The Second Parliament of World Religion convened in the robust city of Chicago, Illinois, August 28-Sept. 5, 1993, the centennial year of the First Parliament of World Religions. The 1893 meeting of the World Parliament of Religions convened in Chicago at the same time as the Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair in Chicago).
James Stephens, director of the Sonrise Center for Buddhist studies in Sierra Madre, California, stated that “the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago was the event that was most responsible for introducing Buddhism and other non-Christian religions into the United States.” (cf. National & International Religion Report. Sept. 6, 1993, hereafter NIRR). Stephens opined that a study of Buddhist documents reveals that Eastern philosophies and even the architecture accompanying the Columbian Exposition profoundly affected many who attended the Exposition. David Neff writing in Christianity Today, Sept. 13, 1993, described the 1893 Parliament as “a landmark in interfaith dialogue, and in the view of many, the first-wave of invasions on these shores by Eastern mystical religions.”
John Zipperer describes the 1893 gathering as follows: “The first parliament featured representatives of 41 denominations and religious traditions gathering at Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893. That meeting introduced Victorian-era American to Eastern religions and helped establish Roman Catholicism and Judaism as important American religious movements.” (Christianity Today, October 4, 1993)
Noteworthy is the fact that although the 1893 Convention was largely a Protestant operation, it was opposed by evangelist Dwight L. Moody and his followers.
The editors of the NIRR report that “Paul Carus, owner of Open Court Publishers, became so enamored with Buddhist teachings at the 1893 Parliament that he wrote The Gospel According to Buddha.” It is reported that religious scholars assert that this book was a major factor that contributed to the spread of Buddhist philosophy in America. Carus also funded the writings of D.T. Suzuki, a famous Zen scholar, to help propagate Buddhism in America.
Six thousand persons from 150 divergent world religions converged on Chicago for the 1993 convocation. John Zipperer writes that “Evangelicals were divided over whether to embrace such interfaith gatherings or to condemn interreligious dialogue outside of mission work.” (cf. Christianity Today, Oct. 4, 1993.) Zipperer also indicates that this year’s gathering was dominated less by any one group and seemed to concentrate more on a search for harmony. The search for truth took a back seat to a quest for interreligious peace.
The agenda of 1993 Parliament of World’s Religions upset some evangelicals. Hoping to bridge gaps between faiths, the parliament’s council released a nine-page manifesto, “A Global Ethic,” calling for a consensus on essential ethical principles. The difficulty of formulating a statement acceptable to members of the group called COVENANT OF THE GODDESS as well as to lifelong BAPTISTS resulted in a document that calls for more peace and less intolerance. The document contains vague terms that avoid such examples as abortion and euthanasia, which might undercut support.
Peter Jones, professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California said sessions by politicians and technocrats made it clear that the pre-programmed agenda of the organizers was “to create liberal-humanistic unity.”
The September 20, 1993 NIRR reported that one of the prime demonstrations was the approval of THE DECLARATION OF THE GLOBAL ETHIC, which outlined core values and beliefs common to many faiths.
Peter Jones indicated that “facilitators were primed to ensure that nothing, including substantive theological issues, would stop the parliament from realizing its unstated goal: a mystical experience of pluralism.” Jones affirmed that the “apostle Paul would doubtless have called the pagan interfaith celebrations fellowship with demons.”
The focus of the parliament was not on theology but was largely on the environment. Jones stated, “That’s the new source of revelation – science and the earth.”
Traditional Christianity and Christian missions were implicitly and sometimes explicitly criticized by the parliament’s delegates. David Steindl-Rast noted that “he could not use Scriptures mentioning Jesus or God because use of those words would offend some faiths and cause disunity.”
Peter Jones, when quoted in Christianity Today (Oct. 4, 1993), noted the recurrent complaints about abuse perpetrated by Christians during the last 2000 years. He said, “The only thing that’s not mentioned about Christianity so far is Jesus Christ.”
We ought to be struck by the significance of this omission. The identity of Jesus Christ is the only issue of real significance that separates the Christian religion from all other religions.
Christianity Today (Oct. 4, 1993) reported that an agreement against proselytizing at the parliament was not enforced but that some evangelical Christians were uncomfortable with a conference in which Christian and non-christian religious leaders would come together to find common ground and to confirm each other.
Ruth Tucker of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, said, “Something like that in some respects almost flies in the face of biblical Christianity, which is a missionary, evangelistic religion. Typically at a gathering like this, they’re not really welcoming people who would affirm a strong missionary zeal.”
This did not deter Charles Colson. In his September 2 speech he said that Jesus Christ is the living God, and is the way, the truth and the life. Colson also spoke critically of the four illusory horsemen of the present apocalypse, i.e., 1/ that man is innately good, 2/ that utopia is around the corner, 3/ that truth is relative, 4/ that man is autonomous.
NIRR (Sept. 20, 1993) quoting Peter Jones, said that “the Parliament of the World’s Religions was proof that the Gnostic Empire will strike back.”
I believe it is proof that the Gnostic Empire has never really died. All men in the world of any religious stripe can co-exist and work together except the man who is truly committed to the cause of Jesus Christ. Christ said concerning Himself that he was a “rock of offence” and the “stone of stumbling.”
Writing in his book THE GNOSTIC EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Peter Jones correctly analyzes the situation. “Only one religious option will not be allowed to live life in peace, namely, biblical Christianity.” (p.4).
Thus the 1993 Parliament of World Religions, an assembly of demons and a convocation of idolaters, was not an appropriate place for orthodox Protestants because it was a conference that included Roman Catholics, native Americans, self-described neopagans, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists.
We live in a time of strange events. We ought to be able to see these as the signs of Christ’s coming. Now more than ever we should be able to comprehend and understand the interpretation of these events by the Scriptures. Chapter 17 in the Book of Revelation speaks of the woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names. This woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and was bedecked with gold and jewels and pearls, and in her hand she held a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her fornication. On her forehead was written a name of “Mystery, Babylon the great, mother of harlots and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
The false church is pictured by the harlot who revels in her abominations and impurities. It is this false church and the members of the false church that make allegiance with the anti-christian religions of this world. Against this believers in Christ must stand
We who live in the last years of the Twentieth Century are in the same situation as Paul was when he visited Mars Hill and was surrounded by a host of unfamiliar and doubtless false gods. In these wicked days marking the end of the Twentieth Century, members of church need to be spiritually discerning.
The church needs discerning and dedicated leaders who will say with Paul, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)
Paul’s exhortation to the church is as true now as it was many years ago. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11)