Baha'i Faith Essay

1537 words - 7 pages

The quest for salvation is emphasized in many religions because of the dichotomy that exists in their eschatology. Eschatology is the study of the end of time in this earthly world. In many religions such as Zoroastrianism, Abrahamic Religions, and Buddhism, when a human passes from this world he is either judged deserving of God’s salvation or punished for not being virtuous. There is no gray area. By studying a religion’s unique “soteriology”, its beliefs about how humans can achieve salvation, individuals can gain insight into a religion’s core beliefs. There exist significant differences in soteriology from religion to religion and as the world has slowly changed, new religions have emerged with radically different views on eschatology and soteriology. The Baha’i Faith, a New Religious Movement (NRM), emerged in the mid-nineteenth century and was influenced by Zoroastrianism, Abrahamic religions, and Buddhism. The Baha’i faith grew because of its distinct soteriology and purposely-vague eschatological beliefs. Despite the Baha’i Faith’s differences in eschatological and soteriological thought from Zoroastrianism, Abrahamic religions, and Buddhism, the Baha’i Faith’s emphasis on individual and group salvation in this world, and not the afterlife, allowed it to emerge and grow as a New Religious Movement.
The Baha’i Faith is a NRM that began in the mid-nineteenth century by Baha’u’llah out of the Islamic tradition. Baha’u’llah, a Persian nobleman, pronounced himself to be the most recent in the line of messengers of God. This caused the Baha’i/Babi split in 1866 and is commonly viewed as the founding point of the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah was influenced by Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, and Buddha. These prophets were paramount in the development of the Baha’i Faith’s values and ideas. Baha’u’llah’s core message was to ‘unify the world.’ Baha’i’s do not only promote economic, sexual, and racial equality, but also the unity of all religions. (insert footnote).
To understand the soteriology in the Baha’i Faith, one must understand the soteriology in the religions that influenced Baha’u’llah. The quest for salvation in a religion is how insiders view their duties on earth as a petition to their eschatology. In Zoroastrianism, there is a constant battle between two twin Gods, Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu. In the Abrahamic religions, Satan betrayed God and was cast down to hell. In both Zoroastrianism and Abrahamic religion’s eschatology, individuals face the Day of Judgment. Depending on their actions in this world individuals will either go to Heaven or Hell. In Buddhism, the law of karma is the automatic reward received for good deeds and punishment for selfish choices. Buddhism believes in reincarnation, which means if an individual commits many injustices over their lifetime, he will be brought back to an undesirable life. In all these religions, the individual’s conscious soteriological choices have a clear effect on what...

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