The stakes have never been so high.
Christ’s Church stands at the crossroads, and for many of her members, the narrow path is far from clear. The highways and byways of competing doctrines present the average Christian with a bewildering array of truths, each competing for dominance in the free market of ideas. In an age of unlimited excess, freedom of expression feels more like the paralyzing tyranny of choice.
For some, tradition is the guiding principal by which Christian truth is known – the unswerving steps of each successive generation making the road a little broader, a little smoother, as though its place in the landscape of orthodoxy is assured through sheer longevity alone. So powerful is the theological technology used to construct and maintain these highways that the builders don’t ever need to guide their roads around or over obstacles, but can simply cut through hillsides using nothing but the sheer weight of inherited dogmas.
Other roads are newer, branching off from the main routes or intersecting with them. Some are tenuous, as though hesitant to break away from the established order; others are laid almost overnight, and are slick, expensive constructions using the very latest in road building techniques. Equally concerning is the presence of other, shadowed paths, which appear from distant places and merge with the routes of Christian doctrine. These amalgamations mean that many roads have become contaminated with foreign building material; their ability to safely support travelers now severely compromised.
Yet for all their cosmetic differences, every road in this vast tableau is under the jurisdiction of a single entity. It is a powerful city; a spiritual, supernatural dwelling place of humanity, where hearts’ desires are fulfilled –
And souls enslaved:
BABYLON THE GREAT, MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH
The purpose of this blog is to discuss and expose the ways in which the mainstream, orthodox, visible Church of all established and emerging / de facto denominations, groups and networks has been taken prisoner by a foreign power: Babylon, the spiritual city of sin at the centre of all world cultures, the counterfeit capital which shapes and focuses human opposition to God. This captivity is spiritual, begun even during the second generation of Christians; its purpose is to cheat the Church out of a full understanding of Jesus, through the introduction of worldly ideas and concepts (Colossians 2:8).
Sadly, the imprisonment has been so long, and Babylon’s charisma so attractive, that Christianity seems to have been overcome by an extreme case of Stockholm syndrome – that psychological phenomenon whereby a captive ends up identifying with, and even defending, their captor. Thus, the Church’s enslavement is a captivity of consensus – a decision by each subsequent generation to enjoy the easy pleasures of tradition, rather than suffer public shame in the ignominious unearthing of rejected truth. And of course this suits Babylon just fine, for while the Church continues to build doctrinal superhighways in apparent autonomy, her captor’s supervision remains.
Many readers will be bewildered and angered by this suggestion. Others will be offended enough to heap abuse, giving reign to their prejudices and traditions; an activity that only further blinds them to the truth. Yet, it is the love of truth and a longing for its recovery that forms the foundation of this blog. Many people throughout history have suffered in the defence of truth, confident before God that their consciences did not condemn them (1 John 3:21). Here then is another, humble attempt to emulate those defenders of the true faith, the saints who faced Babylon’s rage and gained a good testimony before the Lord.
This is not to say that the Church has no experience of truth. Rather, her access to it is contained, constrained, and contaminated behind the walls of Babylon. The truth I seek is never fettered, though it is sometimes hidden, and always costly to follow; it is the narrow path of life that weaves its way around and between established denominational routes, informing them but not beholden to them.
On what basis do I say that the Church has become enslaved? The lessons of Old Testament Israel, writes the apostle Paul, were written down for the benefit of the Church (1 Cor 10:6). Thus, we should pay attention: Those whom the Lord saved from slavery in Egypt, who saw His power demonstrated in the plagues, who heard His voice from Mount Sinai and saw the smoke of His presence on the mountaintop – this was the same generation that God later rejected because of disobedience and unbelief. And the settlers in Canaan, who never lacked divine intervention over their foes, who nevertheless desired to be ruled by a king in the same manner as their neighbours, who flirted continuously with false gods, and who gloried in their own strength and political alliances – these were the people whom God finally rejected, whom He sent into exile for the punishment of sin.
‘Dear children, keep yourselves from idols,’ warned the apostle John (1 John 5:21). Later, he cautioned believers against ‘running ahead’ of apostolic teaching, urging them to take care lest they lose the truth of the gospel of Christ that he and other apostles had worked so hard to preserve (2 John 8-9). The presence of these warnings in letters written well before the establishment of the Biblical cannon, and the predictions and condemnations of Paul, John, Peter and Jude against false teachers within the Church, indicate that truth was under assault even within the earliest stage of the Church’s existence. Later generations would pride themselves on successfully negotiating those turbulent times with the gospel of Christ intact – but how can we be sure that, like a Chinese whisper, the message was not subtly altered as it passed from generation to generation?
If indeed the Church has departed from the teachings of her founding apostles, then ‘orthodoxy’ is not orthodox, and tradition no longer safeguards the truth. The Church’s hope for the New Jerusalem has been replaced with a commitment to prosper under Babylon, even while professing her continued loyalty to Christ. The Israelites at least were aware of their Babylonian captivity, and wept for all they had lost (Psalm 137:1); yet it seems that many in the Church remain oblivious to their own enslavement under false and foreign philosophies and practices.
Here then is the heart of the matter: Does 21st Century Christianity adequately represent the truth proclaimed by Jesus and his apostles, or has it changed beyond all recognition of the biblical writers? Has the centuries-old dance with Babylonian philosophies corrupted the Church so extensively that she is an entirely different entity from that begun in the first century A.D? And have captive Christians forgotten the sound of their master’s voice so completely that they are no longer following him at all?
If this is actually the case, then there is only one solution for believers wishing to remain loyal to the truth – they must leave the security of Babylonian captivity, and accept that they are pilgrims in a foreign and hostile land. The apostle John warns that the apostates of the last days will fall because they ‘do not love the truth’ (2 Thess 2:10); conversely then, those who value truth over ritualistic conformity will preserve their life, even as they are persecuted by their siblings.
This blog represents an ongoing project to assess the various dogmas, doctrines, beliefs, traditions and practices of contemporary Christianity, in the hope that the false philosophies of Babylon might be exposed, and the truth given by Jesus recovered. It is a plea for revolution – not of society, but of the Church; not with vainglorious rhetoric and misguided fervour, but in a spirit of humility and with deep repentance. The content will be a mixture of formal and informally written articles, anecdotes, thoughts, links, and perhaps even personal artistry. It will be added to ad hoc, as time permits.
Fellow seeker of truth, you are welcome.