From the Editor’s Notebook: Cults, part 6

From the Editor’s Notebook

W. Ross Rainey

Capsule Comments on the Cults
(Part 6)


As a religious movement Bahaism was founded in Iran and began with Mirza ‘Ali Muhammad (1819-1850), a young Persian merchant, better known in the circles of the faithful as “The Bab” (or “Gate”). He assumed that title on May 22, 1844, claiming to be that greater prophet, “The Messiah,” whom the Mohammedans of the nineteenth century expected would come in 1860. “The Bab” was martyred together with 20,000 of his followers in 1850, just ten years before he had claimed the world would be converted to his religion, the origins of which are to be found in Shi’a Islam.

The movement was continued and established by “The Bab’s” follower, Bahaullah, under whose leadership it became the Bahai Faith, continuing to this day under that name. He died in 1892, whereupon his son, Abdul Baha, became the great promoter of Bahaism, traveling extensively in Egypt, Europe and America. He died in Palestine in 1921, after which Bahaullah’s great-grandson led the movement.

Until 1957 the leadership of the movement remained within Prophet Bahaullah’s family, although meanwhile his teachings have spread to many parts of the world.

“The basic teaching of the Bahai faith is that it is the crown and culmination of all the religions of the world, which it does not seek to overthrow, but to fulfill. Bahai temples contain no accepted religious symbols; they are domed, circular, and have nine doors, representing the existing traditions … The movement’s principles may be summarized thus: (1) the unity of mankind; (2) the duty of each individual to seek for truth independently; (3) equality between the sexes; (4) the essential unity of all religions; (5) science and religion are not contradictory; (6) religion must be the source of love and unity; (7) all prejudice should be abolished; (8) universal education; (9) the solving of economic problems; (10) the encouragement of international language; (11) peace; and (12) the setting up of an international court of justice.”1

The followers of Bahaism today are active in over fifty countries, some placing their membership as high as 8,000,000, although this figure is probably exaggerated.

Walter R. Martin has defined Bahaism as, “… — an oriental hodge-podge of Pantheism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism, clothed in Christian terminology and submitted to the uninformed and gullible as a new dispensation, complete with a false Messiah (Bahaullah) who denied categorically the authority and identity of Jesus Christ.”2

Some of the major doctrines of Bahaism are as follows:

    1. The existence of the Triune God is denied.

    2. Jesus Christ is just another prophet.

    3. Christ’s vicarious atonement, bodily resurrection, ascension and Second Advent are denied.

    4. God alone really exists and is “unknowable” except through Bahaullah.

    5. Divine revelation is continuous and progressive.

    6. The evolution of man’s spiritual and social position occurs in cycles of one thousand years.

    7. The mission of Bahaism is to unite all men in one faith and one religion — Bahaism.

    8. Heaven and hell in the Biblical sense are symbolic.

    9. Salvation is not through Christ alone, but through Bahaullah.

    10. The final age of peace will come through God’s prophet, Bahaullah.

    11. Evil is non-existent.

1 The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 96.

2 The Christian and the Cults, p. 33.