Article of the Month

 

June 2007

Babylon, Mother and Daughters

The Corruptions of Christian Doctrine

 

This is a touchy subject.  Many of us have difficulty in separating people from the ideas they hold.  In an age of “political correctness,”  many think it is socially unacceptable to be critical.  But if we are not critical (in the best sense of the word), we will not be able to find or to promote truth.  Please keep in mind as you read this article, any and all criticisms of past or existing religious entities is directed at institutional doctrines and practices, not at individuals who are identified with those institutions.  Prophecy identifies wayward, corrupt, and apostate movements in Christianity.  It does NOT indicate the individual judgment of the people in those institutions—most of whom are honest-hearted and ignorant of the errors they have been sold.

BABYLON’S DESCRIPTIVE NAME 

The first clear prophetic New Testament reference to “Babylon” is in Revelation 14:8.  This is not a reference to the literal city of Babylon in Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq).  That Babylon was destroyed as a great city and nation centuries before the Apostle John wrote Revelation.

The Jewish nation had been held in captivity in literal Babylon in the days of Kings Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, etc.  It pleased God to use that captivity of His people to picture a future time when His Christian people would also be held in a sort of captivity detrimental to their spiritual welfare.  Thus, the Babylon of Revelation symbolizes the enslaver of true Christians in spiritually undesirable surroundings for a long period of time.

Revelation 17 (IN BOLD PRINT!) tells us even more about this spiritual Babylon.  It makes (in verse 5 alone) a number of revealing statements.  Symbolically it tells us:

(1)    Babylon is a “woman.”   (It is called “her.”)  A woman in the Bible prophetically represents either:

(a)  a covenant (as in Galatians 4:22-24)

(b)  an unfaithful disciple of Christ (as in James 4:4.  Please note:  The two words, “adulterers and,” are not found in the old manuscripts.  Someone has added these two words to James’s letter.  Thus the text correctly reads:  “Ye adulteresses, know ye not…” etc.)

(c)   faithful disciples of Jesus who have not compromised the purity of their devotion to him (as in II Corinthians 11:2).

Clearly, according to Revelation 17, this “woman” fits        description “b” above.  Babylon is an unfaithful, powerful, “Christian” institution.

(2)    Revelation 17:5 says that her “name” (a symbol of character or characteristics) is in her forehead.

It is of interest that medical science has recently confirmed that the part of our brains dedicated to religious worship is, indeed, in the forehead area.  The Bible has used this fact for centuries to symbolize religious character.  (See Revelation 14:1 as an example.)  Babylon’s “name” (as we shall see) is not desirable!  But it IS in her forehead—it is in her spiritual claims.

(3) The first part of her name is MYSTERY. She is not discerned for what she is. She is hiding her true identity.  Nearly all of those associated with her, or even viewing her from a distance, think she is one thing, while God knows she is something entirely different!  The Apostle Paul (in II Thessalonians 2:7) calls her the “mystery of iniquity.”  She CLAIMS to be God’s servant; people see her as such.  But she is HIDDENLY the repository of religious sophistry, error, and evil practices!  What a MYSTERY this has been through the Christian era—a religious farce posing as a tower of spiritual strength!

 (4) She is called BABYLON THE GREAT because that original city was, in its day, the epitome of power, wealth, and supposed wisdom.  (In the Chaldean language, Babylon means “Gateway to God.”) A city in Scripture symbolizes the center of  influence—just as Washington, London, Paris, and Moscow symbolize the power and influence of the nations over which they are capitals.

Original Babylon was never so powerful as this spiritual counterfeit has been.  Hence the description of this Babylon as Babylon THE GREAT!

(5) The Revelator continues in his description, calling her THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS. This is a telling phrase.  Christ’s Church is symbolized as being a virgin.  But this institution is a “mother.” The context shows that she, herself, is a harlot. In Scripture, harlotry is a symbol for someone who claims to be spiritual who mixes those spiritual interests with earthly affairs, connections, philosophies, and interests.

Note also that she is not alone in harlotry. She has DAUGHTERS—offshoots, copies, images, imitators of her tendencies to mix the spiritual with the worldly.  The thought is unpleasant. The consequences are dangerous to all Christians.  The Revelator is telling us that the Christian era has been filled with counterfeit and corrupt Christianity—not only from one great impostor, but also from a host of copycat denominations—harlot daughters. The consideration of this matter is quite sobering.

(6) Finally, we see that her name (character) includes her as the mother of the ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. What an indictment!  Abomination is a word which God, through the prophets, uses to mean a detested thing, something loathsome—worthy of calling down a curse upon.  It is a word of intense dislike, abhorrence, or hatred.  What could God hate so much about Babylon?   What He hates so much is that those who claim to be His servants misrepresent Him so badly that He is made to look like something He is not and could not be.  Thus, this finial part of  Babylon’s character shows that she has given birth to all the God-dishonoring doctrines, concepts, and practices that have made Christianity (as it is generally known) a stench to many thinking and sincere people everywhere—heathen and sincerely Christian.

 RECOGNIZED LONG AGO 

What we are here presenting is far from being a rare or new idea.  Reformers at least as far back as the Twelfth Century were identifying Babylon with the prevailing established church.  Martin Luther also made this claim in the early Sixteenth Century and helped Christians to question what their leaders were teaching.

Most of us actually have in our personal possession copies of a document which identifies the Roman Catholic Church as this mystical Babylon. It is at the beginning of King James Bibles and dates from 1611.   It is unfortunate (but probably due to “political correctness” movements) that the “EPISTLE DEDICATORY” is missing from many new printings of the King James Bible.  But it is still retained by some publishers, and it exists in most King James Bibles several decades old. Look for it in your own copy.

This “Epistle Dedicatory” was written by the translators who were commissioned by England’s King James to provide an Authorized Version of the Bible for the English People to read.  The Roman Church had always frowned on providing Bibles for the ordinary man to read.  Note a couple of expressions these translators used in describing the Roman Church and Pope:

 

  • The king had written “in defense of the Truth (which hath given such a blow unto that man of sin, as will not be healed)…”

  • “…we shall be traduced by Popish Persons…who therefore will malign us, because…they desire still to keep [the people] in ignorance and darkness…”

The truly unfortunate thing in the end is that the Church of England was nearly an exact duplicate of the Church of Rome—a “daughter” in the description of the Revelator.  But it is important to us all to see that the identity of mystical Babylon has for centuries been realized to be the Roman Church.  This is why Protestantism came into being—to PROTEST the error and practice of Rome.  In our day, the PROTEST seems to have gone out of Protestantism.  Why?  Perhaps it is because it is often the case that denominations have begun to function as daughters of the great mother harlot.

SEPARATION

We have come to the close of the Christian Age.  We are at the very threshold of the blessings of the Millennial Age.  The true Church have nearly all been selected.  We live in that time called “the harvest” in Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13).  A harvest separates.  Thus the Revelator (18:4) admonishes true Christians to recognize Babylon and to be freed from her:  “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”  Clearly, God intends that Babylon (and her daughters) will be plagued to the point where her doctrine and practice will result in her total destruction (18:8).  All who wish to worship God in spirit and in truth should give heed to this command to “come out.”  It is not easy to remove oneself from the traditions of generations of family and friends; but the approval of God is much more to be desired than the plaudits of men.

POLLUTED DOCTRINE & PRACTICE

A complicated prophecy in Daniel (8:14)promises that a time would come when “the sanctuary” would be “cleansed.”  This “sanctuary” refers to God’s true people.  The promise is that the defiling doctrine and practice of Babylon would be revealed to sincere Christians so that they could replace it with true doctrine and sound practice.  If we recognize the errors of Babylon which God calls “abominations” because they dishonor His character, we can keep ourselves separate from any of the vestiges of Babylon which surround us.  We can IDENTIFY Babylon and her daughters and be certain we have “come out” from their influences.

What are Babylon’s abominations?  What doctrines and practices dishonor God?  A long list is possible, but we want now only to list major areas of error.  It also would be easy to list the outright sins and inhuman acts in human history.  But as evil as these are, they are not as much a dishonor to God as are teachings that misrepresent Him—teachings that make people ask, “Why is God like THAT?  I don’t understand.”

 PRIMARY EVILS OF PRACTICE

Perhaps two of Babylon’s practices stand out as particularly repugnant to God:

(1) Babylon has compromised with the world.

It has meddled in politics, economics, and social questions.  It has gone so far as to crown kings.  It has regularly entered into agreements with governments and financial brokers for the benefit of both.  God wants His Church, on the contrary, to be separate from the world—working on their own characters to be kings and priests with Jesus for a future righteous reign over the earth. (Revelation 5:10)  The Christian age never was intended as a time to convert or rectify the ills of the world. 

(2) Babylon traditionally has taken away the Scripturally-given right of Christians to choose (ordain) their own servants.  Each congregation should be autonomous and be able to appoint its own spiritually strong members as teacher-servants of the congregation.  Babylon, on the other hand, has created a clergy-laity separation. They have exalted Popes, synods, seminaries, denominations, orders, etc.— all of which have taken lordship over the congregations, telling them what they should believe, discouraging contrary questioning and personal Bible study, and threatening the non-conformists with horrible punishments.

 PRIMARY EVILS OF DOCTRINE

This list could, indeed, grow long.  But a relatively short list should help us understand the errors which God promised to cleanse from the “sanctuary” class:

(1) Human beings do not have immortal souls.  The term never even appears in the Bible!  Yet Babylon continues to promote the original lie of Satan, “Ye shall not surely die.”  (Genesis 3:4) The true Christian doctrine for eternal life is RESURRECTION, not the immortality of the soul.  This primary error of Babylon necessitated other God-dishonoring teachings such as:

(2) People will be tortured eternally in hell.  This is pure blasphemy!  Not only do the Scriptures NOT teach such a thing, but the idea makes God into a fiend or a weakling. Can we see how the accusation that God would permit such a thing would be an ABOMINATION in His sight?

(3) Babylon teaches that all men now are being judged for their eternal destinies.  If this be true, nearly all of the human race is lost. Again, it is clear that this concept is an abomination and makes God look like a loser.  Only fully-dedicated Christians now are under judgment.  The judgment for everyone else (Pre-Christ and unbelievers) is in the FUTURE peaceable kingdom of the Millennial Age, under the government of Jesus.  (Isaiah 9:6, 7)

(4) Babylon has taught, and it has become a hallmark doctrine of Babylon since the Fourth Century, that Jesus and God are one in the same being.  This results in absurdities such as God’s dying, as Jesus’ praying to himself, as a dead being raising himself from the dead, etc.  But the absurdities are not the worst part of the error.  The worst part of the error is the negation of the doctrine of the ransom sacrifice.  We will not here detail the problem, but instead refer the reader to our section called DOCTRINAL KERNELS, under the topic of RANSOM.

 HARD-HITTING ACCUSATIONS

What we have here presented is hard-hitting.  It is, however, not unkind or destructive.  It is merely an encapsulated review of the Biblical prophecies concerning the history and corruption of Christianity.  We have not condemned individuals.  We have only summarized the prophetic condemnation of institutionalized errors.

The Divine plan for the ages LOVES all of the individuals involved—and even the heathen (I Timothy 4:10)—and has prepared for the joyful salvation of all except for a few ultimately incorrigible individuals.  And even the incorrigible will not suffer eternally, but will simply die a second time—a death from which there will be no awakening.

The point is this:  Our God is magnificent beyond imagination.  Even when the truth is told, we cannot fully comprehend how good He is.  But error has made Him look so insufficient, so vindictive, so unworthy of the worship of the sincere.  We want all to know, He is NOT what Babylon claims!  They have misrepresented Him.  Their food is poisoned.  It truly is an ABOMINATION.