Why Worldly Religion Will End
“Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—REVELATION 18:4.
1. (a) In what way has Babylon the Great fallen? (b) How has this event affected Jehovah’s Witnesses?
“BABYLON THE GREAT has fallen!” Yes, from Jehovah’s standpoint the world empire of false religion has fallen. This has been true ever since 1919, when the remnant of Christ’s brothers came out from under the influence of Christendom, a dominant part of mystic Babylon. As a result, they have been free to denounce false religion and to announce God’s righteous rulership through the Messianic Kingdom. Throughout this century Jehovah’s loyal Witnesses have exposed Satan’s conglomeration of puppet religions, which he has manipulated to mislead “the entire inhabited earth.”—Revelation 12:9; 14:8; 18:2.
How Has Babylon the Great Fallen?
2. What is the present state of world religions?
2 However, someone might ask, ‘How can you say that Babylon has fallen, when religion seems to be flourishing in so many lands?’ Catholicism and Islam claim over one billion believers each. Protestantism still prospers in the Americas, where new churches and chapels spring up constantly. Hundreds of millions follow the rituals of Buddhism and Hinduism. Yet, to what degree does all this religion exert a positive influence on the conduct of these billions? Has it prevented Catholics and Protestants from killing one another in Northern Ireland? Has it brought real peace to Jews and Muslims in the Middle East? Has it led to harmony between Hindus and Muslims in India? And, more recently, has it prevented Serbian Orthodox, Croatian Catholics, and Bosnian Muslims from pursuing “ethnic cleansing,” plundering, raping, and slaughtering one another? Religion is often just a label, an eggshell-thin veneer that breaks under the slightest pressure.—Galatians 5:19-21; compare James 2:10, 11.
3. Why is religion on judgment before God?
3 From God’s viewpoint, the religious support by the masses does not alter one inescapable fact—all religion is on judgment before God. Babylon the Great, as evidenced by her history, deserves to be judged adversely because “her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.” (Revelation 18:5) In prophetic language Hosea wrote: “For it is wind that they keep sowing, and a storm wind is what they will reap.” All of Satan’s false religions worldwide will pay the ultimate price for their betrayal of God, his love, his name, and his Son.—Hosea 8:7; Galatians 6:7; 1 John 2:22, 23.
You Must Choose
4, 5. (a) In what conditions are we living today? (b) What questions must we answer?
4 We are living in the final part of “the last days,” and as true Christians we are struggling to survive these “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) True Christians are temporary residents in Satan’s world, which truly reflects his corrupt personality as a murderer, a liar, and a slanderer. (John 8:44; 1 Peter 2:11, 12; Revelation 12:10) We are surrounded by violence, deceit, fraud, corruption, and crass immorality. Principles have gone by the board. Hedonism and expediency are the bywords. And in many cases the clergy condone moral corruption by diluting the Bible’s clear condemnation of homosexuality, fornication, and adultery. Thus the question is, Do you support and condone false worship, or do you actively participate in true worship?—Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
5 Now is a time of sifting. Hence, there is all the more reason to distinguish between false worship and true. What else have the religions of Christendom done that make them so reprehensible?—Malachi 3:18; John 4:23, 24.
False Religion Indicted
6. How has Christendom betrayed God’s Kingdom?
6 Although millions in Christendom regularly use the Lord’s Prayer, in which they pray for God’s Kingdom to come, they have assiduously supported every form of political expression, to the exclusion of that theocratic rule. Centuries ago “princes” of the Catholic Church, such as Cardinals Richelieu, Mazarin, and Wolsey, acted also as secular statesmen, ministers of government.
7. How did Jehovah’s Witnesses expose Christendom’s clergy over 50 years ago?
7 More than 50 years ago, in the booklet entitled Religion Reaps the Whirlwind, Jehovah’s Witnesses exposed Christendom’s involvement with politics.a What was said then applies with equal force today: “Honest investigation of the conduct of the religious clergy of all denominations will reveal that the religious leaders of all ‘Christendom’ are participating with keen interest in the politics of ‘this present evil world’ and are dabbling in its mundane affairs.” Back then the Witnesses castigated Pope Pius XII for his concordats with Nazi Hitler (1933) and Fascist Franco (1941), as well as for the pope’s exchange of diplomatic representatives with the aggressor nation Japan in March 1942, just a few months after the infamous Pearl Harbor attack. The pope failed to heed James’ warning: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—James 4:4.
8. How is the Roman Catholic Church involved in politics today?
8 What is the situation today? The papacy is still involved in politics, both through its clergy and through its laity representatives. Recent popes have put their stamp of approval on the United Nations by addressing that man-made counterfeit for world peace. A recent issue of L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, announced that seven new diplomats, “ambassadors to the Holy See,” presented their credentials to the “Holy Father.” Could we imagine Jesus and Peter being involved in such diplomatic exchanges? Jesus refused to be made king by the Jews and said that his Kingdom was not of this world.—John 6:15; 18:36.
9. Why can we say that the Protestant religions are no better than their Catholic counterparts?
9 Are Protestant leaders any better than their Catholic counterparts? In the United States, many conservative Protestant religions, and Mormons as well, are identified with a certain political orientation. The Christian Coalition is deeply involved in U.S. politics. Other Protestant clergy clearly identify with a different political stance. It is sometimes forgotten that in the United States, political spokesmen such as Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson are or were also “Reverends,” as is British member of Parliament Ian Paisley of Northern Ireland. How do they ever justify their positions?—Acts 10:34, 35; Galatians 2:6.
10. What clear statement was made in 1944?
10 As Religion Reaps the Whirlwind asked in 1944, so do we now: “Can any organization that enters into treaties with worldly powers and actively wiggles itself into the political affairs of this world, seeking advantage in and protection from this world . . . be God’s church or represent Christ Jesus on earth? . . . Manifestly, all religionists who make common cause with the kingdoms of this world cannot represent the kingdom of God by Christ Jesus.”
False Religion’s Spirit of Cain
11. How did false religion follow Cain’s example?
11 Throughout history, false religion has shown the spirit of fratricidal Cain, who murdered his brother Abel. “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother. And for the sake of what did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.” Intolerant of his brother’s pure and acceptable worship of God, Cain resorted to violence—the last resort of those who lack a logical answer.—1 John 3:10-12.
12. What evidence is there of religion’s complicity in wars and strife?
12 Do the facts support this indictment of false religion? In the book Preachers Present Arms, the author said: “In the history of civilizations, . . . two forces have ever been joined together in a dual alliance. They are war and religion. And, of all the great world religions, . . . none has been more devoted to [war] than has [Christendom].” Some years ago, The Sun newspaper of Vancouver, Canada, stated: “It is a weakness of perhaps all organized religion that the church follows the flag . . . What war was ever fought in which God wasn’t claimed to be on each side?” You may have seen the proof of this in some local church. All too often, national flags adorn the altar. Under which flag do you think Jesus would march? His words have echoed down through the centuries: “My kingdom is no part of this world”!—John 18:36.
13. (a) How has false religion failed in Africa? (b) What identifying sign of Christianity did Jesus give?
13 Christendom’s religions have not taught their flocks the truth of genuine brotherly love. Instead, national, tribal, and ethnic differences are allowed to divide their ranks. Reports indicate that Catholic and Anglican clergy played a role in the divisions resulting in the tribal genocide in Rwanda. The New York Times reported: “The massacres in Rwanda have caused many Roman Catholics there to feel betrayed by the church hierarchy. The church was often divided along ethnic lines, between Hutu and Tutsi.” The same newspaper quoted a Maryknoll priest as saying: “The church failed so miserably in Rwanda in 1994. Many Rwandans have in a sense written off the church. It no longer has any credibility.” What a contrast to Jesus’ words: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.”—John 13:35.
14. What record of conduct do major non-Christian religions present?
14 The other major religions of Babylon the Great have not set a better example. The terrible massacres of 1947, when India was partitioned, show that the major religions there have not produced tolerance. Continued communal violence in India bears out that most people have not changed. Little wonder that the magazine India Today concluded: “Religion has been the banner under which the most hideous crimes have been perpetrated. . . . It unleashes tremendous violence and is a very destructive force.”
15. What is the state of religion in the western world?
15 Even secular commentators have noted religion’s failure to convince, to inculcate true values, and to resist the inroads of secularism. In his book Out of Control, former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote: “It is a striking paradox that the greatest victory for the proposition that ‘God is dead’ has occurred not in the Marxist-dominated states . . . but in Western liberal democratic societies, which have culturally nurtured moral apathy. In the latter, the fact is that religion has ceased to be a major social force.” He continued: “The hold of religion on European culture has greatly waned, and Europe today—even more so than America—is essentially a secular society.”
16, 17. (a) What counsel did Jesus give regarding the clergy of his day? (b) What fine principle did Jesus express about fruitage?
16 What did Jesus say about the Jewish clergy of his day? “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses [to teach the Torah, the Law]. Therefore all the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform.” Yes, religious hypocrisy is nothing new.—Matthew 23:2, 3.
17 The fruitage of false religion condemns it. The rule given by Jesus is so applicable: “Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” —Matthew 7:17-20.
18. How should Christendom have kept its ranks clean?
18 If the religions of Christendom were conscientiously to apply the Christian discipline of disfellowshipping, or excommunication, for all the lawless acts committed by those claiming to be its members, what would happen? What would happen to all the unrepentant liars, fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, swindlers, criminals, drug peddlers and addicts, and members of organized crime? Unquestionably, Christendom’s rotten fruitage makes it fit only for destruction by God.—1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 John 10, 11.
19. What admissions have been made regarding religious leadership?
19 The general assembly for the Presbyterian Church in the United States admitted: “We are facing a crisis terrible in its proportions and implications. . . . Between 10 and 23 percent of clergy nationwide have engaged in sexualized behavior or sexual contact with parishioners, clients, employees, etc.” A U.S. businessman summed up the point quite well: “Religious institutions have failed to transmit their historic values, and in many cases, have become part of the problem.”
20, 21. (a) How did Jesus and Paul denounce hypocrisy? (b) What questions remain to be answered?
20 Jesus’ denunciation of religious hypocrisy holds true today as it did in his time: “You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines.’” (Matthew 15:7-9) Paul’s words to Titus also describe our modern situation: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works, because they are detestable and disobedient and not approved for good work of any sort.”—Titus 1:16.
21 Jesus said that if a blind man guides a blind man, both fall into the pit. (Matthew 15:14) Do you want to come to an end with Babylon the Great? Or do you want to walk in straight paths with your eyes open and enjoy Jehovah’s blessing? The questions that now confront us are: Which religion, if any, produces godly fruitage? How can we identify the true worship acceptable to God?—Psalm 119:105.
a Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., in 1944; now out of print.
Do You Recall?
◻ What is Babylon the Great’s present standing before God?
◻ On what basis is false religion indicted?
◻ How has false religion shown the spirit of Cain?
◻ What principle did Jesus express for judging any religion?
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Throughout history religious leaders have meddled in politics
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These clergymen were also powerful statesmen
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Cardinal Mazarin and Cardinal Richelieu: From the book Ridpath’s History of the World (Vol. VI and Vol. V respectively). Cardinal Wolsey: From the book The History of Protestantism (Vol. I).