I recall (now over 25 years ago), whilst serving my mission, meeting a young man who identified as Baha’i. I had heard of the religion, but knew nothing of its origins or beliefs. This man said something that I still remember to this day. He said, “Joseph Smith – yes, I know of him. Great man, great man. A real Prophet!”. After picking myself off the ground and reflecting on the first time I had heard a non member say that Joseph Smith was a prophet, I asked him why he believed that. He replied, “There is goodness in all religions and I have no reason to not believe Joseph Smith saw what he saw – so he is a Prophet”. Wow!!!
I was recently in the market for a car. I found one that looked right and drove to the house for a look and test drive. After finding out that the bloke who advertised the car forgot to state that every panel down the passenger side was smashed, I journeyed home. Along the way, I saw a sign. Sydney Baha’i Temple. I recalled my chat 25 years ago to this young man and decided to pull into the access road. I had no idea what to expect. A small building? A commune? A visitors centre?
As I drove in and parked my car, a middle aged lady came outside and greeted me. She was lovely and quite helpful. As I turned I saw the Temple, and was stunned. It was beautiful. Being the middle of the day, there was no one else there and it was quite a peaceful setting.
My guide offered to take me up to the temple, however, I stated that I wanted to know what the Baha’i religion believed – the nuts and bolts. I then wanted to go to the Temple and spend some time there before leaving.
She gave me the 10 minute speel. I then came to understand and could contextualise the conversation with the young man some 25 years ago. The Baha’i religion has some very interesting beliefs. Much like our own faith, writing a few hundred words on them could never do justice, however the main tenets of belief are:
Unity of God, Religion and Humanity – these beliefs state that there is one God, all religions (in their own way) worship that one God, and that we are all members of one family – different race, colour and creed, but one family
Progressive Religious Revelation – Baha’i belief states that God has revealed Himself through various religions at various times, such as, to Buddah, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, for example. Each dispensation (a familiar LDS term) provides greater and greater light than the last.
Belief in prayer, charity and doing good in the community are also tenets of the faith. Equality of men and women, shunning prejudice and inequality further define the faith.
There are some beliefs which are very interesting from a social perspective. Baha’i belief supports the notion for a one world government, a single unifying language and elimination of extremes in wealth and poverty. Some, like me, might get a little worried about how they think these might be achieved. Although when I got thinking, maybe these ideas were not that foreign. Typing One World Government into Wikipedia lists both (amongst others) the Baha’i faith AND Joseph Smith as adherents of the philosophy. Brigham young tried to get the Deseret Alphabet up and running. And elimination of wealth and poverty – well, two out of three ain’t bad.
Similar to the beginning of our religion, the founder of the Baha’i faith, Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned, however he was exiled to several different countries, eventually dying whilst still a prisoner in present day Israel.
The Baha’i faith have big plans for expansion across the world and are building Temples as their membership increases. This will culminate in 2021 when the 100 year anniversary of the death of their founder will be commemorated.
After learning all this in their visitors centre I made the short walk up to the Temple. A single temple worker greeted me in a hushed voice as I walked in. The soft tones, and rounded structure contrasted with the grandness of the dome which sheltered it all. I sat and took in the visual and spiritual beauty of this structure. Whilst only there for about 10 minutes, I felt peace.
I was told by my guide that the Temple is a gift to the whole community (and it is repeated on the sign at the front). I think this is a wonderful and inclusive act. It enabled someone like me, just out looking at to buy a car, to share a wonderful and spiritual – albeit unexpected – experience.
- What experiences have you had with members of the Baha’i faith?
- Have you ever been to a Baha’i Temple?
- Have you had spiritual experiences at another religions’ house of worship?
Outside Persia, the Baha’i faith is highly twisted and advertised in an incorrect manner. These are the true teachings of Baha’u’llah that westerners are never told about:
Hossein – thank you for the comment and link. I certainly make no representations in being an expert on the Baha’i faith and teachings. I would certainly like to know more about them.
Like any faith I believe in going to the source – and I would expect anyone investigating the LDS church to speak to a member or missionary in the first instance rather tHan someone else.
My experience with them and their Temple that day, for me, transcended whatever it is that they believe (and whatever it is that I believe) and ended up a spiritual experience which was rather unexpected. I like to think that God is with anyone or anything that is good.
I too ran across this religion while on my mission. I liked the fact that the very nice lady let us in to talk and have a drink of water and it was a relief from both the heat and doors slamming in our face all day long. I quickly realized there was no way she was a baptism candidate, but I was impressed that the world would be a better place with more people like her.
I once worked with a member of this faith and was impressed with her. We were both comfortable talking about our respective beliefs and I saw much in this faith, and in others that is good and true.
I have felt the spirit in a multitude of places. In fact, one of the places I have feel it most regularly is in state prisons where I am a prison volunteer.
I believe wherever your heart is soft and open to God’s influence, the spirit is there regardless of the location.
Bought a book from the LDS printing office which is used by Institue classes and is about world religions.
While it does not discuss the Baha’i faith, it does support the notion that “I like to think that God is with anyone or anything that is good.” and discusses in LDS terminology the interaction/influence of God in all religions.
I had a science teacher in middle school that was Baha’i. He and his family used to come attend the First Presidency Christmas devotional broadcast every year.
I’ve also had positive interactions with Baha’i, working with them on various issues in the community where I live.
And yes, I was also struck by the idea of many prophets.
But what a glorious edifice in Sydney compared to the utilitarian building in our town.
My husband works with someone who is Baha’i. He is an extremely charitable man and active in refugee aid organizations. Has been for years well preceding the Syrian refugee crisis. It’s just an expression of the kindness that defines him.
I work with Baha’i’s. They are great folks. One, in particular, is one of the best people I have met in my near six decades – a true brother. I have visited their temple in Illinois and felt peace. My experience is that they are more Christian than most Christians. They take seriously Joseph Smith’s admonition to combine all truths from whatever sources for good.
Hossein — “By their fruits you shall know them,” not by a blemish or two in the barrel of apples. As a Mormon, I would hate for others to cherry-pick our leaders’ quotes or certain actions(with or without linguistic or historical context), and use them to color our church.
I don’t know any Baha’i, but I do remember one of my mission buddies being highly impressed with a Baha’i, and was amazed how this person spoke so well of Joseph Smith.
I distinctly remember a time when the combined stakes of Perth (what I’m now being told is called a “cluster”) were on a reaching out to other churches bent. We sent a choir to Buddha’s birthday and took part in a Jewish celebration or two, though I cant remember which ones. What I do remember though was visiting the very modest abode in Bayswater that was the Baha’i (quite literally) house of worship at the time. The people were welcoming, and willing to talk for ages about comparative religion and the truth that can be found in all of them, however disparate they may seem. What I loved was the way in which they never tried to find fault, only commonalities with others. True peacemakers.
I have met nice loving folks from all faiths and beliefs. The link I provided only intended to show that what is known as Baha’ism today, is far from how it was originally founded by its creator Baha’u’llah. You are correct that you would rather find out about Baha’ism from Baha’is, but it is best that also listen to the critics and also read their scripture yourself. Unfortunately, Most of the Baha’i scripture has never been translated to English from the original Persian and Arabic where many problematic and contradictory quotes exist.
Good and bad folks exist everywhere. My post was meant to show the true words of the Baha’i leaders that Bah’ais hide from the public, not examples of good or bad Baha’is (I’ve seen both). And I believe the statement: “By their fruits you shall know them,” can’t be used to judge a faith by looking at the attitude of the adherents of that faith. Just as you can show an example of a good Baha’i I can show you examples of Bad Baha’is.
I don’t believe I have had that pleasure. There doesn’t appear to be a local Baha’i community where I am.
Hossein – yes I did read that it has only been relatively recently when the original writings were translated…and I believe they are looking to do more translating in the future.
You are right to suggest looking at numerous sources to find a balanced truth. Much like reading this blog and thinking this was Mormonism – or LDS.org and thinking that was Mormonism. Neither one provides the balanced level of information required to adjudge the truth.
I was actually thinking, I find it hard to understand why there is a temple here in Sydney. Middle eastern immigration only really kicked off in the 1970’s. The temple was built in 1961???
I had never heard of the religion until I started babysitting for a Baha’i family a few years ago. She was Christian and he was Jewish, they wanted a faith that would include both of their traditions. Truly the nicest family I’ve ever met. Charitable and kind and inclusive. Apparently young adults take a year off of college to do service. We discussed that when my daughter went on her mission.
I have never seen nor met a Baha’i. If I ever do I will also tell them of Joseph Smith and his first vision. They, apparently, will accept it and then I will tell them about the priesthood. I don’t know how they will handle that, but I will tell them that it is important for them to know whether that and Joseph Smith are true or not. If they don’t accept the LDS Church here, they most certainly will accept it in the next life, but they might miss some very great blessings they could have received. They are following God for the good that they do and they will be greatly blessed for their goodness here, but I cannot see how God will be able to exalt them.
Regardless of how we can, sometimes feel, about how LDS people are, this is the Lord’s Church, and if a Baha’i is seriously following his/her religion they will also feel that and know it – maybe better than we do.
We need to tell them about the Church, not just meet them and appreciate them for now good they are.
What experiences have you had with members of the Baha’i faith?
Have you ever been to a Baha’i Temple?
Have you had spiritual experiences at another religions’ house of worship?
No. Take a short cut. Preach to them and lead them to one of our houses of worship. That is where God wants them to be and you also. Why? Because that’s where He is.