Thursday, May 25, 2006

Considering The Two Bablyons by Reverend Alexander Hislop (1856)

This book made me sick at heart because the author goes places where I do not want to go but where I think I might be required to go. He makes the case that the Roman Catholic Church is the spiritual counterpart of Babylon. I suppose this is an old charge, but Hislop’s case is very convincing because the details he presents of the old Babylonian power structures and ethos so resemble the structures and ethos of the Roman Church that one can’t just dismiss his charges as nonsense. For instance, this description of the ancient Babylonian system of priest worship fits the Roman Church as well:

It was a matter, therefore, of necessity, if idolatry were to be brought in, and especially such foul idolatry as the Babylonian system contained in its bosom, that it should be done stealthily and in secret. Even though introduced by the hand of power, it might have produced a revulsion, and violent attempts might have been made by the uncorrupted portion of mankind to put it down; and at all events, if it had appeared at once in all its hideousness, it would have alarmed the consciences of men, and defeated the very object in view. That object was to bind all mankind in blind and absolute submission to a hierarchy entirely dependent on the sovereigns of Babylon. In the carrying out of this scheme, all knowledge, sacred and profane, came to be monopolised by the priesthood, who dealt it out to those who were initiated in the “mysteries” exactly as they saw fit, according as the interests of the grand system of spiritual despotism they had to administer might seem to require. Thus the people, wherever the Babylonian system spread, were bound neck and heel to the priests. The priests were the only depositories of religious knowledge; they only had the true tradition, by which the writs and symbols of the public religion could be interpreted; and without blind and implicit submission to them, what was necessary for salvation could not be known. Now compare this with the early history of the Papacy, and with its spirit and modus operandi throughout, and how exact was the coincidence!

Of course Hislop’s book would have meant nothing to me twenty-seven years ago. But having experienced much of what Hislop writes about during my stay in the Church, I read his book with interest and with a sadness of a metaphysical nature. Why the sadness? Well, although I have changed my position vis-à-vis the Catholic Church from a belief in her claim to be the one, true church, to a belief that she is one component part of the body of Christian churches, I am quite reluctant to view the Roman Catholic Church as the “Whore of Babylon.” But of course my reluctance is not the issue. Is what Hislop writes true? That is the issue.

I do not question Hislop’s evidence that shows a similarity between the Babylonian forms of worship and the Roman Catholic forms. But showing the similarity of exteriors does not prove that the interiors are the same. Is the spirit of Catholicism a Babylonian spirit? I would say, “yes, it is,” without hesitation if I knew for certain that the traditionalists truly, as they claim, represent the Roman Catholic Church. I will out-Hislop Hislop in my denunciation of that church, but I’m not entirely convinced that the traditionalists do speak for the old Roman Catholic Church. Is it possible that the traditionalists have only preserved the worst elements of the old Catholicism, the Babylonian elements?

What I find difficult to believe is Hislop’s contention that the Babylonian seed was planted in the church right from the beginning, which of course would mean that the Roman Catholic Church has not gone wrong but is instead intrinsically evil. That a Greek-Babylonian element was always present and gradually gained the upper hand seems apparent to me, but the intrinsic evil of the Roman Church is not apparent to me.

That the Roman Catholic Church from Augustine to Aquinas to Teilhard has played a dangerous game of Russian Roulette with paganism that has had disastrous consequences is a premise that I accept with all my heart. And I wish the Catholic hierarchy would face that fact and attempt a real renewal instead of the ongoing carny show renewal called Vatican II. Even if we dismiss the canon of clerical saints as propaganda, one must concede (for no less than the most unbiased and Christian of authors, Sir Walter Scott, tells us so) that great saints were produced in the pre-Reformation Roman Catholic Church. They might have been produced in spite of rather than because of the system, but I think if the system were intrinsically evil there would have been no saints at all.

That the Roman Catholic Church from Augustine to Aquinas to Teilhard has played a dangerous game of Russian Roulette with paganism that has had disastrous consequences is a premise that I accept with all my heart. And I wish the Catholic hierarchy would face that fact and attempt a real renewal instead of the ongoing carny show renewal called Vatican II. But if the Church is the whore of Babylon, then it is useless to talk about renewals. One should, as Hislop says, have nothing to do with her:

If men begin to see that it is a dangerous thing for professing Christians to uphold the Pagan idolatry of India, they must be blind indeed if they do not equally see that it must be as dangerous to uphold the Pagan idolatry of Rome. Wherein does the Paganism of Rome differ from that of Hindooism? Only in this, that the Roman Paganism is the more complete, more finished, more dangerous, more insidious Paganism of the two.

One way of determining if the Roman Catholic Church’s paganism is a regrettable slide we should fight to correct or the central tenet of the church which would necessitate its abolition is to look and see whether the Protestant churches expunged, after their break from the Roman Church, the pagan Babylonian elements from their churches. If they haven’t, then the paganism of the Catholic Church is a problem inherent whenever sinful man tries to organize a church and not a case of the intrinsic evil of the Roman Church. And the Protestant churches have largely, like the Catholic Church, turned from Christ to Baal. No less a Protestant than the ardent anti-evolutionist, fundamentalist Protestant, Henry M. Morris, has conceded it. Writing in 1990, he stated

If the written Word was considered to be the product of evolution, so was the living Word. Jesus Christ was no longer accepted as the unique Son of God but simply as a highly evolved human being, perhaps the pinnacle of the evolutionary process. His resurrection became a “spiritual” resurrection and the virgin birth was rejected altogether. His miracles were explained naturalistically, and his death on the cross was like that of any other martyr, with no particular saving efficacy except as an example.

Thus, biblical Christianity was all but destroyed by evolutionism. The great universities that were originally founded to promote biblical Christianity (e.g., Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, and many others) are citadels of humanism today. Even more significantly, the large Christian denominations (Roman Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, Disciples, Lutheran, Congregational, and essentially all denominations represented in the National and World Councils of Churches) were thoroughly permeated with evolutionary philosophy in both faith and practice.

I would concede that the Protestant remnant is sounder than the Catholic remnant, but that remnant does not clear the Protestant churches from the same charge of paganism that Hislop levels at the Catholic Church. All have sinned and fallen short…

At this juncture, I would like to bring George MacDonald into the discussion, not because he is an infallible authority, but because I think if ever a man was centered on the heart of Christianity, it was George MacDonald. He felt, correctly I would assert, that nothing killed genuine religion so much as an obsession with the externals of religion. And is not that the essence of the pagan religions? The pagans believed that the external act of sacrificing an animal, or payment of a tribute, or the performance of a ceremony was all that was necessary to please God. But the true God wants more. Why was Cain’s sacrifice unacceptable to God? Because God likes juicy lambs better than vegetables? Of course not. Cain’s heart was not involved in his sacrifice; he had only gone through the outward motions.

It is difficult to comprehend the depraved state of externalism unless we see it embodied. Otherwise we tend to look on it as a kind of minor league sin, a lukewarm attitude when we should be enthusiastic, but ‘no big deal.’ If, however, we can see the sin embodied, it becomes clear why it is forever equated with the world’s first murderer.

Pagan externalism exists in its purest Babylonian form in the Society of St. Pius X. Their god has power but not mercy, and his power can only be channeled through the priestly elite by their external acts of propitiation. And Mary, in their system, is not the gentle virgin but the Babylonian queen of power. But the Babylonian church of the SSPX is not a mirror image of the older Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has its Babylonian element, but I can’t accept Hislop’s view that it is the sole element of the Roman Church.

Where does this leave us? It seems to me that the ‘inerrancy of scripture’ men like Hislop are the St. Pauls of the Church. They must constantly be reminding Peter and the even more back-sliding members of the church that Christ is not Apollo and Cybele is not Mary. But there is a crucial difference: St. Peter did not excommunicate Paul for rebuking him to his face, and St. Paul did not call Peter the ‘whore of Babylon’ and form another church. I think both sides, the Roman Catholics and the Protestant fundamentalists, need each other because neither is complete without the other. The fundamentalists could learn from the Catholics that the attempt to kill every last vestige of the pagan in man can also kill the Christian in the man. It is not wrong to use pagan structures unless they are used to further paganism instead of Christianity. And Catholics could learn from the fundamentalists that Christ is greater than the system, whether it comes from Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, or Teilhard.

And yet I am not quite satisfied with that analysis. I’m not satisfied because I don’t want to give the impression that there is an equality of merit and blame between the fundamentalists and the Roman Catholics. The greater merit is on the fundamentalists’ side and the greater blame is on the Roman Catholics’ side. There is an inexorable, unyielding force behind the Roman Catholic system that is opposed to Christianity. Christ is the stated reason for the Church’s existence, but in reality He is only a figurehead. The system is all. Dostoyevsky was right. The Grand Inquisitor rules the Catholic Church. I don’t see why this has to be, but one wonders who or what can melt the cold, analytic hearts of the Catholic pagans. The Second Coming perhaps? No, if they weren’t that impressed with Christ’s first appearance, then why should a second one impress them? We who are about to die need a miracle, and so do those of us who want to see a Christian Catholic Church.

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