Religions Blog

Few people know anything about the Baha’i Faith and that is a shame. The most you’ve seen is probably the signs on the side of highways saying that that stretch is “adopted” by the Baha’i Faith. But there is so much more about them that I am willing to say they have a lot going for them. Let me list a few of these things here:

1. Their two founders were committed to the very end to the idea of non-violent struggle. Baha’u’llah, the “Manifestation,” and “the Babi” (the gate or forerunner) all refused to use force, even when justified to do so. Baha’u’llah would eventually remove the idea of “jihad” from any of his religious instructions.

2. Their followers endured some of the most intense and inhuman persecution perpetrated by a splinter group of the main religion, which hunted them down, tortured them, targeted the core leadership for murder, exiled them into foreign parts, and yet with the exception of a couple of incidents, they endured in silence, throwing their fate into the hands of their god.

3. Already in the mid 19th Century, these two religious leaders were advocating justice-related themes such as the equality of the genders, the eradication of all forms of racism, the end of poverty, the idea that government should serve the people, stewardship of body and the environment, etc. Many of these ideas didn’t become en vogue until fairly recently.

4. Their current involvement in human rights issues is commended. Baha’is continued to be persecuted in places like Iran and their campaign to stop it is outstanding.

But in spite of so much good, there are some issues that don’t sit well with me about the Baha’i Faith. Here are some examples:

1. I don’t buy the entire eschatological scheme whereby somehow Baha’u’llah is a “Manifestation” of god on a par with other prophets such as Moses and Jesus Christ. Shia Muslims may still be waiting for their 12th Imam (or the “Hidden Imam) to appear,  but my Messiah has already come in the person of Jesus Christ.

2. The idea that all religious postulations are equally valid, being considered chapters of one single book is self-defeating. All one has to do is look at the self-evident contradictions found in so many of these traditions to realize that either there are some that are not true or we are dealing with a pretty schizophrenic god.

3. To give equal value to the “Manifestations” of god, including Muhammad, Moses, Jesus, Baha’u’llah, etc., and say that taken all together we can get to know about god, goes against some very basic tenets of Christianity – that Jesus is above them all because He is God in flesh and that we can know God in reality (not only in attribute) when we know Jesus.

4. Though powerful, the god of the Baha’u’llah is not personal. His immanence is so otherworldly that he is rendered virtually unapproachable. In the Baha’i Faith, there is no such a thing as the “Abba, Father.”

5. The denial of the incarnation of Jesus Christ (“God in flesh”) removes any possibility that I might ever rise above the level of a condemned sinner.

Thank God for Jesus Christ: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade