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PaulJustPaul

The Baha'i Faith

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Is there anyone on this forum of the Baha'i faith?

 

I was raised a Christian, but as I've become an adult, I've had some issues with the religion, namely the exclusivity - Christians are the "chosen people".  I never felt any religion was inherently "wrong".

 

And that's what the Baha'i faith teaches. I've been more and more fascinated with the oneness of religions.

 

Can anyone tell me about this religion? I'd love to know more from actual Baha'i.

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I can't say I've heard of this religion before. From a quick look at Wikipedia, it says that Baha'i teaches that religious truth is relative, not absolute. We can't know anything about God, and all religions are based on different observers and their flawed interpretations of what God has revealed. However, Baha'i also believes that Jesus, Mohammed, Krishna etc. are prophets. Now, that doesn't add up. Jesus saying He was the Son of God isn't based on His apostles "interpretations". That's who He Himself claimed to be, and why He was put to death. Similarly, Mohammed claimed that he was called by God, and that Jesus was not the Son of God but just another prophet. So, if Baha'i teaches that both of these men are prophets, this can't add up. They both made themselves very clear, so one of them at least has to be lying.

 

I'm sceptical of anyone who says that truth of anything can be relative. We're not talking mere preferences here: "I prefer Jesus and you prefer Mohammed." We're talking absolute truth claims: "Either this man was God or he wasn't."

 

As I said, this is just from Wikipedia, so maybe I'm reading this wrong. If there's anyone here who's more in the know, then it'd be cool to get it cleared up!

 

But you mentioned in your post that "Christians are the 'chosen people'." What did you mean by that? I'm not sure from the little you said, but since you're offering it as an objection, maybe you mean, Christians are the only ones who can be saved, or God chooses only certain people to go to Heaven, or something like that. If that's the case, then that's not a Christian belief. That's a very specific branch of Protestant Calvinism, and it's not what most Christians believe. In fact, the Bible's very clear that God desires all people to be saved, and that Jesus died for everyone. It's not a case of, "You're not a Christian, therefore Hell."

 

xxx

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The founder of this 'religion', I rather call it a cult, is a mad person who claimed to be a mahdi.

 

A mahdi is a figure from the islamic faith that would be born on earth close to the time of Jesus' arrival to fight the Antichrist.

 

Several people claimed to be a mahdi and founded a cult such as the Bahai to mislead them. My advice to you is: don't take the need to even investigate it any further.

 

They consider everyone who is not like them as misguided.

 

What you really should investigate are the spiritual and mystic movements which has love at it's basis, and that it is through love that they believe in God.

 

Such as Mevlana or Bektashi.

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If you really want to do some individual research, try carm.org and religious tolerance.org

 

You might want to be careful about trusting some of the interpretations on carm.org, but both websites are really good places to get information on many religions (I've used them so many times) and sometimes comparisons between religions that are closely related or commonly confused.

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Going to CARM for info on other religions or denominations is fine -- if you're a Protestant. 

I'd go with Wikipedia or an encyclopedia on religion for a neutral view of the Baha'i faith.  There's also a Baha'i subreddit on Reddit.

http://www.reddit.com/r/bahai

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But you mentioned in your post that "Christians are the 'chosen people'." What did you mean by that? I'm not sure from the little you said, but since you're offering it as an objection, maybe you mean, Christians are the only ones who can be saved, or God chooses only certain people to go to Heaven, or something like that. If that's the case, then that's not a Christian belief. That's a very specific branch of Protestant Calvinism, and it's not what most Christians believe. In fact, the Bible's very clear that God desires all people to be saved, and that Jesus died for everyone. It's not a case of, "You're not a Christian, therefore Hell."

 

xxx

No, what I meant was that, at times when I've been to churches, I've heard many say the only way to Heaven is through Christ, and quite literally: If you believe in Christ and give your life to him, everlasting life. Otherwise, sorry, bud!

 

That's something I never understood, and couldn't appreciate.

 

To be honest, I know you're very opposed to the relativity proposed in Baha'i faith, but I truly love it. It always made sense to me. I was raised a Christian, but the most spiritual experience I've ever had was in a Hindu temple. Feeling the spirit wrap us all as we sang and danced, it was magnificent. They call is Brahman, the Christians call it the Holy Spirit. I believe all religions try to look at the same thing, and see God in slightly different ways. But in the end, it's all God. That's why I'm not a Christian per se, but I am a strong theist.

 

Baha'i faith appealed to me because of the central tenet - all religions are equal.

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No, what I meant was that, at times when I've been to churches, I've heard many say the only way to Heaven is through Christ, and quite literally: If you believe in Christ and give your life to him, everlasting life. Otherwise, sorry, bud!

 

That's something I never understood, and couldn't appreciate.

 

As I said, that's not what most Christians believe. Certainly, we can only get to Heaven through Jesus. But that doesn't mean that if you're of another faith, then you're automatically going to Hell. Some people have never heard of Jesus. Some have heard of Him, but live in a culture where all they've heard about Him is biased or just untrue. Some will search for the truth about Christianity, but won't find it through no fault of their own. God doesn't judge people on what they can't know. That's why we're called not to judge whether someone is going to Hell or not, because we can't possibly know what they know or the intentions of their heart.

 

 

Baha'i faith appealed to me because of the central tenet - all religions are equal.

 

You're going to have to clarify what you mean by "equal". Exactly the same? They all teach different things, so that can't be right. Equal in truth? We've discussed this: religions contradict, and therefore cannot all be true. Equally valuable? Again, if religions contain different degrees of truth, then they can't all be equally valuable, just as different scientific theories are not equally valuable in helping us know what really is - some will be closer to reality than the others.

 

When I've heard people say "All religions are equal", they take it to mean that all religions basically teach the same truth because they're all about having a relationship with God. But that's not true either. Some religions are about man's search for God, whereas Christianity is about God's search for man. Some religions belief that God loves us, others don't. Some teach that we need a relationship with God, and others say we just have to focus on bettering ourselves. Some believe that we need God's grace to get to Heaven, and others believe we can get there on our own. Some religions believe in one God, or more than one God, or even no God at all, in which case, it's absurd to say that all religions are about a relationship with God.

 

Something you said worried me, though. You said that the Baha'i faith "appealed" to you. But just because a religion appeals to you doesn't make it true. It just means you like it more than others. A lot of ideas in other faiths are appealing to me, but that doesn't make them true. The idea that there's a Hell is hardly appealing, and many religions believe that everyone will go to Heaven. Nevertheless, just because a belief is unappealing does not mean it's false.

 

 

Have you checked out Unitarian Universalism, by any chance?

 

I had a little look at one of their websites, where they've answered questions about their faith.

 

http://www.uunashua.org/100quest.shtml

 

Among their beliefs:

 

"Truth is not absolute: it changes over time"

Truth is not absolute? Is that absolutely true? Was there ever a time when it was absolutely true that there is no absolute truth?

 

They don't believe Jesus is God but "We do admire and respect the way he lived, the power of his love, the force of his example, and his values."
Jesus claimed to be God. If He wasn't, then either He's an evil liar or He was insane. In either case, there'd be nothing to respect about Him.

 

"We believe that people are punished by their sins, not for them, and that the evil people do lives with them...You could attend a UU church for years and seldom hear the word sin"

That's worrying. They (kind of) believe in sin, and that people will be punished if they sin, but hardly ever warn people about it.

 

"As an institution, we are strongly pro-choice, as are most individual UUs."

"Strongly pro-choice" suggests to me that they don't support any restriction on abortion whatsoever (otherwise, they'd be restricting at least some "choices"). Maybe it's just me, but I'm not particularly fond of a religion that has no problem supporting sex-selective abortion, abortion because a child has Down's syndrome, abortion to fit into your prom dress, or indeed any reason whatsoever.

 

...Anyway, I'll stop there. I'm just rambling now...

 

xxx

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That's only one UU church, though. Since it's really not an organized religion in the traditional sense, it's really hard to make generalizations about every group based on one UU Church in New Hampshire.

 

From Wikipedia: 

 

"Unitarian Universalism, or Unitarianism,[2][3][4] is a liberal religion characterized by a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning".[5] Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed, but are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. The roots of Unitarian Universalism are in liberal Christianity, specifically Unitarianism and Universalism. From these traditions comes a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love, so that congregations and members seek inspiration and derive spiritual practices from all major world religions.[6] The theology of individual Unitarian Universalists ranges widely, including HumanismAtheismAgnosticismPantheismDeism,ChristianityJudaismNeopaganismHinduismBuddhism, and many more."

 

Personally, I don't believe Jesus was God, but I also can't say he is evil or insane, as he lived so long ago I can hardly know what would have led him to make those claims (or even if he really did make those claims, or if it was something added on later by his followers). I can respect that the word of Jesus as portrayed in the Bible means a great deal to many people, and I can respect that a lot of people use it as a tremendous force for good (although I also believe that many people use it for awful things as well). I have known many people who have claimed to respect Jesus without believing he was God. 

 

Pro-choice in that context probably means that they don't feel comfortable judging whether someone's reason for an abortion is "good enough," just as you don't feel comfortable judging whether or not someone is "good enough" to go to heaven or not. Besides, it wouldn't really be possible to legally determine whether a woman seeking an abortion truly was raped, or whether she doesn't want to have a second girl. 

 

Perhaps things are different where you live (Scotland, right?) but where I grew up (Texas), and where my mother grew up (Minnesota, later spent significant amounts of time in Massachusetts and New York), the predominant Christian belief is that one must be a Christian in order to get to Heaven. I've honestly never met a Christian aside from you who has said otherwise.

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@Jegsy Scarr, Can we TRY to keep this thread on track, and not make it about your ideas of whether religions contradict, and not continue to focus on Jesus as the son of God?

 

That's not really the point here. Please and thanks. :) I get what you're saying, but let's just not make this into an argument of any different scope.

 

@SteadfastMadcap, I think you make good points. And I appreciate your explanation of universalism. Is that what you follow?

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@Jegsy Scarr, Can we TRY to keep this thread on track, and not make it about your ideas of whether religions contradict, and not continue to focus on Jesus as the son of God?

 

That's not really the point here. Please and thanks. :) I get what you're saying, but let's just not make this into an argument of any different scope.

 

Sure, but you did ask for people's opinions on the Baha'i faith. So when you replied to my post with a section on what you thought about Bah'i and why it appealed to you, I just replied to that, plus I replied to some of the other stuff you'd mentioned (I wasn't going to leave you with misconceptions about Christianity, if I could help it). But sure, I'll leave it there, if it's not the kind of reply you were looking for! :)

 

xxx

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I don't personally participate in a UU congregation. My high school held one of their graduations in a UU church, and I really liked the vibe I got there, and appreciated the fact that they were bold enough to display a gay pride flag right outside their front door (something that could be a little risky in Texas). I've also met many people who are from UU congregations, and they've always seemed to espouse the values you seemed to be looking for, which is why I recommended them. :)  Even if you decide to follow the Baha'i faith, a UU congregation might be more accessible to you where you live than a Baha'i temple, and based on my quick scan of the Baha'i Wikipedia page I'm sure UUs would welcome you with open arms. Here are the sites of two congregations I know of: http://www.ufoh.org/ufoh/ and http://www.emersonhouston.org/

 

Here's their section on religious tolerance: http://www.religioustolerance.org/u-u.htm I really do recommend this site; it was very helpful to me when I was going through my "seeking religion" phase.

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Hi Paul!
I've just recently stumbled upon WTM (the page, not the concept :D) and as I was interested to see if there are maybe other Baha'is active here, I found your thread!
It surprised me to see that so far no 'actual Baha'i' has answered to it. I am a member of the Baha'i community, so feel free to ask me anything. I guess, you have already heard of the basics, it's a young, monotheistic religion that very much centers around the concept of oneness: The oneness of God, the oneness of religion *, the oneness of mankind. The prophet founder (His title) is Baha'u'llah, which is Arabic and means 'the glory of God'. That's why as His followers we call ourselves 'Baha'is'.

* As the concept of the oneness of religion was mentioned above, I thought I would elaborate it a bit more. The Baha'i faith teaches that all prophets were sent by God to humanity to give us guidance. As humanity evolves and progresses, at each age new problems arise and religion is there to teach us (again) about God and morality while at the same time adjusting the laws/rules to the new needs. In that sense, all major religions can be seen almost as one. They are just God's progressive revelation to us, to bring us back to Him and on a path of progression. Often this metaphor is used: Religions are like the different school grades. You start first grade, than second, third... each is based on the previous year, but adds to the knowledge, also with the years the students become more mature and are able to grasp deeper meanings. 

I had a look on your profile. I saw you like exploring many different faiths, as I do. I would be happy to get into a conversation with you. 

Greetings from far away,
minoo

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Just out of curiosity, hehe, maybe this time more luck: Are there any other members of the Baha'i faith here on WTM??? :) would be cool to connect

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