I have written in the past about Mystery Babylon here and here. Chalcedon has also exploded the false teachings of Alexander Hislop on this subject here, with which I concur, having seen them refuted in Joel Richardson’s Mystery Babylon. I have recently been watching ministry videos from Paul Keith Davis, who believes that Mystery Babylon represents (among other things?) a kind of religious system, from which Christians are to exit (“Come out of her my people!”).
Mystery Babylon in Revelation is one of the most difficult and controversial passages in Scripture. I do not propose to offer a definitive interpretation here. However, the recent videos have caused me to return to a topic which I had left alone and, in particular, they have made me think about the topic of Christian unity, whether or not that is the point of the passage.
It is evident that many of the traditional churches have been corrupted. I am conscious that as a sinner myself (as all humans who have conscience are), it is awkward for me to find fault. Nevertheless, I feel I must make some observations because the situation is grave. There are many members of the clergy who cannot be called orthodox: for they deny (or do not assent to) fundamental tenets of the faith. These people, in positions of power and authority, are extremely problematic.
It seems unlikely that they will be forced out of the Church. Furthermore, they are making it harder and harder for orthodox, conservative enclaves within the Church to continue unmolested. Therefore, many Christians, even if they do not explicitly confess it to others, find themselves asking if the cry “Come out of her, My people!” is applicable today. This does not mean that such questioning Christians believe that the final time of the end is upon us; rather, they wonder if the underlying principle of that cry has come into effect once more, just as it did in times past.
Such thoughts are more characteristic of Protestant Christians (and the churches lineally descended from the Protestant groups) than of Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Ecclesiology plays a role in how one interprets the data. Herein lies the problem: to hear the voice of God, one must remove preconceptions that hinder that audition. How does one determine whether a preconception is of God or not? It is by the Word and by the Spirit (and some would say the Spirit acting through Tradition (the Apostolic Deposit of the Faith)).
How do we discern the difference between the voice of the Spirit and the voices of other spirits or the voice of our own hearts? The Spirit’s word will be in concordance with Scripture. The work of God can surprise us sometimes. The Disciples were scandalised by people who did the work of Christ but did not travel as part of Jesus’ entourage. He told His Disciples not to hinder them, because they were doing His work. Such people belonged to Him, even though they did not travel in the entourage.
Do we need to learn this lesson again today? How do we overcome the Great Schism and the Reformation? How do we as followers of Christ overcome the corruption of the clergy and laity? How do we come together? Christ told us to love one another.
Perhaps God will take us through this by internal promptings and external circumstances. Perhaps we do not need to formally come together: it may be sufficient that we are one in Spirit, that we support one another. If an exodus from the traditional churches is necessary to achieve complete oneness, perhaps there will be a coming of the Spirit, like at Pentecost, that will achieve this result. Perhaps persecution will compel us to flee the old institutions and supernatural revelation from the Spirit will guide us into new house churches that will restore what has been divided.
Prayer seems to be necessary whatever route God wants us to pursue. For my part, I am conscious that I must devote more time to prayer, that I must seek the Lord on these matters, that I must repent where appropriate, that I must give God space to impart revelation, to guide me in the attitudes of the heart and the strategies to be pursued.
The scene is grim. Although we in the West do not face the kind of martyrdom our brothers and sisters are suffering in the East, we are not without opposition. It is easy to feel alone, especially if one is zealous about the Gospel and reform. My prayer for my friends here at AATW, NEO, and Richard’s Watch is for the following things.
- Christians in your area with whom you can share the deep things of your heart, be they priests, members of the congregation, family members, or co-workers
- Fresh revelation from God about the times in which we live and how you as an individual can play your part for the Kingdom
- Healing and blessing for your body, soul, and spirit – may you be empowered to do God’s work
- Endurance, to run the race until the end
- Protection, against all kinds of evil
- Courage of your convictions – to make the difficult choices when you must
May God grant you all this and more, through Jesus Christ your Saviour.
Gloria Deo omnipotenti, Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto. Amen.