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In his letter dated 28 March 1941 addressed to the believers throughout the West, Shoghi Effendi emphasizes: As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended.... ("The Promised Day is Come", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980); p. 109)

With regard to the resurrection of Jesus, they believe that although there was no physical bodily resurrection, “His Spirit... ascended to the presence of God and continued to inspire and guide His followers and preside over the destinies of His dispensation.” - Resurrection of Christ and the Bible.

I would like to know the perspective of Christian denominations (any who subscribe to the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian Creed) on the beliefs of the Baha’i Faith (especially with regard to the person of Jesus Christ).

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    Somewhat related The top answer includes a reference to Bahai. – David Coffron Nov 3 '18 at 17:56
  • @David Coffron - Very useful answer from Caleb to the question "Is there a group of Christians that believes that Jesus was resurrected metaphorically rather than physically?" – Lesley Nov 6 '18 at 15:08
  • @curiousdannii - should I let my edited question stand or change it (again) to ask if the Baha'i view of Jesus is Christian according toTrinitarian Christians? – Lesley Nov 14 '18 at 12:27
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    @Lesley I think revision 3 was fine. – curiousdannii Nov 14 '18 at 12:43
  • Given your answer, it seems like your question should be along the lines of "How does the Christology of the Baha'i faith differ from that of trinitarian Christianity?" – Nathaniel Nov 15 '18 at 15:01
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+100

I would answer as a person in the Reformed Protestant tradition, sticking to that view of the Person of Christ as in the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds which, although not having the same wording in the Westminster Confession of Faith, are all in total agreement about the Person of Christ. The Bahá'í faith is one of the youngest of the world's major religions. It was founded by Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892) in Iran around 1844. Here are some quotes from their site, below:

1) What is the Baha’i meaning of the Trinity, of the Three Persons in One?

“The Divine Reality, which is purified and sanctified from the understanding of human beings and which can never be imagined by the people of wisdom and of intelligence, is exempt from all conception... God is pure perfection, and creatures are but imperfections. For God to descend into the conditions of existence would be the greatest of imperfections; on the contrary, His manifestation, His appearance, His rising are like the reflection of the sun in a clear, pure, polished mirror...
So the Reality of Christ was a clear and polished mirror of the greatest purity and fineness. The Sun of Reality, the Essence of Divinity, reflected itself in this mirror and manifested its light and heat in it; but from the exaltation of its holiness, and the heaven of its sanctity, the Sun did not descend to dwell and abide in the mirror. No, it continues to subsist in its exaltation and sublimity, while appearing and becoming manifest in the mirror in beauty and perfection. Now if we say that we have seen the Sun in two mirrors—one the Christ and one the Holy Spirit—that is to say, that we have seen three Suns, one in heaven and the two others on the earth, we speak truly. And if we say that there is one Sun, and it is pure singleness, and has no partner and equal, we again speak truly. The epitome of the discourse is that the Reality of Christ was a clear mirror, and the Sun of Reality—that is to say, the Essence of Oneness, with its infinite perfections and attributes—became visible in the mirror. The meaning is not that the Sun, which is the Essence of the Divinity, became divided and multiplied—for the Sun is one—but it appeared in the mirror. The Holy Spirit is the Bounty of God which becomes visible and evident in the Reality of Christ. The Sonship station is the heart of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the station of the spirit of Christ. Hence it has become certain and proved that the Essence of Divinity is absolutely unique and has no equal, no likeness, no equivalent. This is the signification of the Three Persons of the Trinity… The Oneness of God is also proved.” http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-27.html

In the above quote, when it is stated that, "The meaning is not that the Sun, which is the Essence of the Divinity, became divided and multiplied" (the bit I put in italics, above) that shows the failure of the Bahá'í religion to even understand the Christian Trinity doctrine, which at no point even suggests that God became divided and multiplied.

Likewise, nearer the start of the quote above when it is claimed, "For God to descend into the conditions of existence would be the greatest of imperfections" - that shows Gnostic belief which is anathema to Christianity.

2) Does this square with Christian Reformed Tradition views of the Person of Christ, in the Trinitarian sense?

This indicates that the Bahá'í faith does not agree with the Christian concept that the One Being of God subsist the three co-equal, uncreated and eternal Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Yes, they agree that there is only the One Being of God, but they also believe that this God "manifests" through a variety of humans. They claim that Baha’u’llah is now the perfect reflection of the attributes of God which humanity needs at time to progress spiritually. Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the most recent Manifestation of God, that Bahá'u'lláh himself stated that he is not God's final messenger. According to Bahá'í scripture God will continue to send Messengers to mankind as needed, with those appearances approximately 1,000 years apart.

On that last point, Christians of the Reformed tradition would quote the Bible verses in Hebrews 1:1-4 that state:

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.”

The Bahá'í faith developed from Islam and the Babi faith and claims to be the fulfilment of Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. According to Baha’i teaching, the inner reality of the Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses and others was all exactly the same inner reality. All the major world’s religions came from one and the same God, Buddhism included. But no Christian can accept any person who claims to be a prophet of God who is even equal to the unique status of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, let alone superior to the risen Christ. The Bahá'í religion accepts all other faiths as true and valid That is why Christianity is not compatible with Bahá'í religion, for most of their beliefs clash with the foundational Christian doctrine of the Trinity and the Person of Christ.

It needs to be pointed out that Christian use of that text in Hebrews ch. 1 does not accord with Bahá'í belief that Jesus, the Son, is distinct from God (as a mirror is distinct from the sun, which rays it may reflect.) The Bible adds that this Son of God is God, and not a created, different divinity, as per John 1:1-3 and many other verses. Jesus, the Son, is the Eternal (uncreated) Son, equally God as is the Holy Spirit, having this one Being of God.

Your very helpful quotes in your answer provide more necessary comparison between official Baha’i beliefs and Reformed Protestant ones. It becomes clear that Bahá'u'lláh is elevated in the eyes of Bahá'í believers to the unique position which the resurrected Jesus Christ alone occupies. That is one of the main differences, but I cannot go into all the doctrinal differences here - I confine my answer to the Trinitarian aspect.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/bahai/ataglance/glance.shtml http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/bahai/beliefs/god.shtml

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    To clarify: I know the Bahá'í faith does NOT teach that the One God became divided and multiplied - but that first quote (by speaking against such an idea) implies that other faiths do hold to such a wrong teaching. Christianity, it must be stressed, has never said the One God multiplied (with the help of 'partners') or has 'divided', yet Islam wrongly thinks it does teach this. Bahá'í faith holds some things in common with Islam, including this misunderstanding about Christian teaching (regarding the One Being of God). – Anne Dec 25 '18 at 19:23
  • Thanks for clarifying that point and making the link to Islamic beliefs. I now have a better understanding of the Baha'i Faith which believes that GOD is “the SUN of Reality, the Essence of Divinity” and the SUN is one. The SUN did not become divided or descend from heaven to earth.The Reality of Christ was a clear and polished mirror – a reflection of the Essence of Divinity” (GOD). Totally different from the Christian Trinitarian understanding of the One Being of God and the reality of Christ Jesus, God with us. Their Jesus is just a man, like other "manifestations" - a reflection of God. – Lesley Dec 26 '18 at 9:50
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To help Christians who are not familiar with the Baha’i Faith, I present some of their teachings (taken from official sources) in the hope that will help to elicit a response from traditional and orthodox Christians.

The following quotes appear, at face value, to suggest that the Baha’i Faith acknowledges the Christian view of the divinity and reality of Jesus as the Son of God:

“As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its Divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the Divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. The Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá'u'lláh as the 'Spirit of God', is proclaimed as the One Who 'appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost', and is even extolled as the 'Essence of the Spirit'.” (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 490)

“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.” (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 85)

“If you reflect upon the essential teachings of Jesus you will realize that they are the light of the world. Nobody can question their truth. They are the very source of life and the cause of happiness to the human race.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 250)

“The traces of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the influence of His Divine Teaching, is present with us today, and is everlasting.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 91)

Although the Baha’i Faith upholds Jesus as divine and a manifestation of God, they do not believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father. Here is a brief overview showing how very different the Baha’i Faith is from Christianity:

God is transcendent and can't be known directly. God is known through the lives and teachings of his great prophets, the most recent of whom was Bahá'u'lláh.

The inner reality of the Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses and others was all exactly the same inner reality. All the major world’s religions came from one and the same God, Buddhism included.

The Bahá'í religion accepts all other faiths as true and valid. Bahá'ís accept the divine nature of the missions of Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, the Buddha, Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad. They believe each one was a further stage in the revelation of God. Other prophets and Manifestations are also accepted. All religions have the same spiritual foundation, despite their apparent differences.

With regard to the resurrection of Jesus, they do not believe Jesus’ body ascended into heaven: “His Spirit... ascended to the presence of God and continued to inspire and guide His followers and preside over the destinies of His dispensation.” The Resurrection of Christ and the Bible by/on behalf of Universal House of Justice alone identifies the Baha’i Faith as not being Christian.

Perhaps the “deal breaker” is the rejection of the Christian doctrine of sin and the need for people to repent and place their faith in what God, in Christ Jesus, has done to redeem us from the consequences of sin. To adherents of the Baha’i Faith, man is merely imperfect, not fallen, so there is no merit in the death of Jesus to atone for sin. There is no concept of the seriousness of sin which cuts us off from God or the consequence of rejecting Jesus as the only way, the only truth and the only life.

Other Sources:

What Bahá’ís Believe

Bahá’u’lláh and His Covenant.

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    That the Baha'i can say that both Christianity and Islam are true implies to me that logical consistency isn't very important to them. Jesus can't be both divine and non-divine, he can't both have died and not died. – curiousdannii Nov 12 '18 at 23:46
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Bahá'u'lláh describes Jesus Christ, Moses, Abraham, Muhammad, Zoroaster, the Bab, and Himself as Manifestations of God.

Jesus quoted Deut. the 2nd most of any OT book.

To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him. Deut 4:35

Jesus was not a manifestation of God, He claimed to be God directly and indirectly. This was demonstrated through His claim to forgive sins, miracles, and receiving worship. His audience also understood His direct claims as they either worshiped Him or try to kill Him for blasphemy. Jesus would not have accepted Bab, Abraham, Muhammad, or Zoroaster as a manifestation of God.

When we consider the contradictions between the claims of the Baha'i faith, the claims of Islam, the Old Testament, and Christianity we must take those seriously. Jesus cannot have both raised bodily from the dead and not raised bodily from the dead at the same time. When a contradiction occurs, who has the best evidence to support the claim? Islam teaches that Jesus didn't die, which would contradict both views.

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