Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"The Two Babylons"

'The Two Babylons' (Online Text of book link)
Alexander Hislop, a Scottish Presbyterian, wrote a classic piece of Christian literature in 1853. It was published as a book in 1919, and accompanied a revival of monumental significance. It is a staple in fundamentalist libraries, and has powerful information. It is primarily anti-Roman Catholic, and perhaps that is it's only flaw. 

This is because it assumes only the Catholic religion has been submerged in the "Mystery Religion" which is considered the ultimate heresy. 

In my opinion, it fails to condemn the Protestant church for also falling prey to the idolatry that is warned to avoid in the dire admonitions delivered to the churches in the Book of Revelations.

Nothing in the Bible stands alone. This is more true of the Book of Revelation that any other. I have always regarded Revelations as the "Final Exam." It requires a keen and dedicated understanding of the entire canon, most importantly the Prophets. It cannot stand alone and make sense. It must be referenced by corresponding prophecy to make sense. Even with this level of commitment, it is almost impossibly difficult, and I suspect that most of us will discover we had it 2/3rds wrong and were in error, when the veil finally rips apart and we see the entire picture.

"The Two Babylons" is still a phenomenal work, and it remains vital to provide background to the carnal pitfalls of our path as Christians. Even those who devoutly practice in earnest piety and grace, probably will be amazed at how much idolatry is married to our dogma and traditions, whether we are Catholic or Protestant or Messianic Jew.

The major flaw we all share is our carnal nature which is in competition for the Holy Spirit's command of our lives. By "carnal" I do not refer to sexuality in the flesh, but, vulnerability to forms of worship and ritual which pleases our carnal nature, apart from sex. The flesh is weak and is the tail that wags the dog. It takes recognition of this design in our creation to begin to separate from "carnal Christianity" which is the adultery that is referred to in the Book of Revelations.

The "Great Whore" associated with Babylon has nothing to do with a sexual high priestess goddess from Babylon. It is as far from that as east is from west.

By the time we are taking the final exam in Revelation, we are expected to know this, and if we don't recognize the difference between the flesh and spirit of these metaphors, we need to concentrate to learn the ABC's all over again, from Genesis to Malachi, from Matthew to Revelation. 

We are supposed to get it long before the New Testament picks up where the Old Testament ends. The Old Testament ends with a curse:

Malachi 4:5-6
  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

For instance, circumcision was a cut made in the foreskin flesh, but, was dually intended to denote circumcision of the "heart", or more poetically, the soul. The circumcised male organ was beneficial to aid human love, but, this was supposed to teach us about how a circumcised heart and soul was needed to know God.

The Prophets were not veiled in their description of idolatry being represented as an immoral harlot and idolaters were infidels, without loyalty or commitment to their God, the same as men and women who cheat on their spouses. God is always presented as someone who has betrothed the chosen, not merely adopted them. As betrothed, we are expected to be faithful, and not be seduced into carnal religions.

By carnal religion, it doesn't mean sex, but, spiritual purity, not adulterating the true faith with the vulgar rites and rituals that appeal to men. The best example of this temptation that is irresistible is Christmas, which is very, very, very pagan. This is one of the keys in Alexander Hislop's opus magnum, "The Two Babylons."

It's difficult for us to comprehend the betrayal it represents to God when we infuse the pure faith with the tawdry trappings of carnal celebrations and call them by His Name. We justify these things, and so they make sense. We say that we witness during this period by honoring Christ, but, is that really the case?

If we're honest, we can clearly see this is not the case. We enjoy the carnal pleasure of the indulgences, the fellowship of family and friends, the food, drink, smells, gifts, glitter and excitement. 

These are all carnal reactions. To God, this can be understood as a man watching his wife commit adultery with someone else in their own bed.

Carnal Christianity is insidious. It can be manifest through vain babbling and imagined tongues of fire. I love the passion and devotion of many charismatic groups, like the Pentecostals, and they have many admirable good works, but, I have a real concern to their doctrine of the Holy Spirit needing to express itself through made up babbling. I have never witnessed a person speaking in a tongue that I felt represented an actual language, even a heavenly dialect that is only perceived in the Spirit. I believe this is a delusional practice that gratifies the chanter, and while not intending to be gross, it's comparable to spiritual masturbation. Sorry if that offends, but, there's no delicate way to express it's effect and what it accomplishes. It doesn't edify others, and if it's made up, it's a lie, and that would not be right for God. 

It "feels" good and pleases the flesh. That's it, in my opinion.

If it's not real, it's a problem. If it's required as a fixed dogma, it's heresy. That's not to say they're in danger of losing their salvation, but, once a bit of carnal Christianity takes root, it can overwhelm the judgment towards other things.

My next focus will be on the great whore associated with Babylon. It doesn't involve guessing, but, careful knowledge of the Prophets, in this case, I think the Book of Hosea is the key.
In the Book of Hosea, Israel's 10 tribe Northern nation, and Judah's 2 tribe Southern nation in Jerusalem are deliberately juxtaposed with what turned out to be the two main schisms in the Body of Christ, the Catholics and the Protestants.

If we understand Hosea, it will be a piece of cake to know who the whore is and how much peril all of us face in the realization of how off-kilter most of Christianity has strayed, the same as how the original "chosen" people lost the prize by straying into other carnal beliefs, because they enticed the flesh and were more pleasurable, and because they seemed to  tempt men and women by the illusion of them attaining magical powers, by their own will.

These things are the most challenging elements of faith for both Jews and Christians. While Christ's infinite grace may provide a blanket of salvation to shield us from our pride, blindness, and willful rebellion, we are required to seek out perfection and be obedient to instruction.

Sacrificing the pagan elements in Christianity is something that will take a miracle to enact, because, it's almost as sacred as the love of Christ. Because it's become a secular institution, it is unthinkable to even the most devout Christian to sacrifice, but, I have to tell you, I am frightened for the obstinacy of most of Christianity in the face of this major element of idolatry. 

This is not the only example of our infidelity and heretical departure from our commitment to Christ, but, it is one of the most challenging elements to convey to those who simply love Christmas, and won't give it up even if it's sacrilege.

To be contd.

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