The Baha'i Faith


- There are 5 million Baha'is worldwide in 233 countries and territories.

- 1,700 Spiritual Assemblies in the United States.

- Baha'i writings have been translated into 802 languages.

A Brief History

Mirza Ali' Muhammad, The Bab (1819-1850)


-1844: Ali Muhammad declares himself to be the Bab, "gate."

-1848-1849: Declares himself to be the promised Mahdi.

-1849: Declares himself as a divine manifestation of God.

-A greater will come, "He-Whom-God-Will-Manifest," between 1511-2001 years.

Mirza Yahya, Subh-I-Ezel (1831-1912)/ Mirza Husayn Ali, Baha'u'llah (1817-1892)

-The Bab declares Mirza Yahya to be his successor.

-He is given the name Subh-I-Ezel, "Dawn of Eternity."

-His leadership of the Babi movement lasts for 13-15 years.

-Mirza Husayn Ali, half brother of Subh-I-Ezel, declares himself to be the Promised One, "He-Whom-God-Will-Manifest."

-Gives himself the name Baha'u'llah, Glory of God.

-This is a time of great upheaval, power struggles, assassinations, etc.

-Turkish Government exiles both brothers to the far reaches of the empire.

- Baha'u'llah writes over 100 volumes of scripture.


Abbas Efendi, Abdu'l Baha (1844-1921)/ Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957)

-Baha'u'llah appoints his son Abbas Efendi as his successor.

-Abbas Efendi gives himself the name Abdu'l Baha, Slave of Baha.

-He makes himself an extension of his father's "manifestation."

-This causes great strife with his brother, Mirza Muhammad Ali.

-Abdu'l Baha excommunicates most members of his family.

-Baha'i faith is spread to America.

-Shoghi Effendi, Abdu'l Baha's grandson, is appointed successor, "First Guardian of the Faith."

-He comes into conflict with family members over his infallibility, excommunicates all family members.

-Under his administrative abilities the faith grows extensively worldwide.

-He dies without designating a successor, International House of Justice comes into being to govern the faithful.

Historical Critique

1. Proclivity to rewrite history, destroy source documents, rewrite books.

2. "Independent investigation of truth" in reality is not allowed with so many infallible leaders.

3. Cannot be religion for our time with its many outdated injunctions.

4. Founders did not live up to ethical teachings.

Baha'i Theology

The Nature of God

-God is completely unknowable, incomprehensible, inaccessible and co-eternal with creation.


Critique of Baha'i Concept of God

1. It is philosophically incoherent.

2. God co-eternal with creation tends towards Monism.

3. If God is ultimately unknowable what can the Baha'i faith say to humanity?

Divine Manifestations

-God can not incarnate. He "manifests" himself in chosen people down through time through the Primal Will.

-"Manifestations" are mirrors of God's attributes and the only way He can be known.

-They start new religions, are all one, reflect perfectly the same divine attributes, abrogate previous dispensation, are not saviors in a Christian sense.

-Thus, truth is relative to the dispensation.

-They are identified by their "person," sinless life, writing scripture.


Critique of Divine Manifestation Theology

-Infallible "Center of the Covenant" (Abdu'l Baha), and the infallible "Guardian of the Faith" (Shoghi Effendi) are in disagreement over are manifestations.

-All manifestations are sinless but...Muhammad's sins are forgiven by Allah.

-Manifestations down through history have differed fundamentally.

-It is logically incoherent to state infallibly that truth is relative.

Jesus Christ

-He is not God incarnate. The resurrection was not physical. Jesus is not unique.

Critique of Baha'i Concept of Jesus Christ

-Baha'i understanding of Jesus is based on Baha'u'llah's interpretation, which is "true" because he said so.

-The resurrection is unhinged from empirical, historical evidence.

-Jesus' uniqueness is distorted by their presuppositions.