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The Harlot Church System, Part 3
7 September 2014
 
 
This is the third in a six-part series of articles presenting excerpts from Charles E. Newbold’s book The Harlot Church System, taken from chapters 6 through 8.

In this book, the author’s thoughts and arguments build from one chapter to the next. Therefore, if you have not read the previous parts yet, I strongly encourage you to do so now before you read today’s article. This is especially important because throughout the book, Mr. Newbold uses words like church, “it,” “Self” and “Thing,” with very precise and special meanings. In order to understand what he means by these words, you will want to read his introduction in Chapter 1 of Part 1 very carefully.

As I shared previously, Entire sentences highlighted in this color are MY emphasis — thoughts which struck me as especially important. All other emphasis is the author’s, or implied by the author. If the flow of thought from paragraph to paragraph feels disjointed at times, that’s because it is! Except for the three articles in which I share entire chapters, I’ve taken paragraphs which were spread throughout each chapter, so there can be large chunks of text missing in between the paragraphs I’ve included here. That’s why you need to buy your own copy and read the whole thing!
Chapter 6 — Spiritual Babylon
Spiritual Babylon is primarily characterized by the idolatry of the carnal mind. Carnal is another word for the flesh. “Flesh” often refers to that fallen sin nature of man that is at enmity with God. The carnal mind is all thought, reason, logic, imagination, opinion, and speculation that is associated with the old Adamic mind of fallen man. We practice Babylon when we do things according to our notion rather than God’s.

The ability to make choices is not a sin. It is a gift from God. We sin when we make choices contrary to God’s will. We think we know better than God. Therefore, we exalt our knowledge, logic, reasoning, opinions, imaginations, speculations, and every other high-minded thing above the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We ignore that part of God’s word that does not agree with our aspirations, expectations, theologies, and doctrines. We believe what we want to believe. We foolishly make ourselves out to be God. We even make up God to be the way we want Him to be. Thus, we are in rebellion against God just as Adam and Eve were.
Deception
Spiritual Babylon is characterized by deception. Satan deceived Eve. He implied that God had lied to them.... Eve believed Satan’s lies and immediately structured her own false reality around those lies. She incorporated those lies into her paradigm of reality. She constructed her own truth about God and sighed, “Oh, I see now!” Rather than having her eyes opened, however, she actually became spiritually blind.... Spiritual Babylon — all that the carnal mind devises — is the exaltation of what we construct as truth over what God says is truth.
Pride
Spiritual Babylon is characterized by pride. The prideful nature of Self thinks it knows. It thinks it knows better than God. It makes decisions all day, every day without consulting God, without even asking for wisdom. When smitten with pride, we are lifted up in who we think we are and what we think we know.

Churches and ministries are snared by the prideful temptation to gather larger numbers of people, build bigger buildings with steeples pointing to heaven, and make names for themselves, succumbing to the temptation to exalt Self. We name our churches, ministries, and institutions after ourselves. We dedicate stained-glass windows and pews in memory of men. We put our names on things for self-glory. What a contrast to those who follow Jesus!
Exalted Self
Spiritual Babylon is characterized by the exaltation of Self.... We have believed the lie of the serpent in the garden; we believe that we are our own god. How pathetic! We get so joined to this lie that it is perceived as truth and as something to be desired. We esteem ourselves over God.
Confusion
Spiritual Babylon is characterized by confusion. Babel means confusion.... Everything that is in the world continues to be marked by confusion.... Because Christians have refused to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and have insisted upon building their own little towers to heaven, we have great diversity, disunity, and confusion among us. If we find ourselves in confusion, something other than or in addition to God is talking to us. The carnal mind is in operation and in opposition to the Spirit of God.

If we have the mind of Christ, we will be of one mind. If we are not of one mind, one or all of us are wallowing in the slime of the carnal mind. When we, as God’s people, however, seek His will, He will not cause us to be in confusion.
Imaginations
Spiritual Babylon is characterized by vain imaginations.... The ability to imagine, as with the ability to reason and make choices is a God-given virtue. Imaginations are not evil in and of themselves. They become evil when we glory in them and glory in those things we invent as the result of them. We can accomplish spectacular things with the work of our hands from the imaginations of our minds.

By the same powers of intellect and imagination, we can build mega-ministries, universities, cathedrals, and circle the globe with “Christian television” and “Christian programming.” We do what appears to be “mighty exploits for God” in the arm of self-strength. Nothing seems impossible to us if we can only imagine it.... But unless our works are inspired of God, they will not withstand the fire of God (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
Accumulation of Knowledge
Knowledge is one of our Babylons, one of our high places, and we are the god we worship. Knowledge that leads to self-idolatry is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Every year men and women graduate from seminaries by the thousands to fill pulpits around the world. There they will apply the higher-critical and near atheistic interpretations of the scriptures which they learned. They are spiritually bankrupted by such high-minded learning and are spiritually bankrupting their parishioners.

Paul would have the same fear today that he had for the Corinthians: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Sectarianism
Because this Thing we call church is of the flesh and is an aspect of spiritual Babylon, it is under this same curse of confusion and sectarianism. It is founded on sectarianism, even thrives on it. It promotes the disunity of the body of Christ. Its very existence depends upon how each church system differs one from the other. This is easily seen in how their names billboard their differences.

There can only be one foundation, Jesus Christ. If what we have is sectarian and contributes to the disunity of the body, it has been built upon the wrong foundation (1 Corinthians 3). Once we see this truth, we should have no need ever to name ourselves in order to identify what we are about.
Religion
Spiritual Babylon is characterized by religion. Even though masses of people seem to abhor religion of any kind, our sinful nature has a bent toward it because it is under the curse of condemnation and works.... Because the fallen man of flesh and sin is under the curse, he feels shame and wants to do something to make himself feel okay.

Even though many people may be truly redeemed of the Lord, they still bring their shame-based flesh tendencies over into the life of the church; they know of only one way to relate to God, that is, through religion. Religiously inclined people love religion. It does not matter from one end of the spectrum to the other how people choose to express themselves religiously. Religion is still religion.

They love the religious atmosphere of church because it gives them something to do to salve the guilt of condemnation. Many well-meaning Christians are unaware that they go to church and do religious things out of a false sense of duty. They go because it makes them feel good.

Religion is foreign to God. He requires no religious thing of us.... Religion stinks in the nostrils of God because it keeps us from having intimate relationships with Him. Our relationship is with our religion or with our church.

Flesh man deceives himself into thinking that if his religion makes him feel good, it must be good; therefore, he goes on doing his religious things. For such a one, church is often the religious thing he does. Yet, at the end of the day, after all is said and done, nothing is any different in him than it was before he engaged in that religious activity. He is just as empty on the inside as he was before. An abiding relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ is the only food that fills the soul to satisfaction.
Religious Systems
The religious systems that make up and govern that Thing we call church characterize spiritual Babylon. Just as Judah and Jerusalem were once in Babylonian captivity, so are God’s people today who are joined to church in their hearts.

The brick and slime are the sectarian doctrines, creeds, traditions, festivals and celebrations, liturgies, rituals, lectionaries, polities, heritages, and ecclesiastical calendars. These things stand in place of or alongside a personal, living, dynamic relationship with God. These things that govern church have little to do with the Kingdom of God.

Most of us were born and raised in spiritual Babylon and have never known anything else. We have never seen what the body of Christ looks like as a pure and holy bride. Even though we know that all is not well within what we call church, we think that it can be fixed or at least made better, but it cannot.
The Fall of Babylon
This Babylonian church will fall just as did historical Babylon.... God’s judgment upon historical Babylon foreshadows His judgment upon spiritual Babylon. When we go to Babylon, we are more than captives in Babylon. We run the risk of becoming Babylonians.

If we stay in Babylon and in our idolatries, we can expect God’s judgment to fall upon us. We can expect a time when God will empty the Babylonian systems of His children, leaving them childless and without husbands. Isaiah 47 has as much to do with God’s impending judgment upon us in spiritual Babylon as it did upon historical Babylon.

“Come out of her, My people, that you might not be partakers of her sins, and that you not receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). Coming out of spiritual Babylon is not easy. We are comfortable there. The institutionalized church makes us feel safe, secure, and sufficient. It gives us status, position, reputation, security, and identity. We have become institutionalized within the institutions of our own making.
Chapter 7 — Institutionalized
Bob and Joy, Chris and Jena, Troy, Rachel, and Darlene felt connected to one another in the Spirit of Christ and began meeting in each other’s homes. They sang spiritual songs, shared revelations and teachings the Lord gave them. Bob did most of the teaching. He had the gift for it. They prayed for each other’s needs. People were free to come and go as they pleased. When word got out that God was showing up at their meetings, more people started coming.

They soon outgrew their living rooms and decided to rent a meeting room elsewhere. They took up a collection for the expenses. The crowd grew and they decided Bob needed to go full time as their pastor. The money was plentiful and in order to act responsibly, they decided to open a bank account. The bank required a name. So they named themselves. They continued to grow and decided to save rent expenses by buying their own piece of property. They elected elders to oversee the business they were growing into.

Several years later, they occupied their fine new building for which they were indebted. But something different had happened. People no longer felt as free to come and go as they pleased. They were expected to be there and expected to pay their tithes there. They had a budget now. They went from being a fellowship of believers to a church. The day they gave themselves a name, they became a Thing. They institutionalized themselves.
Its Own Existence
Institutions seem to take on existences of their own as if they had minds of their own. They often become greater than the sum of the individuals who instituted them. They can take over and consume everything and everyone around them. Yet, these institutions are devoid of life. They mesmerize, neutralize, ensnare, and enslave us. We become enmeshed with them and they become our idols.

It is not long before our altruistic institutions — orphanages, nursing homes, colleges, universities, seminaries, hospitals, cemeteries, church edifices, and “ministries” — become more important than the people for whom they were initiated. People exist to serve and preserve them rather than them existing to serve the people.

Their marketing programs may claim that they are meeting personal needs, and they may even be meeting personal needs, but the underlying motivation of their marketing schemes is often to increase their customer base in order to maintain or increase the institution.

Institutions often garner large sums of money from the people associated with them. People feel good about giving to them, but oftentimes come to realize that most of their time, energy, and resources are consumed merely to fuel the system. Altruism within the system is too frequently reduced to a token. Many TV ministries use altruistic appeals to tug on the emotions of potential donors, but end up using most of the money to keep their own ministry machine cranking.
Institutional Prison
It is strange enough that these institutions seem to take on an existence of their own. It is stranger yet how our institutions institutionalize us.... The longer we stay in our institutions, the more we become like them.
Brooks had “done time” in Shawshank prison for fifty years. He spent many of those years as the prison’s librarian. Then it happened. He was paroled. Good news? Not for Brooks. He went crazy. They released him, and days later he was found hanging from a noose of his own making.

The newer inmates didn’t understand. They sat around on a rock waiting for Red to explain. Red had already spent most of his life behind those walls himself. He knew the score.

Red answered philosophically. “He was institutionalized. Been in here fifty years. This is all he knows. In here, he’s an important man. He’s an educated man. But outside he’s nothing. Just a used-up con with arthritis in both hands. Probably couldn’t get a library card if he tried... These walls are funny. At first you hate them. Then you get used to them. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.”
Becoming Like Them
Jesus told us that we were in Him and He was in us, just as He was in the Father and the Father was in Him. That was not my experience growing up in the institutional church. I felt more joined to it than to Christ. I was in it and it was in me. I was programmed to be one with it and to bring others into that illegal, unholy, mystical union with it. We are either in Christ or in the harlot.
Becoming Dependent Upon Them
We become dependent upon our institutions. We trust in them to take care of us. In a similar way, our institutions need us. The authorities within them need for us to be dependent upon them and the institution in order to perpetuate their existence and that of the institution.... Institutions may start out to do good, but by their very nature, almost always end up fostering dependency.

When we see the truth and attempt to speak against the abuses of institutionalization, we are viewed as the enemy. We are of no use to the institution. When we cease to be of use to the institution, the institution seeks ways to expel us.... Believers who dare to stand outside of this system are thought to have backslidden.
The Corporation Church
The corporation church, like corporations in the world, have distinct characteristics. They are typically human-initiated and governed, management-based, profit-oriented, success-driven, client-friendly, product-focused (programs and services), and image-conscious.

This corporation church mentality is a modern invention of the western world which is completely foreign to the New Testament expression of what it means to be the body of Christ.... Yet this worldly concept is promoted as the only way to do church.
Institutional Rules and Regulations
Many things have been started in the Spirit and founded upon solid scriptural principles, but were later institutionalized. The process is quite simple, natural, and common. Once the activity has begun, men tend to want to organize it. They wish to put some kind of structure around it in order to control it or at least maintain control within it.

Institutional structure is generally made of rigid rules and regulations. Once set in place, these rules are hard to change. They become the authority over even those who made them. Even the people who make them bind themselves to the rules and, thereby, elevate the rules as the higher authority.

Organization requires rules. Once we institute rules and regulations to govern our relationships with one another, we have almost always institutionalized ourselves. We restrict the Holy Spirit’s liberty to lead us. Control is one of the greatest enemies to our liberty in the Spirit. The rules men make to control church life are likely to become unhealthy boundaries. We often become slaves to these rules.

All too often, however, the rules of the institution supersede the word and Spirit of God.... Church rules confine the activities of the Holy Spirit.... We need to distinguish between God’s law which sets us free in Christ and church laws which impose restrictions upon us and bind us to men.
Chapter 8 — THE Ministry
Read the entire, uncut chapter in the previous articles THE Ministry, Part 1 and THE Ministry, Part 2.
Other articles in this series: Shop for The Harlot Church System book on Amazon.com
This article is 44th a series of articles on this Web site related to Modern Christianity and the Church which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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The Harlot Church System, Part 3
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