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Notes:
Kingdom of the Cults was first published in 1965 and revised and reprinted in 1977, 1985 and 1997.

Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter Martin:
Review

by Robert Stauffer

1999
Kingdom of the Cults
Author: Walter Martin
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN, 1997
Review by: Robert Stauffer


The polemic book Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter Ralston Martin [d. 1989], a self-proclaimed 'Christian scholar,' was re-edited in 1997 in its "30th Year Anniversary Edition". Contributing to the update of Chapter 10 on the Bahá'í Faith was Gretchin Passantino, who is billed in the book as an "investigative journalist", and elsewhere is reported to be a teacher at Biola University and Concordia University (Irvine). After reviewing her editing of the chapter on the Bahá'í Faith, these credentials must be seriously questioned.

Despite the editor's claims that the book has been updated, it is fair to say it essentially remains riddled with factual errors and, academically speaking, would be turned away by an academic publishing house. The same prejudices and blatant misinformation found in prior editions are carried forward in the 1997 edition.

In the chapter on the Bahá'í Faith, Martin is quick to appeal to xenophobic emotions of the reader by broadly painting the Bahá'í Faith as being a "cult" of "distinctively foreign origin." The word "cult" used throughout the volume is a common tool employed by religious bigots in the same manner the "n" word is by racial bigots. Martin's use of the word "foreign" is not too dissimilar from the Romans' maligning of the early Christians as a means to exacerbate racial and national prejudices against a group at the expense truth.

Martin's plea to Christians that "there can be no grounds for fellowship with the Bahá'í Faith" strikes at the very foundation of the teachings Jesus Christ as admitted by the chapter's editor elsewhere:
"At the core of successful witnessing to the cults is commitment to God's pattern of evangelism: "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:24-26). (in What is a Cult by Bob and Gretchen Passantino, 1990)
Likewise, the chapter's editor, while adding references to Bahá'í web sites, (such as www.bahai.org) again displays her hypocrisy, contradicting the above passage when she encourages not associating with others through their literature:
"Consult responsible Christian sources for information about what the cults teach and how to answer them from scripture. The wealth of good Christian material means you don't need to read cult publications or Christian publications that are not well-referenced and theologically sound." (in What is a Cult by Bob and Gretchen Passantino, 1990)
Kingdom of the Cults 1997 edition continues to carry several factual errors. One would think that after thirty years of this book being published these errors would have been corrected by now. But since they have not, one can only assume that these errors are knowingly left in by the editors in a campaign to discredit the Bahá'í Faith at the expense of fact and truth.... and to make a buck at the expense of the ignorant.

For example, the 1997 edition again claims that the Bahá'í Faith teaches that "Confucius, Krishna and Lao" are prophets of God. Since the Bahá'í Faith has a very clear authoritative line between the authorized Bahá'í Texts and those which are hearsay and not authoritative, it can definitely be said that these personages are not claimed to be prophets of God as indicated in the authoritative Bahá'í Texts:
"Your question concerning Brahma and Krishna; such matters, as no reference occurs to them in the Teachings, are left for students of history and religion to resolve and clarify." (Shoghi Effendi, April 14, 1941 letter, cited in Lights of Guidance p. 382)

"Regarding Lao-tse; the Bahá'ís do not consider him a prophet, or even a secondary prophet or messenger..." (Shoghi Effendi, November 10, 1939 letter cited in Lights of Guidance p. 382)

"Confucius was not a Prophet." (Shoghi Effendi, December 26, 1941 letter cited in Lights of Guidance p. 369)
There are a number of other less important factual errors and omissions:

The date of the execution of the Bab is given as July 8, 1850 when it is actually July 9th of that year, a Bahá'í Holy day commemorated every year on July 9th.

The author says that Bahá'u'lláh had "claims of immortality", giving no reference for this claim, when in fact Bahá'u'lláh made no such statement to physical immortality.

Martin says that Bahá'u'lláh's unfaithful half-brother, Mirza Yahya, "allied himself with the enemies of the new found religion, the Ski-his." Who are the Ski-his? Is this a typo or another indication of the lack of erudition in this book?

A claim is made that one of President Woodrow Wilson's daughters was a Bahá'í, with no references given, when in fact this is not so.

Martin indicates the rock group "Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young" are Bahá'ís and taught the Bahá'í Faith in their concerts ..." giving no reference. This is another error in fact. The members of that band were never Bahá'ís. Of course, the group "Seals and Crofts" would fit this bill accurately.

There is also mention of the Bahá'í school that once existed in Geyserville, California. The Bosch Bahá'í School, as it is better known, was once in Geyserville, but moved in the 1960's to a new facility just north of Santa Cruz, California. There is no mention of the other many dozens of Bahá'í Schools currently existing throughout America.

The chapter indicates the Bahá'í Fast occurs from sunrise to sunset on the Bahá'í New Year of March 20-21, when in fact the Fast begins March 2nd and lasts for nineteen days, from sunrise to sunset, until the Bahá'í New Year.

The author says the Bahá'ís do not believe in the Virgin Birth, when in fact they do as is clearly taught in the Bahá'í Writings:
"What science calls a virgin birth we do not associate with that of Jesus Christ, which we believe to have been a miracle and sign of His Prophethood. In this matter we are in entire agreement with the most orthodox church views." (Shoghi Effendi, cited in High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p. 70)
Martin says Bahá'ís do not believe in the Authority and Divinity of the Bible and Jesus Christ or His Second Coming, when in fact the Bahá'ís believe in the sacredness of Biblical verse, accept of the Divinity of Christ as the Son, and His Second Coming in the Person of Bahá'u'lláh.

The author's attempt to promote his claim of scholarship by having "numerous interviews with authoritative Bahá'í spokespersons" falls flat. Martin only shares one brief interview with a Bahá'í but divulges no name whatever. No mention is made of the others he claimed to interview. Martin never interviewed any authoritative spokesperson of a Bahá'í Administrative Institution nor any Bahá'í scholars or authors, though he does share words from Udo Schaefer's work The Light Shineth in Darkness. The update of the chapter does little to improve upon this dismal excuse for a study of a religious group, though some Bahá'í web sites are referenced.

Martin makes a hollow attempt to discredit the fundamental Bahá'í belief in the essential spiritual unity of the prophets of God by arguing they contradict each other's teachings and hence they cannot all be right. Martin never addresses the fact that Jesus Christ contradicted some of the teachings of prophets before Him, and yet Christians accept the religious station of the Old Testament prophets in exactly the same manner that Bahá'ís accept all the prophets prior to Bahá'u'lláh's appearance.

The retrospective claim at the end of the chapter that this "exposé" on the Bahá'í Faith was "devastating" might incline the reader to believe the words of Martin caused major reversal in the Bahá'í Faith's prestige. The fact remains, nothing occurred at all that can be considered "devastating", other than the self-discrediting of the author and its editors who seek to defame the Bahá'í Faith through a campaign of misrepresentation.
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