Baha’i Faith – Program 2
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Walter Martin, Mary Kay Radpour, James Mock; ©1983|
|What does Baha’u’llah offer us today that Jesus cannot offer us? Is Baha’u’llah actually the return of Jesus?|
Tonight on the John Ankerberg Show you will hear representatives of the Baha’i faith and the Christian faith discuss what are the truth claims of their respective beliefs and what is the evidence for those claims. Our first guest representing the Baha’i faith is Mrs. Mary Kay Radpour, a member of the Baha’i Spiritual Assemblies in Atlanta, Baltimore County and Chairman of the Chattanooga Assembly. She is a frequent lecturer and teacher at Baha’i schools nationwide and has served as trainer and seminar leader for the National Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. Our second guest is Mr. James Mock. He is a national representative of the Baha’i faith from the Baha’i National Center of Wilmette, Illinois. Our third guest, representing Orthodox Christian belief, is Dr. Walter Martin, author of the well-known Kingdom of The Cults and director of the Christian Research Institute. We invite you to listen to the evidence during this next half hour.
Program 2: THE BAHA’I FAITH
Why Should we Follow Baha’u’llah Rather Than Jesus?
- Ankerberg: This week we are talking with representatives of the Baha’i faith and also Dr. Walter Martin, and we are comparing the claims of the Baha’i faith with the claims of Christianity. We have a very good discussion going on and, folks, we’re very glad that you’re here. I’m going to try to pick it up where we left off last week. If I could go back to a quote, and help me on the names, please, here: Abdu’l-Baha, I believe, is the son, is that correct? says this, “The revelation of Jesus was for his own dispensation. Now it is no longer the point of guidance to the world.” And I think that this is where we left off last week. Is it going to be Jesus, or Baha’u’llah? And, maybe Jim, I’ll come to you this week to start us off, and that would be, What are the credentials? Why should we believe the prophet and follow him as compared to Jesus Christ? There are a lot of people who are Bible-believing folks watching this program who have read their Bible, and if they were to change over to what you are saying, there’s got to be some pretty strong reasons in light of the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and so on. Tell us, why should they change their minds?
- Mock: Well, I think people have to look into the prophecies that Jesus stated about His second coming and see… read the life of Baha’u’llah and see if these have been fulfilled. That is the only truth. Jesus told us to test the prophets and judge their fruits [Matt. 7:15-23]. Look at the Baha’is, look at the teachings of Jesus, and see the fruits of that.
- Ankerberg: Let me ask you a question. In terms of that, Christians would immediately say, “But it seems like the teachings of the Baha’i contradict the teachings the Lord Jesus gave us. So how could it be the same person?”
- Mock: You would have to give me specifics, because we don’t believe that they are contradictions.
- Ankerberg: Well, how about that man is by nature sinful and needs the atonement of Christ on the cross to forgive him of his sins. He is separated from God until that happens.
- Mock: Yes, we believe that the purpose of the manifestation of God is to give man eternal life. So we do not disagree with you.
- Ankerberg: But how? How does he get it, by just the manifestation showing up? How does he get it? Simply because we know about it we’re already in? Christians would say, no, there’s got to be a conscious decision made on knowing who Christ is and what His claims are, and you submit yourself to Him and ask for His forgiveness and admit that He is Lord.
- Mock: Yes, we do not differ with that. We believe that, of course you must accept Christ, because Christ was the Son of God. He was sent here by God, born of the virgin Mary and died on the cross. And we do not differ there at all.
- Ankerberg: How about Jesus’ words where He says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man will come to the Father but by me” [John 14:6]? He doesn’t tell us anything about somebody else. He says in Hebrews that He is the same yesterday, today, and He is going to be the same forever [Heb. 13:8]. So Christians get the idea that there’s not going to be any other manifestations. He’s it.
- Mock: Well, if you talk about “the same today, yesterday, tomorrow, forever,” well, we believe that that is the spirit of Christ, not necessarily His physical body or what happened to Him; but the spirit of Christ is the same.
- Ankerberg: What do we do about the words that actually say that it is Jesus, not the spirit?
- Mock: We still do not differ. Because, if – which is our major claim – that indeed Baha’u’llah is that return, you are still following Jesus, with the new name that He said….
- Ankerberg: Okay, now, if we’ve got Jesus saying that He is going to be the same yesterday, today and forever. It’s actually Jesus’ name on that statement, not the spirit. We have yet to establish why we should switch.
- Mock: Well, if you look into Revelation 3, Jesus says that He will call His followers by a new name, and that implies that His followers will be known as something different in the future [Rev. 2:17]. We believe that that name….
- Ankerberg: Other than “Christian?”
- Mock: Other than “Christian”….
- Ankerberg: Walter, do you want to comment on that?
- Martin: Well, I think that we are missing something here that we have got to get to. There is an attempt being made to say that we are really talking about the same thing; we’re really talking about the same idea. No, we are not talking about the same idea. I said on last week’s program about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and this is absolutely crucial. Jesus Christ said, “I am coming back from the dead in my own body” [John 1:19-21]. He did. He ascended into Heaven in His own body. He says, when He comes again, they will be able to identify that body. If Baha’u’llah is the fulfillment of that prophecy, he had no wounds in his hands or his feet or his side. He did not come in the clouds of Heaven. He did not usher in eternal judgment or divine righteousness. He simply projected himself as the fulfillment of prophecy. Anybody can come along and say, “I am the Christ.” There are all kinds of people in the history of cultism that have done this. And just being nice people, as they are, having good ethics and morality, being sincere, isn’t what saves the soul. What saves the soul is a personal relationship with the historic Lord Jesus Christ who died in our place on the cross. In Baha’ism you are getting Baha’u’llah being projected as Christ in our time. That is totally foreign to New Testament theology.
- Ankerberg: Jim?
- Mock: I think if you look at what Paul said, he said that, “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” [1 John 4:2].
- Martin: That was John.
- Mock: You’re right; I’m sorry, it was John, 1 John. And we confess that. We believe that Jesus came in the flesh. So he goes on to say in 1 John 4, the next verse, verse 3, he says that any spirit that does not confess Christ that he came in the flesh is not of God. That this is the spirit of the anti-Christ, which is already in the world with us.
- Martin: Let’s extrapolate that further. The Mormons believe in many gods. They believe you can become a god. And therefore they confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh so Mormonism is of God, right?
- Mock: I say if they believe that Jesus Christ came and died on the cross….
- Martin: Let’s stick with your own guideline. The Mormons say, “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” and they believe in many gods and they believe they are going to become gods themselves. Now, Baha’ism rejects that flatly.
- Mock: Yes.
- Martin: There is only one God, right? Therefore, the argument that to say that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh means automatically you are a believer is nonsense. You’ve got to go to John and read what he says. John is talking about the Incarnation. John 1:1, 14 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh.” If you deny the Incarnation, says John, you’re going to go to hell [John 3:18]. It’s as plain and simple as that. Well, the Mormons and Baha’ism, Unitarianism and so forth, do not believe in the Christian doctrine the Incarnation – point blank, they don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. You do not believe that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are the One Eternal God. You have in Baha’i theology an eclectic type of religion which borrows from the world leaders. For instance, Zoroastrianism. Now, you recognize Zoroaster as one of the primal points of manifestation. Zoroaster was a dualist. He believed that there were two eternal gods, Ahriman and Ahura-mazda… you can’t have that. Either there’s One Eternal God or there’s two, but you can’t have it both ways. And that’s what Baha’ism does. It wants to have all of the religious leaders of the world and their philosophy agreeing essentially as manifestations and culminating in Baha’u’llah, and it will not face that fact that there is internal and external contradiction between their theologies. You cannot have contradiction in God. “I am the Lord thy God; I change not” [Mal. 3:6].
- Ankerberg: Let’s see if we can pick this up from a different angle, Jim, and let’s talk in terms of the comparisons. There was an interview in the paper, and I’ve got a quote here from one of the Baha’i, concerning how we arrive at salvation. Maybe we can tackle this thing from, how does one get salvation. Now, the person who was interviewed here said, “We accept the fact that no one is perfect, but by the practice of principles laid down by Baha’u’llah and by making every effort through prayer and personal sacrifice to live in accord with the character of the divine being revealed in him, we can arrive at eventual salvation.” Would that sum up where you’re coming from?
- Mock: Well, I think one thing should be added to that is that the first step is recognition of God and the Son of God. That is essential to salvation.
- Ankerberg: Okay. What is the second step?
- Mock: The second step is to follow the teachings. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees, ye shall no way enter into heaven” [Matt. 5:20]. And so Jesus said we must live the laws also, and it’s a two-fold thing. It’s recognition and obedience.
- Ankerberg: Okay, if a person hasn’t followed all the laws, then what?
- Mock: Well, there’s forgiveness through God, and that is one of the reasons the manifestation came was to give mankind..
- Ankerberg: How does he get that forgiveness?
- Mock: Through prayer.
- Ankerberg: What does he do through prayer?
- Mock: Ask God for forgiveness of his sins.
- Ankerberg: Does he ask God or does he ask Jesus?
- Mock: Well, we do believe in the Trinity, and that you are asking that same Entity.
- Ankerberg: The Trinity?
- Mock: Yes.
- Martin: We’ve got to get our vocabulary straight here, Jim. You do not believe in the Trinity. Baha’ism does not… listen, it’s very easy to tell you because your publications are filled with it. You do not accept… you do not accept….
- Mock: Cite it!
- Martin: Well, do you want me to bring a stack of books in here? You know perfect well that you do not believe….
- Radpour: I would like to explain perhaps what it is….
- Martin: … the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the One Eternal God to the exclusion of everything else. You do not believe that.
- Mock: We do believe in the Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
- Martin: To the exclusion of everything else?
- Mock: Give me an example. Exclusion of what?
- Martin: Baha’u’llah.
- Mock:Of course not! Because what you are saying….
- Martin: Now he’s a member of the Trinity.
- Radpour: They are of one spirit, the one Trinity.
- Mock: Well, if you saw Christ coming back… I mean, it’s is the same thing, the same principle that, has Christ returned? That is the key to the Baha’i faith is, has Christ returned? And if you say, Baha’u’llah says that if you deny him, you have denied Christ.
- Radpour: That’s right.
- Martin: Well that’s it. Jesus said he’s a false prophet. He said, “Many shall come in my name saying, I am the Christ” [Matt. 24:5]. He said it; he’s a liar.
- Mock: Jesus did not say that Baha’u’llah was a false prophet. Where does it say?
- Martin: It’s got to be one way or the other. If Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and if He is to the exclusion of everybody else, the Anointed of God, then Baha’u’llah is not telling the truth.
- Mock: No. Are you going to say that when you see the return of Christ, that that is not God? Don’t you expect Jesus to return?
- Martin: You have made an error in your logic. You have assumed that Baha’u’llah is the return of Christ, something which nobody accepts but you.
- Mock: Oh, well I think there are millions around the world that accept that, and I think that if we go into prophecy….
- Martin: But Baha’ism accepts….
- Mock: …. and point to the prophecy, that Christ Himself made about His Second Coming, we can see that Baha’u’llah fulfills these prophecies.
- Martin: Alright, “Behold he is coming with clouds and every eye shall see him, those also who pierced him” [Rev. 1:7]. Okay. Did Baha’u’llah come in the clouds of Heaven with the wounds in his hands and his feet and his side? Did he?
- Mock: Literally, no. Now let’s go to Isaiah. Isaiah in 44 defines what a cloud is.
- Martin: But before you go running back to Isaiah, stick with John. What did John intend in that context? John said, when He’s coming, you’re going to see Him. You cannot jump contexts and go back to Isaiah to explain John.
- Mock: Okay, let me ask you, Have you been baptized by fire?
- Martin: Now you’re using the….
- Mock: Other parts of the Bible, they do the same thing.
- Martin: What you’re doing is what Baha’iism and most cults do. You’re taking a selected passage out of context and saying, “Look, this is figurative.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” [John 6:51]. Was He a loaf of bread?
:”’Mock:”’ Of course not.
:”’Martin:”’ He said, “I am the true vine” [John 15:1]. Was He a vegetable?
:”’Mock:”’ But where do you discern that….
:”’Martin:”’ Now wait a minute. Was He?
:”’Mock:”’ Of course not.
:”’Radpour:”’ But Dr. Martin, these are specious arguments. If you….
:”’Martin:”’ No, they’re not specious, because….
:”’Radpour:”’ Yes they are, because if you just take….
:”’Martin:”’ If He says “I am the Way” [John 14:6], what is He then? What does not mean to you?
:”’Radpour:”’ If you just look at the history of Christianity itself, if the text, if the Scripture was the absolute proof of the validity of Christ, then everyone who read that Scripture and accepted it would have become a Christian, and we know that there are the Jews who did not.
:”’Martin:”’ They didn’t accept it.
:”’Radpour:”’ They didn’t accept it and they had a different interpretation of it. They expected the King of the Jews. They expected Christ to come with a reign in His hand. They expected something completely different than what occurred.
:”’Ankerberg:”’ I think, Mary, that you have to admit that they understood Jesus was claiming to be God, John 10.
:”’Martin:”’ That they understood.
:”’Radpour:”’ They understood that, but that doesn’t mean that the text….
:”’Ankerberg:”’ Well, then they rejected Him saying… if they didn’t like the way He was going to shape things up at that moment….
:”’Ankerberg:”’ But He was still saying He was God, and they rejected Him on that basis.
:”’Radpour:”’ That’s right, but the text… that was simply because the text did not prepare them for that reality. Baha’is are simply saying that it is quite possible that in this day and age that what Christians ”’expect”’ might be different than what they are going to get. Maybe they are going to…. we cannot make the rules for God. We cannot say to God, “You can only come the way I want. You can only come in the fashion that I have designed.” That is the ultimate in egotism.
:”’Ankerberg:”’ We’re going to come back after we take a break here, and hold on. We’ve got a good discussion.
:”’Ankerberg:”’ We’re back and glad that you’re sticking with us here, and Mary, we’ll come back to you. Do you want to make a comment?
:”’Radpour:”’ I sure do. Dr. Martin asked me if I couldn’t be irritated, or at least show that I’m a little irritated with him? I certainly can’t, because the arguments that have been discussed on the air here are some that you have sort of prepared in advance and deflated without ever asking what our view is. So to say that you’ve won, you see, is sort of….
:”’Ankerberg:”’ Mary, we don’t have “won and lost” here. All we have is the fact of Christians down through the ages have said that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. He is just as much God as His Father and just as much man as you or I in one person. And we believe that the evidence stacks up on that, and again, these verses that apply to Jesus: “He’s the same yesterday, today and forever” [Heb. 13:8], we just want to know why if we should take a different position, which you are advocating, we ought to go that way. We’re just letting it all hang out. So please tell us where you’re at.
:”’Radpour:”’ Okay. “Where we are at” is this: If you are a commonsense person like I am, you know that the acceptance of Christ in the beginning involves some kind of spiritual test. Some kind of test beyond the Scripture itself. Some kind of capacity to resound to the power that was in Him. In this day, Baha’is are saying that same power resides in Baha’u’llah, and that the test of who he is in part in the Scripture and in part in his life, in his teachings, in his person. And what kind of person was he? What happened to him? Where is that power?
:”’Ankerberg:”’ Okay, Mary, let me see if this makes sense to you? I think that we understand you absolutely perfectly, we just don’t agree with it. Does that make sense?
:”’Radpour:”’ I think that the arguments that you are making, yes. You’re not agreeing, you’re saying simply that the arguments that the Scripture….
:”’Ankerberg:”’ Okay, and do you understand ”’why”’ we don’t agree?
:”’Radpour:”’ Of course. You’re saying that the Scripture means this, and I’m saying it doesn’t. I’m saying that there have been thousands, millions, of Christians who have had different understandings of the Scripture than you have personally. And that understanding would possibly have led me – it led James – to a different understanding. I regarded myself as a believing Christian, one who was loyal to the Christ.
:”’Ankerberg:”’ Let’s come back and ask Walter for a comment there.
:”’Martin:”’ Well, Mary said a minute ago that, you know, you were circumscribing God by saying, “He can’t do it any other way than the way the church has always understood it down through the ages.” No, that’s not what we’re saying. What we’re saying is that if God says something specifically, He cannot change it. His nature forbids Him to change it because He is God. He is absolute Truth. So, if God says that Jesus Christ is the ”’one”’ Savior [John 14:6], and God says He is coming back again visibly [Rev. 1:7], that all the texts of Scripture indicate a personal, visible return of the Lord Jesus, and you are saying the Baha’u’llah is that fulfillment. We are simply asking you to coincide that with the Scriptures and you are not doing that.
:”’Radpour:”’ Let me call for another text of Scripture. Why did the Christ say that He would come as a thief in the night [Matt. 24:42-44; 1 Thess. 5:2], when the householder least knew it, if He was also going to come in the clouds in the Heaven and every eye would behold Him? There’s an inherent paradox in that.
:”’Ankerberg:”’ I think that’s an excellent question. If there’s a solid answer, then what?
:”’Martin:”’ Well, let’s look at a thief.
:”’Ankerberg:”’ Well, let’s see if we’ve got an answer to it. What is the solid answer?
:”’Martin:”’ How does a thief come? How does a thief come?
:”’Radpour:”’ He comes, and before you know it, he’s there. And we’re saying Baha’u’llah has come. And before you even knew it, he’s here. His bodies of teachings are here. He’s asking you to examine the truth of those teachings.
:”’Martin:”’ Let’s put the passage back in its context. I’m coming as a thief in the night, when you don’t expect me. That is a direct reference in context to the ”’rapidity”’ of His return, not to the fact that you are not going to be able to know it [1 Thess. 5:1-3]. The thief comes, but it’s quick. You’re aware of it, but it’s very fast. Jesus said, “When I come, I’m going to break through the heavens like a bolt of lightning. As the lightning goes from the east to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of man be” [Matt. 24:27]. Baha’u’llah came…
:”’Mock:”’ In the East.
:”’Martin:”’ He did not… that’s right, came out of the East….
:”’Radpour:”’ As light coming to the West.
:”’Martin:”’ Fine, I understand. This is in your interpretation of it. I’m saying, when Jesus said He was coming back again, He said, “It’s going to be ”’me”’. You will know me, you will see the identification – my hands, my feet.” You’re spiritualizing those texts and saying, “He didn’t really mean that.” Well, I would like to ask the question: On what basis do you decide that something is figurative or literal? Give me the reason for it?
:”’Mock:”’ Okay. We don’t. Because just as the Revelations have said, the books are sealed, they are not open for interpretation….
:”’Martin:”’ It doesn’t say that.
:”’Radpour:”’ In Daniel it said that, and in Revelations it says that….
:”’Martin:”’ And in Revelation it says that the Lamb opens the seals, you see.
:”’Radpour:”’ In Revelation it says that the books are sealed until the time of the end….
:”’Mock:”’ Do you have your Bible with you?
:”’Martin:”'<nowiki> Yes. I must object to that because it’s again out of context. Daniel’s prophecy is referring to the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the prophecy in chapter 8. The sealing of the books means that until the manifestation of Christ and the fulfillment of prophecy, nobody would know what he is talking about [Dan. 12:4]. It is not talking about Baha’u’llah. It is talking about the Lord Jesus in the sanctuary, suffering and dying for our sins. You have removed it from its context.
- Mock: That’s your interpretation.
- Radpour: But the same prophecy in Daniel which refers to the first coming of Christ and dates it at the 30 or 40 years before the destruction of the temple, that same prophecy refers to 1844, which is the date of the inauguration of the Baha’i faith, as….
- Martin: How did we arrive at that?
- Radpour: Well, how did we arrive at it? That was the beginning of the Baha’i faith. May, in fact, this year….
- Martin: But how does it correspond to the temple?
- Mock: Well, let’s look, okay….
- Martin: Now wait a minute, I’m talking to her about this. How do you get there?
- Radpour: The prophecy….
- Martin: How do you get from the temple to Baha’u’llah?
- Mock:I’ll tell you.
- Radpour: After the Advent of Christ, Christian scholars of prophecy went to those texts and they said, “This is the proof. This is the demonstration. This is the promised Messiah that is spoken of in the books. He was to come in this year, he was to be cut off in his 30th year, and so on.
- Martin: That’s fine, that’s fine.
- Radpour: Those same prophecies caused William Miller and all of these ardent Adventists at the time in 1844 to go on a mountain in Pennsylvania and don their ascension robes….
- Martin: They never did that. That’s not true.
- Radpour: They were selling ascension robes of Fifth Avenue in New York City.
- Mock: It is historically true.
- Martin: No, I’m sorry. I’m sorry….
- Ankerberg: Even the Seventh-day Adventists, and we’ve had the on the program, and they’ve said that the history has been widely overplayed.
- Mock: Let me add, you want the answer to the temple. Well, we know that it refers to the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel in chapter 8 [Dan. 9:27]. Daniel said that once the temple is cleared it will be an appointed 2,300 days. If you look in Ezra 7, you see that Artaxerxes made a decree about the rebuilding of the temple.
- Martin: What’s the date of the decree?
- Mock: 457. Now subtract 457 to zero, it’s 456 years, and add that to get 2,300 and it is 1844.
- Martin: You are aware of the fact that the latest archaeological dating of it places it at 445?
- Mock: No. No.
- Martin: You are not aware of that?
- Mock: No, I’m aware that there are three…
- Martin: But you are not aware that it’s 445, not 457.
- Mock: There are three that he made. The Bible….
- Radpour: That’s right. There’s more than one….
- Martin: Wait a minute now, you are aware that the date is 445.
- Mock: The date has not been changed. Artaxerxes made several decrees, approximately four, in Samuel, Ezra, Chronicles….
- Martin: The date you’re referring to for the decree is 445.
- Mock: No. No, the one I’m referring to by archaeologists is 457.
- Martin: Alright, now, what archaeologist?
- Mock: If you will just go back and look at any documentation. You are changing. Show me your documentation.
- Martin: I have.
- Radpour: Why did William Miller and all….
- Martin: I have. I’ll give it to you. Are you ready? Here’s the documentation. In the book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, there is a detailed archaeological report on the dating of the Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel contexts which you have not read, right?
- Mock: Right.
- Martin: Therefore you don’t know what I’m talking about? Right?
- Mock: And you don’t know what I’m talking about.
- Martin: Oh yes, I do. You are saying 457, and the book is showing you with all the documentation it’s 445. So, first of all, your facts are incorrect there….
- Ankerberg: We have about 30 seconds left, by the way.
- Mock: You’re disproving when Christ came, because in Chapter 9 it said that the same decree when Christ was coming.
- Martin: The facts are this: That you do not interpret Scriptural passages. What you do is grab a passage, pull it out of its context and say, “This is what it means.” We’re saying, put it back in its context and you have Jesus Christ as Savior, not Baha’u’llah, the impostor.
- Mock: Well, study the life and respond to the life of Baha’u’llah.
- Ankerberg: Are you willing to do one more program, and we’ll pick it up next week? Alright. Just stick with us next week, and we’ll pick up the same topic right there. Sorry, we’re out of time.