Baha’i Faith – Program 3

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. Walter Martin, Mary Kay Radpour, James Mock; ©1983
Do Jesus and Baha’u’llah offer any evidence to support their claims of who they are and what they are?

Introduction

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 3: THE BAHA’I FAITH
What Evidence Do We Have For the Claims of Jesus and of Baha’u’llah?

Ankerberg: Welcome. We’re talking with representatives of the Baha’i faith and a representative of Christianity, Dr. Walter Martin. And we’re going to jump right to the topic that we left off last week. We were talking about, does Jesus give us evidence that supports His claims, and does the prophet Baha’u’llah give us evidence that would support the things that you’re saying for him? And, Jim, you said you wanted to lead off this week, so please take the floor.
Mock: John, I’d like to take up where we left off last week in which we were talking about a decree made by Artaxerxes, which we believe is one of the fulfillments of Christ’s three major prophecies about His return. Dr. Martin was saying that indeed this has been redated. Well, I’d like to add that if it has been redated it changes the prophecy of the coming of Christ.
Ankerberg: How does that do so?
Mock: Because chapter 9 of Daniel says that there are an appointed 70 weeks upon thy people [v. 24], and it goes on to say that the Messiah shall be cut off. Well, 70 weeks is 490 days. If you take a day as a year in Bible prophecy, that’s 490 years. 457, which is the date we believe that that decree was made, subtracted from 490 gives 33, the approximate age that Christ was believed to be when He was crucified. So, if you change the date for the Baha’i prophecy, you’re also changing Christian prophecy.
Martin: This is the kind of reasoning that we simply have to deal with. The man has not read the archaeological data. He has admittedly not studied what the latest dating is on it. He does not know that in McDowell’s book there is a perfect reconciliation on archaeological data for the advent of Jesus Christ. And so you are saying that either we buy 457 or we junk Christianity and I’m saying that’s nonsense.
Mock: No, I’m not saying that.
Martin: Pure nonsense, sir.
Mock: You know that we believe in Jesus. You know that we believe… We would never say “Junk Christianity.” I know that the Lord came.
Martin: No, no. What you’re saying… of course you do, you’re a Southern Baptist that apostatized. You’re into Baha’ism because you turned your back on the historic Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can sit here and quote Scripture to me and quote biblical theology to me which you have repudiated to join a Persian cult.
Mock: I’ve not repudiated anything and I think you’d better look at the definition of a cult.
Martin: I have.
Mock: What is a cult? A cult are James Joneses and groups like this that run off and isolate themselves. The Baha’i faith is a world religion that is in every country of the world, and it is a growing religion.
Martin: I think cults are a little more complex than the way you just put it out. I mean, just because people isolate themselves doesn’t make them a cult. What makes you a cult is if you profess to be a follower of Christianity or in harmony with Christianity, and then you go about imitating the language and denying Christ.
Mock: Well, I disagree with you. I don’t think the Muslims or the Zoroastrians or the Jewish people would define it that way. I think you are sort of self-centering the idea of a cult. I think the important point is the religion – God sent His Son to save mankind, to save the individual.
Martin: Who is that Son?
Mock: Jesus Christ.
Martin: Not Baha’u’llah?
Mock: Baha’u’llah is the return….
Radpour: The Christ. Baha’u’llah is the Christ.
Martin: I want to get the facts right now. You keep saying the Son of God and in your vocabulary that is Baha’u’llah.
Mock: You’re still missing the point. We do not disagree.
Martin: I’m on the point. I want you to confirm it.
Mock: Well, let me state this again to see if you understand it. We believe that there is no difference between Jesus Christ and Baha’u’llah.
Martin: Okay.
Mock: Accept that. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Martin: I understand perfectly.
Mock: Okay, so if I’m saying that, that means that we believe in Christ and His return.
Martin: But it hinges on whether or not Baha’u’llah fulfills the biblical criterion. He doesn’t fulfill it, because Jesus said when He came back again you would be able to identify Him. Baha’u’llah simply proclaims it. There’s no identification. Jesus Christ…
Radpour: His identity is the same. If you go outside on Monday and then you go outside on Tuesday, will you say that the sun that rose Monday is a different sun than the sun that rose Tuesday because it has a different name? It doesn’t. It’s the same sun. It appears at a different point on the horizon and that is the Baha’i lesson.
Ankerberg: Mary, but what if the moon came up and if I said I felt like the sun was really there but I’m looking at the moon?
Radpour: That’s the reason for proofs. That’s the reason why these questions are very important. No Baha’i would ever deny it. That’s why we’re here. You see, we don’t want to say casually that the question of the Scriptures is something to ignore or that the personage of Christ and the loyalty that a Christian has to Christ is something that is nothing to be concerned about.
Ankerberg: We appreciate that you’re saying that it is not to be ignored.
Radpour: But the proof of Christianity, if you look back on all of that from the point of view of a Baha’i, was not the miracles that Christ performed, it was the miracle that He performed by bringing Romans, Phoenicians, Greek, North African, all these European… He brought people together in a way that they had never been brought together before. That same miracle is occurring today when the Baha’i faith is touching everybody in the entire planet – in Africa, in Europe.
Ankerberg: Okay, Dr. Martin.
Martin: But you have a fundamental disagreement with the Lord Jesus at this point. He said that He came into the world to save sinners. He said He came into the world to redeem us from our sins, once for all. He appears at the fullness of time, at the end of time, to redeem mankind. Now, you are saying that Baha’u’llah is indeed this same Jesus who died previously…
Radpour: No, we’re not saying that it is the physical Jesus of Nazareth born…
Mock: Spirit. The spirit’s the same.
Radpour: We’re saying that the Christ’s spirit which was reflected perfectly in the Christ is the same spirit which is manifested in Baha’u’llah. We say…
Martin: In Zoroaster, too?
Radpour: In Zoroaster, too. Baha’is believe in… we explain, for instance, the concept of the Trinity in this way. We say that God is like the sun. Of course it’s an analogy because God is not the sun, but God is like the sun. The manifestations of God are like mirrors. When you hold them up and the sun is reflected in them, you say there is the sun. You’re absolutely right. That is the sun. And that’s the same spirit of which we speak.
Ankerberg: Okay, but Mary when you read a verse like Colossians 2:9 where it says that in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and it doesn’t say in any shape or form there “reflection.” It’s talking about the essence of God is in Jesus.
Radpour: That’s right, because at that time in human history when the Christ appeared in all the fullest way, the way He walked, the way He talked, everything was the perfect manifestation of the attributes of God. We simply say that that same phenomenon has occurred more than once in human history and that the millions of souls in the world who don’t know about Christ…
Ankerberg: We agree with you up to a point, except we’re saying that God was in Christ period; that He wasn’t a reflection like a mirror but you’re seeing God in flesh.
Martin: But let’s get to Zoroaster. That’s very important, John.
Mock: I’ve got to ask John a question. First of all, a comment is that I think we’re going off into things that aren’t the key points of religion. I’m trying to get back to the point of salvation, human spiritual development and eternal life. We’re talking about other things that I think are irrelevant in this discussion.
Ankerberg: Okay, Jim, let’s put it in its proper perspective. I think the reason why we’re talking about it is if we’re going to put our eternal destiny into the hands of Baha’u’llah, if we’re going to put our fate into his hands, we have to know what we’re getting into. I know that Jesus died, rose again, and He’s living right now, and that’s pretty solid proof. I know that the prophet is dead, and I don’t see why I should switch allegiance at that point.
Mock: See, you’re still not making that connection of the sameness. You don’t see Jesus walking around here. You know He’s alive in the spirit. Baha’u’llah is the same.
Martin: No, He’s alive in His body, which Baha’ism denies. That’s the whole point. Christianity, you know as full well as you’re sitting in that chair that Christianity, from your Baptist background, teaches that when Jesus Christ came out of the grave He came out in the same form that hung on the cross. He presented His body to His disciples – “put your finger into my hand, your hand into my side. Don’t be without faith. Believe.” [John 20:27] Now, that is the historic Jesus Christ. That is not Baha’u’llah. You are denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Mock: Let me add, if you’ll read in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says that it is, speaking of the body, “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” [v. 44].
Martin: I’m glad you quoted that verse. That’s the Jehovah’s Witness argument and it should be answered.
Mock: It’s in the Bible.
Martin: It’s a Jehovah’s Witness argument. It should be answered. Okay? How much Greek did you have when you were studying for the ministry?
Mock: Irrelevant. It’s irrelevant.
Martin: It is very relevant because the word “body” there is pneumatica soma, which means a spiritual body. It is not referring to a spirit which is pneuma, it’s referring to a body that has characteristics of the spirit which is He could appear and disappear at will, but it was a physical form. Baha’u’llah denies that, therefore, he is in the doctrine of the Antichrist.
Mock: Okay, let me…. now, we just quoted how Baha’u’llah could not be the Antichrist because he has professed that Jesus is Lord.
Martin: He’s not the Antichrist. I never said he was.
Mock: Okay, but let’s get back to another thing. It’s a matter of where you draw your lines of interpretation. In John, Jesus talks about the end of the world. Do you know the Greek word He uses there?
Martin: In what passage?
Mock: It’s in the first chapter. Well, I’ll tell you. In John He talks about the end of the world and it’s in….
Martin: First John.
Mock: No, in John, the Gospel of John. And He talks about the end of the world. Do you remember anywhere where Christ said “the end of the world?”
Martin: Give me the chapter and I’ll give you the verse.
Mock: Okay. In John He says … He talks about the end of the world…
Martin: But whereabouts in John?
Mock: That’s irrelevant. The point is…
Martin: Well, it’s very relevant to me because I want to know the context.
Ankerberg: Let’s take a break right here because we’re out of time. We’ll find the verse and we’ll come back with it.

Ankerberg: We’re back and we have a lively discussion going here. We’re talking about the resurrection of Christ and I think we’re talking about it in the context of the claims of Christ and the proof for those claims. And right along this line let me just throw in a quote here from Abdu’l-Baha concerning the resurrection. We’re talking about a solid, physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and yet I hear Abdu’l-Baha say this: “The resurrections of the divine manifestations [that includes Jesus] are not of the body and have no connection with material things. Christ’s resurrection was not a literal physical event but a figure of speech.” Now, I don’t think that’s what our Bible is telling us and I think that’s what we’re talking about. Does that make sense, Jim?
Mock: Yes. I’d like to get back on that point with the verse I was talking with Dr. Martin about a minute ago and quote the verse. And it has to deal with the whole idea of interpretation, because as you all well know that within the Bible there are many things that are stated that are symbolic and there are many that are to the point. And how do you decide which is which. Getting back to the idea of interpreting Greek…
Ankerberg: Can I just give you a rule of thumb that most Christians can handle, no sweat at all? You read it just like your newspaper, where it’s literal, it’s literal and where it’s figurative, it’s figurative. And usually you don’t run into trouble that way.
Mock: Well, there are a lot of dividing marks here. Here’s one. In Matthew 13:40, it says “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the world.” Now, getting back to quoting Greek, what is the Greek word there for world?
Martin: Probably cosmos, but I’d have to look.
Mock: No, it’s aion. It means age. Now when you read this verse from the King James Version you wouldn’t think “the end of the world” physically, but if you look at the Greek that’s not what he’s saying. So how do you determine here…
Ankerberg: I’ve got one for you. You got your Bible there? You’re in Matthew?
Mock: Yes.
Ankerberg: Check out chapter 25, and I think it’s 46. Is that a solid one?
Martin: Verses 41 and 46.
Ankerberg: 41 and 46. Would you read that for me out loud?
Mock: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” And in verse 46, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
Ankerberg: Now the same word aionios there for eternal life that the righteous are going to have, same time period for those that are the wicked. And if you want to say that it’s symbolic for one, then apparently there is no Heaven either.
Mock: No, I’m asking where to you make the decision. Back to chapter 13.
Martin: That’s very easy to answer, very easy to answer. First of all, the passage is referring to the judgment at the end of the world. Jesus is talking about the final judgment, the end of the world. The word “age” there, the end of the age, is at the end of the world as we now know it. It will be changed and there will be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. That’s very clear, but what’s disturbing me is when Abdu’l-Baha makes the statement that he makes which we just heard. And Jesus Christ appears and says to Thomas, who doesn’t believe in His resurrection, “Put your finger into my hand and your hand into my side. Do not be without faith. Believe.” When He says to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who make the same mistake that you do, they thought that Jesus was a spirit, and He said to them “A spirit does not have flesh and bone as you see me have.” Now how in the world are you going to say that you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ when Jesus Himself identifies His body as being raised from the dead and Abdul Baha contradicts Him? Abdul Baha is not telling the truth, and Jesus Christ is.
Mock: He doesn’t contradict him.
Radpour: That same passage and He asked Thomas, He offered to Thomas to look, it says that Thomas was ashamed.
Martin: It doesn’t say that.
Radpour: Yes, it says that…
Martin: It doesn’t say it. I’m sorry. It just doesn’t it. It says that Thomas fell down and said “Ho kurios mou, ho Theos mou” – “my Lord Jehovah God.” He worships Him as God in human flesh.
Radpour: That’s right.
Martin: Now, will you worship the Lord Jesus as your Lord and your God? Will you?
Radpour: Yes.
Mock: Yes, we believe that Jesus is…
Martin: Is Baha’u’llah?
Mock: Yes.
Martin: There we are!
Mock: There’s no difference….
Martin: We’re talking about two different people.
Mock: Well, okay, let’s get back to another point that I tried to make last time is that if you look back at the prophecies in the Old Testament pertaining to the coming of the Messiah – “And the government shall be upon His shoulders” [Isa 9:6] – the government was never upon Christ’s shoulders. There are numerous statements about the coming of the Messiah that Christ did not fulfill physically. Now, does that mean that Christ was not Christ because He did not have the government upon His shoulders? That is what the Jewish people were expecting.
Martin: What does this have to do with the resurrection?
Mock: The whole point is interpretation.
Martin: You keep using the word “interpretation.” That’s fascinating. I want you to tell me right now what this means: “Behold my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Handle me and see. A spirit does not have flesh and bone as you see me have” [Luke 24:39]. Interpret for me.
Mock: There is no doubt that Christ and God have spoken to mankind throughout history…
Martin: Interpret that passage for me that I just gave you. Tell me literally what it means to you.
Mock: Literally?
Martin: To you.
Mock: Literally what it means to me is that Thomas physically…. Literally it means that they saw His body and they showed Him that.
Martin: Abdu’l-Baha says “No!”
Mock: Right. Literally.
Martin: Wait a minute. This is double-talk, Jim.
Mock: Have you been baptized by fire? Where do you make your distinctions?
Martin: Jim, this is double-talk. I said to you, look, the passage I quoted to you is plain simple English, no Greek, English. Abdu’l-Baha says, “No!” Jesus Christ says “Yes.” Now there is no possibility of your getting out of the interpretation. I just want you to tell me what it means. Was Jesus’ literal body with the wounds in the hands and the feet and the side there? Was it there?
Mock: No.
Martin: Then you have been using double-talk because you said a minute ago you believed it and a minute later you don’t believe it.
Mock: Well, let me ask you. See, you keep avoiding a question when I say, Have you been baptized by fire? Now the Bible says that you must be.
Martin: No it doesn’t.
Mock: John the Baptist said it. He said you must be baptized by water and by fire.
Martin: No, John the Baptist said… well look, if you’re going to quote the passage of Scripture be accurate.
Mock: I am accurate. You find me the verse and show me what it says.
Martin: No, you’re not. John the Baptist said, “This is he that baptizes in the Holy Spirit and with fire.” You stopped the verse there. Keep going. “His fan is in his hand. He will thoroughly purge his garner” [Matt. 3:11-12]. Now you know what that means? It means at the judgment, fire will descend and will clean out all the tares. Now, I’m not going to be baptized with that fire.
Radpour: That’s exactly the point.
Mock: But you’re making a great deal of interpretation. Let’s go to another verse.
Martin: I didn’t interpret a thing. I simply quoted the passage.
Mock: Okay, let’s take, “the dead bury their dead” [Matt. 8:22].
Martin: But let the spiritually dead bury their dead.
Mock: He didn’t say “spiritually. He did not say spiritually in that passage. You tell me. What does He mean?
Martin: Alright then… I’m glad you brought it up. Answer me. What does it mean to you?
Mock: Okay. The point is…
Martin: What does it mean to you?
Mock: It means it’s a spiritual thing. It is a symbolic meaning for let the spiritually dead bury their dead. And that is…
Martin: What did I just say? I just said that.
Mock: But you’re avoiding my point….
Radpour: No, but the point that James is making, you see, is that some of these passages are understood literally and some are understood figuratively, and that if you look …we use the literal as a vehicle for carrying the understanding of the spirit.
Ankerberg: But I think the thing we want to bring up is are we going to interpret all the so-called literal ones figuratively when we’ve got a solid literal meaning? I mean, where do we stop?
Mock: Where do you stop?
Martin: Alright Mary, look…
Radpour: I would like to address further what John quoted, for instance, from Abdu’l-Baha about Baha’is not… that the resurrection is not a literal thing. If you go on and read the rest of that passage he talks about the transformation that occurred in the disciples after the crucifixion of Christ and how they were saddened and they were weakened and they…
Martin: That’s not the context.
Mock: That is the context. It is a Baha’i passage.
Radpour: I’m talking about a passage that I’m familiar with in the Baha’i writings which John quoted earlier.
Martin: But you’re referring it to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and it’s not the same context.
Mock: Which is what he’s talking about.
Radpour: That’s what he was talking about. He was…
Mock: That’s what Abdu’l-Baha was talking about.
Martin: Abdu’l-Baha is spiritualizing the resurrection. I am saying you can’t spiritualize what in context is literal. You don’t have any right to do it. In other words, if I say to you, “Here’s my hand,” and there is a wound in my hand and I say, “Mary, put your finger into the wound in my hand.” You have no right to jump from that to a spiritual application of the resurrection from Abdu’l-Baha. That’s all I’m saying.
Mock: But you do so much. For example, I tell you I was a Baptist. We believed in submersion into water as baptism. You take any other denomination of Christianity, and there is a wide variety of interpretations on these subjects. Within Christianity every division of Christianity has occurred because of an interpretation of something in the book. So, who is right? I mean, there are so many denominations based on interpretation.
Ankerberg: Jim, let’s go back to something that isn’t a peripheral issue like baptism. Take again the Apostle’s Creed that the Catholics, Protestants, and Greek Orthodox… I mean, now you know that group of people. Not easy to get them to agree on anything. They all agree that Jesus Christ was God in flesh. None of them disagree on that one.
Radpour: And no Baha’i would disagree with that either. When we say the Tablet of Visitation on the Baha’i Faith we say, “Thy beauty, the beauty of the unseen one has shown three….”
Ankerberg: We’ve got about a minute and a half here. Let me give you a quote from Shoghi Effendi: “The fundamental principle which constitutes the bedrock of Baha’i belief is the principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative.”
Radpour: Absolutely.
Ankerberg: Now, I want to put into this thing: I’m not sure Christians are looking for any more manifestations. I think that we aren’t looking for anybody else. We’ve got Jesus. We’re not expecting Him to change,…
Radpour: Neither were the Jews. Neither were the Jews at the time of the advent of Christ. They are not looking for a new one.
Ankerberg: …and the same one that left is coming back.
Mock: But you expect Him to return?
Martin: How does Abdu’l-Baha improve upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus? See, if I become a Baha’i, alright, what can he do for me that Jesus Christ on the cross and in the resurrection hasn’t already done?
Radpour: At this point in human history with divisions existing between people of every race, every religion, every nationality, Christianity has existed in the world for 2,000 years. Initially, it addressed the issue of unity and it brought the people together. People have lost connection with Christ. It isn’t that the Christ’s spirit isn’t still vital and living, it’s that people have missed it. They’re far distant from it. And what happens today that the Baha’i faith does, it brings together people of every race, every religion, every background – Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu…
Ankerberg: But, Mary, that goes in the context of what the apostles themselves said when they said, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” [Acts 4:12] We don’t see these fluctuating words with the apostles.
Radpour: That’s right. But every time you quote the words of Christ in those instances, you would hear the same kinds of words spoken by Baha’u’llah about this day. Christ was speaking about His age, His time. At that moment in human history there was no other way to know God than through Christ. He was the way. He was the truth.
Ankerberg: We’re out of time. Let’s have a final comment from both of you. Jim, why don’t you have one and then Walter.
Mock: Okay. Again, the point, I think, is that just as the Jews did not accept Jesus because they did not see Him fulfilling the prophecies as stated literally in the Old Testament, they rejected Him; they crucified Him. The same is possible at His Second Coming. Is it not possible that the same Pharisees, or the theologians, or the ministers, the priests of the day, may not be looking into something, into the New Testament about the Second Coming and misreading it in the same fashion that the Jews did about the first coming of Christ. And so my final statement is that each individual, because there is a serious spiritual implication here, each individual must look at the life of Baha’u’llah, compare what he says with the Bible and decide for yourself if Baha’u’llah is indeed that spiritual return of Christ. And it is a spiritual obligation to do that.
Ankerberg: Dr. Walter Martin, just a final word here and then we’re off.
Martin: The words of the Lord Jesus cannot be improved upon: “Beware of the false prophets. They will come to you dressed as sheep, but inwardly they are savage wolves. You will know them by what they produce… Many will come in my name saying I am the anointed one, and they shall deceive many.” [Matt. 7:15-16; 24:5] The constant warning is against false Christs and false prophets. Baha’u’llah appears and says he is Christ again. The Scripture says this is the spirit of the Antichrist.
Ankerberg: Okay. Thank you, folks, for being with us.

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