In the previous blog “The Baha’i Faith and the Delusion of Inclusivism” , I made a logical and theological case for why the Baha’i Faith is wrong when it claims that all religions are basically the same. This was done by looking at how certain doctrines of other religions were contradictory to one another, such as in regard to the nature of God and salvation. I also laid out the undeniable fact that all religions worldwide are exclusive by nature; including the Baha’i Faith. In the up and coming blogs a more indept look into the Christology of the Baha’i Faith will be done and compared to the Christology of the Christian faith to see how differently they really are from one another. While the Baha’i Faith pays lip service to Jesus Christ, the Baha’i Faith has a totally different understanding of who Jesus is. In this week’s blog, a simple comparative breakdown of the Christology of the Christian faith and the Baha’i Faith will be done in regards to the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Nature of Jesus Christ
Throughout the history of Christianity the Christian church has held, without equivocation, to the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians hold that the Deity of Christ is firmly grounded in the Bible; both in the Old and New Testament. Also Christians, via the Nicene Creed, has expressed this Christology about the Deity of Christ as follows:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
To sum it all up in the simplest way possible: Jesus is fully God and fully human in His Person. Jesus is one person with two natures; a human and divine nature. Biblical references to the Deity of Christ (though not exhaustive ) include: Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, John 1:1-3;14, John 8:58, Philppians 2:5-8.
In the Baha’i Faith, however, Jesus is not the incarnation of God; in other words, Baha’i do not believe that Jesus is God in human flesh. Jesus by nature is no greater than all the other religious figures of human history (Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Muhammad, etc.). According to the Baha’is, Jesus merely mirrored the image and attributes of God, but was not by nature God Himself. In fact, to the Baha’is, the incarnation is impossible! They quote this from Abdu’l-Baha,
“If we claim that the sun is seen in the mirror, we do not mean that the sun itself has descended from the holy heights of his heaven and entered into the mirror! This is impossible. The Divine Nature is seen in the Manifestations and its Light and Splendor are visible in extreme glory“. In other words, it is impossible for God to enter into our world as a human being just like it is impossible for the sun to enter into a mirror. Again, according to the Baha’is, Jesus is like a mirror. Jesus merely reflects to humanity who God is.
The Work of Christ
In Christianity the Church teaches from the Bible that Jesus’ primary purpose for coming into the world was to atone for the sins of humanity. This was accomplished on the cross at Calvery. Furthermore, the Bible teaches Christians that three days after Jesus died and was buried in a sealed up tomb, Jesus rose physically from the dead. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the heart and soul of the gospel message as presented to us by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” Jesus’ shed blood and death on the cross met the perfect righteous requirements of God and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead not only conquered death and gave Christians hope of forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and their own resurrection at the Last Day, but the resurrection of Jesus also put the stamp of authority on who He claimed to be: The Son of God, the Messiah, and God in human flesh.
On the other hand, however, the Baha’is have a totally different view of what the earthly work of Christ was.
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. . . the unchaste and wayward were healed. . . . the eyes of the blind were opened, and the soul of the sinner sanctified. . . . He it is Who purified the world. Blessed is the man who, with a face beaming with light, hath turned towards Him. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, p. 85.
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? At first glance, the words of Baha’u’llah appear as though he and his followers believed the same about the work of Christ on the cross as Christians, but the truth is that they are not actually speaking about Jesus death on the cross and what it accomplished in the same way as Christians do. While Baha’u’llah said that the atonement was “extraordinary” and that it “purified the world“, and that Christ “left nothing unfinished or incomplete”, still due to many people rejecting Jesus and His mission, His sacrifice was unsatisfactory:
The sacrifice of Jesus: Bahá’u’lláh declared that the sacrifice of Jesus was indeed extraordinary, for it was through that sacrifice that Jesus “purified the world.” Bahá’u’lláh says that those who failed to accept Christ deprived themselves of “beholding the face of God.” The Bahá’í writings affirm that Christ “left nothing unfinished or incomplete.” But of course Jesus knew that humankind’s response to His mission and sacrifice would not be adequate and so He prophesied that He would return: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12). In other words, the atonement of Christ Jesus was a temporary solution, and not the ultimate solution to the depravity and sinfulness of the human race. The ultimate solution would be found in the person and teachings of Baha’u’llah.
The Baha’is also reject the physcial resurrection of Jesus. Instead they hold that Jesus rose in a “figurative body.” What does that mean according to the Baha’is? The Baha’is equate “the body of Christ” with the Christian church which consist of believers: Christians. So then, when Jesus died on the cross, His teachings and life was buried in the broken and disdraughted hearts of His disciples who had come to believe in Him. The disciples lost faith, but on the third day after Christ’s death, they regained their faith. Therefore, according to the Baha’is, the resurrection of Jesus is believed to be spiritual and figurative, not literal.
In conclusion, the Christology of the Baha’i Faith and that of Christianity are vastly different indeed. In the next blog a deeper look into these differences beginning with the Nature of Jesus Christ as understood by both faiths will be achieved. Following that blog, a deeper look into the Work of Christ as taught by both faiths. In both blogs I will aim to demonstrate that those differences are highly sufficent and have serious ramifications to those who hold dearly to the Christology and Soteriology of the Baha’i Faith. Ultimately this demonstration will hopefully cause some in the Baha’i Faith to reevaluate what they believe about Jesus and salvation and why.