Monday, March 20, 2006

News: UN of Religions Proposed

BBC | Rabbi calls for 'UN of religions'
Rabbi Metzger [Chief Rabbi of Israel] was addressing the International Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace in Seville, Spain....The imams and rabbis at this conference, which opened on Sunday, say the world is in crisis and it is time they acted to restore justice, respect and peace.
It's easy to see how this proposal could be lauded and criticized. The idealist how you can be against a forum where religions can get together to hammer out their differences without resorting to violence and work towards peace and justice. The cynic however, will point out that we already have a real UN that's supposed to do that and look how well that's going.

I'm not against inter-religious dialogue as opposed to violence or to working together with other religions where we have common goals. And I don't think that fear of failure is a good reason not to try. But I do worry about the power such an institution might acquire to coerce members and non-members to practice religion in ways it deems appropriate.

One of the components of the end-time scenario presented in Revelation is the world-wide enforcement of religious observance (Rev. 13). The imagery (no pun intended) of that vision is drawn from the Daniel 3, where the king of Babylon forces the leaders of the then-known-world to worship an idol (6 was the Babylonian holy number). If the proposed "United Nations of religious groups" is formed with the intent of influencing the political powers of the world, then it will be setting itself up to fulfill this prophecy.

However, if this body were to be set up with the intent of promoting dialogue, freedom, and peace among religions, it may aid the spread of the good news about Jesus. Incidentally, this is also a sign of the end (Matt. 24:14). Perhaps it will help to fulfill both prophecies.


  1. "Perhaps it will help to fulfill both prophecies."

    Perhaps I am more cynical than you are...I think it will fulfill neither...UN-like stuff don't work...What works better to unify folks is a strong force in front. Maybe like the "generic" protestantism that has become the defacto Christianity in America...Perhaps all of us going to the same places to learn how to grow a church or how to provide worship. Today you can go to a Pentecostal, Adventist, Baptist, and even Presbyterian church and see very liitle to distinquish them.....We are in the middle of a "hegemonic Christianity" that is not created by groups like this but by all of us seeking to exemplify the "growing churches"...

    As far as this kind of group providing a vehicle to bring peace on earth by dialog that will open the way for the Gospel to spread to all the world...Man the real UN can't do that...doubt that this one could even if it desired to...

  2. I agree that the example of growing churches has done a lot to create the similarities of faith and practice we see in Christianity. But I believe that the ecumenical conversations of the previous generation layed the philosophical framework in which this could take place. Perhaps the "UN of religions" could play a similar role in a pan-religious way?

    As far as peace on earth goes, we know that no human institution will ever be able to provide that. But they can ease tensions. IMHO, the cold war would have been hotter if not for the UN.