In a couple of weeks I will be on my way to cover the Parliament of the Worlds Religions. As I made my preparations for the trip this past weekend, a song from 1972 came to mind. Coca-Cola created the “Buy the World a Coke” ad campaign, which was re-recorded by the New Seekers and Hilltop Singers and, like many songs of that era, was a call for peace on earth.
I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company
I’d like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills
For peace throughout the land
(That’s the song I hear)
Around the same time (1971), KGBS Los Angeles DJ Tom Clay did a remix of Jackie DeShannon’s 1965 hit “What the World Needs Now Is Love” combined with Dion’s 1968 hit “Abraham, Martin and John.” The song begins with a man asking a young boy what segregation, bigotry, prejudice and hatred are – the child doesn’t know. The song comes across as a powerful social commentary – the children are innocent. Born with only love in their hearts, they have to be taught to hate, by their parents, and by the “system.” The common theme of these and so many other songs of the era was the desire for peace.
Peace on Earth – who doesn’t want it? It was the impetus for the founding of the United Nations after the horrors of WW2. Wikipedia notes “The UN’s mission to preserve world peace…”
World Peace was likewise the theme of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1993, which we attended with a small group of like-minded Evangelical apologists. The gathering included representatives from most of the world’s religions, including Wiccans, Pagans, Mormons, Scientologists, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews, along with liberal/new age Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and every kind of new age group you could imagine. Even the Dalai Lama was there. Predictably, it turns out that even among these peace seeking throngs, peace could not be completely achieved, even for a few days! The Jewish contingent left when Louis Farrakhan arrived and began spewing anti-Semitic rhetoric. A fist fight broke out between the Muslims and Hindus, and even though the Wiccans immediately formed a circle to dance for peace, order ultimately had to be restored by the Chicago police.
“Truth” was another popular theme of the Parliament, but in a purely negative sense. All in our small apologetic group noticed the relentless assault on the idea of absolute truth. CRI’s Elliott Miller describes this assault in “The 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions (Part one)“:
No avenue of persuasion was ignored — from the logical, emotional, experiential, and psychic to the use of peer pressure, humor, imagination, and the manipulation of the subconscious. It began with an “interactive musical performance” called the “Truth Spin Dance.” The dancers in the performance would periodically engage in verbal duels over their perceptions of truth. This had the affect of mocking the very notion that there could be only one ultimate Truth. (In this regard, a reference to “the Gospel Truth” drew the loudest laughter from the crowd.) After this session an impressionable spectator might well have concluded that it is very inappropriate and politically incorrect to believe in the existence of objective, knowable religious truth.
It was indeed an organized, vicious, all out frontal assault on all religious “truth” claims, but the gospel, the Bible, and Bible believing Christians were the main targets. The majority of Evangelicals have shown complete indifference to the Parliament’s events and agenda, perhaps to their own peril. Much of what was heralded in that 1993 Parliament is now coming to fruition, but much of the church never saw it coming. New Ager Robert Müller, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for 40 years, opened the event with the first plenary address. Elliott Miller quotes:
….we are entering an age of universalism. Wherever you turn, one speaks about global education, global information, global communications — every profession on Earth now is acquiring a global dimension. The whole humanity is becoming interdependent, is becoming one.
Two additional observations by Elliott Miller are important:
Müller observed that the United Nations has gone from providing material aid to the nations to providing an ethical framework for international problems (e.g., human rights). “But the last stage has not yet been arrived at in [the] United Nations, and it is the stage which Sri Chinmoy [the Hindu “guru of the United Nations”] and so many of us in [the] United Nations have heralded; namely, we must add a last dimension to this, which is the highest, which is the greatest, which is the one which would put everything into place; namely, the spiritual dimension….This is why this Parliament is so vitally important. It comes at the right moment.”
Müller explained that in this post-Cold War era, as we prepare to enter the 21st century, the heads of state are wrestling with the question: “How are we going to govern this planet?” As they work on formulating the new political world order, it is being brought to their attention that we need a new spiritual world order as well.
Müller’s view was that humanity must – and IS – becoming one. The UN and the member heads of state are working to create a one world government which, as Müller pointed out, will “need a new spiritual world order as well” in order to be successful.
As we look around the world today, it seems that this new spirituality, this universal religion, is well on its way to being unveiled. But it seems that it will require some effort to get all of humanity to accept it. The bitter clingers must be made to understand that Unity – oneness – is the only road to “peace.” Truth is a vast roadblock to unity, and so must go. And, if people will not willingly give up their truth, compliance will have to be coerced. No matter if you like your religion, you won’t be able to keep your religion. The problem always has been that in order to “teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,” those “out of harmony” must be suppressed – and they will be. Tyranny – for the good of all.
The desire for peace is completely understandable, but not attainable through human effort. World Peace will only be attained when the Prince of Peace takes His throne. Until that time, conflicts and wars will continue unabated, and in fact the Bible teaches that wars and conflicts will increase greatly, as the time for His appearance draws near. Even considering the hopes and plans of the Parliamentarians for a universal religion, does anyone imagine that they will be able to peacefully force people to give up their religious beliefs? Lots of blood may have to be shed to achieve harmonic unity. Paul does instruct the Ephesian believers to “shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” He was speaking of peace between God and man. It is the gospel – the very truth the Parliament ridicules – that offers men and women forgiveness, salvation and life eternal in perfect peace.
We cared about many of the people we met and conversed with at the last Parliament. Many seemed to be sincerely seeking the betterment of our world, and had been taken captive by the One World ideal. They have put their faith in a lie. Sadly, as we reflect on the goal of the Parliament, one scripture inevitably comes to mind, showing just how this delusional push for world peace will backfire horribly on them:
While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
This is not something we want to see happen to anyone – not Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, New Agers, Wiccans, or anyone else! This is not what God wants for anyone either. He so loved the world that He gave His only Son to die for all mankind, to pay the penalty for their every sin, so all who will believe can be completely and freely reconciled to Him through faith in His Son.Ω
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Appreciated this history and will look forward to reading your observations of the upcoming 2015 Parliament.
A very minor point/correction, Re: the note about Coke “co-opting” the peace song… if I’m not mistaken, the song was actually originally written FOR coke and we hippies co-opted it for Peace…
That’s my memory, anyway, and it appears to be what wiki is confirming.
As to the point of the post: I agree that there is Truth and a devastating need for Peace in our world, and that we ought to pursue both. By and large, I think that is the desire for most people.
To try to demonize groups who might disagree with you on some points (not saying that’s what you’re doing here, although I am a little concerned as it sounds a bit like that… perhaps you could clarify?), is not a path that leads to either Truth or Peace. I hope you could agree.
Thank you for the correction. I have made the change in the post for accuracy. Our point is really not to demonize anyone and like most we desire a peaceful co-existence in spite of our disagreements. That really is the nature and definition of tolerance. It assumes we don’t agree but “tolerate” that which we believe is faulty or untrue. I don’t believe we shall have a real peace though this side of the return of Jesus Christ.
Glad to hear the desire for tolerance and peace. I don’t know the particular group (“the Parliament”) you’re citing in the article, so this is not a defense of them. I just fear that too often, we assume the worst of those we disagree with, so that “they” aren’t truly interested in Truth or peace, or that “they” are fighting for a false peace or a false truth.
I would posit that there is only one Truth and that those who seek Truth, wherever they seek Truth and however they seek Truth, are indeed seeking Truth. Certainly, we can all reach bad conclusions, evangelical, non-theist or whoever, but generally speaking, I have found that most people are seeking the good as best they know how.
Will we ever have perfect and complete peace in this fallen world? No. Should we ever stop working towards a more peaceful world? No. That would be my point, and we can work with others who also are working for peace, in spite of – in fact, blessedly because of – our areas of disagreement!