“Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, “I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.” Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.” (Revelation 18:6-8 )
Walter of Stoelwijk (d. 1541) wrote, “Let all apostate Christians, who return to the Roman Babylon, from which they had separated, and make friendship with the whore whom they had hated bear this in mind. What shall we say to such unstable persons? How can men who once knew the truth be so blinded as to depart from Christ Jesus their only Saviour, and return to the infamous accursed whore of Babylon, the mother of all unrighteousness, and queen of all the children of unbelief and cursing, who has become their comfort and protection, yea, their idol. . . . Woe unto such perverse men, who depart from righteousness, from light to darkness, from life to death, and go from Jesus Christ to antichrist, seeking consolation from Satan, and not in God. Woe unto such fearful ones, who fear those who can kill only the body, more than God, the Almighty Lord, who can cast both body and soul into eternal damnation. Rev. 21:8; Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:4, 5. Woe unto such, that they were ever born unless they remarkably amend their ways and go out of Babylon; for the Scripture says not in vain: “Go ye out of the midst of Babylon, my people, and touch not the unclean thing, that ye be not partakers of her plagues, or sins.” Isa. 52:11; 2 Cor. 6:17; Rev. 18:4.”
Walter of Stoelwijk, while not representative of all Anabaptists, is typical in his ‘rant’ against followers of the state faith. While I like many things about the Anabaptist faith, one of the things that rubs me the wrong way is that the Anabaptists could be so critical of the faith tradition that the previous generation put their faith in. Literally, it was the faith of their mothers and fathers. One of the stories from this era is how Conrad Grebel’s father reacted to his son’s break from the church. Following the true faith is one thing; critiquing another person’s religion and faith with cutting remarks is another. It is actually one of the traits that non-Christians disdain so much about Christians.
It is a voice from Heaven, not a voice from humanity that speaks this curse on Babylon. Whoever or whatever you may personify as Babylon, be careful what slurs you toss about. There are people sitting outside of the Christian faith who are watching Christians, judging for themselves how we conduct our internal affairs. We may be accountable to no other judge but God. But if we fail to uphold the law of love as given to us by Christ in the gospels, we will be judged severely before God.
This is the double-edged sword that is wielded over us. To live as God has commanded, both in love and discernment. To keep away from that which is not of God, but to invite to faith those who live apart from God.
There are some in this world who will live as the “queen” does, never mourning and never regretting choices made; choosing evil and wickedness. Leave them and them to God’s judgment and vengeance.
There are some in this world who will judge harshly all those around them; they may even judge themselves harshly. Anger and retribution will be their companions because to them everything is fallen and failed. They will desire God’s love and acceptance above all things, but it will be illusive because they cannot accept themselves and others as they are. Leave them to God’s grace and mercy.
And there are some in this world who will love freely and unconditionally. Perhaps they will be foolish and naive, not seeing the evil that lurks in some people’s heart and in the world. They will live according to God’s law of love, and not so much according to God’s law of retribution and vengeance. Leave them to love as they will, for such as these are like children of Heaven.
May you, gentle reader, chose wisely how you live. Selah!