If you attend a "mainline" Protestant church, you have probably noticed that it is shrinking. Why is this happening? What should you be doing about it?
As a former Protestant with many family members still Protestant, I feel compelled to warn you of a soon-coming disaster! Most of the Protestant churches will not even exist a decade or two from right now!
Because to the vast majority of people in America and the entire English-speaking world, Protestantism is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Millions of Protestant church members are voting with their feet and getting out. They are becoming Roman Catholics. But many are also simply disheartened, discouraged and confused. These unsettled people often describe themselves as "nones"—meaning they belong to no organized religion. They just try to become "spiritual"—just trying to worship God in their own way.
The answer is simple: For many, if not most, "Protestantism" appears to actually "stand" for almost nothing anymore. The majority of "mainstream" Protestant churches very quickly follow the attitudes, the beliefs and the practices of this world—this world's increasingly secular and unruly society. Where are the faithful ministers who get up in the pulpit and strongly condemn "fornication"—as the Bible calls the practice of just "living together" as an unmarried couple without any binding commitment to God, to family or to each other? Where are the ministers and priests who powerfully condemn the use of illicit drugs, drunkenness, lying, cheating, perverted sex or disrespect for parents? Do such God-fearing, Bible-believing ministers still exist anywhere?
Certainly not in "mainstream" Protestantism! For if any such faithful Bible-believing minister like this did exist in any of these churches, he would soon be fired or figuratively "run out of town"! So, very few—if any—of such ministers still find themselves in "mainstream" Protestantism!
On the other hand, the Roman Catholic church appears to "stand" for a few things! And millions of confused people out there "searching for something"—anything of real substance—are slowly but surely beginning to look at the original "mother church" of Protestantism as a place of religious safety. Many observers realize that the perceived stability of Roman Catholicism is making it more and more attractive to former Protestants, who have grown tired of their own denominations "waffling" on so many issues. Students of Bible prophecy will not be surprised to see hundreds of thousands and even millions returning to their "mother church" in the next few years!
For those with understanding, the real issue is the fact that the Protestant reformers and their successors have not actually turned their people back to the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Remember the often-stated saying of noted Protestant theologian William Chillingworth, "The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of the Protestants" (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, article "Chillingworth, W"). Yet most American churchgoers—and Britons as well—have almost no knowledge of the specifics of the Bible!
Jesus Christ commanded His followers, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). "Yet U.S. citizens know almost nothing about the Bible. Although most regard it as the word of God, few read it anymore. Even evangelicals from the Bible Belt seem more focused on loving Jesus than on learning what He had to say" (Charlotte Observer, March 18, 2007).
Does that last sentence grab your attention? It is vital! It is true that even "Bible Belt Christians" are far more focused on "loving Jesus" than on what He had to say! That is why they are so confused, so divided, and so ignorant about what the inspired word of God is trying to tell them. They simply do not study their Bible with the care and attention they would apply to a book on history, mathematics or quantum physics. They just approach it with a sentimental attitude and read bits and pieces—not really studying the entire Bible with a desire and prayer for understanding and asking God for the willingness to obey what He is telling them in its pages!
Rather than using the inspired word of God as the fundamental paradigm or "model" of what he wanted to restore, Martin Luther—acknowledged as the primary founder of Protestantism—seemed to be rebelling against certain Roman Catholic practices. Yet, in fact, he intended to carry on many of the basic teachings of Catholicism except those with which he personally disagreed! So, Protestantism became a "hodgepodge" of different ideas. Some were held over from pagan practices that had been part of early Roman Catholicism. Others were derived from selective use of some scriptures while ignoring others. Still others were little more than the whim of Luther and his colleagues without benefit of Scripture! It never seemed to occur to them that if they were truly to restore the "faith once for all delivered" they would need to fully return to the teachings of the Bible!
So it is remarkable that in rejecting the doctrine of transubstantiation—the idea that bread and wine become Christ's literal body and blood—Luther declares the absolute authority of Scripture in matters of faith and practice. He states: "For that which is asserted without the authority of Scripture or of proven revelation may be held as an opinion, but there is no obligation to believe it…. Transubstantiation… must be considered as an invention of human reason, since it is based neither on Scripture nor sound reasoning" (Documents of the Christian Church, ed. Bettenson, p. 280).
If Luther had gone on to apply this type of scriptural test to all of his doctrines, the world today might be a different type of place! For when he was charged with inserting the word "sola" (alone) into Romans 3:28, he haughtily replied: "Should your Pope give himself any useless annoyance about the word sola, you may promptly reply: It is the will of Dr. Martin Luther that it should be so" (Manual of Universal Church History, p. 199). And, we may add on good authority, no other reason for such unscriptural changes as these were ever given. When it came to Luther's own personal doctrinal convictions, Martin Luther was truly a self-willed man.
In judging any man or movement, Jesus said, "By their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:20).
If one honestly and objectively considers the actual "fruits" of the practice of Protestantism—or Catholicism for that matter—in any nation or area of the world, it becomes obvious that genuine Christianity has not been restored in any of those places. As all students of history know, many of the great wars of the last several hundred years have taken place in Europe. We read of Protestants fighting Protestants, Catholics fighting Catholics. Often, each side's bishops or priests would "bless" the troops as they headed up the ridge to bayonet and disembowel the enemy. Yet the "enemy" might well be a person of their very own religious faith!
The insistence of the Protestant leaders on their basic unity with the Catholic church, and their identification of her as their "mother" church is most significant!
In the early editions of Martin Luther's translation of the New Testament, there are many illustrations picturing the "Whore of Babylon" as the Roman Catholic Church. In describing this widely understood interpretation, Roland Bainton tells us: "Fallen Babylon is plainly Rome" (Here I Stand, p. 258). Countless Protestant books, pamphlets, and tracts make that same identification today. They brand the Roman Catholic Church as the "Great Whore" of Revelation 17.
Yet, it must be admitted, most of the more conservative Protestant denominational writers have stopped making this identification. After those first editions of the Bible, and their various pamphlets and tracts, they came to the embarrassing realization that they were telling on themselves! For in one of the most easily understood passages in this inspired prophetic book, God describes a great false religious system which was to arise and labels it "Babylon the Great" (Revelation 17:1–6).
Turning to Revelation 17, we see that the woman pictured here is a fallen woman—a "Great Harlot." She sits upon "many waters." In verse 15, the prophecy itself identifies these waters as "peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues." This fallen woman, then, is a great church—ruling over many nations and peoples. She is accused of having "committed fornication" with the kings of the earth. Spiritually, that could only mean that she is guilty of mixing in the politics and wars of this world.
Christ said that His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). James speaks of those who participate in the material lusts and wars of this world as spiritual "adulterers" (James 4:1–4). The prophecy now becomes plain! This apostate church is condemned because she has played politics and participated in the warfare of this world.
This fallen woman, or church, is arrayed in purple and scarlet colors. The purple symbolizes royal power and dignity. The scarlet signifies her spiritual whoredom! She is a wealthy church "adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls" (Revelation 17:4). And, John writes: "I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement" (v. 6).
This church cruelly persecuted and martyred many of God's saints. But her wealth, her power, and her royal majesty inspired a sense of awe even in John! Later, God reveals that "the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth" (v. 18).
All of these descriptions apply perfectly to the Roman Catholic church! This is the church that has persecuted God's scattered people down through the ages. This is the church whose wealth and material power are equaled by no other. This is the church which has had its own army, and has actively participated in the wars and politics of this world!
Only the capital of "Christendom" at Rome could truly be called a "great city" which has ruled over the kings of this world. There is no mistaking this identification! Alexander Hislop, in his remarkable book, The Two Babylons, states: "There never has been any difficulty in the mind of any enlightened Protestant in identifying the woman 'sitting on seven mountains,' and having on her forehead the name written, 'Mystery, Babylon the Great,' with the Roman apostasy" (Hislop, p. 1).
My friends, millions more in this horribly confused world will soon turn to the Roman Catholic church. Unwittingly, they will also become part of what Almighty God calls: "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement. But the angel said to me, 'Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits'" (Revelation 17:5–9). So the "woman" of Revelation 17 is the "mother" of harlots. Her "daughter" churches came out of her in protest. They are therefore called "Protestant"!
So the Roman Empire—upon which the "woman" figuratively sits—will rise in Europe and become the most powerful force in the entire world for a few years! There have been six "revivals" of this empire—including the Mussolini/Hitler revival, which lasted only a short time. The final revival will occur within the next several years of your life.
You need to be "ready"! You need to study and prove these things so you understand what is just ahead and how it will affect everything about your life—and the lives and futures of your children and loved ones! Because this "Beast" will only last for about three and a half years and then go into "perdition" (v. 11). Yet, during that time, God describes this awesome power in these words: "And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.' And I heard another voice from heaven saying, 'Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues'" (Revelation 18:2–4). Then your Bible again indicates clearly the wealth and power this religious-political system will have: "And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore" (v. 11). Again: "For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived" (v. 23).
This entire system has become and will become even more powerfully a "counterfeit Christianity"! It "looks good"—on the surface. But any system or religion that rejects the Bible, rejects God's spiritual Law—the Ten Commandments—and goes its own way under the "traditions of men" will soon degenerate and cause its people to suffer greatly under the influence of Satan the Devil! The Apostle Paul was inspired by God to describe this same system and the coming "False Prophet" who leads it. In describing the end of this age, Paul tells us: "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4).
Within the next decade or two, a very clever and charismatic individual will rise and absolutely deceive millions! For he will be leading the "mystery of lawlessness" (v. 7). It is a mystery that is "lawless" in the sense that it denies the need to obey God's law! "And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (vv. 8–10). The false ministers in this system will even perform "lying wonders." And the coming great False Prophet "performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived" (Revelation 13:13–14).
But, as we have seen, his power will soon come to an end. Even though this coming system will be so powerful and influential that its armies will be together to literally fight Christ (Revelation 17:14), this coming military leader—the "Beast" and the False Prophet—are soon destroyed and will come to an ignominious end (Revelation 19:19–21).
Your life—and everything around you—will soon change! There will be no more Protestantism! And even the powerful Roman Catholic church and its leaders will soon come to an end. God makes that very plain to those who are willing to understand and believe the Bible and what it clearly says to those who are willing to listen!
May God help you to pay attention and act before it is too late!
If you really want to understand the details of all of this, be sure to contact the Regional Office nearest you (listed on page 4 of this magazine) to request your free copy of two of our most powerful and meaningful booklets. Call or write today, or go online to TomorrowsWorld.org and request our informative booklets Restoring Original Christianity and Satan's Counterfeit Christianity. They will make these topics even more clear than I have been able to do in this one article. Now it is up to you.
Each of you reading this has two choices: you will either pay attention and then act and begin to "seek God" by studying His Word and becoming willing to do what He actually and clearly says in the Bible! Then you will be protected from the coming Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:12–14). Or you can just hope it will all "go away" and that you can safely go along with your life and be part of this world—part of "Babylon the Great," as God calls it.
Whatever you do, please remember: God makes it clear that those included in this foul system that is now developing will be absolutely destroyed after a few years. And those who turn to the Creator God will live forever in Christ's coming Kingdom soon to be set up on this earth. The choice is yours!