On February 4th, 2019, Pope Francis made a historic visit to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates where he met with Muslim leaders including one of the highest authorities in Islam, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the imam of Al-Azhar for interfaith dialogue dubbed as the “Human Fraternity” meeting. The purpose of the gathering was to stress the importance and need for tolerance, love, and peace among different faiths. Pope Francis also “urged religious leaders to work together to reject war and strongly denounced violence committed in God’s name.”
Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb also urged Muslims in the Middle East to “embrace local Christian communities”. As part of the meeting, they both signed a Human Fraternity document which touched upon topics such as financial inequality, violence in the name of religion, sexual inequality and women’s rights, the importance of the family, stressing of various freedoms we all have as humans, and of course an effort for Christians, Muslims, and others from the various religions to work together for peace and tolerance’s sake. Below is an excerpt from the introduction of the document highlighting the goals of this initiative.
“From our fraternal and open discussions, and from the meeting that expressed profound hope in a bright future for all human beings, the idea of this Document on Human Fraternity was conceived. It is a text that has been given honest and serious thought so as to be a joint declaration of good and heartfelt aspirations. It is a document that 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.” (Vatican News)
All Religions Created Equal?
At first glance, this initiative seems amazing! It seems like a great effort on the part of religious leaders to meet in the middle and work together for noble causes such as peace and tolerance. And to be honest many of what’s written in the document, I myself agree with. I do wish for peace and basic human rights for all. I want an end to religious violence as much as the next person. So what’s the problem here? To be frank, everything. The document is very long and I encourage you to take a look at it yourself but I will list some parts of it that stood out to me that I believe we should be paying attention to.
“The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives.”
- The pluralism of religions is not something willed by God. This statement surprises me the most since the bible from Old to New testaments warns us about deception, straying from the truth, and worshiping anything or anyone that is not the one true God. To add to this, Jesus himself states “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” (John 14:6). Jesus makes a clear statement that he is literally THE TRUTH, not one truth among several, but the only truth. This means Christianity at its core is exclusive as Jesus is the central point of it all. I understand the argument for God willing a variety of cultures, races, languages, etc since we can trace that back to the tower of babel for example but not religion. God’s goal and desire is for humanity to fellowship with him and this can only be done by loving him and worshiping him and him alone. This can’t be done if other religions and beliefs make contrary claims which the bible deems as deception.
“Dialogue among believers means coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and, from here, transmitting the highest moral virtues that religions aim for.”
- Who are accounted as “believers” here? If I was to call someone else a believer, I would mean the individual is a believer in Christ; that they have accepted God’s free gift of salvation. To keep with the “theme” of the document however, here it would mean a believer in God. The problem with this is demons also believe in God so are they counted in this initiative? “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19) Also, we need to understand that although religions come with their own set of morals this does not mean all religions are “aiming” for the same thing. Each religion has its own context which acts as the foundation for those morals to begin with. Biblical morals can not be found apart from the triune God of the bible since God is the creator and judge of all. Not all religions assert they have a triune God or any diety for that matter so their morals won’t be the same or founded in the same thing. This is a classic example of those who make the statement “All religions teach love so they’re basically teaching the same thing”. That’s false. Jesus taught about love from the context of our Father in heaven – the triune God of the bible. To make the claim that somehow all religions are teaching the same thing or striving for the same thing is to turn a blind eye from the contradictions that come about when throwing all religions into the same bucket.
The main problem here is I’m seeing a constant use of “God” as a common middle ground for Christianity, Islam, and other religions and not enough of “Jesus” like it should be. You would think that one of the most arguably influential Christian leaders of the world would preach the Gospel as is stated clearly in the bible. The issue I along with many other believers (in Christ) have with this is many will be swept along and think this is a great cause all the while not realizing they’re not being told the TRUTH which is salvation is only through Christ and true peace can only come through Christ not through any man made cause apart from him.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
My goal here is not to mock other religions or say that we should hate on non-Christians. It’s the opposite, we’re called to love our neighbor as our self (whether our neighbor be of different sex, economic status, religion, age, etc). However the definition of love they have in mind is one of tolerance that doesn’t reside in the truth. We’re not called to be tolerant but to preach the truth in love. This truth being that Christ died for our sins and any who believe in his sacrifice will have eternal life (John 3:16 and Romans 10:9).
One World Religion
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” (John 14:6)
Not only does these efforts of peace, tolerance, and striving towards a shared belief in God among all religions contradict what Jesus himself says, it’s also very prophetically significant. The bible shows us that one day there will come a one world government and monetary system controlled by the antichrist and also a one world religion which will find its ultimate fulfillment in the tribulation and with the eventual worship of the antichrist (Revelation 13). In our time period we are currently seeing a push for all of these things.
I challenge believers whether you’re Catholic or not to not take my word for this but rather God’s word. Be careful not to be swept up in any movement of “love”, “peace”, and “tolerance”. Just because “God” is thrown in every now and then does not mean it’s ultimately alluding to the Gospel. Deception is a real threat in these times. It wouldn’t be deception if people could spot it easily but only those who are grounded in the truth of God’s word will be able to discern fact from fiction.
These are amazing times we’re living in as we’re watching prophecy line up as was written thousands of years ago. Not only are we seeing efforts for world religions to come together, Israel is increasing their 3rd temple building efforts and talking more about the arrival of who they believe is their messiah. We’re seeing increases in technology such as DNA altering tech and human implantable microchips. US president Donald Trump is getting ready to release his Middle East peace plan after the Israeli elections in April 2019. We’re seeing a rapid decline of morality with many states in the US passing bills for late term abortions. Tensions between Iran and Israel are rising as we’re also seeing the puzzle pieces of Ezekiel 38 coming together. All of this and much more occurring in Israel’s 70th year since it became a nation which is THE mega sign that tells us where we are on God’s prophetic timeline. Time is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Make sure you’ve made the right decision about Jesus today! It will be the most important decision of your eternal life.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
- Pope Francis meets Muslim leaders in Abu Dhabi on historic UAE visit (February 4th, 2019) – Arab News
- Document on Human Fraternity for world peace and living together: Full text (February 4th, 2019 ) – Vatican News