Pantheism is the belief that all-things in reality compose an all-encompassing, immanent god. It characterizes a broad range of doctrines differing in forms of relationships between reality and divinity.

In this world, priests are mages who practice various forms of ritual magic to produce effects in reality. Magic is seen as a gift from a supreme being who created the universe, and is passed down within different priesthoods to their members. It is accepted that God is real, but reveals himself in different ways to humankind for unknown purposes. Each acknowledged faith has a piece of the truth about God's nature, while the entire story remains unrevealed to us. This belief was seen as a way to keep the peace between nations and prevent religion from being used as an excuse for war. To realize this dream, religious institutions of widespread faiths came together to form a high council, in which certain rules and regulations would be enshrined to help them work together instead of competing.

Certain core beliefs about the supreme being that ran across different faiths would be strictly adhered to. As far as the nitty gritty details, such as how he is to be worshiped or specific gender roles, the council would adopt an "agree to disagree" attitude that would allow leaders of these faiths to function they way they think is best according to their cultures' needs. This way, it would function similar to the Freemasons, who swear allegiance to a higher power but allow their members to worship him how they choose. In this way, they can avoid being used as pawns in political games for power.

How can this council be made sustainable and keep the peace between these religious institutions?

EDIT: question was changed to remove Deism from the equation.

  • $\begingroup$ Do they create affects (such as love or anger or pity or hate) or effects? And, can you give one example of an organized deistic religion? If the gods do not mess with the sublunar world, why would anybody pay to support parasitic priests? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 5 at 11:00
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I do not understand this. The central idea of deism is that God needs no worship (he does not care, will neither reward not punish us), and that he does not communicate with us (no holy scriptures) Why would then the religions which have rites and books accept this belief? It just does not make sense $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Jan 5 at 11:15
  • $\begingroup$ The edits make it worse, not better. "Magic is a gift from a god" and "gods reveal themselves [to various tribes]" are in direct contradiction with the fundamental principle of deism, namely that the gods do not interfere in the sublunar world. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 5 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ Excuse me. One difficulty with this question is that Deism is essentially irrelevant. The question is actually about how does an interfaith council keep the various religions in line to prevent them becoming the pawns of politics. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jan 5 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ @A4android I shall alter the question. $\endgroup$ – Incognito Jan 5 at 11:29

It cannot

First of all, religions are either compatible or incompatible. Sure, one can imagine a pan-Abrahamic council based on the shared mythology and the Seven Laws of Noah. But there is no way on this green Earth to reconcile the transient Norse gods (who are amoral, mortal, race-blind and have no favorite tribe) with the eternal Abrahamic god (who is a Victorian prude, immortal, and, at least in some versions, extremely biased towards a favorite tribe), with the variegated multiplicity of the luxuriant Hindu pantheon, etc.

There is nothing which all religions have in common. Moreover, some religions, such as the faiths of the Abrahamic family, explicitly state that their One True Living God is the only god, and all religions which dare worship any other gods, or, God forbid, goddesses, are mortally sinful.

Lofty ideas about inter-faith councils crash as soon as they are confronted with the sad reality that religions are religions, and at least some of their followers actually believe. Let me give an illustrative example.

The Council of Florence

The Council of Florence (which began as the Council of Basel) was summoned by Pope Martin V in 1431; among other noble goals, it aimed at restoring the unity between the Western Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churces, unity which had been shattered by the East-West Schism in 1054.

Apparently, this should not have been that difficult.

  • At that time, the only doctrinal difference between the Catholic and Orthodox churches was the Catholic doctrine of the Purgatory; the Orthodox were known to practice intercessory prayers for the dead (we still do), so it was to be assumed that they would accept to align their doctrine with their practice (we still don't).

  • The Orthodox bishops had a strong incentive (that is, the Turkish stranglehold on Constantinople) to agree to the reunion; and they actually agreed to come to the Council.

  • Satisfactory fudges had been found around the vexing practical differences between the two almost identical variants of the Apostolic Christian faith.

The Council deliberated for eight years, but, in the end, in 1439, (almost) all the bishops present had agreed to the wording of the Papal Bull re-uniting the Western and Eastern churches. And then...

Agreement was reached on the Western doctrine of Purgatory and a return to the pre-schism prerogatives of the Papacy. On 6 July 1439 an agreement (Laetentur Caeli) was signed by all the Eastern bishops but one, Saint Mark of Ephesus, who, contrary to the views of all others, held that Rome continued in both heresy and schism.

To complicate matters, Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople had died the previous month. The Greek Patriarchs were unable to assert that ratification by the Eastern Church could be achieved without a clear agreement of the whole Church.

Upon their return, the Eastern bishops found their attempts toward agreement with the West broadly rejected by the monks, the populace, and by civil authorities (with the notable exception of the Emperors of the East who remained committed to union until the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Turkish Ottoman Empire two decades later). (Wikipedia)

This example shows that even in the best possible conditions, inter-faith councils are doomed to fail.

Let a thousand flowers bloom

The first thing to recognize is that religious wars are rare. Think of the entire classical Antiquity, spanning a thousand years from the Battle of Marathon to the fall of the Western Roman Empire: how many religious wars were fought during this time? None¹. How was this possible? Easily: nobody even thought that religion was a suitable cause of war. Everybody knew that different tribes had different religions, because they were different tribes. It made no sense for, say, Rome, to try to impose its religion on, say, the Egyptians; Egyptians were Egyptian, they had their barbarian Egyptian gods, which were suitable for Egyptians.

(Note 1: With the possible partial exception of the Second Jewish War, also known as the Kitos War; this rebellion or civil war may be seen as having religious underpinnings, at least in part. However, it is better seen as an ordinary ethnic conflict.)

The second thing to recognize is that, although rare, religious wars do happen from time to time, and when they happen no talk shop is going to put out the flames. The initial phases of the Arab conquest, the First Crusade, the initial phases of the 30 Years War had strong religious motivations. Can one imagine that with enough skill and patience these wars could have been avoided by defusing the tensions with soothing words?


The belief part of it

They could believe that God had ordered and caused all the acknowledged faiths to arise. They think that God knows that different cultures and people with different mindsets need different ways of expressing their love and devotion, and therefore would be angered if the believers of one faith would molest the others...


As you are in a fantasy world, I would have part of the natural workings of the world support the council as well as the idea of deism.

  • Violence against authorities results in some sort of backlash against the user, in terms of sickness or can't use magic. Thus the council is in power because no one can depose them and no one religion can dominate for the same reason
  • The council controls the source of or has the power to prevent the use of magic to those that oppose them. E.g. the power of ordination allows people to use magic, and excommunications revoke it. Or they can turn off the flow of magic to everyone or destroy the land if they were opposed.
  • As religion and magic are deeply entwined, the council is packed full of the most powerful mages in the land. Or the leaders can motivate their followers into massive rituals on a scale that no one else can match.
  • Similar to above, only priests can use magic, so other secular authorities are completely dependent on them or controlled by them. Either they can fight opposition directly by force through destructive rituals or by holding back of the performing of necessary rituals, like harvest and rain blessings.

You could have also have it be the result of some political systems:

  • The secular authorities have collapsed, all nations are theocracies and the council is functioning as a UN of sorts

  • They have become completely entwined with the secular authority each using the other as a basis of legitimacy for authority


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