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Cults and World Religions

Baha’i



The best beloved of all things in my sight is justice.

The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.

The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. 195

The only difference between members of the human family is that of degree. . . Some are like the sick and must be treated with tenderness and care. None are bad or evil.

The Wisdom of Abdul Baha 196

Just as Christianity spawns break-away groups, so, too, as we have seen, do the break-away groups themselves. Consider the overall biblical record and history. Man broke from God. Ultimately with the flood, God “started over.” The almost immediate result, at least, in biblical terms, was the Tower of Babel (Gen 11). Thereafter, God changed His method of revelation and went solely to Abraham and worked through the patriarch and his family to produce the Jewish nation. The history of the Jewish nation is one of many cults and break-away groups. Indeed, five-sixths of the tribes left! But, out of this nation comes Christ and His church. Then came the cults!

But, back up a few thousand years. Remember Abraham? He and his wife, Sarah could not wait to “get started.” So, Sarah (then known as Sarai) gave Abraham (who was still Abram) her handmaid Hagar. Out of that union came Ishmael. From Ishmael came most of the Arab nations. And, as we have just witnessed, from the Arab nations came Islam.

And, not to feel left out, from Islam comes a few other religious groups. We have already considered two of these, the Nation of Islam and the Moorish Science Temple of America. By far, though, the biggest Islamic cult is Baha’i, a religion claiming about 6 million members. It is a religion, which according to the 1992 Encyclopaedia Britannica Book of the Year has the second largest worldwide collection of “significant communities,” second only to Christianity. 197

History

Baha’i commenced in Iran in 1844 at the hands of Siyyid &Ali-Muhammad (1819-1850). Siyyid claimed the title Bab (“the Gate”). His announced mission was heralding the arrival of "One greater than Himself." This “one” would fulfill the prophetic expectations of all the great religions. Siyyid’s followers became known as Babis. Many were martyred as the movement suffered a great deal of persecution at the hands of orthodox Muslims.

The story (by Baha’i history) is told that the Bab was arrested and sentenced to death, to be executed on July 8, 1950. In the view of thousands, 750 Armenian soldiers raised their rifles and shot him. The Bab was uninjured. In fact, the bullets burned away the ropes. He then disappeared from their visions, only to be found back in his cell lecturing his students. When the lecture was complete, the Bab left with the soldiers and this time the execution was successful. 198

In 1863, one of the Bab&s followers, Mirza Husayn-&Ali-i-Nuri (1817-1892), confided in his son and very close followers that he was the “one” of whom Bab spoke. In 1866, Mirza went public with this proclamation and took on the title Baha&u&llah (gate to/of Allah). Most of his later life was spent in prison or exile. Baha&u&llah&s son &Abdu&l-Baha (1844-1921), was appointed by His father to be leader of the movement after His father&s death.

Baha’i came to the US in 1893. The world headquarters remains in Palestine. India has the single largest population of followers. The actual number of followers n the US is unknown. Baha’i claims among its members, Count Leo Tolstoy, Woodrow Wilson, and some members of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. The US headquarters is just outside of Chicago were the cult has a nine-sided building, in which “there are nine concrete piers, nine pillars representing the nine living world religions, and nine arches. The building is beautifully centered in a park having nine sides, nine avenues, and nine gateways, and containing nine fountains.”199

Beliefs

Baha’is believe that God is transcendent and unknowable. However, He has sent great prophets to mankind, through whom the Holy Spirit has revealed the "Word of God." The Great Manifestations of God are:

Baha’is believe there is, essentially, only one religion and the great messengers of the past have progressively and more fully revealed its nature. Those differences in doctrine and belief which can be attributed to their founders and are not later accretions, can be attributed to the circumstances and needs of the time and place in which each religion started.

For most members, God is impersonal force, devoid of personality who is the sum of all goodness. The doctrine of sin is denied.

Every person has an immortal soul. Unlike everything else in creation, it is not subject to decomposition. At death, the soul is freed to travel through the spirit world.

Baha’i has always promoted social change, including supporting the place of women.

They believe that there will eventually be a single world government, to be led by Baha’i, and based on the Faith&s administrative framework.

Practices

Members:

Baha’i scriptures are comprised of the writings of the Bab and Baha&u&llah, together with the writings of Abdu&l-Baha. Among the better known writings of Baha&u&llah are, The Most Holy Book, The Book of Certitude, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha&u&llah, The Hidden Words and The Seven Valleys. There are many others books of Baha’i scripture.

There have been five or six groups break away from Baha’i over the years over issues of “interpretation.”

Baha’i, then, is a syncretistic religion which aims at the unity of all religions under one umbrella, a brotherhood of man. The major problem with the approach is that all must come to see Baha’u’llah as the messiah of our age. It is clear Christians will never do this. It is also, almost as clear than neither will the Muslim world.

Sources

The history and practices of Islam given in this chapter are a composite of information found in the following sources. Unless specific information or quotes were taken from a source, I have not footnoted the information.

Kenneth Boa, Cults, World Religions, and the Occult, USA, Victor Books, 1977, 1990.

Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1965, 1977, 1985.

Walter Martin, Hank Hanegraaff, Gen. Ed., The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised), Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1965, 1977, 1985, 1997, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc., PO Box 100, Hiawatha, Iowa., Appendix D.

Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions, San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ, Here’s Life Publishers, Inc., 1983.

Fritz Ridenour, So What’s the Difference?, Glendale, CA: G/L Regal Books, a division of G/L Publications, 1967.

John Ankerberg & John Weldon, The Facts on Islam, The Anker Series, Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1991, 1998.

Footnotes
195. http://www.religioustolerance.org/bahai.htm<
196. Walter Martin, Rise of the Cults, Santa Ana, CA: Vision House Publishers, 1955, 1977, 111.
197. http://www.religioustolerance.org/Bahai.htm. If one views this sect as Islamic innature, then the combination of Baha’i and Islam gives this religious group the largest world wide presence.
198. Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1965, 1977, 1985, 271.
199. Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, 273.
200. This list is taken from ReligiousTolerance.org’s WEB site. Martin includes Confucius and not the Bab in the list. Rise of the Cults, 109.

 

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