A significant number of Christians of various denominations, both traditional and Protestant, are concerned by the online materials announcing the establishment of a one-world religion: Chrislam. The news is that this is just the first step, which will be followed by a one-world currency, and a one-world government that is up to no good.
What is Chrislam? A Google search for the term “chrislam” or the phrase “one-world religion” provides a list of results that include several fringe blogs and websites and various YouTube channels. Sources generally describe Chrislam as a new one-world syncretic religion, linking it to what is about to become its headquarters: the Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, whose main attractions will be a synagogue, a church, and a mosque, according to a concept by architect Sir David Adjaye. Construction is underway and is expected to be completed in 2022.
The Abu Dhabi complex is presented in the international press (CNN, The Guardian, Euronews, Deutsche Welle, Fox News) without any connection to the notion of Chrislam. Not even the English tabloid The Daily Mail makes this connection. In the media, the Abrahamic Family House project is presented as a response of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against extremism and in favour of the peaceful coexistence of believers of different religions. They say it is inspired by the pope’s visit to the UAE in 2019, when Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb signed the Document on Human Fraternity.
The Abu Dhabi Government Press Office stated that they are building a cultural and interfaith complex that shows the UAE’s commitment to the values in the signed document (peace, equality in rights, and dignity for all people of all faiths and unbelievers). Deutsche Welle notes that this initiative is emerging at a time when the UAE is not exactly tolerant of views that are different from those of the regime.
Muslim and Catholic representatives of The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (their statements can be found here and here) answered the frequently asked questions or the possible concerns of their fellow believers, stressing that the initiative does not address syncretism (mixing) or relativism (equivalence of values or dogmas), but encourages a spirit of understanding between adherents of faiths that retain their different characters.
Therefore, the idea of a one-world syncretic religion, called Chrislam, and the idea that the headquarters of this new one-world religion is being built in Abu Dhabi are speculative interpretations presented as facts—that is, fake news.
Chrislam: Is there a seed of truth?
In “The Flying Inn”, published in England in 1914, GK Chesterton envisioned a future dystopian English society, conquered by Islamic ideology. In Chesterton’s imagination, the progressive Islamisation of England, initiated by a few English leaders with Islamic values, leads to the domination of a form of Islam, mixed with Christian characteristics.
In this novel, the British come to believe that England was originally Muslim, start dreaming of a full union of Christianity with Islam (they replace the cross on top of the churches with an emblem that includes both the cross and the crescent), give up alcohol and prepare for polygamy. It is in this literary creation published more than a century ago that the term “Chrislam” first appeared, which, in the words of one of the book’s characters, Patrick Dalroy, describes English Christian-Islamic syncretism.
In 1993, Arthur C. Clarke published a fantasy novel, “The Hammer of God”, which describes the crisis caused by the imminent collision of an asteroid with planet Earth. In the book, the term “Chrislam” is used to refer to a new one-world syncretic religion, whose prophet, the daughter of a rabbi, mixes elements of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
For the imagination of Christians concerned with the apocalypse, these two occurrences of Chrislam in the realm of fiction have proved to be a much stronger incentive than the only real, historical situation in which a community of believers has assumed the term “chrislam”. As Corey L. Williams, anthropology professor at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands noted, the use of the name “Chrislam” is linked to Africa, where, starting in the 1950s, the first group with a Chrislamic philosophy was formed, at the initiative of King Akenzua II of Benin.
In 1976, the first group to actually use the name Chrislam appeared in Lagos, Nigeria, and it was organized by the Holy Royal Highness and first Chrislamic ‘evangelist’ in Nigeria, Tela Tella. Other Chrislamic groups, which embrace religious syncretism (a mixture of Islam, Christianity, and indigenous African religions), later emerged in Lagos and Ogbomosho, Nigeria. However, the historical phenomenon of Chrislam has not left this small area on the African continent.
Back to the imaginary
There are very few links between Nigerian Chrislam and the religion described as ominously growing currently by various questionable websites and YouTube channels.
The Chrislam that arouses and enhances the interest of Christians concerned with apocalyptic scenarios has a completely different source of inspiration. Baptist theologian Eugen Matei (one of the contributors to the recent volume, “The Evangelical Man”), identifies it and briefly describes it in a evocative article titled: “Chrislam, the lie that refuses to die, and the Romanian mess”.
Chrislam is practically an imaginary entity, popularized by a movement of some contemporary “prophetic fortune tellers”. The practice’s pattern of interpreting apocalyptic prophecies is inspired by the believers from nineteenth-century Britain, gathered around John Nelson Darby. To the discerning reader, this name is a reference to the theological current of dispensationalism.
Dispensationalism is a literal interpretation of apocalyptic prophecies. In this hermeneutic approach, some contemporary evangelicals have developed a special concern for making prophetic maps and identifying the fulfilment of biblical prophecies in geopolitical events, such as the formation of the state of Israel or the European Union. Such dispensational interpreters also predict the formation of a one-world syncretic religion—which on the aforementioned websites is called Chrislam—or the preparation of a one-world government ruled by the antichrist.
Used in conjunction with the scenario of a one-world government and a one-world currency, the phrase “new world order” refers, in a dispensational context, to waiting for an elite with a global agenda to conspire to establish a global totalitarian regime. There is no single meaning to the phrase “new world order”. In fact, in recent decades, it has been used by various figures in the political, economic, and religious worlds to describe various global visions or projects considered either desirable or inevitable.
Does the Bible suggest that there will be a one-world government and a one-world currency?
The popular evangelical website GotQuestions.org reflects a dispensational understanding of the Bible when it argues that although the terms “one-world government” and “one-world currency” do not exist in the Bible, both will be realities of the time when the saints will be abducted from the earth, and the antichrist will rule the world at the head of a one-world government. But the dispensationalist interpretation must respond to several criticisms, and one of its effects—gathering and tinkering with current information in an attempt to find a prophetic correspondent in the Bible—is a risky hermeneutic practice, regardless of the Christian faith that exhibits this tendency.
“For someone less familiar with Bible prophecy (classical or apocalyptic)”, says Laurenţiu Moţ, professor of New Testament at Adventus University, for the Signs of the Times, “associations such as ‘x event is a fulfilment of y biblical prophecy’ can be very tempting, even convincing. Generalizations are a very effective tool for manipulating the gullible. For example, to say that biblical prophecy speaks of a one-world government and a one-world currency is pure fantasy, not only in a geopolitical sense, but also in a biblical sense.
“The apocalypse mentions that the wicked, who will be judged and condemned in the final moments of history, remain divided into their categories of origin and according to their various adherences. Categories such as the kings of the earth, the elders, the captains of the army, the rich and the powerful, all the slaves and all the free people, are mentioned in Revelation (see Revelation 6:15; cf. 19:18); or the dragon, the beast and the false prophet (see Revelation 16:13) or the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth (see Revelation 19: 19-20).
“All these social and religious distinctions show that although apocalyptic prophecy foretells a union, an alliance, it will not be in the form of a one-world government or a one-world church, but rather something formed around a common cause—the world’s revolt against God (Revelation 17:14; 19:19). As for a one-world currency, Revelation does not know this scenario. In fact, in the only passage in which the idea of international trade appears (Revelation 18: 11-13), it is clear from the presentation of the list of Babylonian commodities that the most important thing is not how or with what currency one buys, but what they buy. The apocalypse neither implies nor suggests the existence of a one-world currency.”
The modesty of prophets and interpreters
The modesty of biblical authors implicitly urges us to practice interpretive modesty, says Elijah Mvundura. “We know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears… Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully” (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). “Our view of reality, Paul is saying, is partial, contingent, and subjective. For perfect knowledge, for complete understanding of things, we must await the Second Advent.”
Aware of these limitations, Christians can and must study apocalyptic prophecies carefully and honestly and see how they have been validated in history to date. The value of a prophecy is best seen in history. When speculating about present or future events, the risk of reaching hazardous and erroneous conclusions arises.
That is why it is beneficial for conscious Christians who are convinced of the content and outcome of apocalyptic prophecies to keep in mind the prophetic scenario that follows the word of the Bible. Such a biblical overview of prophecy is fully capable of helping Christians safely navigate the times in which they live. And, as time turns certain events of the present into history, the retrospective will further clarify how Bible prophecy is fulfilled.
By contrast, the distinctive note of ‘conspiracy thinking’ lies in the temptation to explain in detail and dogmatically harmonize all the pieces of a puzzle that is, in fact, inaccessible. That is why the constant search to intuit what is behind the curtain, in some supposedly hidden backstage, the constant effort to identify shadow actors, hidden agendas and strategies, are practices by which some Christians end up disregarding the words of the apostle Paul about incomplete human knowledge.
Moreover, they are predisposed to the spreading of and obsession over fictional theories, which in time will prove their fallaciousness, and cause negative effects. The tragic outcome is that instead of helping to popularize the prophetic teachings of the Bible, such interpretive approaches ignite fires that burn brightly but go out quickly, or arouse interest only to disappoint, and alienate from the Bible, most of those who come in contact with them.
Norel Iacob is the editor-in-chief of The Signs of the Time and the European platform st.network.