April 28, 2009

Visiting the Baha'i House of Worship

Last week I wrote about attending the annual conference of the International Society of Christian Apologetics (ISCA). While in the Chicago area, Paul Carden (the executive director of our parent ministry) and I also visited the Bahá’í House of Worship. This House of Worship is the only one on the North American continent, and one of just seven in the world.

As a side note before I move on, guess where one of the other Bahá’í Houses of Worship is? You guessed it: in Uganda, where I plan to launch our ministry.

I have to admit that I was amazed by the architecture of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill. It’s truly a sight to behold, with a seating capacity of nearly 1,200 and a dome that’s 90 feet in diameter. Quotations like these from the Prophet Bahá’u’lláh appear over all the entrances and alcoves:
  • “All of the Prophets of God proclaim the same faith.”
  • “Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent.”
  • “So powerful is unity’s light that it can illumine the whole earth.”
After we finished looking at the building, we spent an hour and a half or so with a tour guide, who was a fifth-generation Bahá’í and very friendly. We asked her lots of questions to better understand the faith, learn why she’s a follower, and politely challenge her misperceptions (and misrepresentations) of Christianity and the Gospel. Our time together was very educational, and I can easily see why it appeals to so many Westerners today.

But what is the Bahá’í faith? For most people in America, it’s still a fairly unknown and mysterious religion. An offshoot of Islam, its central theme is: “Bahá’ís believe that there is one God, that all humanity is one family, and that there is a fundamental unity underlying religion.” Thus, God has sent a series of “manifestations” or divine messengers, namely: Adam, Noah, Zoroaster, Krishna, Abraham, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá’u’lláh. Each messenger builds off the truths taught by preceding prophets, thus opening new vistas of spiritual insight as humanity becomes ready for them. The latest manifestation was Bahá’u’lláh (1817–1892), who provides the fullest and most thorough understanding of God and our purpose in the world.

Bahá’ís do not see Jesus as God incarnate, but as simply one of the nine messengers. They generally interpret the Bible as symbolic instead of accepting its literal meaning. Bahá’u’lláh is said to fulfill Jesus’ Second Coming and complete His teachings. Essentially, Bahá’ís force Jesus to fit into their mold of religious history in order to claim him as their own. In so doing they deny who He is and the redemption He has accomplished.

Consequently, I left the Bahá’í House of Worship more committed than ever to respond to such falsehoods with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. By counterfeiting Jesus, Bahá’ís are keeping others from knowing the genuine Savior who brings true hope and peace with God.

Pray with me that the Lord will use us to equip our African brothers and sisters in Christ to meet this challenge!