Question: "What is Cao Dai?"
Answer: Cao Dai, also called Caodaism, is a syncretic religion native to Vietnam. Cao Dai means “High Tower” or “High Palace.” The term can refer to the dwelling place of the “Supreme Being” or to “God” himself. Cao Dai is the third largest religion in Vietnam today, with about 6 to 8 million followers.
Cao Dai was founded by a man named Van Chieu, who claimed to have received revelations in 1919 while in a séance. The spirit that communicated with Van Chieu called itself “Duc Cao Dai,” and Van Chieu believed he was in direct communication with God. Van Chieu later shared what he learned through spiritism and thus became the prophet of this new religion. Caodaism was formally established in 1926.
Caodaism’s belief system is a combination of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, and other religions. Cao Dai adherents believe in karma and reincarnation, follow the ethical principles of Confucianism, and operate under a structure identical to Roman Catholicism, with the head of Cao Dai acting like a pope.
Followers of Cao Dai worship God the Father, the Holy Mother, and other beings they consider divine, including Jesus Christ, Confucius, Buddha, and Khuong Thai Cong. Ancestors are venerated, and saints such as Victor Hugo, Joan of Arc, Pericles, and Muhammad are honored.
Being an amalgamation of many different religions, Cao Dai does not teach the truth. According to the official Cao Dai website, the aim of the religion is “to unite all of humanity through a common vision of the Supreme Being, whatever our minor differences, in order to promote peace and understanding throughout the world . . . to create a more tolerant world, where all can see each other as sisters and brothers from a common divine source reaching out to a common divine destiny realizing peace within and without.”
The Bible teaches that there is only one source of Truth. Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). Truth, by nature, excludes falsehood. Any teaching that contradicts God’s Word, the Bible, is actually contradicting God Himself. Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and He is infinitely high above all the “saints” and “divine beings” venerated by Cao Dai (Acts 4:12).
Cao Dai does not teach the true gospel, for there is no other gospel but the message preached by Christ and His apostles. The true gospel is that salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Caodaism teaches that ceremony, diet, and good works are the way to be one with the “supreme being.” The Bible teaches that no one is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10) and that no amount of good works can atone for our sin. The only way that man can be accepted by God is by placing his trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross (Romans 10:9–10; John 1:12).