity trumps Truth, because Truth cannot produce disunity. If we find ways we can collaborate with every Faith community and work together to advance our similarities then God will be more pleased with our “correct relationship with Him”

A correct relationship will always bring people together not spread the spiritually diseased attributes of hatred, incompatibility and intolerance :slight_smile:
.

One final thing, dear friend.

Baha’is do consider Muhammad as the final Prophet.
He completed the Adamic Cycle of religious prophecy. All Prophets and Messengers in this religious cycle prophecied about the Day of the Coming of the Promised One.

The “Revealer of all the Books”, “the Sender of all the Messengers” and the “Promised One of all religions” is Baha’u’llah.

Baha’u’llah was the Voice behind the Burning Bush, He was “within Jesus, and Jesus within Him”, and He sent the Angel Gabriel to provide for Muhammad’s Revelation. Baha’u’llah is the begetter of the Holy Spirit. Muhammad was His last Prophet :slight_smile:

.

I’m not sure I quite understand what you mean here. Are you contending that non-Christians are incapable of love?

I’m not quite familiar enough with the Baha’i faith to give a complete answer here but I think that the Baha’is teach that the prophets are manifestations of the will of God, and so perhaps they believe that this was the original message of Jesus and somehow his followers understood it differently.

You are stringing together different verses in a way that makes it look like the Bible is teaching something that it doesn’t in the original context. The full verse from Corinthians in context looks like this:

Corinthians 11: 1-3
I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

This verse is using eve as an example of the dangers of temptation, and doesn’t say anything about women being more irrational than men, and your other verse reads like this in context:

1 Timothy 2: 8-15
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire 10 but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet woman will be saved through bearing children,[a] if she continues** in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.**

This section is talking specifically about women during worship, and it doesn’t say anything about women in general being more irrational than men. It just says that Eve was deceived and became a transgressor, but Adam also became a transgressor and fell, so you can’t conclude one to be worse than the other.

that is revered by Muslims as an Islamic relic is also in the Kaaba, is an ancient pagan icon too. The pagan gods of pre-Islamic Arabia were worshipped in the form of rectangular stones or rocks. Even muslims admit that pre-Islamic culture, customs, and religious ideas are incorporated into the Koran. See also satanic verses. This is a really big subject, so I can’t expound too much more here.

  1. I never said that Arabian paganism didn’t have a moon god. There was one, but it wasn’t the god Allah. It was the god Hubal.

  2. There was a deity in the Arabian pantheon called Allah, but then again, in ancient Cananite pantheon there was a god called El, which was a sky god who lived on top of a mountain in a tent, and the normal Hebrew word for the God of the Hebrew Bible is the plural of that term, Elohim, so you could use the same reasoning to say that Christianity and Judaism developed out of Cananite Paganism.

In fact, the Arabic word Allah is actually cognate with the Hebrew word Elloh, which also derives from the same root El.
[/quote]

Sacred doctrine does not come from man, but comes from God. God uses certain men to convey the truth but the truth of infallible teachings is never from man in the Christian worldview but is from God himself. This does explain why the bahai interpret the new testament they way they do, it is not the sacred word of God, it not God’s teaching in there, only the teaching of men which you feel free to deny whenever possible.

Just another dissagrement in our understanding.

Wow, so the Our father of Christians is directed at your prophet?

And they say they include remnants of the religion of Abraham, distorted by the passage of time. That might be true, it cannot be proved one way or the other. Which makes the division of religions into “true” and “pagan” religions problematical. Objectively, we can observe that religion as such is a complex system. The religions of a region are all related to one another in complex ways: they borrow myths and practices and even deities from one another; a new religion emerges as a reformation within an older religion; a religious tradition is itself transformed as it tries to resist influence from another religion.

That needs a translation into Christian language – the Logos was the Voice in the burning bush, and the “begetter” of the Holy Spirit etc… which is to say, Bahai doctrine, translated into Christian terms, would say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

In Christian language the Logos is Jesus. You are translating your prophet’s name into the logos. Are you saying Jesus and your prophet are the same person? This question has been asked time and again but bahai have a hard time defining what they believe. You can’t tell us or translate your doctrine for us if you don’t know what your doctrine is yourself.

Also, why are you bringing the filioque into this? The son is not your prophet in the creed.

Who exactly Baha’u’llah is, is a mystery.

Yes, He claimed to be the Father. Can you show me all the evidence you have to prove that His claim is unfounded?

Thanks :slight_smile:

.

In the Christian language I am familiar with, the Logos is pre-existent and divine, and empties himself of divinity (kenosis) to assume the form of Jesus. There is a distinction between the Person and the historical person. Perhaps not every Christian makes that distinction; my comments would be meaningful only to those who do.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.