Interfaith Leader Tony Blair Shares Thoughts on Faith at HTB Leadership Conference

From 14 to 15 May, over 4,000 people gathered in London for the 2012 HTB Leadership Conference, hosted by Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) church and HTB Vicar Nicky Gumbel. Among the speakers for this year’s gathering was interfaith leader Tony Blair.

Sharing his thoughts in an interview with Gumbel, Tony Blair primarily spoke about leadership in today’s world. When asked about “faith in the modern world,” Blair responded in part:

What is vital for us is to make faith part of the future. And the place of interfaith is really that – I’m a Christian and I will remain a Christian. Somebody else will be a Muslim or a Hindu or Jew or Buddhist, whatever. Because of the way the world works today, globalisation is pushing people together. Physically, through migration. Virtually, because of the internet. We’ve got to learn to respect and live with one another. And we’ve got to learn to do that across the faith divide. It’s not to make me any less of a Christian or them any less of a Muslim. But it does mean that we need to create a culture, if you like, and an atmosphere of mutual respect and toleration that allows us to live together peacefully, and allows us to recognise the sense that we are all God’s children. Source

Blair, who converted to Catholicism in 2007, is the founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation which exists to

promote respect and understanding about the world’s major religions and show how faith is a powerful force for good in the modern world. Source

Blair’s foundation seeks to unite all faiths in global efforts of social justice, believing that “the values of respect, justice and compassion that our great religions share” are the foundation for building “a better world.”

20 years ago, Dr. John MacArthur preached about these type of endeavors, acknowledging that humanitarian efforts would be part of what will help unite the world’s religions in a final global deception.

We all have been told that we face in these areas, the areas of our social order and our money and our food and our fuel and our environment, we face doom’s day. We face insurmountable dilemmas that will drive the globe into an ultimately living hell. We’re on the slide to destruction.

But is that really the scene? Yes, ultimately, but no, temporarily. Actually before the worst comes and it will come, there are going to be good times. I believe we are headed for worldwide peace, worldwide prosperity, safety, security. Before things get bad, they’re going to get better. In fact, many world leaders are convinced of this. Many world leaders, and you can read them if you just listen to what’s going on on the television and read the news magazines and even the newspapers, many world leaders are convinced that the problems in our world, problems of food and fuel and society and environment, these problems are so serious and they are so compelling that they are driving the attention of nations away from the military field and all of the ingenuity that has been poured into space travel, all of the ingenuity that has been poured into weapon development is going to be moving toward society and economics and environment and food and fuel and the wonderful genius of man is going to pull us out of this dive. The world as you watch it today is setting aside its arms. Oh there are skirmishes here and there, and there always will be some of those. But the world is really laying down its arms because it has to focus on what it deems to be more serious problems. Money, social order, food, fuel, environment, people are frightened that our future is threatened. They’re very concerned about the quality of life. They’re not so concerned about national borders….

The Bible predicts such a time. The Bible predicts that there’s coming a world peace, it will come. But listen, it will be a deceptive peace. It will be a false sense of security. It will be the most subtle and the most deceptive trap that’s ever been set because it will catch the world in it. And they’ll be caught and they’ll be destroyed. The trap is being set right now, psychologically, socially, politically, economically and religiously. And it is luring the world right in. International peace is the bait. It’s the bait for the trap in which the human race will be caught to feel the full and final unleashing of God’s wrath. We’re headed for peace.

Source

In understanding this, the efforts of interfaith groups like Blair’s may rightly cause some Christians to pause. Interfaith endeavors have long been growing in popularity among professing evangelical Christians, especially those undertakings which seek to unite under the umbrella of “good works” for the betterment of society. Yet, should such efforts ever overshadow the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? While respect ought always to be exercised, is it acceptable for a Christian to affirm a false religion in the name of “bettering” society?

In a sermon entitled, “The Deadly Dangers of Moralism,” John MacArthur states:

this effort at cultural morality leads to acceptance of inclusivism. And what I mean by that is, it starts to stretch the boundaries of the Kingdom of God to embrace these people who are not in Christ.

…But if you’ve spent all your time working on this cultural morality you’ve dumped all your money in, and you’ve pulled all these people together to get the money and the power to pull off your enterprise, you can’t introduce the gospel because the gospel will undo everything you’ve done….So, your truth is your truth, my truth is my truth. Create these moral alliances in which you embrace people who don’t believe the gospel. And Paul says, “If you meet anybody who gives you any other gospel than the gospel I gave you, let him be cursed.” And he said it twice in Galatians 1.

You can’t do that in that environment. You’ve got to walk a fine line or you’ll blow up your whole organization. You can’t preach the gospel. The gospel gets eclipsed.

Source

The HTB Leadership Conference, though attracting “leaders from the church and workplace,” nevertheless appears to promote itself as a Christian event. Other speakers for the 2012 Conference included Judah Smith, Lead Pastor of The City Church in Seattle, Washington, Christine Caine, founder of the A21 Campaign, and Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church.

Warren is a member of the Advisory Council for Blair’s Faith Foundation and endorses Nicky Gumbel’s Alpha Course. During his interview with Gumbel, Warren curiously stated that,

‘In 1000 years time, there will be no USA, no UK, no Microsoft, no Apple, but there will be a Church.’ Source

Rick Warren also is no stranger to the interfaith movement. Speaking in 2009 to the Islamic Society of North America, he stated:

And I will tell you that I am not interested in interfaith dialogue, I am interested in interfaith projects. There is a big difference. Talk is very cheap. And you can talk and talk and talk and not get anything done. Love is something you do. It is something that we do together. Love is a verb. Now as the two largest faiths on this planet, Muslims and Christians, we must lead in this. We must lead. With over one billion Muslims, and over 2 billion Christians, together, as half the world, we have to do something, about modeling what it means to live in peace, to live in harmony. Source

It is interesting that this Christian leadership conference would draw in such avid supporters of interfaith efforts. Though the HTB Leadership Conference has concluded for this year, speakers have already been announced for the 2013 gathering and will include Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, IL.