You have challenged me to prove the tenets of Bahai wrong, and promised that if I can do so, then you will listen to the Gospel. As a caring friend and one who is charged with taking the word of God to those who need it, I have no choice but to accept.
Let us start with the assumption that the testimony of Jesus is true. On this we can agree, as in my religion, Jesus is God and cannot lie, and in yours, he is still considered a perfect being capable of telling only the truth. We'll take a look at what Jesus has to say about himself, about certain points of theology, and about salvation. We will also look at the testimonies of those whom Jesus personally taught and trusted (NT), and the scriptures which He held to be sacred and immutable (OT).
JESUS- HIS UNIQUENESS AND DIVINITY
Bahai holds that after the time of Jesus, several more incarnations of Christ appeared. Yet Jesus has this to say in Luke 17:
22 Then he said to his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.
23 Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them.
24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.
25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
26 "Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.
27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
28 "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.
29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
30 "It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
31 On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.
32 Remember Lot's wife!
33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.
34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.
35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left."
Verses 34 and 35 describe the rapture, an event described in more detail later, in the epistles. This scripture clearly indicates that the Son of Man (a term which also covers any possible future human incarnations of God) will not be seen on Earth until after the rapture has already occurred. Verse 24 also indicates that his return will be undeniable, the same way that those who experienced the flood or the destruction of Sodom could not deny the reality of those events. (not that they had much opportunity... I'm sure they felt pretty dumb for about five minutes.)
Bahai holds that Jesus was not God, but that he acted as a conduit by revealing the nature of God.
But the bible has this to say in the beginning of John:
"In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God." (many will argue that the correct translation says "a god", but this does not hold true upon examination of the texts.) then a few verses later- "The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father."
This passage tells us that "the word" was distinct from yet cosubstantial with God. It was the same God, yet having its own unique persona. That word became flesh. It took on human form. It is also called the "only begotten of the father", meaning that this God incarnate was a unique entity having a natural (not adoptive) relationship with God the father.
When Peter calls Jesus the son of God and Jesus verifies his statement, they give us their testimny that this name is applied to Jesus. He also directly calls himself the Son of God in many other locations, such as John 10.
Thus, Jesus has been declared by scripture, his own testimony and the testimony of others (including OT prophets, even) to have a unique relationship as the only begotten Son of God, co-substantial with the Father.
Other verses concerning Christ's godhood:
John 10:30 "I and the Father are one"
in John 8, Jesus says: "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
In this case, the "I Am" Jesus used was a unique configuration of Hebrew grammar reserved strictly to be used as a title of God. There was no doubt possible that this was a claim of divinity.
In Revelation 22:
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
In Philipians 2:
5B Christ Jesus
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
Paul declares that Jesus was God by his very nature, despite humbly giving all glory to God the father and humbling himself to the point of serving as a sacrifice.
Jesus claimed to be God. This presents two possibilities. Either his claim was true, or it was false. If it was false, there are two possibilities. He was either mad or a liar.
From the wisdom and inteligence of Jesus, and those men both great and common who placed their faith in his teachings, it is clear that Jesus was not mad.
Jesus had nothing to gain from claiming divinity if He were not God. Indeed, he never called attention to Himself, but always redirected people's attention to God. He didn't raise an army as people expected him to, but sacrificed his life.
Jesus also had the witness of the power of God the father, the prophets of the OT, and the Holy Spirit himself. Clearly, he was not a liar.
Therefore, using the holmsian method of deduction by elimination, Jesus' claims of divinity must be true.
If we accept the Bahai position that Jesus was a "manifestation", we must accept then that he was a sacred witness of God and capable only of speaking the truth. Yet Jesus' claims of divinity, if true, put Him as God's equal, being in nature God. This elevates him beyond the bahai definition of "manifestaion" (a semi-divine being somewhere between God and man who does not possess the nature of God but merely reflects it).
Thus, if we assume this premise of Bahai to be true, it proves itself false.
Concerning other prophets, while I could not find this particular doctrine on the website you provided, I remember you saying that prophets or "manistations" are necessarily sinless. Looking at some of those persons listed... Moses was not allowed to physically enter the promised land because he disobeyed God by not giving him glory upon performing his final miracle. Muhammad was a pirate, a mass murderer, an advocate of genocide, a rapist, a pedophile, a polygamist, and in the sacred text "Life of the prophet", he admits to speaking for Satan when he advocates the worship of Allah's three daughters. (remember also that Allah is actually "Sin" of the caananite pantheon) While I admittedly don't know much about the others, I do know that Buddha abandoned his family.
If Bahai declares these people to be sinless, it is plainly wrong.
ON HEAVEN AND HELL
Bahai claims that Heaven and Hell are not physical places, but descriptions of one's spiritual progress. This is contrary to scripture.
Rev 20: 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Please notice that although these people are judged according to their works, they are sentenced according to whether their name has been written in the book of life, as is done upon the proffession of Christ. This will be important later.
As for Heaven, the detailed descriptions at the end of Revelation cover chapter after chapter.
Heaven and Hell are clearly defined as real places. Heaven is the home of those who have repented and accepted the sacrifice of Jesus in order to be reconciled to God. It is God's home and thus the home of all of his adoptive children.
Hell is the final destination of those who have consistently refused to accept God. It is where they are eternally seperated from him and consequently, all of His blessings.
The bible also speaks of other extra-earthly realms, including Paradise, (the waiting place of those who looked forward to the substitutiary death of Christ but died before, and which was emptied upon Christ's death, when its inhabitants were taken to Heaven.), Hades, (The waiting place for those who have rejected God and await their final judgement), and the abyss, (a holding place for demons too terrible to be let loose on the Earth until the time of the tribulation)
Side note: Contrary to what the catholics say, there is no mention of Limbo or Purgatory.
Quoted from the site:
The Bahá'í Faith does not therefore accept the concept of "original sin" or any related doctrine which considers that people are basically evil or have intrinsically evil elements in their nature. All the forces and faculties within us are God-given and thus potentially beneficial to our spiritual development. In the same way, the Bahá'í teachings deny the existence of Satan, a devil, or an "evil force."
Jesus, as well as the prophets of the old testament, some of whom Bahai holds to be sacred "manifestations" argued the opposite truth vigorously. Here's just a few of the things Jesus says about Sin.
Mark 3:29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."
Matthw 18:7 "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!
8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
10 "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
John 8:10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
11 "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
34 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
John 9:41 Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
John 16:8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:
9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;
10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;
11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Jeremiah 17:9 says The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Isaiah 53: 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Notice also that in the first reference, Jesus clearly validates the existence of Satan. He also refers to Satan as "The prince of this world" in John 16.
ON THE PLAN OF SALVATION
Bahai declares that the key to salvation is doing good works. But the bible says this:
Romans 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--
26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith.
28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
Indeed Jesus himself declared in Matthew 19:
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
In several places, Jesus reiterates that it is not possible for humans to be saved by their own efforts. This is because anyone who sins is automatically a lawbreaker and unfit to keep company with God. Does this mean God is merciless and unforgiving? Quite the contrary. He is just and cannot abide sin, but he has made a way for us to be saved that requires nothing but our acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus.
Jesus says in John 10:9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
in John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
John 6:53 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.(This refers to the acceptance of Jesus' blood sacrifice, not, as some may say, the literal consumption of Blood. But in either case, Jesus declares His blood to be the only means of attaining Salvation.)
in Isaiah 53, the prophet Isaiah predicts the character of Jesus, the nature of his blood sacrifice, and his resurection.
53:1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Romans 5:9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned--
13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.
19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Romans 6 elaborates:
6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--
7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If we assume the testimony of Christ to be true, as we must, then we must accept these truths:
Jesus is God.
Sin is real.
Sin seperates us from God.
Jesus died in our place to atone for our sins.
Jesus' sacrifice is the only means of salvation.
Those who accept Christ are taken to a real Heaven to live with Him.
Those who do not accept Christ are sentenced to a real Hell, separated from God forever.
These things are contrary to Bahai doctrine, therefore, we must accept that Bahai doctrine is wrong.
I've kept my end of the bargain, and if you've read this entire letter, you've already kept yours. I only ask that you consider these things in your heart.
I'd like to end this lecture on a personal note.
I just want you to understand that I'm not trying to force you to convert or beat you over the head with the bible. I do this because I care. I wouldn't carry on a conversation like this with oh... say (names withheld), because they have made up their minds to hate God and nothing I can do will change that. I grieve for them, but I have discharged my responsibility where they are concerned. You, on the other hand, don't hate God. I believe that you a good person who just needs to understand what the truth is. I love you and care about you and want to see you there with me in Heaven when this life is over.
Please consider these things carefully.
Your servant in Christ,
Brother Oren, Obl.