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The World doesn’t need Baha’u’llah as he brought nothing new, just recycled idealism and Sufi mysticism! – a Christian apologist
Baha’u’llah’s Faith actually contains so many new teachings that a single brief article can’t possibly do justice to them. In this initial part of a short series of articles, we’ll consider why anyone who says the Baha’i Faith contains nothing new simply hasn’t sufficiently explored its depth and breadth.
Let me start by explaining that the Baha’i teachings state God had a plan for us from the beginning of the world. That Plan has the ultimate goal of spiritualizing our souls. Baha’is call this Plan “Progressive Revelation.” As the soul unfolds and can learn more, it is given more by subsequent teachers.
A child cannot learn higher mathematics in first grade; only after a firm foundation has been laid can more complex concepts be introduced. Christ said it this way in John 16:12: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” He spoke to the apostles in parables and promised “when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth”.
The Baha’i Faith teaches that religion is progressive—which means that changes in social teachings are made in every age a messenger of God appears, because every age has its own problems. The issues of a space age are much different from those of a stone age.
Christ was accused of breaking Mosaic Law because he restored the sight of a blind man on the Sabbath day – John 9:16. The Pharisees said, “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day.” Christ also changed the divorce law – Mathew 5:31-32. He altered Moses’s command to require an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: “But I say unto you that ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Mathew 5:38-39.
Christ explained His changes: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” – Mathew 5:17.
Two categories of “newness” can be found in the Baha’i Faith: 1.) The updating of outmoded laws in the same spirit of the changes Christ made to the laws of Moses; 2.) New teachings needed in the modern age. Consider just these few examples:
Abolition of all clergy and a call for them to marry. The Bible sanctions priesthood (See Lev. 5:16; 6:7; Num. 5:17; Heb. 8:3; etc.)–but Baha’u’llah called patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, priests and monks, and other divines to enter the life of society and to abandon their former roles:
O concourse of monks! Seclude not yourselves in churches and cloisters. Come forth by My leave, and occupy yourselves with that which will profit your souls and the souls of men. …Enter ye into wedlock, that after you someone may fill your place. – Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 49.
The prohibition of slavery. Slavery is a recognized institution in the Bible (see Jer. 2:14; Rev. 18:13). In His Most Holy Book Baha’u’llah forbids slavery.
The Baha’i Faith prescribes monogamy. The Bible and the Qur’an permit polygamy (see Gen. 4:23; 31:17; Deu. 21:15; Judges 8:30; I Cor. 7:29.) In the Most Holy Book Baha’u’llah prescribes monogamy.
The equality of men and women. The Bible says “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” (see I Tim. 2:11-12; I Cor. 14:34-35) The Baha’i teachings proclaim men and women as equal: “Know thou …that in the sight of Baha, women are accounted the same as men….” – Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 79.
Universal compulsory education. In centuries past it was impossible for the average person to personally investigate the scriptures and books of science. Seeking truth for one’s self was a confined to the literate and mostly leisure class. Baha’u’llah asks us to …”know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour.” – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 37.
Of course, another major new Baha’i teaching names God as the Author of all the great religious traditions, including the Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and now Baha’i Faith. That unique principle of the oneness of God permeates the Baha’i view of the creation, faith and the human spirit. Baha’is believe that God has only one religion–the belief in Him.
The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind’s ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System — the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.
Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause — a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 136.