On February 4, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb signed the DOCUMENT ON HUMAN FRATERNITY FOR WORLD PEACE in Abu Dhabi. It is based on the doctrine of the universal Fatherhood of God. The pope said the document “is born of faith in God who is the Father of all and the Father of peace” (“Pope: Peace document born of God,” Vatican News, Feb. 5, 2019). The document “invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.” The Grand Imam of al-Azhar, who is based in Egypt, holds a prominent position in the Sunni branch of Islam. This is the latest step toward a one-world religion and is further preparation for the coming Antichrist’s peace pact. The first major move toward this was the FIRST PARLIAMENT OF WORLD RELIGIONS in Chicago in 1893. This was the first formal gathering of representatives of Christianity and eastern religions. Hindu swami Vivekananda was given a three-minute standing ovation when he got up to speak. He urged the crowd to reject the “demons” of “sectarianism, bigotry, and fanaticism,” so that human society could advance and the world could be filled with peace and blessing. A WORLD CONGRESS OF FAITHS, held in London in 1936, was organized by the famous British explorer-soldier Francis Younghusband who believed that there is a “divine spark” within man and called God “the Central Spirit of Things” (Marcus Braybrooke, A Wider Vision: A History of the World Congress of Faiths, 1936-96). THE TEMPLE OF UNDERSTANDING was established in 1960 by Juliet Hollister to “create a more just and peaceful world.” Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the U.S. president, was an active supporter and called it a “Spiritual United Nations.” The Temple of Understanding is closely affiliated with the United Nations and hosted the UN’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1995. Its offices are located in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a radically liberal Episcopal church. THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, which was held 1962-65, opened the doors for Roman Catholic involvement in interfaith dialogue. Vatican II announced that “whatever is true or good or noble among other peoples or religions owes its origin finally to God.” Vatican II stated that people in other religions can be saved by their “faith,” but it also reaffirmed its belief that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church. In 1964 the Vatican established thePONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE. Roman Catholic interfaith dialogue was shaped by Cardinal Francis Arinze during his presidency from 1984 to 2002. Over the years he sent “fraternal” greetings to and facilitated dialogue with every sort of religionist, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Janist, Animist, whatever. In 1988 Arinze said, “Every human being is looking for God,” and, “The Christian should take notice of the beautiful elements in the religion of the other person” (Arinze interview with Ralph Rath, “Mutual Respect,” A.D. 2000 Together, Fall 1988, p. 7). In 1965, the leaders of seven world religions came together in San Francisco for aCONVOCATION OF RELIGION FOR WORLD PEACE. Pope Paul VI sent his blessing and the UN Secretary-General U Thant participated in person. On October 1986, Pope John Paul II held the first DAY OF PRAYER FOR WORLD PEACE in Assisi, Italy. Its objective is to find world peace through interfaith unity: “peace within the church and peace with all mankind.” The 160 participants included leaders from 32 Christian denominations and organizations and 11 non-Christian religions. The prayers included petitions to “the Great Thumb” by an African tribal animist and to “mother earth” by a Crow medicine man (“A Summit for Peace in Assisi,” Time magazine, Nov. 10, 1986). In 1988, the COUNCIL FOR A PARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS (CPWR) was formed to “cultivate harmony between the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its other guiding institutions in order to achieve a peaceful, just, and sustainable world.” It is intended to be a continuation of the first Parliament of World Religions of 1893. The CPWR has sponsored interfaith Parliaments in 1993 in Chicago; in 1999 in Cape Town, South Africa; in 2004 in Barcelona, Spain; in 2009 in Melbourne, Australia; in 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah; and in 2018 in Toronto. In November 1994, Pope John Paul II hosted the WORLD CONFERENCE ON RELIGION AND PEACE. It was the first official interfaith conference at the Vatican and the theme was “Healing the World: Religions for Peace.” In 1995, the UNITED RELIGIONS ORGANIZATION was founded by Episcopalian priest William Swing, Communist Mikhail Gorbachev, and others. The announcement for the new organization was made at a syncretistic service held at the Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco. Alan Jones, dean of the cathedral, said the service was “a summons to the great religious traditions of the world to be in deeper conversation with each other ... as workers for peace, as guarantors of the sacredness of the earth” (San Francisco Chronicle, June 26, 1995). In his book Reimagining Christianity, Jones calls the doctrine of the cross a “vile doctrine.” Prayers and chants were offered to a dozen deities. During the service, children mingled water from over 30 “sacred waters” from around the world, including the Ganges, Amazon, Jordan, and Lourdes, to signify world unity. As the waters were poured into one bowl a children’s choir sang a dirge from the Missa Gaia, an earth-worshipping concert originally commissioned by the St. John the Divine Episcopal Cathedral in New York City. Swing said, “We are on the threshold of the first global civilization.” The WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES, which was formed in 1948 and represents roughly 340 denominations, is deeply involved in interfaith activities. In 1978 its Ecumenical Prayer Cycle included this syncretistic prayer: “O God, the Parent of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Parent: thou who art to us both Father and Mother: We who are thy children draw around thy lotus feet to worship thee. Thy compassion is as the fragrance of the lotus. ... We see thy compassion in Jesus. He gives content to the Hindu name for thee -- Siva, the Kindly One. He gives significance to the Muslim address of thee -- Allah, the Merciful. He embodies in the Godhead what the Buddhist worship in the Buddha -- compassion itself. Thou God of all the world, let our history teach us that we belong to thee alone and that thou alone dost belong to us” (Ecumenical Prayer Cycle, 1978, p. 157). The World Council’s Sixth Assembly, July 1983 in Vancouver, British Columbia, opened with Native American Indians tossing offerings of fish and tobacco into a “sacred fire” and dancing around the pagan altar. It also featured a Hindu dance to the “earth mother goddess.” “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6).
How can Christians communicate the exclusivity of the Gospel effectively in our religiously pluralistic society? We need to understand that the Gospel is offensive to those who are offensive to God. It humbles people under the sovereign hand of God and strips them of their own righteousness. We must tell them they have broken God's law, they are condemned by God's justice, they deserve God's wrath, they need God's mercy, and their only hope is God's Son.