Understanding the Bahá'í Faith through Study of the Christian Faith
First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #9
Bahá'í National Center: Wilmette, Illinois, USA
March 29 – April 1, 1996
(see list of papers from #9)
Any discussion of the Bahá'í Faith with Christians will reveal certain common criticisms of it. The purpose of this paper is not to discuss specific criticisms and responses in detail, but to illustrate an approach to responding to criticisms based on an understanding of the seeker's own religion. Adib Taherzadeh, in The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, describes such an approach as follows:
The Kitáb-i-Íqán is the best example of how to teach the Cause of God. Instead of explaining at once the proofs of the authenticity of the Message of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh first speaks about other Prophets, portrays Their lives and Their sufferings, demonstrates the truth of Their missions and describes the common features of Their Faiths. In this way He brings to the understanding of the reader the truth of his own religion and enables him to recognize the reality of his own Prophet. Having built this strong foundation He then, towards the end of the book, speaks of the Báb and His Message and applies to this new Revelation the standards He has applied in verifying the truth of the other Prophets (vol. 1, p. 161).Some of the criticisms, concerns, or issues about the Faith include "How can Bahá'ís believe that Jesus, Moses, and Bahá'u'lláh can be seen in the same light?" and "How can I believe in Bahá'u'lláh when the Bible tells me that Jesus is the ,only begotten Son' and that He is the only 'Way'?" In response to such criticisms of the Faith, the author has studied both the Old and New Testaments, various Bible commentaries, and other Christian and Jewish texts to demonstrate the claims, beliefs, and principles enshrined in the Bahá'í scriptures.
It is recommended that both Bahá'ís, who are seeking ways to share their Faith with interested souls, and non-Bahá'ís who sincerely wish to understand the Bahá'í Faith, approach the Faith through the principles and perspectives of other religions. Once the validity of the animating principles of the Faith are demonstrated as true within the Christian Faith, a foundation for understanding the Bahá'í Faith will be in place, thus making it much easier for an interested soul to see the same truths within the Bahá'í Revelation.
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