The idea of a One World Religion in Catholic eschatology

The phrase “one world religion” is used in many discussions of eschatology, with an ominous meaning. The phrase proposes a great danger to the one true holy Catholic Church of a competing false religion, that nearly the whole world adopts — leaving only a remnant of true believers as the true religion on earth.

Based on my many years studying and writing eschatology, I have to say that no such one world religion will occur — until the reign of the Antichrist in the distant future. (I place his reign in the early 25th century.) The wicked human person called “antichrist” wishes that the whole world would worship him, as if he were God. So he establishes a false religion, with himself as the claimed messiah and his false prophet (a woman) as the head of his false church. The laws and culture of the whole world are then used to try to force everyone to worship in the one worldwide false religion and false church of the Antichrist.

But as we know from our faith in Jesus the true Christ, the Church is indefectible and the gates of Hell shall never prevail against Her. So even during the darkest days of humanity, when the Antichrist reigns over nearly the whole world, many persons refuse to worship him, and instead they worship the one true God.

And that is the greatest possible extent that any “one world church” or “one world religion” can ever reach. It is of the distant future, and it is of the Antichrist’ reign.

False Ideas

One common false idea — actually, it is abject heresy — is that the institutional Catholic Church, including the Pope and the body of Bishops dispersed in the world, becomes a false church and the feared “one world religion”. This idea is found in the messages of false private revelation and in the writings of incompetent authors of eschatology. It is heresy because it contradicts the dogma that the Church is indefectible, a dogma of the Magisterium and also a clear and emphatic teaching of Jesus himself:

{16:18} And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

It is impossible for any valid Pope to become invalid by some sin or by some decision of his. It is impossible for any invalid Pope or imposter to be accepted by the body of Bishops and the diocese and parishes of the world. It is impossible for any valid Pope to commit apostasy, heresy, or schism. All these things are absolutely prevented by the grace of God so as to preserve the Church indefectible. See my book: In Defense of PF for more on these points.

The Antichrist, in the distant future, is never the Pope, nor does he claim to be Pope or wish to be Pope. He hates the one true Church of Jesus Christ. He claims to be messiah and god, and in order to make that claim, he must deny that Jesus is Messiah and God. So the Antichrist cannot possibly be a pope or antipope, in any sense. He sets up his own false church and false religion, and he seeks to impose it on the whole world.

Failed Attempts at One World Religion

Many brutal arrogant dictators, who obtain some limited power over a nation or group of nations, would each wish they could rule the whole world. Some have even tried to be worshiped as if they were gods. Some of the Roman emperors claimed to be gods. But my understanding from studying eschatology is that no dictator, prior to the Antichrist, will succeed in conquering the whole world. Between now and then, some dictators will try, but none will succeed.

The Islamic extremists have a goal: literally to conquer the whole world. And once conquered, they wish to establish a worldwide Islamic State. They with that the whole world would be one religion: an extremist version of Islam.

In my eschatology, the Islamic extremists will win World War 3, and conquer Europe. During the occupation, they will increase in power and arrogance, and obtain nuclear ICBMs. They will then threaten the whole world: convert to radical Islam or be destroyed. World War 4 ensues, but the Islamic extremists are conquered everywhere, and their attempt to establish a one world religion of extremist Islam fails.

Sinful secular society has increased in power and arrogance over the past several generations. This secular culture has its own teachings, which are issued almost as if they were dogmas. The culture insists that everyone believe whatever approval for grave sin it issues: abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage, etc. All kinds of pressure is brought against anyone who disagrees or speaks out.

The culture is behaving as if it were a dictator, and as if it were attempting to establish a religion — except that this religion is essentially a godless pseudo-religion. I’m not the only one who sees these cultural forces as a pseudo-religion or pseudo-church seeking to dominate the whole world:

Pope Saint Pius X: “the great movement of apostasy being organized in every country for the establishment of a One-World Church which shall have neither dogmas, nor hierarchy, neither discipline for the mind, nor curb for the passions, and which, under the pretext of freedom and human dignity, would bring back to the world (if such a Church could overcome) the reign of legalized cunning and force, and the oppression of the weak, and of all those who toil and suffer.” [Notre Charge Apostolique, 15 August 1910]

The holy Pontiff is referring to modern culture, which acts as if it were a false church, promoting a false religion. But this strange pseudo-religion is one of apostasy — it rejects all true religion, replacing it with secular culture. It has no true dogmas, but (I would say) only pseudo-dogmas, false claims about truth which it insists cannot be wrong. And just as Pope Saint Pius X said, even today, this culture uses the pretexts of personal freedoms and human dignity and alleged rights to bring in all manner of grave sins.

The only true one world religion

Will there ever be a successful one world religion? Yes, when Jesus Christ returns, and the whole world become Catholic Christian.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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