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Comparing Baha'i and Christian Worldviews

Updated on February 10, 2017

Introduction

This essay will explore the similarities and differences between the Baha’i faith and Christianity. The analysis will use seven parameters of a worldview as laid out by Shelly and Miller (2006) to deconstruct and assess the teachings and practices of each faith. Finally, the common goals of the religions with regard to health care will be discussed along with a practical evaluation of the concerns member so these faiths may have in receiving care from someone of a different worldview. The purpose of this paper is to explore various worldviews to demonstrate the ability to work together with all types of beliefs in the nursing field.

What is Prime Reality?

Both Christianity and Baha’i consider God to be prime reality. God is a transcended being who exists beyond the universe, yet desires a personal relationship with all people and for all people to be in fellowship with one and other. The teachings of these two religions are quite similar on this one point. Both understand God to be an infinite and eternal being who is both omniscient and omnipotent (Baha’i International Community [BIC], 2016).

What is the Nature of the World?

According to Shelly and Miller (2006), the world is all created things that are distinct from God. It is a realm that has been tainted by sin and is under the stewardship of humans. The practitioners of Baha’i hold a more neutral view of the universe, seeing it as an eternal place despite believing it is created by God. This only makes sense if one considers that God exists outside of time. The Baha’i see the universe as neither inherently good or bad, but rather a place where good and bad can be achieved through willful actions (BIC, 2016).

What is Human Nature?

According to Shelly and Miller (2006), humans are sinful beings that seek relationships with God and each other. Their desire to have a relationship with God (and God’s reciprocal desire) are the basis for the need for salvation sins humans are sinful and unworthy of God’s presence. Baha’i similarly believe that humans are sinful and not worthy of God’s presence, but believe that salvation is attained through spiritual work. Baha’i believe that many different religions teach what is necessary to accomplish this work and ultimately pull people closer to God over the course of many lifetimes in this realm and higher realms (BIC, 2016).

What Happens after Death?

According to Christian belief, after death a human’s soul will endure and face judgment by God. This soul is destined to exist forever, but God will either choose to allow it into his presence or not. This is the difference between Heaven, which is a reward, and Hell, which is punishment. This judgment will occur at some unknown date in the future (Matthew 25: 31-46 New International Version). Baha’i also believe in a Heaven and Hell but these are figurative concepts that describe one’s spiritual distance from God. Similar to Christianity, these terms are defined by the presence or absence of God, but in Baha’i they can be changed over time through spiritual work (BIC, 2016).

How is it Possible to Know Anything at All?

Christianity teaches that God made humans in his image in Genesis 1. According to Shelly and Miller (2006), this is evidence that God gave humans the faculty of thought and reason. All the things that separate humans from animals (reason, learning, language, creativity) are the result of being made as conscious being, like God but significantly less capable. Baha’i acknowledges the creations stories of many different religions and offers none of its own. It accepts the Christian creation story as a symbolic representation of the key elements of creation, and thus acknowledge humanity’s likeness to god. It can be inferred that they may also consider this to be the power behind human thought and learning, but no clear teachings are present in the Baha’i faith on the matter (BIC, 2016).

What Defines Morality?

Morality is presented to Christians through God’s word or scripture. The Bible is an extensive explanation of right and wrong with numerous stories to illustrate key themes of components. The Bible even describes itself as such in 2 Timothy 3:16 so that all followers of the faith can find comfort in knowing that the tools they need to follow God are present within scripture and nothing is missing.

The Baha’i faith hold a similar but more syncratic view. Since Baha’i teachers all world religions as being valid, and multiple leaders from God being sent all over the words at different times of need, this indicates that many different forms of scripture outside the Judeo-Christian texts are also from God. Therefore, all of human history contains guidance from people who have direct revelation from God on what is right and wrong. Additionally, the Baha’i believe that this process of revelation is continuing and therefore, new prophets with arise to guide humanity (BIC, 2016).

What is the Meaning of Human History?

In Christian and Baha’i faiths both, the meaning of human history is to seek the will of the Lord and to attempt unification with him. Christians believe this is a reunification as a result from a split from God that occurred early in human history. Baha’i followers believe this is a natural process by which humans seek unity with God and to know his will (Genesis 3 New International Verson; BIC, 2016).

References

American Nurses Association (2016). What is Nursing? Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from http://www.nursingworld.org/EspeciallyForYou/What-is-Nursing

Baha’i International Community (2016). What Baha’is Believe. Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from http://www.bahai.org/library/other-literature/publications-individual-authors/

Baha’u’llah (1992). The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book (Trans.). Wilmette, IL: Bahai Publishing Trust. Retrieved on July 1, 2016 from http://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/kitab-i-aqdas/

Gill, Robin (2001). The Cambridge companion to Christian ethics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Shelly, J. A. & Miller, A. B. (2006). Called to Care: A Christian Worldview for Nursing. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

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