Posted by Dawud on June 04, 2101 at 10:03:01:
In Reply to: Re: Listen posted by David K on May 27, 2101 at 18:23:00:
A lot of the appeal of a word like "cult" is that it suggests dubious dealings. For the benefit of the missionaries out there, critics of the Baha'i religion usually focus on the following themes:
(a) Specific religious disagreements, e.g. Christians who disapprove of their naming Christ as one of many equal prophets; or Muslims who object to their recognizing a prophet after Muhammad; or non-Haifa Baha'is who disagree with the Haifa Baha'is about the chain of succession (the Covenant), etc. These are basically unresolvable since they appeal to religious beliefs which obviously not everybody shares, and we have no way of proving to reasonable people's satisfaction which religion if any is true.
(b) More secular objections. Baha'i dissidents complain about the system of elections which favors incumbents; various people object to Baha'i teachings on women-in-the-House or the gay issue, etc.; claims of financial or statistical irregularities; our missionary friend's observations about Baha'is tending to follow their leadership. These are often barely any more resolvable than the first group, but at least a basis for discussion may be present, to the extent that basic secular values are agreed on. For example, criticisms of the faith often focus on claimed instances of hypocrisy, clashes between stated ideals and actual practice. Ultimately however this is still a judgment call.
I would say that the basic underlying issue is not any of these details, but the question of the Covenant. The Covenant is the Baha'i name for what they see as divine sanction for their religion, in a way that other religions presently lack (though some have had it in the past). It extends not only to their founder but especially to the chain of succession as Baha's understand it in retrospect. This chain, and all the accompanying details of the decisions made by those on it, are therefore not the random workings of history but the unfolding of a deliberate divine plan. On this one point, I think, the religion stands or falls theologically--you pick which.
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