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How do I become Baha’i?
Religion

Does Becoming a Baha’i Betray Jesus?

David Langness | Jan 6, 2015

PART 4 IN SERIES Changing My Religion

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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David Langness | Jan 6, 2015

PART 4 IN SERIES Changing My Religion

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

…blind imitation of the past will stunt the mind. But once every soul inquireth into truth, society will be freed from the darkness of continually repeating the past. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 248.

…blind imitation deadens man’s senses, and when an untrammeled search for reality is made, the world of humanity will be released from the shackles of blind imitation. – Abdu’l-Baha, Letter to Martha Root.

…blind imitations and hereditary prejudices have invariably become the cause of bitterness and hatred and have filled the world with darkness and violence of war. Therefore we must seek the fundamental truth in order to extricate ourselves from such conditions and then with illumined faces find the pathway to the kingdom of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 239.

Girl-reading-bibleWhen I met Mary, we talked about the fear that comes from changing your innermost beliefs. Growing up a Catholic, she developed a childhood love for Jesus Christ that she still feels, and I suspect she fears that “changing religions” could betray that love.

I didn’t get a chance to explain much when Mary and I talked, so I’ll try to cover that subject here.

If you ask yourself why you follow a particular religion or belief system, you may find, like most people do, that you follow it because you inherited it. Your parents and your ancestors passed it down to you. You were probably educated and trained as a small child to follow the Faith of your parents or your grandparents, so you simply did. As you grew up, you likely saw some of the beauty of that Faith, tried to understand and follow its teachings, and built a self-identity that included its particular view of the world. If your parents had no Faith, you might have followed that path, as well.

In either case, your innermost beliefs may be counterfeit. They may not really belong to you. They may be blind imitations. If you haven’t questioned them since childhood; if you haven’t really examined your own deep spiritual reality, then you may want to seek that inner truth by beginning to question what you’ve blindly imitated in the past.

When the Baha’i teachings ask us to avoid blindly imitating others, they also ask us to examine our innermost belief systems. Rather than an imitation set of principles and beliefs, wouldn’t you rather have an authentic one? A major principle of the Baha’i Faith, the independent investigation of the truth, asks us not to rely on the perceptions and positions of others, but to truly seek and find our own beliefs:

Man must be just. We must set aside bias and prejudice. We must abandon the imitations of ancestors and forefathers. We ourselves must investigate reality and be fair in judgment. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 346.

That justice and fairness means that Baha’is follow all of God’s prophets. Baha’is believe in, love and revere the prophets and founders of all the world’s great Faiths: Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ, Muhammad and now, Baha’u’llah. Becoming a Baha’i, then, does not mean rejecting the Faith you previously followed. Baha’is don’t jettison their former Faiths, they see them in a new way—as an integral part of the oneness of all religions. To a Baha’i, the fundamental reality of religion is one, and not multiple.

Actually, being a Baha’i means becoming a follower of the light, not of the lamp:

…the divine religions of the holy Manifestations of God are in reality one, though in name and nomenclature they differ. Man must be a lover of the light, no matter from what dayspring it may appear. He must be a lover of the rose, no matter in what soil it may be growing. He must be a seeker of the truth, no matter from what source it come. Attachment to the lantern is not loving the light. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 151.

So I explained to my new friend Mary that she had nothing to fear. When you become a Baha’i, you don’t reject your former Faith or its founder—you truly accept them and at the same time vastly expand the scope of your beliefs, encompassing the guidance and wisdom of all Faiths:

O thou seeker after truth! The world of the Kingdom is one world. The only difference is that spring returneth over and over again, and setteth up a great new commotion throughout all created things. Then plain and hillside come alive, and trees turn delicately green, and leaves, blossoms and fruits come forth in beauty, infinite and tender. Wherefore the dispensations of past ages are intimately connected with those that follow them: indeed, they are one and the same, but as the world groweth, so doth the light, so doth the downpour of heavenly grace, and then the Day-Star shineth out in noonday splendour. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 58.

Baha’is don’t deny any of the messengers of God, because they each represent the promised return of God’s message. Linked in an eternal chain of divine educators, the prophets and founders of the world’s great Faiths personify a single spiritual system:

Let us understand what constitutes the reality of the divine religions. If a Christian sets aside traditionary forms and blind imitation of ceremonials and investigates the reality of the gospels, he will discover that the foundation principles of the teachings of His Holiness Christ were mercy, love, fellowship, benevolence, altruism, the resplendence or radiance of divine bestowals, acquisition of the breaths of the Holy Spirit and oneness with God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 105.

So no, Mary, becoming a Baha’i doesn’t betray Jesus in any way—it truly recognizes Christ’s reality.

It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in diverse attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold Them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 51.

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Comments

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  • Patricia Stotler
    Mar 16, 2020
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    Christians have the believe that when they die ...absent from the body present with the Lord and they believe when Jesus returns their spirit will be reunited with their body...a body that is glorified and immortal like Jesus ...and we will live with God eternally in paradise...the new heavens and a restored earthly paradise. This is the christian’s wonderful hope, but this does not exist in the baha'i faith. ...a real life...not a spirit that lives in some proximity to God. We will live in God’s perfect kingdom free of all sin and evil and no more suffering ...or death. This is not in Baha’i beliefs....very sad.
    Read more...
  • T S
    Dec 22, 2017
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    The article does not mention what I feel is the main issue for Christians investigating the Baha'i faith; going from believing Jesus is the son of God , (therefore unique ) to believing he is one of many messengers ...
  • Justin Whiting
    Aug 17, 2017
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    Can a Baha'i still pray to Jesus Christ? How can a Christian accept a belief that there was no resurrection? The Christian faith some would say is based on Jesus resurection
    • Justin Whiting
      Apr 17, 2020
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      However...the Bahai Faith enables one to become appreciative of all the manifestations of God. Jesus had arisen from His death though I believe that it was in spirit form and He is just as alive and available today for us to pray to. Being Bahai does not mean that one renounces ones former faith.It brings an even deeper connection to God, Jesus...The Bahai writings are vast and comprehensive. One should investigate truth for oneself and find our own answers from the search.
  • Britt Mitchell
    Jun 12, 2017
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    Dear David, I have really enjoyed your articles as I deepen my faith as a new Baha'i. But this article really troubles me. Beginning with 3 quotes about blind obedience comes across as extremely judgemental (it seems to accuse Christians of not critically examining or questioning their faith). I assure you that all my life I have independently investigated the truth, as a Mormon in the first half of my life, as I left that church, and as I became a Baha'i. The quotes you shared from Abdul'baha apply equally to all, *including* Baha'is. As Baha'is we are very good ...at telling others to investigate the truth and often forget to practice it ourselves. We all must be mindful of the tendency toward superstition in ourselves and our communities.
    Read more...
  • Eric Fosbrooke
    Aug 10, 2016
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    Please, very cautious . Many enemies search to find a crack a Misunderstanding, so they can enlarge it and seek a division.
    Is the head of the Faith the UHJ? No surely the head of the Faith is Baha'u'llah . He has left His Writings to all of us. What does Jesus say about status in His Faith ?
    Washing feet, serving all. Sharing His cup. This is early days yet, we are all mortal.
    Judge with care .
    We must build up our Bahá'í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot ...change them through our becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us. (Lights of Guildance)
    Read more...
  • Eric Fosbrooke
    Aug 10, 2016
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    The difference between our belief and your belief is the letter 'y' ?
    God," Abdu'l-Baha Himself declares, "maketh no distinction between the white and the black. If the hearts are pure both are acceptable unto Him. God is no respecter of persons on account of either color or race.
  • Kimia Lalezari
    Mar 3, 2016
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    Dear Lory,
    In response to you saying that you do not "accept humans as infallible" this is 100% true and every Baha'i would agree with you. It is not that each member of the UHJ is infallible alone but that together their decisions are in fact infallible. Once they leave their conference room there is no sense of infallibility by each individual member. As for women not being able to be elected onto the UHJ let us look to "Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá":
    "Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Bahá, women are accounted the same ...as men, and God hath created all humankind in His own image, and after His own likeness. That is, men and women alike are the revealers of His names and attributes, and from the spiritual viewpoint there is no difference between them. Whosoever draweth nearer to God, that one is the most favoured, whether man or woman. How many a handmaid, ardent and devoted, hath, within the sheltering shade of Bahá, proved superior to the men, and surpassed the famous of the earth.
    The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men; 1 this for a wisdom of the Lord God’s, which will ere long be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon."
    Although some aspects of the Faith may not make sense to us at this point in time, it is not lacking from the Faith but rather from our lack of understanding as human beings to realize the significance of this bidding right now. And the fact that it will be "made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon" should give you peace of mind that this will soon be revealed when humanity is ready is receive it.
    I hope this finds you in good health and spirits.
    Kimia
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  • Mar 3, 2016
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    I think this is an excellent article. The Oneness of Religion is an important concept for all of us to grasp. This article would not be insulting to anyone who desires to make an independent investigation of the truth, whether they are Christian or not. The problem occurs when people blindly accept barriers to unity such as religious, ethnic or racial prejudice. Some of these barriers are subtle. For example, the Christian teaching that Jesus as "the light, the way and the truth" is not necessarily a barrier to unity. However, this noble thought becomes a barrier to unity ...when one insists that Jesus is the ONLY pathway to God and that other Divine Messengers who said similar things must not have been sent from God. I invite Christians to heed Abdul Baha's advice and investigate the truth of the Baha'i Writings for themselves.
    Read more...
  • Sep 28, 2015
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    Here is an analogy I heard from a woman who had just decided to be a Baha'i. She said, "When my son was born I loved him completely and unconditionally. He was everything to me and I loved no person more than I loved him. Then I was pregnant with my daughter. I was worried that I would not love my daughter because I loved my son so much. When my daughter was born, I loved her absolutely and noticed that my love for my son did not diminish, but my love grew to include ...my daughter. I think being a Baha'i will be like this. I love Christ totally and unconditionally. By loving Baha'u'llah, I don't love Christ less; my love expands."
    Read more...
  • Jul 20, 2015
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    I would add that there is an excellent response to this article on Christian ex-baha'i.
    I agree with the writer of that article that Mr. Langness article is rather insulting to Christians.
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