QUESTION:

I am studying with a friend who is of the Bahai Faith. We have been having some discussions on Facebook and I wanted to see what is the best way to study with him? One question he has asked me was whether there any proof in the Old Testament that “Elijah was to come back in the spirit” is about John the Baptist? He has also shared with me that Bahai’s believe that Christ returned as Baha’Ullah? Jesus Christ’s name was different. They call him Bahaullah? Is there a website I can check out or a good video on breaking down the Bahai Faith?

Love and respect,

Answer:

There are two reasons that Christians believe that John the Baptist is the “Elijah who is to come.” First of all, there is the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6, which are the closing words of the Christian versions of the Old Testament (Jewish Bibles end with 2 Chronicles). “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” The fact is that, based on this prophecy, many or most Jews expected Elijah to come back at a future date.

The second reason I believe that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of this prophecy is because Jesus, the Son of God, the one who was raised from the dead said that he was that. In Matthew 11:13-14, Jesus said, “For all the Prophets and the Law [a reference to the Old Testament] prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” John the Baptist was the “voice crying in the wilderness.” (Mark 1:3).

Your friend is close to correct, but not exactly correct about the teaching of the Bahais. They teach that Baha’ullah is the final and greatest prophet. As far as I know, the official teaching of this group does not include the claim that Baha’ullah is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. They believe that God speaks to different peoples through different prophets at different times. They teach that Budddha, Moses, Muhammad and Jesus are all (mere) prophets, like Baha’ullah, except that they give their prophet a preeminent place among these prophets, as he brings the final revelation from God.

I have not yet studied personally with a Bahai, so you might want to take my advice with a grain of salt, but my advice to you is that you should introduce this person to the real Jesus Christ. In principle, he already believes that Jesus is a prophet. What you should do is introduce him to the claims of Jesus about himself, his miracles and the various prophecies he fulfilled. Baha’Ullah did not work miracles, he did not fulfill obvious historical prophecies (although Bahai’s claim he completed certain Old Testament prophecies by taking them way out of context), he did raise from the dead and he definitely did not claim to be God. Baha’Ullah appears to be a good man. He was very persecuted for his beliefs, but his claims pale in comparison to Jesus Christ. If Jesus is who he said he is (the bread of life, without sin, the resurrection and the life, the Way the truth and the Life, God-in-the-flesh,the one who fulfilled ALL the prophecies of the Messiah), then the claims of Baha’Ullah do not even make sense. Jesus is God in the flesh and the final revelation of God. I suggest you do a detailed careful study of the Book of John with your friend–miracles, prophecy-fulfillment and claims about himself–if your friend is even somewhat open to the truth, he will realize that Baha’Ullah is not a second coming of Jesus and that, even if a good man, his claims make no sense in view of who Jesus was.

On the claims and miracles of Jesus, I suggest looking at the power point and notes at this link:

http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/the-claims-prophecies-and-miracles-of-jesus-2012-icec-ucla/

Another class on the miracles of Jesus: http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/notes-and-power-point-apologetics-and-the-miracles-of-jesus/

Also, notes and a power point for a study of the Book of John:

http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/class-on-the-writings-of-john/

As for notes on Bahai, I have some notes on this religion which I am copying and pasting below (this includes a discussion of their view of Baha’Ullah and their claims of prophecy-fulfillment:

BAHAI

Founder: Baha-ullah “The Glory of God” (Mirza Husain Ali) (1817-1892) and The Bab “The Gate” (Sayyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi) (1819-1850)

Location: About 6 million in Iran, Iraq, small communities across the Middle East, Europe, India, the US etc.

The Bab is more or less the John the Baptist of Bahai. He claimed to be the forerunner of “One greater than himself” who was to come after him. He started a religious movement in 1844 which spread rapidly in Iran, but which was extremely persecuted. His religious movement could be thought of as a reform movement within Islam. He was martyred in 1850.

Baha-ullah was a Babi—a wealthy follower of the Bab. He was imprisoned, and in 1852 he claims to have received a vision, while in prison, of a divine woman who declared him to be “The Beauty of God amongst you.” Narrowly escaping execution, he was exiled to Bagdadh, where, in 1863 he officially pronounced himself to be the fulfillment of the Bab’s prophecy of one who would come after him. Baha-ullah spent most of the rest of his life in prisons or in house arrest in Adrianople, Istanbul and Acre.

Scriptures:

1. The Kitab-I-Aqdas (the Most Holy Book). Written by Baha-ullah. A collection of teachings, laws and principles to be obeyed by his followers, as well as instructions for organizing the Bahai religion.

2. The Kitab-I-Iqan (Book of Certitude). The nature of religion and how the Bahai faith is the fulfillment in present day of prophecies of other religions.

3. The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys. Mystical treatises written while Baha-ullah was influenced by Sufi mystics.

4. The Hidden Words. Aphorisms on spiritual and ethical themes.

5. etc… Baha-ullah wrote extensivel

Teachings:

1. Baha-ullah is the last in a line of prophets from Moses to Buddha, Jesus Christ and Muhammad. (sound familiar?) The vision of Baha-ullah in prison is analogous to Moses at the buring bush, Buddha under the Bodhi tree, Christ when the dove fell on him or Mohammad when Gabriel appeared to him in the cave.

2. Baha-ullah did no miracles. He did not claim to be deity, but to be a prophet, spoken of by other scriptures, including the New Testament.

3. Baha-ullah is the ultimate and the last prophet—the one toward whom all others pointed.

4. The Bahai faith is the one which will unify all world religions, as it is the culmination of all these faiths.

5. Strong emphasis on good works, taking care of the poor, education, the rights of women, political justice.

6. A rejection of a priestly class, religious trappings in general.

7. Worship in shrines. Many are 9-sided as the symbol of the Bahai is the 9-sided star.

8. Monotheistic

9. The three core teachings are the unity of God, the unity of religions and the unity of humankind.

Unfortunately, the unity of religions is difficult to maintain, given the facts about different religions.

Attempts to “prove” that Bahaullah is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy:

1. Daniel 8:13-14 says “Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, ‘How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled–the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?’ He said to me, ‘It will take 2300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.’” Baha’is claim that this prophecy was fulfilled with the ministry of the Bab.

To quote: That is to say, how long will this misfortune, this ruin, this abasement and degradation last? meaning, when will be the dawn of the Manifestation? Then he answered, “Two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Briefly, the purport of this passage is that he appoints two thousand three hundred years, for in the text of the Bible each day is a year. Then from the date of the issuing of the edict of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem until the day of the birth of Christ there are 456 years, and from the birth of Christ until the day of the manifestation of the Bab there are 1844 years. When you add 456 years to this number it makes 2300 years.

There is a problem with this interpretation. First of all, there is the fact that the beginning point of these 2300 years makes no sense. The prophecy points to a beginning of the desecration of the temple. The date this person uses is one on which it was decreed that Jerusalem should be rebuilt. This makes no sense at all. The attempted interpretation of Daniel 8 amounts to counting back from 1844 (a year that the person known as the Bab began his ministry) by 2300 years and looking around for the closest significant date and arbitrarily making this a fulfillment of this prophecy.

Another reason this interpretation does not make sense, is that prophecy is about the desolation of the temple which happened at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. In fact, the desecration of the temple happened in Nov. 167 BC and the rededication of the temple happened Dec. 25, 164 BC, 1150 days (2300 evenings and days) after the desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. I can say a lot more about the actual meaning of Daniel 8. You can find this in my book Daniel, Prophet to the Nations (www.ipibooks.com) Claiming that Daniel 8:13-14 is a prophecy of the ministry of the Bab is a completely spurious claim. Nothing the Bab did even remotely matches the context of Daniel 8, which is about the Greek persecutions of the Jews.

2. Revelation 11:3 says, “And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.” Baha’is claim that this is a prophecy of the ministry of Baha-ullah. As in Daniel 8, they claim that the days are years. They claim that Rev 11:3 is a prophecy that the time between the Hejira of Muhammad (his journey from Mecca to Medina) to the time of the ministry of Baha-ullah would be 1260 years. Where did they get this? Again, it is a matter of starting with the ministry of Baha-ulla, counting back 1260 years, and seeing if anything significant happened at that time, then claiming it is a prophecy of this. The Hejira of Muhammad happened in the year AD 622. If we add 1260 years, this will be the year 1882. This is the year that one of the printed texts of the writings of Baha-ullah was published. OK, so we have this coincidence, but if we look at the text of Revelation, is there even the slightest indication that it is talking about the length of time between the Muslim Hejira and the writings of Baha-ullah? The very idea that the Christian scripture would be a prophecy about a person who denied that Jesus is the Son of God and that he was crucified for our sins is really quite ludicrous. In what sense was the Holy City of Jerusalem trampled for that particular stretch of time (AD 622-1882)? This makes absolutely no sense. It is a clear case of reading a random scripture and doing math until a possible coincidence is found, with no consideration at all for the biblical context.

The Baha’i interpreter tells us that the two witnesses are the two laws of Muhammad and of Baha-ullah, without any justification at all for that interpretation within the passage. There is not the slightest indication in the passage that it is discussing two Laws. Even if it were (which it is not!), then implying that the Christian scripture has a prophecy of the anti-Christian Qur’an, which denies the deity of Jesus is truly outrageous.

John Oakes

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