26 April 2011

The Babel Impulse

 We read in Genesis 11 that the men who sought to build the Tower of Babel were trying to build a tower to reach heaven and to make a name for themselves.

I remember as a kid being somewhat baffled by this. Were they that dumb that they really though they could build something to penetrate the sky?

That's not what they were trying to do. Reaching heaven didn't necessarily mean they were trying to punch through the atmosphere. Rather in ancient times there was a commonly held belief that the gods dwelt on mountains. Mountains are majestic, inaccessible, almost surreal. The Babylonian plain is pretty flat and we see something of a pseudo-mountain motif in the ziggurats of the day.

A ziggurat was a symbolic holy mountain. The idea was that it was a gateway, a place of meeting, a throne. The god dwelt on top of the mountain and the men who built the ziggurat would place an altar/throne there, an altar crowned with horns, the symbol of power and assertion.

The ziggurat was a sort of proclamation that the god dwells here and since he dwells here…this land is therefore holy and sanctified. We are the god's children and so forth.

It's basically a pseudo-Israel. Israel is God's Son, and by way of Covenant Union this also applies to the people of God. Of course we find the mountain motif in Scripture as well. Satan is always a counterfeit, something the Church refuses to learn. He's always trying to create a pseudo-Mt. Zion.

Meredith Kline deals with this extensively. If you're interested in this, I urge you to pick up his works Kingdom Prologue and Glory in Our Midst, his book on the night visions of Zechariah. He expands on these ideas and shows from Scripture that we see recurrences of this motif throughout the Psalms and all the apocalyptic literature in both the Old and New Testaments.

Fallen man wants to build the Mountain of Power, the Holy Mountain, the Holy Nation where God dwells. All societies have done this. The Chinese were ruled by the emperors, the Sons of Heaven carrying out the Mandate of Heaven. Many cultures deified their rulers because they were in union with the god or acted as supra-human proxies for the divine prerogative.

Dominionist Christians argue that since all societies have embraced this kind of Sacral or Holy Society impulse, we should as well. We'll just do it differently this time and steer the impulse to Holy ends.

The New Testament clearly teaches the Kingdom of God is not of this world. It's not something that manifests itself through a geographic boundary or some other kind of physical manifestation. You have to be born again to even see it or understand it. It's spiritual in nature and only those who possess The Spirit may partake in it. Since we live in both worlds God has established a means by which His Kingdom is administered in these Last Days/the pre-consummation era of the New Covenant. The means of course is the Church and its rites/ordinances.

Rather than embrace the Sacralist Babel Impulse we need to squarely and very consciously reject it. This is the temptation Satan offered to Christ. We ought not to desire what our Lord rejected. Doing so would mean we would cease to be Pilgrims and Strangers and instead we would begin building a tower and trying to make a name for ourselves.

The next thing you know we might think our military was holy. We might start to create our own versions of the ziggurat, symbols of the Holy Presence….things like a large torch wielding statue in a harbour, massive skyscrapers in our greatest city and Greco-Roman inspired buildings symbolizing our power. We might start singing songs about God blessing our nation, and even worse believing it as we go out and 'make a name' for ourselves.

Every nation wants Divine Sanction and worldly glory. They want to worry about the things of this world and make it a virtue to do so…the things Christ said the Gentiles seek after. What many view as the Christian American Dream in reality is just a validation of the Babel Impulse. In time as it seeks to make a name, Babel/Babylon begins to seek worship and will crush all those who don't worship it. Worship may be as simple as acquiescing to its ways and values…taking its Mark. What really helps is when the religion becomes a state cult and the religion promotes devotion to the state and its divine mandate.

When applied to Christianity, the Bride becomes a Whore and symbolically rides on the back of the Babel-Beast. Before we just had to contend with Babylon, Persia, Alexander and the Romans….but the Roman Beast became something quite different. It's the story of Church History and the theme is laid out for us in the Book of Revelation. It's the story of the False Church helping the Beast in its quest to build Babel. The story of the true Church is that of a persecuted remnant that 'died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth'.

The Whore can make itself quite attractive, but the faithful know better. It can look like a lamb, but the faithful hear instead…a dragon. It encourages us to worship the Beast which may look different depending on where and when you live, but the faithful aren't fooled. Instead they seek what?

Quiet lives, working with their hands, minding their own business (which includes spreading the Gospel)

Living as Pilgrims they seek to rescue those from the lies of the beast and false prophet but at the same time they suffer various forms of persecution because they do not conform.

They don't seek after the things the Gentiles seek after, instead they live by faith and lay up treasure in heaven. They are the defeated (by the world's standards), nobodies and nothings living in caves and dens of the earth and yet through these things they are more than conquerors.

The idea that they would somehow pledge allegiance to a world empire, declare their pride in its name and claim God's blessings is nothing less than Babylon-Antichrist.

It's a false Zion, a false claim to be Israel, the Son of God. Man does not initiate these Covenants. Man cannot declare himself in Holy Covenant. Man wants to, but not on God's terms…Man wants to do it on his own terms. He wants the blessing of God, but wants to define God in a way that fits with his agenda.

The Babel Impulse will never go away this side of glory. Even though man will try over and over to build these towers/holy empires/holy mountains, he will always fail in the end. Why? Because God has cursed man and the Unity he seeks, he cannot find. The minute they have it, someone will plant a knife in his neighbours back and it will all unravel.

This is the Babel Impulse, to claim Divine Sanction and make a name. After Constantine supposedly became a Christian, this whole notion was integrated with Christianity and to this day is taught as a Biblical and Christian doctrine.

It's straight out of the Devil's playbook. Amazing. Now what the Church calls 'victory' is actually the fulfillment of the Satanic imagery of the Apocalypse.

This is sort of the crux of what this whole website is about. If you get this, all of Church History suddenly looks quite different, and consequently the whole story of Western Civilization takes on a different hue. But where the rubber meets the road so to speak is how it is playing out today in nations and in the Church.