New Religion for a New World
By Lorin Smith
Founder of Christian Research Projects
Two developments have become obvious to observers of the rapidly changing geo-political landscape. We have entered a time of accelerated global transformation, and religion will play a major role in how this new world order will be configured. In short, a new world calls for the creation of a new world religion.
In the construction of this new world order, Christianity will face ideological challenges to the central tenets of its faith unlike anything it has experienced in the previous the previous two millennia. In this new world, all religions must be recognized and acknowledged as legitimate pathways to God. Religious exclusivity, absolutism and dogmatism will be viewed as potential threats to world peace and survival.
Hans Kung, director of the institute of Ecumenical Research at the University of Tubingen, makes this point emphatically in his book, Global Responsibility: In Search of a New World Ethic:
"All the religions of the world today have to recognize their share in responsibility for world peace. And therefore one cannot repeat often enough the thesis for which I have found growing acceptance all over the world: there can ‘be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. In short, there can be no world peace without religious peace.”
At the 1999 annual meeting of The World Economic Forum, an international think-tank of political, business and academic leaders held in Davos, Switzerland, Dominic Peccoud, Advisor for Socio-Religious Affairs at the International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva, speaking on the topic “Religion as a Global Phenomenon for the New Millennium,” asserted, “Fundamentalism is a worldwide threat.” The way it has to be countered, he maintained, is “to change the view that salvation depends on playing by certain religious rules: everyone is saved.”
Denys Teundroup, Honorary President of the European Buddhist Union, speaking at the same Forum, claimed: “The world is fed up with dogmatic religion but starving for spirituality.”
The Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar shared his vision for a new world order that is free from the threat of religious fundamentalism in the September 21 edition of The Financial Times.
“Our system of values respects all ideas and beliefs. However, we cannot confuse this respect with conferring legitimacy on fanaticisms that prevent us from living together in a civilized manner...We must all contribute to building a system of peace and security without divisions: a system that is today more feasible than at any time in the past. Combating terrorism demands a stronger global order based upon respect for all beliefs."
Andrew Sullivan, writing in the October 7, 2001 edition of The New York Times Magazine, in an article entitled, “This Is A Religious War”, had this to say: “It seems as if there is something inherent in religious monotheism that lends itself to terrorist temptation.” By linking a belief in monotheism to inherent terrorist tendencies, he and other influential reporters make it easier to single out certain groups for espousing beliefs that are seen to be disruptive to world peace and security.
Leaders of transnational corporations also see the value of supporting a global ethic that counters the rise of religious fundamentalism in the new millennium. Reacting to claims that globalization devalues the dignity of the human personality by treating people primarily as commodities to be exploited -- and challenged by the inability of individual nation states to solve the myriad of socio-economic, health and environmental woes with which they are confronted -- both business and political leaders are anxious to forge closer ties with their religious counterparts to work for more equitable and humane solutions. After all, free trade fueled by globalization works best in a secure and peaceful world uninhibited by religious wars and conflicts.
As Patricia Mische, president emeritus of Global Education Associates, in a paper entitled “A World Order Focus for the Role of Religion," explains: "Up until now, antireligious dialogue has focused primarily on developing greater peace and understanding between people from diverse religious traditions, and also, in some cases, on promoting values of peace, social justice, human rights, and ecological integrity. There has not been much focus on the contribution of religions to the development of a more humane world order or more effective global systems. In a period of increasing globalization, such a focus becomes ever more urgent."
At this year’s annual meeting of The World Economic Forum, religious leaders in attendance expressed their desire to work more closely with their business and political counterparts in the building of a just and equitable world order.
"We enthusiastically endorse the project of initiating and continuing dialogue in order to create a framework that integrates leaders of religion, business, politics and civil society. Let us join forces to seize this opportunity.”
However, Alan Morrison, who heads Diakrisis International, a Christian apologetics ministry based in France, in analyzing these current trends, observes:
“What we have here is world governance and world religion beginning to come together in a common utopian purpose to establish a global order without the Christ of the Bible and without the missionary encumbrance of Christian evangelism. The purported reason behind these gatherings is the establishment of peace on Earth," Morrison points out, "but the real intention is the eradication of the Christian gospel."
Since Christianity is essentially evangelistic, there is bound to be an inevitable conflict between the Christian who takes seriously the claims of Jesus Christ that "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes unto the Father but through Me." (John 14:6) and those who believe that all religions are equally legitimate pathways to God.
In a world that is becoming increasingly globalized by the blending together of economies, peoples, laws, cultures, religions and social ethics, these types of dogmatic religious assertions will not be tolerated.
On the other hand, the misguided rhetoric and tactics of the religious right is about to bear its bitter fruit with its dominionist and "Kingdom Now" theology playing right into the hands of the architects of this new world order.
Suffering from the proverbial “head in the sand, don’t confuse me with the facts” approach to reality, especially when it upsets their comfort-zone, many are completely oblivious to the global developments that will profoundly affect the practice of their faith.
Jesus said to the Jews of his day: “You can discern the face of the sky, how is it that you cannot discern the signs of the times?” We are truly living in the times of prophetic fulfillment as we watch these global events unfold.