Who are these “Unitarian Bahá’í” we’ve been hearing about?
If a theological unitarianism is meant, why use the term “Unitarian Bahá’í” at all? Have you ever met an avowed trinitarian Bahá’í?
If we are to take the term seriously, we ought to seek to understand its meaning in context. The term has come to be associated with the Behaists, an early 20th Century Bahá’í splinter group whose distinguishing doctrine was a rejection of the divinity, i.e. infallibility, of `Abdu’l-Bahá’, the leader of the Bahá’í religion at the time. The point, then, of using the term “unitarian” in this context, is to indicate a rejection of the divinity (infallibility) of any man. This makes sense, for the deification of any man is tantamount to polytheism.
The problem I’ve always had with the Behaists calling themselves Unitarians is that they never had a problem deifying Bahá’u’lláh himself.
Frankly, I happen to believe that most Bahá’ís are trinitarians, because their theology of Manifestation owes much to Christian theology. This is also true of those who call themselves “Unitarian Bahá’ís.”
The home page for the Unitarian Baha’i discussion group states:
The Unitarian Bahai faith is a movement of Bahaism that teaches that none of the successors of the prophet Baha’u’llah are infallible …
A true unitarian would not deify any man. A unitarian Bahá’í would be a Bahá’í who lives as a Bahá’í without any belief in the infallibility of Bahá’u’lláh.
I personally believe that a Bahá’í can be a unitarian. It’s not as if I don’t know of any true unitarians among the Bahá’ís, but I hesitate to single them out for fear of what might be done to them.