Prof. J.S. Malan, University of the North, South Africa
Summary: The spirit of ancient Babylon blows strongly through Iraq to establish an antichristian new word order. It is not only aimed at transforming Iraq but also other countries in the region and in the world.
The continued presence of the American-led coalition forces in Iraq is a prelude to great and far-reaching changes in that land and also in the rest of the world. The USA plans to establish a democracy, free-market economy, and religious equality in Babylonia, which will send a clear message to Teheran, Damascus, and other authoritarian governments to follow Iraq’s example if they wish to have peace and be fully accepted by the international community.
Should the USA’s experiment succeed in this highly volatile and political unstable part of the world it will be a major breakthrough for the emerging new world order of peaceful coexistence and multinational cooperation. However, should the plan fail and revolutionary leaders succeed in firming their grip on Islamic oil-producing countries, it may give rise to a new wave of religious radicalism and the beginning of a major regional war – even a world war. There is much at stake with the attempted transformation process of Iraq.
Jordan is one of the Arab countries that fully endorses President Bush’s request to Arab states in the Middle East that critical steps be taken toward democratisation. King Abdullah II called on his government and parliament to make radical changes aimed at turning Jordan into a modern democratic country. The speech to newly appointed senators and the recently elected parliament focused on domestic issues such as the economy and socio-political reforms, while steering clear from major international disputes: “Our vision of the Jordan that will emerge… should make the country a model for tolerance, freedom of thought, creativity and excellence.” King Abdullah is strongly committed to a multireligious vision as he believes that all religions have much in common and can consequently associate and work together peacefully.
It is a transformation of this nature that Mr. Bush wishes to implement in Iraq. This country has vast oil riches that can support a flourishing economy, but the major problems of the population are in its ethnic and religious composition. The Sunni and Shiite Muslims have a long history of hostile relations, while the Kurds of northern Iraq are intent on establishing an independent Kurdish state. It will call for exceptional leadership to establish a well-integrated, tolerant, harmonious, multireligious democracy in this troubled and deeply divided land.
Nothing less than this is seen to be needed if the emerging new world order is to pass one of its most difficult tests. Iraq (ancient Babylon) is slowly but certainly moving in the direction of a cosmopolitan world state in which all religions are welcome, and in which diverging ideologies will be tolerated and accepted on condition that their supporters subscribe to non-violent, democratic principles. Unlikely as this inclusive approach may seem to be in a region where exclusive, non-Christian religious beliefs dominate politics, that is indeed the course on which this country is being pushed. A lot of blood may still flow before this objective is realised, but the forces favouring a new world order are strongly supported and set to get the upper hand.
Isn’t it amazing that two of the most powerful and influential nations on the face of the earth, the USA and England, are the major forces behind the reforms in Iraq? Billions of dollars and pounds are poured in to make the plan with Iraq work without a further major war – thereby also attempting to transform other countries such as Syria and Iran without the use of military means.
America is also busy working out an economic plan that will benefit Iraq and two of its neighbouring nations. It entails a multinational agreement between Iraq, Turkey, and Syria on the use of water from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. These two rivers flowed through the Garden of Eden and are still life-giving streams to millions of people in these three countries.
According to the Bible, the restored Babylon of the end-time will be called “the mother of harlots” (Rev. 17:5), which means a home and meeting-place for all the false religions of the world. Although America and England have, politically speaking, good intentions with their development policy for Iraq, they are laying the foundation for much more radical reforms which the coming Antichrist will implement in this land where the human race had its earliest origin.
There are already signs that other religious groups in Iraq are beginning to practice their rights of religious freedom. One of these is the Chaldean Catholic Church with its 700 000 members, most of whom are living in Iraq. One of the bishops of this church, Rabban Al-Qas, said that Iraq needs help from outside to be born again. According to him, at least 80% of the Iraqi population regards the coalition forces as liberators. Bishop Al Qas visited the Vatican early in December together with other church officials to elect the future “patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans.”
The ancient country of the Chaldeans is destined to great and far-reaching reforms. During the reign of the Antichrist, world markets will be controlled from here (Rev. 18). Babylon will, therefore, still become a symbol of the new world order. It will again be in absolute opposition to the Triune God of the Bible before it will be de destroyed during the Second Coming of Christ (Is. 13:19-22; Rev. 18:4-8).
In a certain sense, the reforms in Iraq are implemented on a worldwide scale. A Babylonian spirit of multireligious thinking is universally at work, seeking to promote understanding, tolerance, peace and unity among all peoples, cultures and religions.
The most fundamental differences among diverse peoples are religious in nature, and for that reason considered to be non-negotiable by many supporters. Certain religions, particularly fundamentalist factions of Islam, are quite militant and have, during historical times, endeavoured to advance their cause by the use of violence and intimidation. The present struggle waged by Islamic fundamentalists against Israel, America, England, and various other countries and groups, constitutes religiously-motivated violence against infidels who do not worship Allah of the Koran.
The great threat of warfare and acts of terror motivated by extreme religious groups is inducing religious leaders all over the world to join hands in an effort to promote peace and discourage radicalism. In the process, there are those who deny the basic nature of Christianity by associating it on an interfaith basis with the non-Christian religions. When one goes that far you deny the Lord Jesus as the only Mediator between God and man (Jn. 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5). From a Christian perspective, the very nature of interfaith initiatives jeopardise the basic principles of the religions they wish to serve.
Lorin Smith of Christian Research Projects, a ministry that analyses global developments and their impact on the Christian community, says that in the construction of the new world order, Christianity will face ideological challenges to the central tenets of its faith unlike anything it has experienced in the previous two millennia. In this new world, all religions must be recognised and acknowledged as legitimate pathways to God. Religious exclusivity, absolutism and dogmatism will be viewed as potential threats to world peace and survival. Evangelical Christianity will, therefore, still be ruled out by the architects of the new world order.
On the other hand, there are those who support the idea of interfaith collaboration without seriously considering the religious fornication committed by ‘Christians’ who are unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-15). Hans Kung, director of the Institute of Ecumenical Research at the University of Tubingen, favours interfaith initiatives in his book, Global Responsibility: In Search of a New World Ethic: "All the religions of the world today have to recognise their share in responsibility for world peace. And therefore one cannot repeat often enough the thesis for which I have found growing acceptance all over the world: there can be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. In short, there can be no world peace without religious peace." However, if the basis of participation among such participants is false, then the agreements reached by them will also be false.
That is the false Babylonian spirit of interfaith thinking that blows across the world. In only a few years it has changed the very nature of national constitutions and educational systems, it manipulated major media organisations into conformity, and is now pushing churches and theological seminaries over the cliff into the abyss of multireligious thinking. Various theologians are making common cause with this evil philosophy by accepting the unwritten condition that they deny the Lord Jesus Christ by rejecting the clear biblical statement that nobody can be saved but by Him (Acts 4:12). They also may not, as in the Bible, negatively reflect on the non-Christian religions (1 Cor. 10:19-20; 2 Cor. 6:14-17) as that is seen to be improper and not conducive to the fostering of interfaith alliances.
The Roman Catholic Church also embraces the interfaith, Babylonian spirit by giving its full support to promoting it. In October 2003, representatives of various religions attended an interfaith conference in Fatima, Portugal, which was organised by the Catholic Church in association with the United Nations. The shrine and complex in Fatima were erected to the honour of Mother Mary, but will now be transformed into a centre where members of all religions can worship their gods.
The Director of the shrine, Luciano Guerra, told the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian delegates, as well as pagans from Africa, that Fatima will change to the good of them all. He said: “The future of Fatima, as well as the worship of God and His Mother at this shrine, should now be transformed into a place where all religions can mingle. The interfaith dialogue in Portugal, and also in the Roma Catholic Church, is still in an early stage but Fatima will support this movement toward realising the new approach of universal worship.”
Guerra said the mere fact that Fatima is a Muslim name (Mohammed’s one daughter was called Fatima), is an indication that this shrine should be open to the co-existence of all religions. He added: “We must accept that it is the will of the blessed Virgin that this change would take place.” Conservative Catholics who rejected the interfaith ideas were described by Guerra as old-fashioned, fanatical extremists and instigators who cause trouble and stand in the way of religious reconciliation.
One of the speakers at the conference that was held in Fatima was the Jesuit theologian, Jacques Dupuis. He strongly insisted that all religions should unite: “The religion of the future will be a convergence of all faiths under the guidance of the Cosmic Christ who will meet everyone’s needs. The different religions of the world is part of God’s plan for humanity, and to that end the Holy Spirit works through the writings of the Buddhists, Hindus, other non-Christian faiths as well as Christianity… The universal nature of God’s kingdom allows for this, and for that reason the interfaith movement is nothing more than a diverse form of participation in the same mystery of the divine plan of salvation. Ultimately, it will make the Hindu a better Hindu and the Christian a better Christian.” Hindu delegates confirmed this view and said that millions of Hindus are experiencing positive vibrations when visiting shrines of the Virgin Mary in the East.
The worldwide swing of the public opinion in favour of multireligious thinking sets the scene for the appearance of the cosmic Christ of all religions – the Antichrist (Rev. 13:1-4).
While the multireligious orientation is gaining ground, a correlating process of spiritual backsliding occurs among evangelical Christians in the world. This statement could also be reversed: As the light of the Gospel grows dim, the false religions and other works of darkness are getting the upper hand.
Research continues to reveal a steady theological collapse among professing Christians in America. Secularists, Liberals, and Muslims do not need to fear conservative Christians, says Dave Shiflett in The Wall Street Journal. Christians, he says, are not interested in converting the heathen: “They don’t really believe that there is such a thing as the heathen, tending to believe instead that every religion is equally valid. Even the most feared of Christians, the born-agains, often embrace the modern orthodoxies of tolerance and inclusion over the traditional teaching of their faith.”
He cites poll data that 26% of born-agains believe all religions are essentially the same and that 50% believe that a life of good works will enable a person to get to heaven. More than 35% born-again Christians do not believe that Jesus rose physically from the dead. However, the Bible says: “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15:17). Only a risen Christ can impart eternal life to lost sinners.
While the love of many Christians is growing cold because of compromising with the world, the Babylonian conspiracy of non-Christian religions – including a false version of Christianity that embraces them – is making final preparations for the appearance of the universal messiah of all faiths. If the relatively small group of disciples of the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, do not succumb to the Babylonian pressures by defecting to the camp of the enemy, they will be counted worthy to escape the coming tribulation period and to stand before the Son of Man (Lk. 21:36).
The history of the nations started with a Babylonian conspiracy against the kingdom of God, as described in the first book of the Bible – Genesis (Chapter 11). In the last book of the Bible, Revelation (Chapters 17–18), a description is given of how the history of the nations will end in this dispensation – with a repetition of that early Babylonian conspiracy against the kingdom of God. Modern technology and the proliferation of evil will render the present conspiracy exceedingly more fierce and destructive.
This author is confident that the rebuilding of the ancient city of Babylon, as part of the development of Iraq, will play a major role in the culmination of the end-time Babylonian new world order after the coming of the Antichrist. The Bible strongly supports such a notion.