Baha'i Practice as a View to Early Christianity
For two years I worshipped with and studied the Baha'is. They are a group who believe that they originated from direct revelation by god. However their guardian, Shogghi Effendi, acknowledges, "A handful of students, belonging to the Shaykhi school, sprung from the Ithna-'Ashariyyih sect of Shi`ah Islam."
In my relationship with the Baha'i Faith I observed many factors that were enlightening and seemed an explanation of how an early leader like Jesus could be elevated to the position of God. Like Christianity which derived from Judaism, Baha'i faith derives from Islam. As Jesus was a teacher who taught how to pray to god so the Baha'i teacher, Baha'u'llah, taught how to pray to god.
Baha'u'llah is originally seen as the mirror of God who, through his teachings, manifested and revealed perfectly His Word and Will. In a short period of a hundred years the teacher of prayer has become the one to whom the Baha'i prays. It seems that as with Jesus a vessel that delivers the will, image and Word of God in a representative form soon is viewed literally as that God manifest.
When we reveal a story by skilful imagery and metaphor it is not to pass that story off as the actual thing but as an actual description. In religious worship it seems that a teacher who embodies the wisdom and teaching of God is soon mistaken as God. It is the problem of idol worship. The idol represents the God of the cult. But over time as the symbolism is lost and focus becomes on the concrete the image becomes becomes the actual god.
The Baha'is used "mirror of God" imagery instead of Christian terms like "the image of God", "Word of God", or "Form of God." Baha'u'llah has become polished as a mirror by god so that he reflects god perfectly in his soul and words. The Baha'is originally meant that their teacher was not God but a human and physical source where God and his will could be understood. This seems to be the same intent of the adoration language in the hymnal sources that Paul quotes in his Epistles.
We can see by comparison of this recent religion how Jesus as teacher could be admired and respected in hymnals. The words soon became more literal and the teacher of how to pray to god becomes the object of prayer. itself The representative of God's Word and Will, who is seen as a representation of that word and will in behavior and spirit, soon becomes a physical manifestation of God Himself. And so the pattern continues.